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Historic Diaries: Black Hawk War

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  • After the War
    1832, Sept. 19: A peace treaty was signed, requiring the Sauk and Fox to stay west of the Mississippi and cede a 50-mile-wide strip of the Iowa shore. 1832, Aug. to. April 1833: Black Hawk and The Winnebago Prophet were...

  • Aug. 27, Prairie du Chien: Black Hawk Surrenders
    I started with my little party to the Winnebago village at Prairie La Cross. On my arrival there I entered the lodge of one of the chiefs, and told him that I wished him to go with me to his...

  • Aug 2, Bad Axe: Accounts by Atkinson, Black Hawk and Others
    To Maj. General Winfield Scott Head Qrs., 1st Army Corps, North West Army, Fort Crawford, Prairie du Chien 9th August 1832 Sir, I informed you on the 5th Inst by a short official note of the action on the...

  • August 2: A Soldier's Account of the Massacre at Bad Axe
    They [the American soldiers and militia] all joined in the work of death - for death it was. We were by this time fast getting rid of those demons in human shape [the Sauk]. About a half hour after the...

  • August 1: Black Hawk Reaches the Mississippi
    Myself and band having no means to descend the Wisconsin, I started over a rugged country, to go to the Mississippi, intending to cross it and return to my nation. Many of our people were compelled to go on foot,...

  • July 31, Fort Crawford: The Militia Capture Refugee Women and Children
    Captain Gustavis Loomis to General Henry Atkinson: Fort Crawford, M[ichigan]. T[erritory]... July 31. 9 ock. The Winnebagoes have just bro't in 7 to 9 more prisoners, squaws & children, among them a part Menominie Squaw who says that the whole...

  • July 30: Army Lieutenant Describes Black Hawk's Trail of Dead
    On our march across the country and during and after the action, I [Lieutenant Robert Anderson] witnessed scenes of distress and misery exceeding any I ever expected to see in our happy land. Dead bodies, males & females, strewed along...

  • July 29: Death of the Innocents on the Wisconsin River
    Joseph Ritner to Gustavus Loomis Mouth of Ouisconsin river, 29th. July. 1832. Sir: I have the honor to inform you, that at about half past two Oclock this morning, several canoes filled with indians attempted to pass our position. Some...

  • July 28, Helena, Wis.: Dodge's Troops Find Black Hawk's Trail
    A post was established at Helena; and the army crossed July 28th, and marched in a northern direction, in the expectation, doubtless, of soon falling upon traces of the retreating enemy. If so, they were soon realized; for we were...

  • July 27, Helena, Wis.: Gen. Atkinson Begins the Final March
    Henry Atkinson to Winfield Scott Head Qurs. division of the North Western Army On Ouisconsin river, Helena, July 27th. 1832 General, I arrived here yesterday from the Blue Mounds and we are now in the act of crossing this river...

  • July 25, Green Bay: Fear That More Tribes Will Join Black Hawk
    George Boyd to George B. Porter Indian Agency Office, Green Bay July 23d. [-25th] 1832. ...It appears to me, Sir, that a crisis has arrived, which if not promptly and gallantly met by all entrusted with authority for the public...

  • July 25, Blue Mounds, Wis.: Meriwether Clark Describes Wisconsin Heights
    Meriwether L. Clark to William Clark Camp on Blue Mounds July 25th 1832 My Dear Father, We reached here last night much fatigued after a march of 20 miles without water, which for footmen, is, as you know, very difficult....

  • July 24, Blue Mounds, Wis.: An Officer's Perspective on Wisconsin Heights
    That evening we formed a junction with the brigade and battallion of spies, at the Blue Mounds; whither they had retired, after their glorious victory, to meet us. It would be difficult to give a full idea of the proud,...

  • July 22, Wisconsin Heights: Another Surrender Offer Is Ignored
    The silence of our camp was broken by the loud shrill voice of an Indian from the summit of one of the highest peaks in that vicinity, haranguing, as we supposed, his warriors preparatory to an attack upon us. Although...

  • July 21, Wisconsin Heights: Black Hawk Describes the Battle
    Neapope, with a party of twenty, remained in our rear, to watch for the enemy, whilst we were proceeding to the Wisconsin [River] with our women and children. We arrived, and had commenced crossing over to an island, when we...

  • July 21, Wisconsin Heights: Henry Dodge Describes the Battle
    Henry Dodge to Henry Atkinson Camp on the Wisconsin Thirty miles below Fort Winnebago July 22d. 1832 Brigadier General Atkinson Dear Sir In my last communication to you, I stated my intention to follow the hostile Sacks with General Henry....

