Chapter 3: Black-Hawk War.
- Causes of Indian wars. -- Indian characteristics. -- justice of the army toward the Indians. -- reasons for introducing this narrative. -- Lieutenant Johnston, chief of staff, and the real historian of the War. -- history of the Sacs and Foxes. -- their conduct in the War with great Britain. “the British band.” Keokuk. -- Black Hawk. -- his character and plans. -- anecdotes of him. -- quarrels about the site of Rock Island village. -- Black Hawk's conspiracy. -- Lieutenant Johnston's journal. -- movements of troops. -- General Atkinson's negotiations for peace. -- Pacific course of Keokuk and Wapello. -- they surrender Criminals. -- movement up Rock River against Black Hawk, who declares War. -- Stillman's defeat. -- arrangements for the campaign. -- savage butcheries and skirmishes. -- General Henry's engagement at Wisconsin Heights. -- cholera among General Scott's reinforcements. -- March from Cosconong to blue Mounds. -- on the trail. -- battle of the bad Axe. -- capture of Black Hawk. -- losses of the War. -- submission of the Indians. -- report of the Secretary of War. -- kind treatment to Black Hawk and his followers. -- changes of half a century in the theatre of the War.
The Black-Hawk War, which occurred in 1832, following a profound peace of many years, agitated not only the Northwestern frontier but the whole country. The causes and conduct of the war were, in its day, severely criticised both by partisan politicians and philanthropists. The motives of the latter entitle them to a respectful hearing; but the common-sense of the people has always sustained the practical view that the first duty of the Government in its relations with the Indians is to protect its citizens from the horrors of savage warfare, after which it should accord the most generous and considerate treatment to the aborigines. Unfortunately, the Government has sometimes, from mistaken views of economy, chosen to forget the half-paternal position it had assumed toward the Indians, and has, for trifling sums, obtained title to vast tracts of country. Unfortunately, too, among the brave and good men who go to the frontier as pioneers there are never wanting so many unprincipled persons and outlaws, who, from selfish greed of gain, are  willing to brutalize with whiskey, or to cheat, oppress, and kill the Indian, that the latter has always suffered demoralization from contact with the vanguard of civilization, and has had only too just grounds of complaint against both individuals and the Government. A further source of discord has arisen from the inability of the Indians to distinguish between the loose verbal promises of commissioners, anxious to secure a treaty, and the provisions of the treaty itself. The Indians remember and claim the benefit of all that is said or done by the agents that can be construed to their advantage; while the Government, not knowing or recognizing these things, merely executes the treaty on its face. Hence mutual distrust and collision have been almost inevitable. The higher tribes of Indians were formerly full of the martial virtues-courage, enterprise, fortitude, sagacity, scorn of servitude, with an occasional though unfrequent loftiness of soul and heroic generosity; but they were restless, prone to war, cruel, and perfidious. In the contact of a civilized race with these sons of the forest, a wiser and more liberal treatment by the Government might have averted many evils and much mutual wrong; but with these wild and intractable savages no kindness or forbearance could have prevented quarrels and violence ending in war. Yet, wheresoever the responsibility may originally have rested, no blame can properly be laid on such military officers as, being charged with the peace of the frontier, have been faithful in carrying out the orders and instructions of the Government, and have restrained predatory bands of Indians from inflicting injury on the whites and on each other. This duty was always, with very rare exceptions, honestly discharged; and force was only used in the last resort, after every measure of conciliation had failed. The best proof that peace, on the basis of justice, was earnestly sought by the officers of Government is that it lasted so long, although the Indians had serious causes of dissatisfaction, which were said to have been fomented by British agents on the frontier. That the Indians had confidence in the equity and friendship of the military is evinced by the respect they paid to soldiers, even at a time when they were engaged in actual though secret warfare against the white settlers. They had some notion that the soldiers and citizens were different though allied tribes; and a blue uniform was a safe-conduct, even when a white settler's life was not worth a pin's fee with them. The Hon. Jefferson Davis related to the writer how, at such a time, with only three men, he passed from Rock Island to Chicago without molestation, and with only a single threatening demonstration from the Indians he met. It was properly the first care of the commanding general to see to the safety of the white settlers; and he was compelled to act upon each case, as it arose, from a practical standpoint. Hence, whether the Black-Hawk War  was a necessary consequence of the policy of the Government, or of Indian fickleness, it is believed that the events herein narrated will show that the military commander pursued the only course open to him. A brief sketch of the Black-Hawk War is here needful, as it was directly connected with Lieutenant Johnston's apprenticeship in the field. But a more extended narrative of this military episode seems fully warranted, since not only are all the official documents in regard to the campaign based upon Lieutenant Johnston's report, as assistant adjutant-general of General Atkinson, but his private journal furnished the most exact and authentic account of the transactions against Black Hawk. Moreover, although his military rank did not give him a conspicuous place, yet his office and his personal position, as the confidential friend of the commanding general, gave him a certain influence over affairs. Mr. Chambers, in a letter heretofore quoted, says: “I remember hearing an officer of the army tell my father that Johnston had more influence with the general in command than anybody else in the army, and that he really directed the movements of the army in that war.” Although this was the opinion of a highly zealous friend, yet it is evidence that his part was one that called for an unusual amount of energy and discretion. Without indulging the popular delusion that the chief of staff is necessarily keeper of his commander's conscience, it is plain that where he enjoys his confidence, and has fidelity and justness of perception, he is eminently fitted to be the historian of a campaign. General Atkinson's own opinion of the value of the journal may be inferred from the following extracts from a letter of his to Lieutenant Johnston, written in December, 1833, after the close of the war, in reference to the proposition of a gentleman named Russell to write a history of the war:
As this history is to be written, I could but feel, as you may readily imagine, a deep interest in its faithfulness. ... To enable me to give him the best information as to dates and facts, I have to request that you will send me the journal you kept of the campaign.It is this journal which forms the groundwork of the present summary, and as copious extracts are given from it as space permits. Before proceeding to narrate the transactions of the Black-Hawk campaign, which, however small in perspective, shook the United States with excitement at the time, it will be necessary to make a rapid survey of the relations of the United States Government to the Sac and Fox nation, and of the condition of the frontier at the beginning of the outbreak. In the eighteenth century, a number of tribes, of common origin, occupied the present limits of Illinois, and were united in a league, known as the Minneway, Linneway, or Illinois. This confederacy is said to have numbered, in 1745, four thousand warriors,  noted for martial prowess and inhuman cruelty. In a great war, said to have originated in the murder of the Sac chieftain, Pontiac, the Illinois tribes were overthrown and nearly exterminated by a rival confederacy, composed of Sacs and Foxes, Sioux, Kickapoos, Chippewas, Ottawas, and Pottawattamies, from the North, and Cherokees and Choctaws from the South. This overthrow occurred between 1767 and 1780; and in 1826 a miserable remnant of less than five hundred souls was all that was left of the great Illinois nation. In the victorious league, the Sacs or Osaukies, and the Foxes or Outagamies, appear to have been the leaders and principal gainers. These kindred branches of the great Algonquin nation are said to have been driven from their homes on the St. Lawrence by the Iroquois before the year 1680, and to have settled at Green Bay, where their weakness compelled them to unite, so as to form one people with only a nominal distinction between its two members. After the destruction of the Illinois, the Sacs and Foxes took possession of their most desirable hunting-grounds, and occupied the country on both sides of the Mississippi, from the present southern boundary of Iowa to the present northern boundary of Illinois, with their most populous village at Rock Island. Other tribes of Algonquin or Dakota descent-Chippewas, Ottawas, Pottawattamies, Kickapoos, Menomonees, and Winnebagoes,1 pressed upon the eastern and northern limits of the hunting-grounds of the Sacs and Foxes; while the Sioux, a powerful nation of fierce and skillful horsemen, flanked them on the west and northwest. In 1779 the Sacs and Foxes, with their allies, attacked St. Louis, then a village of less than five hundred people; and, encouraged by the treachery of the commandant of the Spanish garrison, would have destroyed it, but for the gallant defense of the French inhabitants and its timely relief by George Rogers Clark with an American force. After this, the Sacs and Foxes were engaged in wars with the Osages and other tribes, but especially with the Sioux, against whom they waged a deadly feud. Nevertheless they were prosperous, and a leading tribe in numbers; while in warlike spirit, sagacity, polity, and general intelligence, they were excelled by none of the tribes of the Northwest. In 1805 Lieutenant Pike represented their numbers at 4,600, of whom 1,100 were warriors; but Lewis and Clark compute that they were 3,200 strong, of whom 800 were warriors, which was probably nearer the truth. In 1825, the Secretary of War, adopting the estimate of Governor William Clark, reckoned their entire strength at 6,600, with a force of 1,200 or 1,400 warriors; thus showing a rapid gain in strength in twenty years.  General St. Clair, Governor of the Northwest Territory, made the first treaty with the Sacs and Foxes in 1789. General William Henry Harrison concluded another treaty with them, November 3, 1804, by which, for an immediate payment of $2,234.50, and an annuity of $1,000, they relinquished all their lands outside certain prescribed limits. In 1810, when war was impending between the United States and Great Britain, the emissaries of the latter power induced a hundred or a hundred and fifty Sacs to visit the British agent on the island of St. Joseph, in Lake Huron, where they received arms, ammunition, and other presents, and most probably made engagements to adhere to the British cause in the event of war. In 1811, however, another deputation from the tribe visited Washington City, and offered their services in the impending war, but were requested by the President to remain neutral. In 1812 they again offered to assist the Americans, but were told to stay peaceably at home, to which command the greater part of the tribe reluctantly submitted. About two hundred of the more restless braves, eager for blood and plunder, joined the British, and shared in the military operations on the northwestern frontier. In this contingent, known as “the British band,” was Black Hawk. In September, 1815, the United States commissioners made a treaty with the friendly bands of Sacs and Foxes, confirming the treaty of 1804, and granting amnesty for all offenses committed during the war; and, on May 13, 1816, they made a like treaty with the British band. On the 24th of August, 1824, General William Clark, Indian Agent, purchased for the United States all the lands claimed by this tribe in Missouri. In July, 1829, in furtherance of a provisional agreement made the year before, the United States commissioners bought from the deputies of the Winnebagoes, Chippewas, Ottawas, Pottawattamies, Sioux, Menomonees, and Sacs and Foxes, about 8,000,000 acres, extending from Lake Michigan to the Mississippi River. At this treaty, Keokuk and Morgan, with about two hundred Sac warriors, were present and forwarded the negotiation. While such had been the treaty relations with the Sacs and Foxes, two rival war-chiefs divided the double tribe by their counsels, and contended for the first place in authority and influence. These were Keokuk, who was said to be of Fox descent, though chief of the Sac village on the Des Moines River; and Black Hawk, chief of the Sac village near Rock Island. Each had risen to his position by courage and talents. Keokuk, born about 1780, acquired very young a skill in horsemanship which enabled him, at fifteen years of age, to slay a Sioux warrior, and thereafter to be accounted a brave. In the wars with the Sioux he was distinguished for audacious courage and military stratagem.  