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Term: Black Hawk War (1832)


in April of 1832 the Sauk chief Black Hawk led ca. 1,700 followers back to their homeland at the mouth of the Rock River, which had been occupied by white squatters; that summer U.S. troops and local militia pursued them across northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin, ignoring or misunderstandingtheir offers to surrender, until the massacre at the Battle of Bad Axe, Aug. 2, 1832.

A Timeline of the Black Hawk War

1.Events Leading Up to the War

1804: The Fox (Mesquakie) Indians numbered about 1,600 and the Sauk about 4,800. Both tribes lived mostly along the Mississippi River, from the Des Moines River north to Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin. The town of Saukenuk, on a point overlooking the mouth of the Rock River (at modern Rock Island, Illinois), was the center of Sauk and Fox life. It was their largest village, with more than 100 multi-family lodges, and could field 1,000 warriors.

1804: The U.S. concluded the Treaty of St. Louis with the Sauk and Fox. When it was signed, the U.S. believed it had bought all Sauk and Fox lands east of the Mississippi, though the treaty allowed the tribes to stay on it until asked to leave by the U.S. government. Many Sauk and Fox leaders, however, considered it invalid because its two signers had not been authorized to speak for the whole tribe at the time it was drawn up. Even its signers contended they had never ceded anything north of the Rock River, including the village of Saukenuk on the northern bank.

1806: Lewis and Clark called the Sauk and Fox the best hunters on the Mississippi and Missouri, estimating they supplied $10,000 in furs to traders each year.

1812-15: During the War of 1812, most Sauk and Fox (and Ho-Chunk) supported the British, with Black Hawk in command. The British promised that a U.S. defeat would restore the 1795 boundaries of the Treaty of Greenville and remove Americans from their lands. At the end of the war, the British betrayed their word to the Indians: frontiers were not restored to the 1795 lines. Instead, the U.S. gained complete control of military, political, and fur trade affairs in the West. In 1816 the Treaty of 1804 was re-affirmed by the Fox and some Sauk bands, but not the Rock Island bands.

1828, May: the Sauk and Fox were given one year's notice to move across the Mississippi under the Treaty of 1804.

1829, spring: About 20 white families illegally occupied parts of the town of Saukenuk near the mouth of the Rock River, destroying homes and fencing fields. The U.S. Indian agent protested this action to the federal government, without effect.

1829, Sept.: Sauk chief Keokuk (30 years younger than Black Hawk) thought resistance to the U.S. was futile, and led the Sauk and Fox, including Black Hawk's band, across the Mississippi to start a new village on the Iowa River.

1830, spring: Black Hawk's band, which had never recognized the Treaty of St. Louis, returned to Saukenuk to plant their crops in the spring as usual and found it almost completely occupied by white squatters.

1830, summer: Black Hawk visited Canada for advice from his old allies, and the British supported his view that Saukenuk belonged to the Indians. Leaving on his summer hunt, Black Hawk sent emissaries to tribes as far away as Texas in search of support for his opposition to the U.S.

1830-1831, winter: the Sauk and Fox in Iowa nearly starved to death because they lacked their annual harvest of corn.

1831, spring: Black Hawk's band returned again to Saukenuk to plant corn. Troops and militia were called out, and at a council in June the Indians were told they could leave voluntarily or at the point of a bayonet. On June 26, U.S. troops attacked Saukenuk ar dawn but found the Indians already departed. On June 30, Black Hawk reluctantly signed an agreement to leave the east side of the Mississippi forever, and the U.S. agreed to supply them with the same amount of corn left in their fields at Saukenuk.

1831, autumn: Neapope, Black Hawk's chief advisor and leading warrior returned from Canada and a nearby Ho-Chunk village. He told Black Hawk that the British, Potawatomi, Ojibwe, Ottawa, and Ho-Chunk would all support the Sauk if they made a stand at Saukenuk. Keokuk persuaded most of the Sauk and Fox this was a lie or a misunderstanding, but many supported Black Hawk nonetheless.

