Denton Jaques Snider.

Lincoln in the Black Hawk war, an epos of the Northwest online

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Which might betoken him the driving deed.

A moment each the other eyed,

When both began to spy outside

A coming shape to scrutinize,

Which brought to them a fresh surprise.


Lieutenant Davis quickly bore
His lissom form out of the hinder door ;
Old Zack he sighted riding down the road,
And felt within himself a sudden goad
To keep his person out of view ;
That bared to light another node
Jointed of circumstances new :
Why should brave Davis thus backslide
Just after all his words so haughty —
With stealthy footstep rearward glide
As if he had done something naughty!
But Lincoln moved the officer to meet,
And him in hearty backwoods style to greet,
Perchance to speak a welcome word ;
The huge right hand struck a salute,
Though butternut the Captain's suit,
Then did he what was dearest and adored :
He held aloft to Zack the Eutledge sword.

Canto eigJjtk


On Saukenuk, the Indian town,

The setting moon *s sad eye looked down ;

Paled in the sun-up 's waxing glow,

It seemed a melting ball of snow,

Which through the Western sky had high been

But now it sank a falling world,
And soon would vanish out of sight
On the other side into the night,
While on this side would rise the greater light.
Between the downing and the upping sun
The thread of Fate was quickly spun
And twirled upon Time 's rounding reel,
Which is indeed a fast-revolving wheel.
For when the Hawk threw back his No,



And dared the generalissimo

To halt him from his onward way,

He deemed it wise no longer there to stay.

Fort Armstrong soon would bring its regi

Of blue coats on a battle bent,
With musket, sabre, cannon too,
War's terror-roaring hullabaloo,
Enough the savage tongue to numb,
By Indian yell not to be overcome.

So Black Hawk quit fair Saukenuk,

The village which his tribe forsook,

Already years that was agone,

White faces now have tilled it as their own.

Thence up the river Eock he moved

Following the channel as if grooved,

Through a pleasant blooming dale

Like Paradise in fairy tale.

While riding on beside the Hawk,

Francesco Molinar began to talk,

Loyola 's loyalest he was,

Devoted to his master's cause.

He hoped to stay the swarming multitude —

The Anglo-Saxon hateful brood —

At cost of Indian blood :

"Where are the many tribes," he cries,

Which were upon our path to rise

And fill with warlike shouts the skies ?

Scarcely a dozen, one by one,


Sneaking in secret quite alone

Have joined us as we marched along,

Instead of that vast promised throng

Extending from far North to South,

From the Great Lakes to the Ohio 's mouth.

The Winnebagoes are not here

Except the Prophet and some to him near ;

And if I look around, I cannot see

A single Potawatomie. ' '

Then Black Hawk boldly to him said :

i ' No skulking now — I shall go on ahead —

Before I die, I fain would sate

In white man's gore the Indian's hate:

That is the pith of this whole war,

I say it thee, O Molinar,

Though thine be a Caucasian skin;

It is the race which stirs both sides within,

As ye are fair and we are red,

The souls are wholly opposite,

And men will never stop this fight

Till one or the other fall down dead. ' '

Thus Black Hawk spake with fierce decision,

And showed the heart's own deepest scission

Involving Molinar with his blood kin,

Who felt the grind of original sin,

And would be out of what he there was in.

And now they reach the Prophet's town,
Where huts along the stream were strewn
In medlev mixed of man and mud,


But everywhere the April bud

Was lolling out its double tongue of green

To lap the rain and sunny sheen,

Too timid still to let itself be wholly seen

Full-flounced in its gay dress of spring;

The frost might stab it with a sting,

If once the chill North-west should blow

His icy breath from peaks of snow.

The busy squaw her patch would plant

With what of corn and pumpkins she might

What she could till of land she took
Freely, no more, no less,
Beyond her lot she gave no look,
But stayed in Indian happiness.
She told her daily tale of toil
Without the hunger for the soil
Which she might clear and cultivate :
Wherein lay deep the Red Man's fate.
He knew not how to make his own
The very land on which was grown
The bread he had to eat,
And all his forest's living meat,
The turkey, squirrel and the deer
As well as fowls of mead and mere.
He used the soil as air or water,
So never rose above the Squatter,
Higher he never could associate —
Could form the Tribe but not the State.
Such was his race's limitation


Which meant with lapse of time cessation.

When he had come to Prophet's town

From his high horse the Hawk sprang down

At that same Indian tenement

Where he had been some weeks before;

In pompons strut he passed the door,

Yet was his head a little bent,

His hope had far outrun the event

Which seemed now writing him a zero

Instead of crowning him his race's hero.

And so had come again Black Hawk

To meet the council for a talk.

And with him came Francesco Molinar

Who noted well the setting star,

And felt more keenly now the sin of war.

The Prophet sleek had too come back,

Conceit of self he did not lack,

Although the fort he failed to capture,

He still could rise into prophetic rapture.

Again there was a synod of the races
Composed of many-tinted faces
Within that little savage lair,
Before which danced Eock Eiver fair.
The moody hours brought blinding night,
Within that hut there was no light,
Upon the mind the sun seemed set
Spreading the world with melancholy's net.
How different that former meeting !
How ominous the present greeting !