He was called to the leadership of his village, when about thirty-three years of age, in a public emergency; and gradually won the confidence of the tribe by his prudent administration and persuasive eloquence. His conduct was firm yet conciliatory, both in the internal management of the tribe and in his relations to other tribes and to the white people. By fidelity to his engagements and steadfastness of purpose, he was able to preserve a peaceful policy, so difficult with such a restless people, and to save his followers from much of the suffering which fell upon others. He was an accomplished warrior, and an orator of rare tact, grace, and vigor. Keokuk's temper was naturally amiable and kind, as well as politic. He was somewhat luxurious for an Indian, fond of pomp, and given to the use of ardent spirits, which finally destroyed him. Black Hawk was thirteen years his senior, and belonged to a darker and more savage type of the Indian character. He, too, at the early age of fifteen, won the rank of brave by killing an Osage warrior, and was soon noted for his boldness and success in war. In 1786, at the head of two hundred braves, he defeated the Osages with equal numbers, killing one hundred of the enemy, and only losing nineteen of his own men. He was a leader in the wars against the Cherokees, Chippewas, Kaskaskias, and Osages, in many battles, and truthfully claimed that he had killed many foes with his own hand. He seems from the first to have had an aversion to the Americans, and to have cherished an hereditary friendship for the British. In the War of 1812 he had led to their aid about two hundred of his own tribe, and commanded a band numbering in all about five hundred warriors. He shared in the hostilities against the Americans in that war, though without special distinction; but, at its close, was again received under the protection of the United States, according to the provisions of the Treaty of Ghent, and of the treaty of 1816 with the British band. From 1816 to 1832 Black Hawk was not engaged in open war against the United States, but was almost certainly an accomplice in the Red Bird outrage, and in other secret forays on the white people. He frequently visited the British commander at Malden to renew the allegiance of the past, and to receive presents for himself and band. His early prejudices against the Americans gradually settled into an inveterate rancor; the continually-increasing contention between his own people and the whites aroused his fierce passions; and enforced peace galled his unquiet soul like a fetter. In the gloom of his seclusion, superstition stirred his wrath to frenzy ; and, as he saw the shadows of the dead summoning him to vengeance upon the race that had dispossessed them of the land, he brooded over vast schemes that should rival the conspiracies of Pontiac and Tecumseh. In these projects he was encouraged by the counsels of the Prophet Wabokieshiek,  or White Cloud, a chief of mixed Sac and Winnebago blood, who had a village on Rock River, and possessed a wide influence among the Indian tribes. This savage charlatan, who combined great cunning with a love of intrigue, was the evil genius of Black Hawk, and lent the sanction of his omens and auguries to attempts which had no other assurance of success. Black Hawk advocated a hostile policy, in opposition to the pacific course of Keokuk, because he was thus enabled to divide the suffrages of the tribe, and to allure from his peaceable rival to himself a following of the more feverish spirits. He is said, too, to have suffered personal insults and wrongs in the feuds and quarrels that arose between his village and its white neighbors, and to have once been beaten with sticks by white men, which indignity ever after rankled in his breast. Most of the anecdotes told of him, however, have all the indication of mythical origin; and. his own. stories were always exaggerated, and often evidently false. He was undoubtedly a man of lofty and unquenchable spirit. In his old age, after his defeat, he was in the house of a man with whom he frequently dined; a captain in the army came to dinner, and the host intimated to Black Hawk that he should come to the second table. Black Hawk's eye glistened with anger as he answered him, raising the forefinger of one hand to his breast to represent the officer: “I know the white man is a chief; but I,” elevating the finger of the other hand far above his head, “was a chief, and led my warriors to the fight, long before his mother knew him! Your meat-my dogs should not eat it!” 2 He was the husband of one wife for forty years, and was affectionate to her and his children. In this haughty warrior we see some of the best and worst traits of the savage character-intense devotion to friends, and pitiless cruelty to foes. As the tide of emigration poured westward, the rich lands ceded by the Sacs and Foxes in the treaty of 1829 were a principal point of attraction to the pioneers. Keokuk and all the tribe, except the band under Black Hawk at the Rock Island village, removed to the west bank of the Mississippi River; but these Indians remained deaf to the advice of the agents and the solicitations of Keokuk. The Government, assuming that it had acquired a valid title to the land east of the Mississippi, threw it open to entry and purchase by the settlers, who, naturally looking no further for a foundation for their own rights, selected the most fertile spots for their locations. Among these was the land on which stood Black Hawk's village. The angry chief viewed their intrusion as alike an injury and an insult. Of all those broad acres, why select the site of his wigwam? A contest began for the actual occupation of the soil, with the usual consequences of  mutual depredation, violence, and strife. To put an end to this state of affairs, the United States Government ordered the Indians of the Rock Island village to comply with the treaty of 1829, surrender the disputed lands, and cross the Mississippi River. Black Hawk and his party denied the binding force of the treaties to which he himself had assented, and also the construction placed upon them by the United States Government, and induced the Sacs on Rock River not to remove from their village. The quarrel between the white people and the Indians reached such a point that in May, 1831, Governor Reynolds, on an appeal from the settlers, called out 700 Illinois militia “to repel the invasion of the State,” as he styled the refusal to move. General Gaines, likewise, at his request, assembled ten companies of United States troops at Fort Armstrong, where, on the 7th of June, he held a council with the chiefs of the Sacs and Foxes. At this council Black Hawk denied that they had sold their lands, and refused to move. General Gaines, to avoid bloodshed, and hoping to effect his object by mere show of force, assembled 1,600 mounted militiamen to cooperate with his troops; and, on the 25th of June, took possession of the Sac village without resistance. During the previous night the Indians, perceiving the hopelessness of resistance, had left their village, and encamped near by under the protection of a white flag. Black Hawk and the other chiefs then came into a council with General Gaines, in which, after claiming that the land could not have been ceded in 1829, because it belonged to an old squaw, whom he called his “mother,” 3 he declared that he yielded to force. Nevertheless, on the 30th of June they signed a treaty, agreeing to submit to the authority of the United States, and to remain on the west side of the Mississippi. It is almost certain that Black Hawk had been trying for some years to unite the Northwestern Indians in a