2. Military Events, 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 River to join forces with the supposed Indian and British allies.

1832, April 8: U.S. troops started up from St. Louis by boat, passing Black Hawk's band on the 11th.

1832, April 13: Black Hawk's band arrived at Saukenuk.

1832, April 24: U.S. officers sent emissaries to Black Hawk's band giving them one last chance to withdraw across the Mississippi, but it was rejected. Black Hawk, at the village of the Winnebago Prophet, a few miles up the Rock River, learned that most of the Ho-Chunk would not, in fact, support him.

1832, April 25: Black Hawk's band began moving east up the Rock River to join forces with the Potawatomi, as well as British forces rumored to be coming to Milwaukee.

1832, April 28: Black Hawk's band arrived at Dixon's Ferry, Ill., seeking help from the Potawatomi.

1832, May 10: U.S. troops and militia started in pursuit, burning a Ho-Chunk village a few miles upriver from Saukenuk and reaching Dixon's Ferry, Ill. Black Hawk's band had moved 25 miles further upriver, to the mouth of the Kishwaukee. There Black Hawk learned that the Potawatomi would not support him either, and that no British allies were coming.

1832, May 13: Battle of Stillman's Run. About 10 miles southwest of modern Rockford, Ill., militia camped close behind the Sauk. Black Hawk sent three emissaries under a white flag of truce to invite the militia leader to meet and discuss a surrender. Despite the white flag, the troops attacked, killing one of the emissaries and charging the Sauk camp. In the ensuing battle, 40 Sauk warriors repulsed 275 militia, who fled in fear and confusion.

1832, May 14-20: Convinced that the whites would not obey the conventions of warfare and fearing extermination, Black Hawk's band went up the Kishwaukie River south of modern Rockford. Two sympathetic Ho-Chunk Indians offered to guide them up the Rock River into Wisconsin.

1832, May 21: Potawatomi and Sauk warriors seeking supplies for the retreating band massacred white settlers at Indian Creek, 12 miles north of modern Ottawa, Ill.

1832, June 16: Battle of the Pecatonica. 22 militia soldiers defeated a Sauk raiding party of 11 warriors who were foraging for supplies. The main body of Black Hawk's band was north of Lake Koshkonong at the time.

1832, July 1: U.S. troops and militia reached the site of modern Beloit, Wis. On July 3 they arrived at Lake Koshkonong, near modern Fort Atkinson, Wis., but discovered the Indians had gone.

1832, early July: The Sauk and their allies had run out of food and begun to starve. Many elders and children would die of starvation, exhaustion, and exposure before the war's final military engagement 30 days later.

1832, July 11: Black Hawk's band reached the head of the Rock River at Hustisford, Wis., and paused at modern Horicon Marsh to consider their options.

1832, July 18: U.S. troops and militia stumbled across the Indians' trail 12 miles south of Hustisford.

1832, July 21: Troops and militia chased the retreating Sauk through the isthmus that would become downtown Madison, around Lake Mendota, and to the Wisconsin River across from modern Prairie du Sac, killing sick and elderly stragglers who could not keep up due to weakness.

1832, July 21: Battle of Wisconsin Heights. Ca. 60 Sauk warriors held off 700 troops under Henry Dodge while the Indian non-combatants crossed the river to safety. Before dawn, Sauk leader Neapope, concealed in a tree, verbally offered to negotiate a surrender; the troops lacked an interpreter and ignored him.

1832, July 28: The main body of troops and militia crossed the Wisconsin further downriver at Helena, Wis., and resumed the pursuit.

1832, Aug. 1: Black Hawk's band reached the Mississippi at the mouth of the Bad Axe River, in modern Vernon County between Prairie du Chien and LaCrosse. While they were preparing to cross, the steamboat Warrior appeared. Ignoring their white flag of truce, its captain fired cannon indiscriminately at the Sauk, killing 23. Black Hawk and his closest supporters decided to continue upriver but most of the Indians prefered to attempt to cross the Mississippi the next morning.