Silence now ruled the little crowd

Which had before been very loud;

Each tongue had all at once become

Quite paralyzed and dumb.

The Hawk, the Cloud, and Molinar

Had naught to say of the great war

Which was to undo the Anglo-Saxon,

And e'en reach out to Andrew Jackson

At Washington, the President:

So far their fiery bluster went.

But in that group there was not heard

The tongue which coined the strongest word

When they had met before,

And listened to each other's lore.

Audacious Swartface was the man

Whose brain had hammered out the plan

Of forming red and black into one State,

Making the races confederate.

But while they waited, wondering where he

And whether he had quit the cause,
His nimble shape slid through the door
And noiseless took the empty place
Where he had sat before
And represented there his race —
The semi- African Swartface.
But strangely he was not inclined to speak,
Or savage-worded vengeance wreak
Upon the white American,
Nor more bespoke he that great plan


Of crossing the Ohio 's waves
And starting hence to free the slaves.
But soon the Cloud urged him to talk :
"You have been taking a long walk;
Come let us hear your story spoken,
And be this dreadful silence broken
Which has been hitherto distressing,
A mountain nightmare on us pressing.
Come, Swartface, drive away this spell —
For you know how to do it well. ' '
But Swartface hardly bent his head —
With no great eagerness he said :
"You are aware, White Cloud my seer,
I started hence on devious track
Uncertain if I would come back,
To find out what the volunteer
Was doing on this war's frontier.
I found the approaching regiments
And lay some time with them in tents,
And heard the rumor of the camp
Which often bears prophetic stamp.
I was disguised in sundry ways ;
The woods I foraged for some days,
Bringing the turkey and the deer
The quail and prairie chanticleer.
And thus I furnished the fresh meat
Which hungry troops were glad to eat ;
But while I served their daily ration,
I learned their destination;
For our Eock Eiver they were bound,


Where the Sauk village was once found.
The best man of the lot was named
Lincoln — a Captain whom some blamed
Because his tender heart would save
A dark-skinned runaway — a woman slave
With her little child.' '

Here Swartface stopped, his voice grew mild

And if it had not been for night,

A tear of his had come to sight.

He stayed a little his discourse,

His feelings stopped his voice by force

The others there kept wondering

Whether might hurt him anything:

With Swartface what can be the matter?

His former self seems not this latter.

But after-while again he started,

Another curious fact imparted :

"When I had brought my game one day

I found a hubbub under way.

The camp was in a frenzy boiling,

I saw the tawney Captain toiling

With the uproarious multitude,

Against them all he sworded stood

Over the surges he lordly towered,

Behind him low an Indian cowered

Whom he would save from violence

Protecting ever innocence

Though in a savage soul it shone,

And he should have to stand alone ;


To rescue from a murderous strife

A guiltless human life

That man would dare to risk his own.

He would not look into the tinted face

First to observe what was its race

Before he might protect the weak from

strong —
The man he is to right the wrong. ' '
Swartface up sprang, there clashed within
His battling soul a dual din
As if two sides of him had gone to war,
His falling fought his rising star.
But hark, Swartface ! thy inner roar
Is echoing just outside the door.


Scarce had been uttered that last word
When yells of war around were heard ;
All Prophetstown surged in a scare,
Eumor rode wildly on the air,
Bringing confusion everywhere.
The band of Black Hawk sprang to horse,
And made the helpless tumult worse
Riding and whooping through the crush
Of women and children at a rush.
But when from council came the chief,
He brought along a mild relief,
Proclaiming as he galloped up and down :
"We must at once quit Prophetstown.


Follow along Rock River forth,

To our old home up in the north

Where the Great Spirit onee came down to

We shall henceforth forever dwell."
And so amid the furious clatter
The council could do naught but scatter,
Each darted out upon his way,
For there they could no longer stay;
But what might be the matter!
Some days already on his way
Taylor had started for the fray,
With his blue-coated regiment,
To take the Hawk was his intent
When he had heard his power defied
By that bold Sachem's Indian pride,
Whose answer to Fort Armstrong brought
Upon the soldiery war's fever wrought.
They crossed the Mississippi's stream
Straddled upon a horse of steam
Which danced his way upon the waves
Until he strode up to the shore,
Whence he could pass no more,
And tumbled out his load of braves.
At once they quit that pleasant strand,
And started marching through the land;
They passed the home of Winnemuk,
Who could not help, though hid, but look,
Fiery throbs pulse through her heart,
Glimpsing her soldier-lover thence depart


With knapsack, cartridge-box, and gun —

What fatal thread in her was spun!

Her father had in secret sped

To join the Hawk in ravage red,

And through the wood the way he took

Hoping to find the band at Saukenuk.

If he were captured on the way,

Not long the soldiers would delay

Dispatching him at any nook ;

Deep was the dole of Winnemuk.

So Taylor pushed upon the hostile track,

In war no laggard was old Zack ;

Thus all the soldiers spelt the name

Of Zachary Taylor, destined to great fame.