league against the whites, and that he believed that he had secured the adhesion of nine bands of different tribes; while the Prophet also promised him the aid of the British. When he found himself compelled to submit, through the failure of his allies, he readily attributed the miscarriage to their fickleness, their unreadiness, and their want of organization, and postponed his plan until the difficulties could be removed. Black Hawk probably made the treaty of 1831 as a mere blind, with no intention of remaining on the west side of the Mississippi. The treaty was scarcely concluded before his people were crossing the river to take corn from their former fields, while his emissaries were busy stirring up discontent in his own and other tribes. But for the quiet yet resolute resistance of Keokuk, and the resulting apathy of the majority of the Sacs and Foxes, he would have succeeded in organizing a wide-spread  and formidable insurrection; as it was, it is almost certain that he had many allies, who only waited for success to crown his earlier efforts before joining him. That he was not altogether unsuccessful in his diplomacy is best evinced by General Scott's statement that at least eight lodges of Winnebagoes, and many Kickapoos, Pottawattamies, and other Indians, were present with the British band in the campaign of 1832. The contest with Black Hawk, however, was finally precipitated before the maturity of his conspiracy — not by direct collision between the white men and Indians, but by one of those bloody outrages of one tribe upon another, so frequent in savage annals, which the United States Government, as supreme conservator of the peace, and by virtue of its treaty obligations, was compelled to punish. The following is Lieutenant Johnston's account of the occurrences of the war:
On the 1st of April, 1832, Brigadier-General Atkinson, then commanding the right wing, Western Department, received an order, dated 17th of March, from the headquarters of the army, announcing that the Sacs and Foxes, in violation of the Treaty of Prairie du Chien of 1830, had attacked the Menomonees near Fort Crawford, and killed twenty-five of that tribe, and that the Menomonees meditated a retaliation. To preserve the pledged faith of the Government unbroken, and keep peace and amity among those tribes, he was instructed to prevent any movement, on the part of the Menomonees, against the Sacs and Foxes, and to demand of the Sac and Fox nation eight or ten of the party engaged in the murder of the Menomonees, including some of the principal men. For these purposes he was empowered to employ the regular force on the Mississippi, or so much as could be dispensed with after providing for the security of the several posts. The remote position of Fort Snelling, at the Falls of St. Anthony, surrounded as it was by powerful bands of Indians, precluded the possibility of drawing any portion of the force from that point. The force then to be relied on, to carry into effect the views of the Government, was such of the troops as could be spared from the slender force at Prairie du Chien, the troops at Fort Winnebago at the portage of the Fox and Wisconsin Rivers and Fort Armstrong at Rock Island, and the companies of the Sixth Regiment at Jefferson Barracks, amounting in all to about 420 men. April 8th.-In obedience to the above-mentioned order, General Atkinson set off for the Upper Mississippi, with six companies of the Sixth Infantry (220 men), which were embarked at Jefferson Barracks, Missouri, in the steamboats Enterprise and Chieftain. April 10th.-Arrived at the rapids of the Des Moines about 2 P. M. Here the commanding officer was informed that the British band of Indians, under Mucatah-mich-i-ca-Kaik 4(Black Hawk), had crossed the Mississippi to the east bank, near the mouth of the Lower Iowa River. This band consisted of four or five hundred well-appointed horsemen, besides men and boys, employed in transporting the canoes, capable of bearing arms, making an active and efficient force of between five and six hundred: the whole-men, women, and children-amounting to above two thousand souls. The ultimate intentions of Black Hawk were unknown; this movement, however, was in direct contravention  of a compact made and entered into, the year previous, by the Sacs and Foxes and the United States. The troops had to be disembarked and marched to the head of the rapids, on account of shallow water, and, going on board again next day, arrived at Rock Island on the 12th. April 13th.-Black Hawk's band was reported this morning to be passing up on the east side of Rock River; some canoes were also seen passing up Rock River. Several white men were sent among these Indians to obtain information of their designs. They learned nothing of their destination; their course indicates that their movement is upon the Prophet's village. At 10 A. M. General Atkinson met the Sacs and some of the Fox chiefs in council.The minutes of the council, in Lieutenant Johnston's handwriting, give the speech of General Atkinson, stating the treaty obligations of the parties and their violation, and demanding eight or ten of the murderers of the Menomonees. He also warned them to stay away from Black Hawk, whom he intended to compel to recross the river. The chiefs, after withdrawing to the plain to deliberate, returned, prepared to reply. Keokuk admitted all that General Atkinson said to be true, but declared his inability to control or surrender the murderers, who were with Black Hawk. He concluded:
You wish us to keep at peace, and have nothing to do with the Rock River Indians. We will do so. In token of our intentions, you see we have laid our spears there together. While you are gone to Prairie du Chien, we will endeavor to speak to Black Hawk's band, and try to persuade them to go back. If we do not succeed, I can do no more; then we will go home and try to keep our village at peace. The one who has raised all this trouble is a Winnebago, called the Prophet.Prince (Wapello), the chief of the Foxes, spoke to the same effect. General Atkinson then told them that, in justice to the Menomonees, he must require hostages of them. Keokuk declared that he and his friends would be the first to be killed by Black Hawk if he had the power. The speakers also informed General Atkinson that Black Hawk was eight or nine miles up Rock River, with 500 warriors. The council was then adjourned to the 19th of April. General Atkinson then proceeded up the river, and made arrangements with the commander at Prairie du Chien, and with General Dodge at Galena, relative to the protection of their districts, and the prevention of hostilities by the Menomonees and Sioux against the friendly Sacs and Foxes. On his return to Fort Armstrong, General Atkinson again met the friendly Sacs and Foxes on the 19th. They brought in three young men who had been engaged in the murder of the Menomonees. In delivering them up, Wapello said : “There are the young men, who  have taken pity on the women and children. There are three of them. These are my chiefs. These are the men who went into the braves' lodge to give themselves up. Father, I have received these young men; I now deliver them to you.” Keokuk spoke to the same effect. General Atkinson expressed himself satisfied, and promised generous treatment to the young men who had given themselves up. He also promised protection to the friendly Sacs and Foxes, and threatened punishment to Black Hawk's band. The journal continues:
April 24th.-General Atkinson, having sent several persons to the British band of Indians, and hearing nothing of them, resolved to dispatch two young Sacs with a mild talk. April 26th.--The two young Sacs returned to day from the British band, bringing Black Hawk's answer, which was, that “his heart was bad, and that he was determined not to turn back.” On April 27th Mr. Gratiot brought word from the Prophet's village that Black Hawk's band had run up the British flag, and was decidedly hostile. General Atkinson now made arrangements to secure the cooperation of the Illinois volunteers with the regular troops, but they were not concentrated at Rock River Rapids before the 9th of May. In the mean time emissaries had been sent to the Winnebagoes, and other measures taken to secure the peace of the frontier. On May 10th the movement up Rock River was begun. The mounted volunteers, under General Whitesides, marched for Dixon's Ferry. The United States and Illinois infantry moved by water to the same point, under the command of Colonel Taylor, First Infantry. The provisions, etc., for the troops were transported in keels by the infantry.On the 14th the troops arrived at and burned the Prophet's and Witticoe's villages, and on the next day received the news of Stillman's defeat at Kishwarkee (or Sycamore) Creek. It appears that Major Stillman, with his battalion of mounted volunteers from the command of General Whitesides, who was in advance, had volunteered for a scouting expedition. This battalion presented the unfortunate combination of an incompetent leader and an armed, disorderly mob. Proceeding without due caution about thirty miles in advance, they fell in with some Indian scouts, who, according to Black Hawk, carried a white flag, but whom the whites represent as defying them with a red flag. The militia killed two, and pursued another party incautiously. Before they were aware they found themselves in the presence of the enemy, when the commander ordered an immediate retreat. A disgraceful flight ensued, which lasted for thirty miles, and only terminated at Dixon's Ferry. The next morning fifty-two men were reported missing; and the fugitives represented that they had been overpowered by 1,500 or 2,000 Indian warriors, after a desperate conflict.  Lieutenant Johnston remarks in his journal:
The truth is, there was no action, or engagement, between the troops of General Stillman and the Indians. From the incapacity of their leader, the total absence of discipline in his battalion, and consequently a want of confidence in each other, these troops, that might under different circumstances have contended successfully against any enemy, had not the courage to face the Indians at Kishwarkee. Facts speak for themselves: only one man was killed near the ground where they met the Indians, the remainder were killed in flight six miles below, at or below a small, deep creek, now called Stillman's Run. The whole number killed was eleven. The Indians lost three or four, who were probably killed before the main body was discovered.The Hon. Jefferson Davis told the writer that the Indians now became very insolent. They said contemptuously “they wanted more saddle-bags,” Stillman's men having thrown away a good many. The Indians then spread their scouts over the country, who killed and plundered the settlers, while the main body retired up Rock River to the Four Lakes. In the mean time, Governor Reynolds was obliged to yield to the clamors of Whitesides's militia, and disbanded them on the 26th of May, which put a stop for a time to the campaign. Abraham Lincoln was a captain in Whitesides's command, and is said, by his biographer, Lamon, in his queer narrative, to have reenlisted as a private in an independent spy company. Jefferson Davis, who was with General Gaines in his operations in 1831, was absent on furlough in Mississippi when the Black-Hawk War broke out, but gave up his furlough, and, joining his company, served in the campaign. Thus, in early life and with small rank, met as co-workers in this remote field, three men, who, forty years later, measured arms on an arena whose contest shook the world. Lieutenants Johnston, Eaton, and Robert Anderson, received commissions as colonels on the staff of the Governor of Illinois, dated May 9th. This militia rank was given, in order to secure the ready obedience of the Illinois officers, who refused to obey orders received through staff-officers of less rank than their own, and it proved a successful device. On May 29th, Governor Reynolds, upon the requisition of General Atkinson, ordered 3,000 militia to assemble June 10th. To provide for and expedite their arming, equipment, and subsistence, General Atkinson dispatched his staff-officers to points where they were required. Lieutenant Johnston was sent to Jefferson Barracks, where, during his absence, his eldest daughter, Henrietta Preston, had been born. After passing a few days at home, between the 1st and 10th of June, he was at his post in time to assist in the organization of the militia, for whom General Atkinson, by extraordinary diligence, had prepared whatever was necessary to begin the campaign. Three brigades were organized at the Rapids of the Illinois, under the command  of Generals Posey, Alexander, and Henry; but it was not until the 25th of June that they were able to move from Dixon's Ferry. General Posey marched toward Galena, to cooperate with General Dodge. General Alexander was detached in the direction of the Plum River, to cut off the retreat of the enemy, who were reported to be marching toward the Mississippi. The rest of the command, under General Brady, United States Army, moved up Rock River, with seventy-five Pottawattamies, under their chief Chaboni, as guides. The time will not appear long in which these levies were assembled, organized, equipped, and moved to the scene of action, if we consider the condition of the country at that day, the want of facilities for transportation, and the distance from which supplies were drawn. In the mean time, however, every express brought intelligence of new outrages and disaster, the slaughter and scalping of citizens, and the defeat of small bodies of soldiers. Lieutenant Johnston, in his private journal, after complimenting the zeal and energy of the quartermaster's and commissary departments, says:
No time was to be lost. An active and cruel enemy was now busy in the work of death and devastation, since the last levy was disbanded. Their mode of warfare is such that, while you keep a sufficient force in motion against them to contend with their main body, you must necessarily keep troops at every assailable point on the frontier to hold in check small parties, which it is their custom to detach to a great distance. Thus military men, acquainted only with the warfare of civilized nations, are surprised that so many troops are called into the field to subdue a comparatively small body of savages. Great allowance, in estimating for a militia force, must be made for the probable daily diminution, or actual loss of strength, from a variety of causes, which do not affect a regular force in the least; this, in addition to what is said of the enemy, will explain the reason why so large a militia force is usually called out.The journal relates a number of instances in which marauding bands of Indians surprised and butchered solitary families and small parties. It also gives a detailed account of “General Dodge's affair with the Sacs on the Peketolica; in which, with the loss of one killed and two dangerously wounded, he succeeded in destroying the whole party, thirteen in number.” This was a very gallant skirmish with a ravaging band. Dodge, with eighteen men, attacked the Indians in a swamp. Under cover of the high bank of a small lake they wounded two of his men; but the rest charged them, and, in a hand-to-hand encounter, in a space scarcely forty feet square, killed all the Indians except two, who were shot trying to swim the lake. On the 2d and 3d of July the main body encamped one and a half mile from Lake Cosconong, where the Indians had evidently remained some time. Fresh signs were discovered of small parties; but the  main trail was toward the head of Rock River. General Brady was here obliged, by sickness, to turn over the command to General Atkinson. By the 6th of July, Generals Dodge, Alexander, Posey, and Henry, were brought into concert on both banks of Rock River, near the mouth of White Water Creek, with an almost impassable country before them. Reconnoitring parties of soldiers and friendly Indians advanced many miles, and reported access as very difficult, by reason of undergrowth and swamps. Lieutenant Johnston says in his journal:
The volunteers having been for several days in great need of provisions, and not knowing when supplies would arrive, the commanding general ordered Alexander's and Henry's brigades and Dodge's battalion, to march to Fort Winnebago (a distance of thirty-six miles), and Posey to Fort Hamilton (a distance of forty-five miles). He directed General Posey to remain with his brigade at Fort Hamilton. Alexander, Henry, and Dodge, were to return to Fort Cosconong, as soon as provisions were procured. He gave verbal instructions to pursue the trail of the enemy, if it was met with in going or returning.The troops were now in a country almost totally unknown, and in great want of provisions. Hence the necessity of sending this heavy detachment to procure them. The Indians were supposed to be at “the Four Lakes,” now the site of the flourishing town of Madison, Wisconsin, and to be about to move westward for the Mississippi River. The line of march of the volunteers to Fort Winnebago left the Four Lakes to the right ; and, therefore, in going or returning, would necessarily cross the trail of the Indians, if they had moved as was expected. In returning from Fort Winnebago the detachment fell in with the trail of the Indians ; and General Henry, in obedience to his verbal instructions, sent forward his provisions with a small guard, and pursued the Indians with his main body. He overtook them on July 21, 1832, and successfully engaged them at what was known as Wisconsin Heights, a crossing of the Wisconsin River, twenty miles below Fort Winnebago. A letter from Mrs. Johnston to her mother gives the following account of the fight, as received from her husband:
Though the volunteers had marched that day forty miles, and were drenched with a six hours rain, they attacked the Indians with great spirit. Black Hawk, however, made a gallant stand, to enable his women and children to get across the river, which they succeeded in doing; and his band made their escape during the night in bark canoes. He was said to have lost sixty-eight men, but this number probably included those fugitives killed and captured by Lieutenant Ritner. The volunteers fell back to Blue Mounds, where they arrived on the evening of the 23d, and were joined next day by the main body. During the campaign, Black Hawk's people had suffered much from want of provisions; many subsisted on the roots and bark of trees, and some starved to death. On the 14th of July several families of Winnebagoes came into camp, much in need of provisions. July 16th, General Atkinson received dispatches from General Scott. He speaks of “the deplorable condition of his command of regular troops at Chicago and elsewhere on the lakes, as far as Detroit, produced by Asiatic cholera.” So formidable was the outbreak of the British band considered by the Government, and so imminent seemed an insurrection of the Northwestern tribes, that all the available forces on the seaboard were hurried toward the scene of action, under the command of General Scott. But, in their progress across the lakes, the cholera broke out; and, of the 1,500 regular soldiers in his command, over 200 died, many were prostrated by disease, a large number deserted, and nearly all were demoralized. Under these circumstances, and for fear of spreading the infection, General Scott prudently and properly held aloof from the campaign. As it turned out, his contingent was not needed to finish the pursuit of the starving Indians, who were now, in reality, fugitives. The troops having received provisions, and many of the volunteers being dismounted and broken down, the main body was moved back to Lake Cosconong on July 20th; but, in consequence of information received from Generals Henry and Dodge, the command was marched, on July 21st, toward Blue Mounds, one hundred miles distant, where a junction was effected on the 24th with General Henry, who had fallen back there for provisions. In their forced march along a ridge, through a swampy and flooded country, the troops suffered from storms, want of drinking-water, and dysentery, caused by the raw pork and dough, which was their only food. On the 25th, the regulars, with Alexander's and Henry's brigades, moved to within three miles of the Wisconsin River. In Mrs. Johnston's letter, already quoted, occurs the following:Generals Dodge and Henry, with their mounted men, overtook the retreating Indians at a point on the Wisconsin River fifteen miles above Blue Mounds. The Indians rose the crest of a hill on horseback, set up a yell, and fired, when they discovered the whites. The mounted men formed, yelled as dreadfully as the enemy, dismounted, and charged on them. There was one man killed, and eight wounded, but none badly. Between thirty-five and forty Indians were killed, and it was supposed that numbers were wounded. They were pursued till night, when they escaped, much shattered, to an island in the Wisconsin; leaving (as Captain Smith writes) many old men, and sick and dead children, on their march. They also abandoned all their heavy baggage. The whites had but one day's provisions, and were, consequently, compelled to return for more.