  • July 19-20, Madison, Wis.: Troops Close in on Black Hawk
    ...on the Intelligence of the express finding the trail and that we were to follow on in pursuit, the soldiers were seen gathering their horses and saddling them with as much cheerfulness as if at home and gearing them to...

  • July 19, Hustisford, Wis.: Black Hawk's Trail Is Discovered
    Henry Dodge to Henry Atkinson July 19th 1832 Dear General I yesterday addressed you from the rapids of Rock River, my adjt [adjutant] directed by an Indian Guide. After travelling about 12 miles, [they] fell in with Two Large Trails,...

  • Ho-Chunk Chief Spoon Decorah Describes his Nation's Predicament
    During the Black Hawk War, I lived at the Portage. When we heard of the trouble, I wanted very much to go and join the Americans. I knew the officers at Fort Winnebago, and was friendly with them. But my...

  • July 17, Prairie du Chien: The Ho-Chunk Stay Neutral
    Joseph M. Street to Henry Atkinson U. S. Indian Agency at Prairie du Chien July 17,1832. Br. Genl. H. Atkinson Com'd'g. Rt. W'g. West. Det. Sir, In compliance with your request, to keep you advised of the State of the...

  • July 16, Fort Hamilton, Wis: An Army Major Gives Up on the Militia
    William Davenport to Henry Atkinson Hamilton's Station, July 16th. 1832 Sir I have the honor to inform that for good cause I am more convinced than ever that the position I hold with the Militia disables me from rendering you...

  • July 14, Fort Hamilton, Wis.: A Militia Unit Requests Discharge
    Camp Near Fort Hamilton M T [Michigan Territory]. 14th July 1832. Sir Several Companies Composing the Regiment under our Command being enrolled & Musterered into service for a tower [tour] of three months, Commencing the 12th day of May &...

  • July 14: Wild Rumors That Black Hawk Has Escaped into Iowa
    Joshua Pilcher to William Clark St Louis July 14th 1832 Genl. Wm. Clark Supet. of Indian Affairs Sir: I reced. pr. Steam boat Winnebago, your two letters of the 2nd. Inst. accompanied by a letter from the war department, on...

  • July 13, Galena, Ill.: The President Receives Some Radical Advice
    William Campbell to Andrew Jackson Galena, July [13] 1832 Dear Genl. I have given my views to you some months since [see entry for June 19] as to the many abuses which I believed to exist in the Indian Department....

  • July 12: "The Most Painful Situation Which Can Well Be Imagined"
    Winfield Scott to Lewis Cass Head Qrs. North W. Army Chicago July llth.[-12th] 1832. 10 O'Clock P.M. To Hon Secy of War Sir: I find myself in the most painful situation which can well be imagined. From Fort Gratiot I...

  • July 11, White Water Creek, Wis.: Gen. Atkinson's Frustrations and Failures
    Henry Atkinson to Winfield Scott Genl. Atkinson -- To -- Genl. Scott. Head Qrs: of the Army on Rock river Camp on Rock river, Mouth of White Water, July 11th. 1832 General,... I am now sending out a light party...

  • Mid July, Madison, Wis.: Black Hawk Heads Northwest
    During our encampment at the Four Lakes we were hard pressed to obtain enough to eat to support nature. Situated in a swampy, marshy country, (which had been selected in consequence of the great difficulty required to gain access thereto,)...

  • July 9, Whitewater Creek, Wis.: Gen. Atkinson Writes to Gen. Scott
    Henry Atkinson to Winfield Scott Genl: Atkinson To Genl Scott Head Qrs: of the Army on Rock River Camp, On White Water July 9th. 1832 ...I had been advised by the Secr of War of your approach with a large...

  • July 8, Fort Gratiot, Mich.: Cholera Strikes Down Gen. Winfield Scott's Army
    The ASIATIC CHOLERA... This was the enemy, the conqueror of conquerors, which attacked [General Winfield] Scott's expedition up the lakes, and soon destroyed all its power or utility as a military corps... Scott had, as we have said, embarked at...

  • July 6-7: The Son of William Clark Writes Home
    Meriwether Lewis Clark to William Clark Head Qrs Army of the Frontier July 6 [-7] 1832. My Dear Father, We are now about 5 miles above the mouth of White Water creek [modern Bark River] upon which we are now...

  • July 5, Lake Koshkonong, Wis.: Gen. Atkinson Orders Troops "To Be Firm"
    Henry Atkinson: Orders Head Qrs. Army of the Frontier Camp on Lake Cooshkeweink [Koshkonong] 5th July 1832 Order No. 48 The Comdg Genl. has been disappointed in not finding on his arrival at this place (day before yesterday) the enemy...