1832, Aug. 2: Massacre at Bad Axe. Overnight, U.S. troops caught up with the Sauk and charged them at dawn from the bluffs, firing indiscrimately at warriors, women, children, and the elderly. The steamboat Warrior returned to the scene about 10:00 a.m,, firing its cannon at the Indians who vainly sought cover on the riverbank and the islands until by noon only a small number were left alive. About 90 Sauk made it across the Mississippi, where 68 were killed by the Sioux (allied with the U.S.).

1832, Aug.: Sauk chief Keokuk, who had oppposed Black Hawk's plan from the start, turned over Neapope to white authorities on the 20th. Ho-Chunk warriors One-eyed Decorah and Chaetar caught Black Hawk at Wisconsin Dells and turned him over to authorities a few days later.

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 imprisoned at Jefferson Barracks, St. Louis.

3. The Aftermath of the War

1833, April: Black Hawk and The Winnebago Prophet were moved to a prison at Norfolk, Va.

1833, June-Aug.: Black Hawk and The Winnebago Prophet were sent on a tour of eastern cities, where enormous crowds turned out to see them. On their return, Black Hawk said, "Brothers, we have seen how great a people the whites are. They are very rich and very strong -- it is folly for us to fight them."

1833-1836: the Sauk and Fox lived on the Iowa River, where Keokuk was their principal chief and where Black Hawk died in 1838. Between 1836 and 1846 they were forced further west in Iowa, and their population fell from 6,000 to 2,477.

1846: the remaining Sauk and Fox were pushed to the headwaters of the Osage River in Kansas.

View more information elsewhere at

View pictures related to Indians at Wisconsin Historical Images.

View related articles at Wisconsin Magazine of History Archives.

[Source: Wyman, Mark. The Wisconsin Frontier (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1998). Hagan, William T. The Sauk and Fox Indians (Univ. of Oklahoma Press, 1958). ]