We got letters again last night, dated the 27th. Our men had hurried on to the scene of action, as soon as the express arrived, leaving their sick and baggage  at Blue Mounds. They were constructing rafts, to cross the Wisconsin at that point, for it was much swollen with late rains. They expected to get over that day. Captain Rogers [Sixth Infantry] thought it impossible for foot-soldiers to overtake the mounted Indians; but Mr. Johnston was more sanguine. His letter is not here. I was requested to send it to town, or I could be even more particular, certainly much more graphical than I am. He hoped for a speedy termination of these affairs, as the enemy are now making for the Chippewa country, or will try to cross the Mississippi at Prairie du Chien. Mr. Johnston thinks they will be overtaken before they reach either place. They are nearly starved, subsisting on the bark of trees, dogs, and their horses.Lieutenant Johnston's journal contains the following record: July 27th.-Many of the horses having failed through fatigue and insufficiency of proper food, General Atkinson selected about 900 of the best mounted volunteers to cross the Wisconsin and pursue the enemy, in conjunction with the regular troops. The remainder of the several volunteer corps was ordered to Fort Hamilton. Generals Henry, Posey, Alexander, and Dodge, commanded the volunteers, whom they had selected from their several commands for this duty. Colonel Zachary Taylor, First Infantry, commanded the regular troops, about 400 infantry. July 28th.-The troops, having all passed the river, moved up the Wisconsin; and, having advanced three or four miles, the trail of the enemy was discovered, bearing in the direction of the Ocooch Mountains. The columns were turned to the left, and pursued, on the trail, ten or twelve miles, and encamped. At this point the trail turned up a deep creek. The same kind of ancient fortifications were observed at this gap of the hills as we had noticed on Rock River. July 29th.-The trails of the enemy were pursued with activity to-day. We passed several of the Sac encampments; they are hard pressed for provisions, and forced to kill their horses for subsistence. The country is rough and mountainous, with a rich soil; dense forests, with thick underwood, cover the whole country, which affords no grass. The troops encamped on a high hill; the horses were tied up without food. July 30th.-The march was continued to-day. The face of the country bears the same character as that passed yesterday. The general course of the trail is northwest. Encamped this evening in a deep, narrow valley, near a small stream running westward; the water was remarkably cold. Small saplings of maple and elm were cut down for the horses to feed on; they had suffered much for want of grass. July 31st.-After a hard day's march, the troops encamped near the Kickapoo River — a small stream flowing into the Wisconsin. August 1st.-Passed the Kickapoo to-day at a shallow ford. Here commences a prairie country, with scattering groves of oak, quite as rough as that we had passed over. This was a long day's march for the infantry, who found no difficulty, however, in keeping pace with the mounted men, whose horses were exhausted for want of food. The troops encamped after dark. The appearance of the trail indicated the proximity of the enemy, who were supposed to be at the Mississippi, which was conjectured to be within a short march. The commanders of the several corps were directed to hold them in readiness to march at two o'clock the following morning. This order was not communicated  to the brigades of Generals Alexander and Henry before their horses were turned out to graze. August 2d.-At two o'clock this morning the troops turned out; and, having made hasty preparation, were on the route of the enemy before sunrise, except Henry's and Alexander's brigades, for reasons before mentioned. About one hour after sunrise, a small body of spies, under the command of Captain Dixon, thrown in advance from Dodge's battalion, brought information that the enemy were drawn up in position on the route, and near at hand. We had previous notice of our proximity to the Mississippi, from having seen the fog over it, distant probably five or six miles. General Dodge instructed his spies to reconnoitre the enemy, and occupy his attention; the spies advanced as ordered, and succeeded in killing eight Indians, while they retired through the woods. In the mean time, General Dodge's battalion was drawn up in line, and a report was made to the commanding general. The regulars and mounted volunteers were ordered forward. The regulars, being immediately in rear of Dodge's battalion, moved forward and formed in extended order on his right; Dodge's battalion, having dismounted, was also formed in extended order; the whole advanced in this order for some minutes before General Posey's command came up. Generals Henry and Alexander promptly obeyed the order to advance, and came up in good time to take the position assigned to them by the commanding general. General Posey was posted on the right of the regulars, and General Alexander on the right of General Posey. The troops by this time, in following the movements of the retiring enemy, had been drawn considerably to the right of the trail. The commanding general, apprehending this to be a feint intended to divert him from his purpose and to gain time, ordered General Henry to pursue the trail quite to the river. At the same time, General Alexander was ordered to move down a deep ravine to the river. The centre passed down a steep declivity and ravine. In taking possession of these only accessible approaches to the plain, or rather swamp lying below, the right and left were necessarily two miles or more apart. General Henry in pursuing the trail, which followed the easiest descent, was brought in contact with the position of the enemy sooner than either of the other corps. He reached the plain in advance of the centre, and attacked the enemy. The regulars and Dodge's and part of Posey's command promptly moved to the support of the left. The enemy then retired, disputing the ground step by step, which they had done from the beginning. Many of them, men, women, and children, fled to the river, and endeavored to escape by swimming. In this situation our troops arrived on the bank, and threw in a heavy fire, which killed great numbers, unfortunately some women and children among the warriors, an event deeply deplored by the soldiers. The enemy, in retiring, had taken some strong positions at the foot of an island, from which they were driven by the repeated charges of the regulars, and the volunteers under Dodge. They were now completely overthrown and beaten, with the loss of one hundred and fifty killed, forty women and children taken prisoners, their baggage captured, and about one hundred horses killed or captured. The loss on our part was five regulars killed and four wounded; six of Henry's wounded, one mortally; and one of Posey's brigade. This action was decisive; the remnant of the band fled to the west of the Mississippi, and, after having suffered almost  beyond endurance, reached their own country, and were given up by Keokuk and other influential friendly Sacs to the whites. The losses of the campaign in encounters and skirmishes, and in the heavy fight at Wisconsin Heights, had greatly weakened Black Hawk's force, which had been further diminished by the desertion of his Indian allies, as the tide of war turned against him. Moreover, after the affair at Wisconsin Heights too, a detachment, under Lieutenant Ritner, sent from Prairie du Chien, intercepted a party of the Sacs attempting to descend the Wisconsin, and killed fifteen men and captured four men and thirty-two women and children. When Black Hawk reached the Mississippi, and was preparing to effect its passage on the 1st of August, he found the steamboat Warrior ready to dispute the crossing. This boat, with