  • July 4, Lake Koshkonong, Wis.: Gen. Atkinson Interrogates a Dying Sauk
    On the 4th of July, some of our scouts had taken an old Sac Indian a prisoner, which in their flight, the rest of the Indians had run off and left. He was nearly starved to death, and literally blind....

  • July 4, Lake Koshkonong, Wis.: Morale Sinks Even Lower
    With a strong regular force and cannon, and the brigade under the immediate command of Gen. Henry [Dodge], Gen. Atkinson, and myself and staff commenced the march from Dixon up Rock River in pursuit of the enemy. This march was...

  • July 3, Prairie du Chien: Citizens Present Gun to Henry Dodge
    Citizens of Prairie du Chien to Henry Dodge Prairie du chien 3d. July 1832 Genl. Henry Dodge: Sir; The undersigned, Citizens of Prairie du chien, have witnessed, with feelings of high respect and admiration, the patriotic exertions which you have...

  • July 2: Hunting a Shadow
    War News from Galena July 2. A detachment of 60 mounted Volunteers, composed part of Captains Craig and Duncan's companies left town, by order of Col. Strode, under command of Major Stevenson, to join the main army, which is now...

  • July 1: A Veteran Describes the Hapless Militia
    Report of William Orr to John Y. Sawyer July 1, 1832 No citizen of our young state can feel more proud of it [the militia], or more sensitive in any thing touching its honor and its interests, and although holding...

  • A Farm Wife Describes Her Fears in a Letter
    Cynthiana July 21st, 1832 Dear Niece, You must attribute to indifference my not writing to you sooner. The disgusting situation of our country and my unexpected journey to this [Cynthiana, Kentucky] must plead some excuse for my apparent neglect. Dear...

  • June 28: Gen. Atkinson Starts Hunting for Black Hawk
    Genl. Atkinson - To Col. Dodge Head Qrs of the Army of the frontier Dixons ferry, 28th. June 1832 ...I shall move to day with Henry's Brigade of volunteers and the regular Troops up the left bank of Rock River...

  • June 27: White Crow Tries to Keep the Ho-Chunk Neutral
    Report of Oliver Emmell and White Crow [Speech of White Crow at Gratiot's Grove, Wisconsin June 27, 1832] ...Father I have spoken to you, to Gen. Atkinson, Gen. Dodge, and Col Hamilton. We now ask you to give us some...

  • June 27, Gratiot's Grove, Wis.: Spies Report on Black Hawk
    Report of Oliver Emmell and White Crow [Gratiot's Grove, Wisconsin, June 27, 1832] Report of Oliver Emmell, who with five indians was employed by Henry Gratiot sub Ind. agent, on the 14 inst, at the request of Gen. Dodge, to...

  • June 25: The Battle of Kellogg's Grove
    John Dement: Report of Battle at Kellogg's Grove On monday morning [April 25,] at about four Oclock, Majr. Dement received an express from Gratiots Grove, eighteen miles west of his encampment, informing him that large Indian trails leading towards the...

  • June 24, Elizabeth, Ill.: Women Save the Apple River Fort
    [An express party of five men led by Capt. Fredric Dixon] proceeded on their route, and reached Apple River Fort about noon. They found it in a very defenseless situation. Some of the inmates were out gathering berries, others sleeping,...

  • June 24, Elizabeth, Ill.: Black Hawk Attacks the Apple River Fort
    Finding that all was safe, I made a dog feast, preparatory to leaving my camp with a large party, (as the enemy were stationed so far off). Before my braves commenced feasting, I took my medicine bags, and addressed them...

  • June 22, Prairie Du Chien, Wis.: The Sioux Abandon War on Black Hawk
    Talk between Joseph M. Street and the Sioux June 22, 1832 The substance of a talk held at Prairie du Chien, 22nd June, 1832, by General Street, Indian Agent, with the Sioux, who turned back, after starting with Col. Hamilton...

  • June 22: Gov. Reynolds Ignores Criticism in the Press
    John Reynolds to Ninian Edwards Fort Wilburn 22 June 1832 Dear friend: - I am much more concerned at the anxiety of friends, and you are one, about the dissatisfaction of the people, than I am for my self. I...

  • June 21: A Soldier Denounces Gov. Reynolds in the Illinois Advocate
    Report of William Orr to John Sawyer, Editor of the Illinois Advocate Mr. Sawyer,... I must be permitted here to state that I arrived at Bairdstown, the place of rendezvous, with a mind entirely unbiassed against the commander-in-chief [Illinois Governor...