317 records found

"Kissel" (Historic Marker)
Abraham, Harvey R. 1895
Adams, Henry Cullen 1850 - 1906
Adler, David 1821 - 1905
Alexander, Walter 1849 - 1926
Allen Family (Historic Marker Erected 1976)
Allen, Carolyn Blanchard 1921
Allen, William Francis 1830 - 1889
Allis, Edward Phelps 1824 - 1889
American Craftsman (architecture)
Anderson, Gerald K. 1921
Anderson, Thomas Carl 1865 - 1948
Andrews, Frank Edmund 1874 - 1947
Andrews, Roy Chapman (1884 - 1960)
Anneke, Mathilde Franziska (Giesler) 1817 - 1884
Antaramian, John M. 1954
Appleby, John Francis 1840 - 1917
Appleton [brief history]
Armour, Philip Danforth 1832 - 1901
Arte Moderne (architecture)
Austrians in Wisconsin
automobile industry in Wisconsin
Babcock, Joseph Weeks 1850 - 1909
badger [origin of name]
Baird, Henry Samuel 1800 - 1875
Baker, Ray Stannard [David Grayson] 1870 - 1946
Bardeen, Charles Valdo 1850 - 1903
Bardon, Thomas 1848 - 1923
Barnes, Lyman Eddy 1855 - 1904
Beal, Polly W. 1942
Bean, Jacob Linsley 1809 - 1855
Becker, Dismas 1936
Beloit [brief history]
Benson, Taylor
Berceau, Terese 1950
Black Hawk War (1832)
Blanchard, Alvin 1830 - 1910
Blue Mounds (geology)
Bolens, Harry Wilbur 1864 - 1944
Booth, Sherman Miller 1812 - 1904
Bovee, Marvin Henry 1827 - 1888
Boyhood Home of Jeremiah Curtin (1835-1906) (Histo
Brandel, John Christian (1842 - 1919)
Brandel, Mary Margaret (1907 - 1993)
Braun, Warren D. 1934
Bravo, Ellen Leslie b. March 25th, 1944
Brevoort, Maj. Henry B.
Brewer, Richard M. (1850-1878)(Historic Marker Ere
Brigham Park (Historic Marker Erected 1955)
Brigham, Jerome Ripley 1825 - 1897
Brown, Thurlow Weed 1819 - 1866
Buck, Philo Melvin Jr. 1877 - 1950
Busby, Allen J. 1900
Buslett, Ole Amundsen 1855 - 1924
Caddie Woodlawn (Historic Marker Erected 1970)
Cargill, William Wallace 1844 - 1909
Caron, or Carron
Carr, Peter P.
Carver Grant
Carver, Jonathan 1710 - 1780
Cary, William Joseph 1865 - 1934
Caspar Partridge case, 1850-1855
Caswell, Lucien Bonaparte 1827 - 1919
Chamberlin, Thomas Chrowder 1843 - 1928
Chapman, Chandler Pease 1844 - 1897
Chilsen, Walter J. 1923
Chynoweth, Mary Hayes (1825-1905)
Cirilli, Arthur A. 1914
Clarenbach, David E. 1953
Clarke, Bascom B., 1851 - 1929
Cochran, Joseph William 1842 - 1914
Coggs, Marcia P. 1928
Colby, Gardner 1810 - 1879
Coleman, William Werner 1835 - 1888
Collie, George Lucius 1857 - 1954
Colman, Charles Lane 1826 - 1901
Columbia County [origin of place name]
Comstock, George Cary 1855 - 1934
Conkey, Theodore 1819 - 1880
Corby, Ellen 1913 - 1999
Cottage Inn, Lafayette Co.
Country Life Movement
Cowles, Robert L. 1950
Cranberry Culture (Historic Marker Erected 1958)
Crawford, George 1849 - 1927
Crelie, Joseph 1773 - 1866
Crownhart, Charles Henry 1863 - 1930
Cudahy, Patrick 1849 - 1919
dairy industry in Wisconsin
Dean House (Historic Marker Erected 1998)
Decorah family
Deitz (Dietz), John F. 1861 - 1924
Dempsey, Chester E. 1896
Dessert, Joseph 1819 - 1910
Dewey's Corners [origin of place name]
Dheinsville Settlement (Historic Marker Erected 19
Dodge's Grove and Fort Union (Historic Marker Erec
Dodge, Henry 1782 - 1867
Dodge, Joseph Thompson 1823 - 1904
Dousman, Hercules Louis 1800 - 1868
Draper, Lyman Copeland 1815 - 1891
Durward, Bernard Isaac 1817 - 1902
Early Dutch Settlers (Historic Marker Erected 1996
Egyptian revival (architecture)
Eikenberry, Jill 1947 -