a detachment of troops and a cannon, had been interposed, under orders from General Atkinson, to cut off his retreat; and a sharp skirmish ensued, with the effect, at least, of retarding his flight until the assault of the main body on August 2d. The fight on that day, known as the battle of the Bad Axe, from a stream near by, effectually crushed the power of the British band. The exhausted condition of the victors, but still more the desire to stop the effusion of blood, induced General Atkinson to desist from the pursuit of the miserable remnant who fled across the Mississippi. But the pursuit, which was thus abandoned by the whites, was taken up by the Indians in alliance with the United States so eagerly that it is believed that not one of the fugitives escaped death or capture. Those who reached the west bank of the river were attacked by their foes, the Sioux, and were either killed, or taken prisoners and surrendered to the United States authorities. Among those thus given up was Naopope, Black Hawk's second in command. Black Hawk, with the Prophet and other chiefs, escaped from the combat, and took refuge on some islands above Prairie du Chien, whence they were routed by a detachment of regulars under Lieutenant Jefferson Davis. In despair they gave themselves up to two Winnebago Indians, Decorie the one-eyed and Chaetar, who claimed to have captured them, and delivered them to Colonel Taylor and the Indian agent, General Street, at Prairie du Chien, with a false and fulsome speech. The other captives were released; but Black Hawk and his two sons, the Prophet, Naopope, and nine other chiefs of the hostile band, were retained as hostages. Four or five hundred Indians and about two hundred white people had lost their lives in the Black-Hawk War, and an expenditure of $2,000,000 had been incurred. Whether the war might not have been averted by foresight and timely generosity on the part of the Government is a question;  but, when the savage chief and his band were once upon the warpath, any other than the promptest and severest measures of repression would have been construed by these rude warriors as an evidence of timidity, and any partial display of military strength as a confession of weakness. The Winnebagoes, Pottawattamies, and other disaffected tribes, would probably have seized the opportunity and bathed the frontier in blood. Hence the necessity for a large force and for decisive action. Indeed, but for the unfortunate defeat of Stillman, which was precipitated by the rashness and disorganization of his command, it is quite possible that Black Hawk might have submitted, in the presence of an overpowering force, to General Atkinson, as he had yielded to General Gaines the year previous. But, after this first act of overt war, the cruel atrocities of the Indians upon the white settlers made impossible any other solution than such swift and heavy retribution as would punish the guilty, warn the wavering, and thenceforth deter the discontented from similar attempts. The whole country felt great relief at the termination of a war which threatened to assume such proportions; but in the border settlements, where the lives of the women and children were at stake, there was heart-felt rejoicing. The Secretary of War addressed the following letter to General Atkinson:
The favorable opinions of the President, General Jackson, and of General Cass, on the conduct of the war, carry more weight than the ordinary bestowal of official compliments, as they were both well acquainted with the nature of the service from actual experience. The Secretary of War, in his report for 1832, says: The arrangements of the commanding general, as well in the pursuit as in  the action, were prompt and judicious, and the conduct of the officers and men was exemplary. President Jackson, in his annual message, approves of the action of the military authorities, thus:
The hostile incursions of the Sac and Fox Indians necessarily led to the interposition of the Government. A portion of the troops under Generals Scott and Atkinson, and of the militia of the State of Illinois, were called into the field. After a harassing warfare, prolonged by the nature of the country and by the difficulty of procuring subsistence, the Indians were entirely defeated, and the disaffected band dispersed or destroyed. The result has been creditable to the troops engaged in the service. Severe as is the lesson to the Indians, it was rendered necessary by their unprovoked aggressions; and it is to be hoped that its impression will be permanent and salutary. This campaign has evinced the efficient organization of the army, and its capacity for prompt and active service. Its several departments have performed their functions with energy and dispatch, and the general movement was satisfactory.The best proof of the influence of the Black-Hawk campaign is to be found in the quiet acquiescence of the Indian tribes in the measures taken immediately thereafter by the Government for their removal westward, and in the permanent peace established on that frontier. Black Hawk and his associates were treated with generosity by the Government. They were retained in mild captivity at Jefferson Barracks long enough to break their power and destroy their prestige with their tribe, and to allow their own heated passions to cool under the genial influence of kindly intercourse with their captors. They were then carried through the principal cities of the East, that they might view the numbers, wealth, and resources, of their recent antagonist, and realize the folly of such an unequal struggle; after which they were released and dismissed to their homes. In the tour among the Atlantic cities Black Hawk was treated more like a popular favorite than a merciless foe; and a respect was paid him that was measured rather by the trouble he had given than by the greatness of his talents. The Indians who had followed him in his last campaign represented the Prophet as the mover of the strife and the most cunning in counsel; to Naopope was given the credit of the highest military skill; while the preeminence of Black Hawk was ascribed not so much to sagacity or warlike genius as to the force of his relentless will, the intensity of his passions, and the singleness of his purpose. Hon. Jefferson Davis informed the writer that Black Hawk told him, while he was in his custody at Jefferson Barracks, that he crossed the Mississippi to join the Prophet; that his engagement was to give up Rock Island village; and that there was no engagement not to join the Prophet. Mr. Davis said Keokuk was a politic man; but that  Black Hawk was a proud, silent savage. He bore himself with dignity in his confinement, and thanked Mr. Davis for his kindness to him. Black Hawk saw his power pass to his rival; but he could scarcely envy the self-indulgence enjoyed by Keokuk as the pensioner and placeman of a people whom he had himself defied in arms. The short remnant of his old age was worn out in sullen submission to the conqueror; his enemy, Keokuk, became the slave of drink, died, and is almost forgotten; and now no trace of the stern warrior, of his more politic opponent, or of the red clansmen who followed them in war or in the chase, is found in all their broad domain, except in a few isolated geographical names. Perhaps the most striking commentary on the events which supplanted roaming savages with a civilized people is seen in the change that less than half a century has wrought in the theatre of war. The very region where a moving column of less than 3,000 soldiers was compelled to carry its provisions, and 1,000 Indians endured the pangs of famine, is now one of the greatest grain-producing centres in the world; while the territory east of the Mississippi, within a hundred and fifty miles of Rock Island, for which the British band contended, now supports an intelligent and prosperous population, numbering more than 1,250,000 souls.