  • June 21, Kaukauna.: A Devout Christian Fears the Approaching Sauk
    Thurs. 21. Visited some and returned at dusk, & it was reported that the Sacs &c were about 70 m. from the Portage and coming this way; all was immediately alarm & confusion. Mr. & Mrs. Stevens passed the night...

  • June 19: "It has thrown this country back... at least ten years."
    William Campbell to Andrew Jackson Galena 17th [-19th] June, 1832. To the President of the United States:.. [Since I wrote you last] the Indians have killed thirty seven of our people that we know of, one of whom was killed...

  • June 17: James Stephenson Describes the Battle at Yellow Creek
    From James W. Stephenson Apple River, June 19, 1832 Dear Sir: - The night we left Galena ten more horses were stolen from this place; some of them from the stables within 30 yards of the fort. I took the...

  • June 16: Peter Parkinson Recalls the Battle of the Pecatonica
    Col. Dodge addressed the [militia company at Fort Hamilton]... by saying. "I shall start immediately in pursuit of the Indians, and I shall overtake them before I stop. Mark the language - I shall overtake them before I stop; and...

  • June 16: Henry Dodge Describes The Battle of the Pecatonica
    Henry Dodge to Henry Atkinson Fort Union June 18th 1832 Brigr General Atkinson Dear Sir... On the 16th. I started from my camp accompanied by two men and reached Fort Hamilton at 8 Oclock. Within about 400 yards from the...

  • June 15: Washington Replaces Atkinson with Gen. Winfield Scott
    Lewis Cass to Winfield Scott Department of War June 15th 1832 Sir, You will proceed without delay to Chicago, & assume the command of the regular troops & militia in the service of the United States, operating upon the frontiers...

  • June 15: Gen. Atkinson Prepares to March on Black Hawk
    Genl. Atkinson to Genl Macomb Head Qrs. Right Wing West Dept Fort Deposit near Ottoway June 15. 1832 General, I have the honour to inform you that the Illinois Militia called out by the Governor on my requisition have mostly...

  • June 13: A Soldier Writes to his Sister
    Stephen Mack to Lovicy Cooper Chicago, June 13, 1832 Dear Sister: I have been out on one expedition against the Sauke Indians since my last letter [of May 30], but we could not find them where we expected, and were...

  • June 12: Washington Chastises Gen. Atkinson for Inaction
    John Robb to Henry Atkinson Department of War, June 12th. 1832. Sir, Information has reached the Department, from Dixons Ferry, Hen-nepin, Rock Island, Chicago, Detroit, Galena, Prairie du Chien, and St. Louis, of the movements, depredations, and murders, committed by...

  • June 11: Genl. Atkinson Reaches Out to the Ho-Chunk
    Henry Atkinson to the Winnebago Indians [June 11, 1832] Talk to the Winebagoes To Whirling Thunder & the Crow, The other Chiefs and Braves of the Winnebago Nation Brothers, Your talk [of June 3-4 at Porter's Grove] has been brought...

  • June 10, Blue Mounds: Report of William Aubrey's Murder
    James M. Strode to Henry Atkinson Galena June the 10th. 1832 Sir: Being informed that you desired some information in respect to the movements of the hostile Indians in this quarter, I embrace the present opportunity with pleasure in forwarding...

  • June 9, Columbia, Missouri: Militia Form As Far Away As Missouri
    War News from Missouri Columbia, June 9, 1832. On Monday last, being the first day of our Circuit Court, a larger number of citizens assembled in Columbia than we have seen during our residence here, or indeed any where else...

  • June 8, Galena: An Army Surgeon Describes Conditions in Galena
    Horatio Newhall to Isaac Newhall Galena June 8th 1832 Dear Brother, Having an opportunity of forwarding a letter by an Express, I take occasion to write a line, not knowing when I may have another opportunity. The Indian War has...

  • June 8, St. Louis: William Clark Calls for "A War of Extermination"
    William Clark to Lewis Cass Superintendency of Ind: Affairs, St. Louis June 8, 1832. Sir. I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your three letters of 22nd. [Reproduced in this previous entry] ult:—one of which, accompanying a copy...

  • June 6: Ho-Chunk, Sioux & Menominee Warriors Join the Americans
    Joseph M. Street to Henry Atkinson U S. Indian Agency at Prairie du Chien June 6th. 1832. Br. Genl. H. Atkinson, Sir,...[After receiving your order, I went] to see the Sioux of Wabashaw's Village... There was 41 here at the...

  • June 5, Chicago: U.S. Indian Agent Challenges Gov. Reynolds
    Thomas J. V. Owen to the Public [Chicago, June 5, 1832] To the Public: Having understood, that his Excellency Governor Reynolds, has recently issued his Proclamation to the People, wherein he gratuitously gives it as his opinion, that the Pottawattamies...