Eldredge, Charles Augustus 1820 - 1896
English immigrants in Wisconsin
Fairchild, Col. Cassius (18291868)
Falk, Franz Lorenz 1824 - 1882
Fallows, Samuel 1835 - 1922
Farwell, Leonard James 1819 - 1889
Favill, Stephen 1823 - 1906
Felder, Emma 1927 - 2008
First Swedish Settlers in Wisconsin (Historic Mark
floods in Wisconsin
Fort Blue Mounds
Friske, Donald 1961
Garland, Hamlin (1860-1940)(Historic Marker Erecte
Gee, Harvey F. 1908
Great Depression
Green Bay [brief history]
Green, Mark A. 1960
Grignon, Charles Augustin, 1808 - 1862
Grignon, Pierre Sr. 1740 - 1795
Griswold, Hattie [Tyng] 1840 - 1909
Gugler Lithographic Company
Hansen, Robert W. 1911
Harvey, Cordelia (18241895)
Harvey, Cordelia (Historic Marker Erected 1991)
Hauser, Jacob 1845 - 1931
Hawley, Col. William (1824-1873)
Hecht, Ben 1894 - 1964
Heg, Col. Hans Christian (1829-1863)
Heinemann, Benjamin 1850 - 1919
Hill, Charles Lewis 1869 - 1957
Hirshheimer, Albert 1840 - 1924
Ho-Chunk Indians
Horlicksville [origin of place name]
Horner, John Scott 1802 - 1883
Houdini, Harry 1874 - 1926
Houser, Walter L. 1855 - 1928
How-Beckman Mill (Historic Marker Erected 1997)
Hoxie, Vinnie Ream 1847 - 1914
Huebsch, Michael D. 1964
Jackson, James Albert 1840 - 1921
Jackson, Joseph 1812 - 1881
Jefferson, Jefferson Co.
Jefferson, Thomas (descendants in Wisconsin)
Jens, Salome 1935 -
Jensen, Scott R. 1960
Jerusalem Corners [origin of place name]
John F. Deitz: "Battle of Cameron Dam" (Historic M
John Muir Country (Historic Marker Erected 1969)
Johnson, Alfred Stanley, jr. 1863 - 1932
Johnson, Jay W. 1943
Johnson, John Anders 1832 - 1901
Johnson, Samuel Curtis 1833 - 1919
Johnson, Warren S. 1847 - 1911
Jolliet, Louis 1645 - 1700
Jones, John Reynolds (1851 - 1928)
Joss, Adrian "Addie" (Historic Marker Erected 1986
Juneau, Solomon 1793 - 1856
Junkermann, Otto C.
Kabler, Beatrice Ann Parks. 1928-
Kasten Jr., Robert W. 1942
Keegan, Jr., Earl 1921
Kellogg, Amherst Willoughby 1829 - 1923
Kennan, Thomas Lathrop 1827 - 1920
Kestell, Steve 1955
Keyes, Elisha Williams 1828 - 1910
Kingston [origin of place name]
Knapp, John Holly [Jr.] 1825 - 1888
Kneeland, James 1816 - 1899
Kneeland, Moses 1809 - 1864
Kohler, Marie Christine 1876 - 1943
Kohler, Ruth Miriam [De Young] 1906 - 1953
Krusick, Peggy 1956
Kunicki, Walter J. 1958
La Follette, Robert Marion Sr. 1855 - 1925
La Follette, Robert Marion, Jr., 1895 - 1953
La Grange, Col. Oscar H. (1837-1915)
Laird, Melvin R. 1922 -
Landreth, Albert 1858 - 1899
Langner, Arnold W. F. 1925
Larrabee, Charles Hathaway 1820 - 1883
Leach, Eugene Walter 1857 - 1938
Leahy, William D., Fleet Admiral, U.S. Navy (1875-
Lehman, John W. 1945
Lindsay, Edmond James 1838 - 1924
Linton, Barbara J. 1952
Lipscomb, Jr., Mark G. 1935
Lumberjacks' nicknames (logging)
Lyon, Lucius, 1800-1851
Lyons (township) [origin of place name]
manufacturing in Wisconsin
Marin, Joseph, dates unverified
Marshall, Rouget De Lisle 1847 - 1922
Mayer, Stephan F. 1854 - 1935
McArthur, Gen. Arthur (1845-1912)
Mccoy, Robert Bruce 1867 - 1926
McKee, Lt. Col. David (1828-1862)
Mears, Helen Farnsworth 1872 - 1916
Meaux, Thomas W. 1954
Medford [origin of place name]
Meeker, Moses 1790 - 1865
Merrill Park (Historic Marker Erected 1997)
Meunier, Alex J. 1897
Miller, Marjorie "Midge" 1922
Milton House (HIstoric Marker Erected 1961)
Moen, Rodney C. 1937
Monberg, Lawrence 1900 - 1983