  • June 2, Porter's Grove, Wis.: Col. Dodge and White Crow Negotiate
    The Indians were addressed by Col. Dodge as follows... There will be in a few days 2,000 mounted men in the field, who will revange the blood of our people which has been spilted by the Sacks; nothing but death...

  • June 1, Blue Mounds: The Hall Sisters Are Returned
    ...there was eight of us went out to them got the Girls and brought them in and my Wife dressed them in some of her clothes Their Uncle Charles Hall came out and met us as we were comeing in...

  • June 1, Porters Grove, Wis.: White Crow Delivers the Hall Girls
    My Fathers - as soon as I heard that the Sacks had two White Women Prisoners, we gathered all our people that was round us, and we made them turn out all their Wampum, & trinkets, and we made each...

  • June 1, Dixon's Ferry: "Our difficulties thicken on us daily"
    Zachary Taylor to Henry Atkinson Camp on Rock River June 1st. 1832 Genl... Our difficulties thicken on us daily, the people of Galena are perfectly panic struck, Majr. Stephenson arrived here on Monday with 75 men from that place, &...

  • Remembering the Black Hawk War
    In traveling over the prairies this officer sometimes halted for the night a long distance from water, much to the inconvenience of the men, who soon found a way to break him of this habit. As soon as he halted,...

  • May 30, Galena: The Killing of Felix St. Vrain
    War News from Galena Galena, Illinois, May 30, [On May 26th] ... Messrs. Thomas Kenney, Aqhuilla Floyd and Alexander Higginbottom arrived here [Galena] about 7 o'clock, A.M. They state that they left Gen. Atkinson's encampment at Dixon's ferry, on the...

  • May 29, Edwardsville, Ill: Harriet Buckmaster to Her Husband Nathaniel
    Edwardsville [Ill.] May 27th & 29th 1832 Dear Husband, You say in your last letter you think you shall be at home in a few weeks. I hope you will be dismissed and get home soon. I would like to...

  • May 29: Chicago Citizens Seek Safety
    Chicago Residents to James Stewart Chicago Illinois, May 29th. 1832 Col Stewart, Sub Indian Agent &ca. Sir We have been so situated at this place heretofore that it has been almost impossible for us to know what course to pursue...

  • May 27, Dixon's Ferry: Atkinson Tries to Ransom the Hall Sisters
    General Atkinson to H. Gratiot Esqr Head Qrs. Right Wing W D Dixons Ferry May 27th 1832 Sir In the attack of the Sac Indians on the Settlements... the 22d Inst, fifteen Men, Women, and Children were killed, young women...

  • Late May: Black Hawk Heads North
    Having returned to our encampment, and found that all our young men had come in, I sent out spies to watch the movements of the army, and commenced moving up Kishwacokee [Kishwaukee] with the balance of my people. I did...

  • Late May: Frightened Illinois Settlers Demand Protection
    Tazewell County Committee of Safety to John Reynolds Pekin Tazwell County Ill. May 23rd: 1832 Dear Sir- We the undersigners being appointed as a Committee of Safety, for the vicinity of Pekin, and the neighbouring fronttier - after matureing, the...

  • May 24, Militia Headquarters: "Disorder in the Brigade"
    Samuel Whiteside Orders General orders Head Quarters may 24th. 1832 The great disorder in the Brigade occasioned by the men's quiting their places in the line and scattering over the country renders it absolutely necessary to inflict punishment on every...

  • May 23: Laying Blame for the Black Hawk War
    Thomas Forsyth to George Davenport St. Louis 23d. May 1832 Dear Sir Your letter of the 19th. Inst. in answer to mine of the 25th. Ult. came to hand yesterday, and thank you for its contents. The information by express...

  • May 22: Washington Demands "Energetic Measures"
    Alexander Macomb to Henry Atkinson Head Quarters of the Army Washington 22 May 1832 Sir: It is understood that Black Hawk, and his associates, finding that the Pottawatomies and Winnebagos are unwilling to join them in their contemplated hostilities, have...

  • May 21, Indian Creek, Ill.: Abduction of the Hall Sisters
    ... The first and most fatal [attack] was upon a small settlement on Indian Creek, running into Fox river, where were settled about twenty families, who, not being apprized of their approach, became an easy prey to their savage enemies...

  • May 19 & 20, Galena, Ill: "If Tears Were of Use I Could Shed Them"
    Horatio Newhall to Isaac Newhall Galena May 19th 1832 Dear Brother, .... We had four Steam Boat arrivals yesterday, and one this morning. One from Prairie du Chien with arms, one from Rock Island with arms and Cannon, and the...

  • May 18, Sangamo Journal: Laying the Blame for Stillman's Run
    The following Letter, from An Officer of the Army, is published at the request of the writer, who pledges himself for the correctness of the statements, contained therein.... Head-Quarters, Dixon's, on Rock River, May 18, 1832. Dear Sir: Gen. Atkinson......

  • May 18: Gen. Samuel Whiteside Describes His Pursuit of Black Hawk
    Head Quarters, Brigade of Mounted Volunteers, Dixons, May 18, 1832. Brig. Genl. H. Atkinson Sir In pursuance of your order of the 9th. Inst., the Brigade of Mounted Volunteers under my command, arrived at this place on the morning of...

  • May 15: Gov. Reynolds Calls for 2,000 More Troops
    John Reynolds: Proclamation To the Militia of the State of Illinois Dixons on Rock River. [May 15, 1832] It becomes my duty again to call on you for your services in the Defence of your country, the State is not...

  • May 15: Militia Commanders Report on Stillman's Run
    Samuel Whiteside and John Reynolds to Henry Atkinson Camp at Dixon's 15 May 1832 Genl. Atkinson The party of men which I sent out to the Old Man's Creek have been defeated by the Indians. Some have returned, and we...

  • May 14: A Soldier Puts a Spin on Stillman's Run in the Press
    Andrew H. Maxfield to the Sangamo Journal After a pursuit of about five miles up Rock river, we overtook the fugitives, and found them armed with bows and arrows, spears and rifles. At the further edge of a ravine, about...

  • May 14: Black Hawk's Victory at the Battle of Stillman's Run
    ...The alarm was given. Nearly all my young men were absent ten miles away. I started with what I had left, about forty, and had proceeded but a short distance, before we saw a part of the army approaching. I...

  • May 14, Old Man's Creek: The Militia Ignore Black Hawk's White Flag
    I had a dog killed, and made a feast. When it was ready, I spread my medicine bags, and the chiefs began to eat. When the ceremony was about ending, I received news that three or four hundred white men...

  • May 12, Dixon's Ferry: Gov. Reynolds sends Maj. Stillman against Black Hawk
    Samuel Whiteside to Henry Atkinson Head Quarters, May 12th. 1832. Dixons Ferry, Camp No. 10 General Atkinson Sir I arrived here this day at 10 Oclock A.M. with the intention of pursuing the hostile Indians, but from the best information...

  • May 12: The Militia Is Warned Against Attacking Friendly Tribes
    Thomas J. V. Owen to John Reynolds Indian Agency Chicago May. 12, 1832 To His Excellency—John Reynolds Gov. of the State of Illinois Sir A deputation, from the United Tribes of Potawatimies, Ottowas & Chippeways waited on me this morning,...

  • May 10, Blue Mounds: Forts of the Black Hawk War
    Edward Beouchard's Narrative: On the 10th of May, 1832, the settlers in the vicinity of the Blue Mounds commenced building the Mound Fort; they were about two weeks at work on it, at intervals, before it was completed. The buildings...

  • May 9, Rock Island: A Militia Major Writes Home
    Nathaniel Buckmaster to Harriet Ann Buckmaster Head querters Western Department Mouth of Rock River Campt No 8 May 9h 1832. Dear Wife Yesterday we was musterd in to servis of the united States, General Atkinsen, and will to morrow Morning...

  • May 8: Gen. Atkinson Takes Over the Militia
    Henry Atkinson to John Reynolds Head Quarters Right Wing West: Depart: Mouth of rock river 8th. May 1832 Sir The attitude assumed by the band of Indians known as Black Hawk's band, and by the Winnebago Prophet & his followers,...

  • The Phrenology of Black Hawk
    Having given the relative size of the organs of Black Hawk, we will now deduce the phrenological analysis of his character, and then present the coincidence between what phrenology describes his character to be, and what his life, thus far,...

  • May 5, Yellow Banks: Feeding the Militia
    John Reynolds to Henry Atkinson Camp at Yellow Banks May 5 1832 To Gen. Atkinson, or other officer commanding at Fort Armstrong Sir -- The Steam Boats which were to meet the mounted volunteers at this place on the 3rd...

  • May 5: Washington Approves the War
    Lewis Cass to John Reynolds Department of War May 5th. 1832. Sir I have had the honor to receive your letters of the 17th. and 18th. I Ulto., and have submitted them to the President. His views of the matter,...

  • Black Hawk as a Neighbor
    After he [Black Hawk] had been made comfortable, my wife gave him a half a mince pie and some coffee and he ate this with relish. When he was through he got ready to go on after having thanked her...