Montgomery, Phil 1957
Moore, Annie Aubertine [Woodward] 1841 - 1929
Moore, William (1827-1862)
Morris, Lucy Smith (1850-1935)(Historic Marker Ere
Moser, William R. 1927
Mosse, George Lachmann 1918 - 1999
Muir, John 1838 - 1914
Munts, Mary Lou 1924
Murphy, Roger P. 1923
Mylrea, William Henry 1853 - 1916
Neillsville [origin of place name]
Neubauer, Jeffrey A. 1955
Neumann, Mark W. 1954
New Richmond tornado (1899)
Nye, Edgar Wilson (1850-1896) (Historic Marker Ere
O'Keefe, Georgia (1887 - 1996)
Obey, David R. (b. 1938)
Octagon House (Historic Marker Erected 1957)
Old Abe, the War Eagle
Olsen, Luther S. 1951
Ourada, Thomas D. 1958
Owen, William E. 1888
Owens, Carol 1931
Paine, Edward Lathrop 1801 - 1893
Peck, Roseline [Willard] [Mrs. Eben Peck) 1808 - 1
Petak, George 1949
Philipp, Emanuel Lorenz 1861 - 1925
Pier, Kate [Hamilton] 1845 - 1925
Plache, Kimberly M. 1961
Pleasant Ridge African American Community (Histori
Pleasant Ridge, Grant Co.
Poplawski, Stephen J. 1885 - 1956
Preston [origin of place name]
Puerto Ricans in Wisconsin
Quiner, Emily (or Emelie) 1839 - 1919
Quinney, John W. 1797 - 1855
Reber, Louis Ehrhart 1858 - 1948
Red Cloud, Mitchell Jr. (1925-1950) (Historic Mark
Rexford, Eben Eugene 1848 - 1916
Rice Lake [brief history]
Riddles, Libby (born 1956)
Roessler, Carol A. 1948
Rosenzweig, Peggy A. 1936
Rueping [Ruping], William ["Heinrich","Wilhelm"] 1
Ruger, Gen. Thomas H. (1833-1907)
Rutkowski, James A. 1942
Ryan, Paul 1970
Salzmann, Joseph 1819 - 1874
Schilling, Robert 1843 - 1922
Schlitz, Joseph 1831 - 1875
Schmidt, Gary J. 1947
Seery, Thomas 1945
Sell, Ronald A. 1945
Shaw, Daniel 1813 - 1881
Sherman [origin of place name]
Shilling, Jennifer 1969
Shopiere [origin of place name]
Showerman, Grant 1870 - 1935
Sicula, Paul E. 1939
Slichter, Charles Sumner 1864 - 1946
Slovenians in Wisconsin
Smith, George Baldwin 1823 - 1879
Sobocinski, Sherman R. 1927
Soldiers Grove, Village of, Crawford Co.
South Greenville Grange No. 225 (Historic Marker E
Springer, Thomas J. 1968
Staskunas, Anthony J. 1961
Stevens, John 1840 - 1920
Struebing, Wilmer H. 1910
Sturdevant, Lafayette Monroe 1856 - 1923
Summer White House - 1928 (Historic Marker Erected
Tainter, Andrew 1823 - 1899
Tank, Nils Otto 1800 - 1864
Tanner, Herbert Battles 1859 - 1933
Tenney, Horace Addison 1820 - 1906
The Raube Road Site (Historic Marker Erected 1998)
The Sand Counties-Aldo Leopold Territory (Historic
The Solomon Juneau House (Historic Marker Erected
The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (Historic Ma
Thorstein Veblen (1857-1929) (Historic Marker Erec
timeline of Wisconsin history, 1750-1783
Titanic (Wisconsin passengers)
Towns, Debi 1956
Uihlein, August 1842 - 1911
underground railroad in Wisconsin
Vergeront, Susan B. 1945
Vilas, Levi Baker 1811 - 1879
Villa Louis
Vinje, Aad John 1857 - 1929
War of 1812 (Historic Marker Erected 1964)
Ward, Col. Lyman M. (1836-1909)
Ward, David W. 1953
Warner, Arthur Pratt 1870 - 1957
Warren, Lyman Marquis 1794 - 1847
Warren, Robert W. 1925
Welch, Robert T. 1958
Wellcome, Henry Soloman, Sir (1853-1936)(Historic
Wheeler, Leonard Hemenway 1811 - 1872
Wilcox, Ella Wheeler 1850 - 1919
Wilcox, Jon P. 1936
Wilder, Laura Ingalls (1867-1957)(Historic Marker
Wirch, Robert W. 1943
Woodman, Cyrus 1814 - 1889

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