  • Early May: "Killing, Indiscriminately, All the Indians They Met."
    Illinois Governor John Reynolds on the militia: The brigade organized, and marching in the large prairies toward Rock Island, made a grand display. The material was an energetic and efficient troop, possessing all the qualities, except discipline, that were necessary...

  • May 1, Beardstown, Ill.: The Militia Moves Out
    Headquarters, Beardstown, May 1st. 1832. Dear Brother: We have just arrived at headquarters and have been mustered into service. All is confusion and bustle. Fifteen hundred men were just equipped and ferried across the Illinois river at this place. The...

  • May 1: Black Hawk Discovers the Truth
    Having ascertained that White Beaver would not permit us to remain where we were, I began to consider what was best to be done, and concluded to keep on up the river, see the Pottowattomies and have a talk with...

  • April 28, Rock Island: White Crow Pledges His Neutrality
    Minutes of a talk... by General Atkinson U.S.A. with... White Crow, a War chief of Winnebagoes. White Crow rose & said,... My father, [although] there is very often great many fools among us, there never has been any blood shed...

  • April 28: "War is declared, send out expresses"
    John Dixon to Isaiah Stillman Dixons Ferry April 28th 1832 Genl Stillman Sir, I have a moment to say that this morning Black Hawk & his band came here & most of them have gone up the River -- destination...

  • April 28: Black Hawk Describes Gratiot's Visit
    Soon after the express returned, Mr. Gratiot, sub-agent for the Winnebagoes, came to our encampment. He had no interpreter, and was compelled to talk through his chiefs. They said the object of his mission was to persuade us to return....

  • April 27, Prophetstown, Ill.: Henry Gratiot Urges Black Hawk to Go Back
    ...Mr. Gratiot took twenty-four men of the [Ho-Chunk] Turtle village to accompany him to The Prophet's town, at which place they arrived on the 25th... On the 26th Mr. Gratiot saw at a distance about two miles down Rock River...

  • April 26: Black Hawk's Envoy Replies to Gen. Atkinson
    Answer of Black Hawk and His Band to Henry Atkinson [Fort Armstrong, April 26, 1832]: Wa-com-me [Atkinson's Sauk messenger] delivered the answers as follows. To wit: Napope, now the principal chief, said: We have no bad feelings, why do they...

  • April 25, Rock River: Black Hawk Stands His Ground
    Having met with no opposition, we moved up Rock river leisurely for some distance, when we were overtaken by an express from White Beaver [Gen. Atkinson], with an ORDER for me to return with my band and recross the Mississippi...

  • April 24, Fort Armstrong: Gen. Atkinson Writes to Black Hawk
    Henry Atkinson to Black Hawk Fort Armstrong, 24th. April 1832. To Black Hawk and the Chiefs & Braves of his Band. I am sorry to learn that you have taken your Band across the Mississippi and carried them up on...

  • April 23: The Militia Prepares to March North
    John Reynolds to Isaiah Stillman Beardstown 23rd April : Dear Sir I will try to march from this place on the 28th inst with mounted men to the mississippi at or near the mouth of Hendersons. This Route is taken...

  • The Illinois Press Whips Up Fighting Spirit
    Brave Sangamo hath arm'd All to defend her right. Arouse ye bold Kentucky boys The foremost in the fight Away! away! away! [Source: Sangamo Journal, Apr, 26, 1832.]...

  • April 21: Abraham Lincoln in the Black Hawk War
    I was raised to farm work, which I continued till I was twenty-two. At twenty-one I came to Illinois, Macon County. Then I got to New Salem, at that time in Sangamon, now in Menard County, where I remained a...

  • April 20: Jefferson Davis in the Black Hawk War
    [In 1887 Jefferson Davis told a reporter:] We were one day pursuing the Indians, when we came to the Wisconsin River. Reaching the river bank, the Indians made so determined a stand, and fought with such desperation, that they held...

  • April 19: Gen. Atkinson Warns Keokuk to Remain Neutral
    Fort Armstrong Council Rock Island 19th. April 1832 The Sac & Fox Nation friendly to the U. States [ie., the faction led by Keokuk] being assembled near Fort Armstrong, Genl. Atkinson met them and said: ... I am going to...

  • April 18: Who Were the Militia?
    [In 1834, at Yellow Banks, Ill., a local Indian trader told Rev. Cutting Marsh that during the war] he considered the barbarity of the whites as great as that of the Indians for they would kill the women and children...

  • April 17: Gov. Reynolds Informs Washington
    John Reynolds to Lewis Cass State of Illinois Belleville April 17, 1832 The Hon. The Secy of War, Of the United States Sir. The State is again invaded by the hostile Indians and the country is in imminent danger. This...

  • April 16: Gov. Reynolds Calls Out the Militia
    John Reynolds to the Militia of the Northwestern Section of the State April 16, 1832 Fellow-Citizens: Your country requires your services. The Indians have assumed a hostile attitude, and have invaded the State, in violation of the Treaty of last...

  • April 13: "The Frontier is in Great Danger"
    Henry Atkinson to John Reynolds Fort Armstrong 13th. April 1832 Dear Sir The Band of Sacs, under Black Hawk, joined by about One hundred Kickapoos, and a few Pottawattimies amounting in all to about five hundred men have assumed a...

  • The War Dept. Justifies Indian Removal
    It would be miserable affectation to regret the progress of civilization and improvement, the triumph of industry and art, by which these regions have been reclaimed, and over which freedom, religion, and science are extending their sway. But we may...

  • April 13, Fort Armstrong: Atkinson Warns Keokuk
    Fort Armstrong Council Rock Island 13th. April 1832 In a Council held at Fort Armstrong Rock Island by Brig: Gen. Atkinison U.S. Army on the part of the Government of the U. States, and Keokuk, and the principal friendly Chiefs...

  • April 12, Yellow Banks: Black Hawk Crosses the Mississippi
    John Bliss to Henry Atkinson Hd. Qrs. Fort Armstrong April 12th. 1832 The express who arrived today says that Indians were crossing their horses, when he arrived at the yellow banks, that at Sturgeons Bay the Indians started all their...

  • "The Origin of All Our Serious Difficulties"
    ART. II. The general boundary line between the lands of the United States and of the said Indian tribes shall be as follows, to wit: Beginning at a point on the Missouri river opposite to the mouth of the Gasconade...

  • Keokuk - The Watchful Fox
    Nothing was talked of but leaving our village. Ke-o-kuk had been persuaded to consent to go; and was using all his influence, backed by the war chief [General Atkinson] at Fort Armstrong and our agent and trader at Rock Island,...

  • Black Hawk's Concept of Property
    My reason teaches me that land cannot be sold. The Great Spirit gave it to his children to live upon, and cultivate as far as necessary for their subsistence; and so long as they occupy and cultivate it, they have...

  • Andrew Jackson's Indian Removal Policy
    ... I suggest for your consideration the propriety of setting apart an ample district west of the Mississippi, and without the limits [i.e., outside] of any State or Territory now formed, to be guaranteed to the Indian tribes as long...

  • April 7, St. Louis: Gen. Atkinson Takes Command
    Henry Atkinson to Alexander Macomb Head Qrs R. Wing W. Dept 7th. April 1832 General The transports will be down this evening, & I shall embark the command in the morning, & proceed without delay to Rock Island. Thence in...

  • April 6: The U.S. Suspects Black Hawk Is Crossing the Mississippi
    Q. (Major John Bliss): They tell me you have invited the British band of Sac Indians to stay at your village. A. (The Prophet): I was not drunk when I told the Agent so yesterday, I did ask them, because...

  • Early April: Forcing White Justice on the Tribes
    A short time after this [in 1831], a party of Foxes went up to Prairie du Chien to avenge the murder of their chiefs and relations, which had been committed the summer previous, by the Menominees and Sioux. When they...

  • Early 1832: Expectations of British Support
    About this time [Black Hawk later recalled], Neapope, who started to Malden when it was ascertained that the great war chief, General Gaines, was coming to remove us, returned. He said he had seen the chief of our British Father,...

  • Summer, 1831: "I am a Sac!"
    [Gen. Edward Gaines:] "The president is very sorry to be put to the trouble and expense of sending so large a body of soldiers here to remove you from the lands you have long since ceded to the United States....

  • Frontier Conditions Before the War
    [Joseph Street to Ninian Edwards:] The Indians had been soured by the conduct of the vast number of adventurers flocking to and working the lead mines of Fever River. Those who went by land, by far the greater part, passed...

  • Events Leading Up to the War
    At the beginning of the 19th century, the Fox (Mesquakie) Indians numbered about 1,600 people and the Sauk about 4,800. Both tribes lived along the Mississippi River, from the modern border between Missouri and Iowa in the south to the...

  • A Timeline of the Black Hawk War, 1832
    1832, April 5-6: Black Hawk's band crossed the Mississippi near the mouth of the Des Moines River (at the Iowa-Missouri border). It moved north up the Illinois shore, intending to make a stand at Saukenuk or move up the Rock...

  • Bibliographical and Editorial Note
    The eyewitness accounts given here each day have been drawn from a wide variety of materials in the collections of the Wisconsin Historical Society. First, we incorporated many of the original manuscripts, articles, rare books, and images included in the...



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