A man of action with eye-shot steady,

His fighting title was, "Old Eough and

Above all else he loved to do,
And what he did was through and through,
His spirit had the outward bent,
For speculation cared he not a cent.
But now a storm has stirred his inner ocean,
And he is stressed with strong emotion,
Inward his very soul is rent.
Lieutenant Davis has wooed and won
His daughter's heart, and off have run
To honeymoon the happy pair.
To Zack it was a sad affair,
It seemed to slice his heart in twain,


And though he sought to hide his pain.

His struggle was in vain,

The sigh would bubble up again.

The suit he stoutly had forbidden,

But his command both had o 'erridden,

He was not used to such a degradation

The father and the soldier knew his station,

He felt his word and worth denied

By those most tenderly allied.

One day he could no longer hold his heart,

Its bursting throbs he had there to impart:

* * That Davis yet will make a muss,

Go where he may there is a fuss ;

Among my kin I will none such,

As officer he talks too much;

Fonder he seems of party and of faction

Than of the dutiful soldier's action;

And now a prophecy I am going to say

About a lowering future day,

Come true I hope it never may :

What he out here has done to m<,

He yet will do to all authority,

Me his superior first he has defied

His last superior will be yet denied,

The State above him, come time and tide.

This one poor parent — only me —

Let him, if he so chooses, disobey,

With arrogant audacity

The universal parent too he will waylay,

Although I cannot tell the day;


The starry family I mean,

Which flaps on yonder flag in sunny sheen,

He will dare rend if it stands in his way.

When in his soul has riped this seed,

By him it will be planted in the deed."

Thus in his way bespoke old Zack

Hot on the Indian's track,

But in him raged another war

More fiercely fought by far

Than all this petty savage scare,

Which caused him no great care.

Although he never felt a fear,

Iron Mars could not keep back a tear,

Which welled its salted scalding water

In love of his lost daughter,

For lost to him and to herself he thought her.

Just while he sate within his tent
Dreamful of what this trial meant,
Behold there came a full platoon
Of soldiers in the uplit moon;
A Eedskin under guard they brought
Whom skulking in the woods they caught,
And with him came an Indian maid,
Who took her place and by him stayed;
Her face and form had been well-known
To all Fort Armstrong's garrison;
As soon as he a glance there took,
Old Zack himself knew Winnemuk,
She who had told her people 's plan


To slay the Bluecoats to a man ;

She dared her race's secret to uncover,

This act she did for sake of her white lover.

But now she comes her father's case to plead,

For he is doomed to die,

Unless she can divert the deed

And old Zack somehow mollify,

Who sent the company away,

But told her there to stay.

Her face but not her tongue made moan

When the sad twain were left alone,

Both had been stricken by the blow of fate

By sorrow joined in common human trait.

The soldier- father's sympathy

Foref elt the turn of destiny

In his own sorrow-laden heart,

Within himself he knew the maiden 's part.

She had in woe set out from home,

Solitary through wood and field to roam ;

She ran across the grassy prairie,

Her flight was like that of a fairy,

Unseen she thrid the frontier's path

Escaping all the hostile wrath.

But oh ! she could not shun the inner foe,

Who with her went wherever she might go,

By him undone whatever she might do.

Two loves were raging in her heart,

And gave her more than double smart,

To father red she was in feeling bound

With lover white her very life was wound.


The two were now in arms arrayed
Seeking the combat with each other
More fell than brother battling brother;
Against the other each might lift his blade,
And each the other slay
Before had passed the day :
So saw her fantasy the fray.
Her bursting heart became a battle ground
On which her father and her lover round and

Were wrestling in a deadly strife
Whose stake was life.
The love of parent and the love of lover
As bitter foes

Were fighting all along her path
And then they rose

And fought upon the clouds above her
In furious wrath;
At every turn, in every little nook
That struggle never left her look.

Just when the parent hci . been taken,
And seemed by all the world forsaken,
Up to his side the daughter strode
Arriving by another road,
And with the soldiers to old Zack she went,
Where now she stands inside his tent.
A daughter's silent pleading eyes
Caused father's heart in him to rise,
And so he spake in tones full mild :


' ' What are you doing here my child ! ' '

"I wish to take my parent home

Who hitherwards has come,

I know that he has disobeyed,

This trouble he ought not to have made,

In his own house he should have stayed

Until this fateful war be past,

For many days it cannot last.

Pity a daughter's sorrow

And send us home to-morrow."

To father's heart the plea came nigh

Even a tear surprised the hero's eye,

And yet he would not let it drop,

The soldier must the parent stop.

But to her spake he tenderly,

He could not quench his sympathy :

' l Though I his guilty act forgive,

And let him go with you and live,

He promising to keep the peace,

What pledge have I for his release ?

Will he his former ways forsake ?

Or will he not his promise break?"

Then Winnemuk rose up to plead

The recompense of her own deed :

"A daughter's pledge is all that I can give,

Who loves her father and would have him

live ;
My service may I not let speak?
My race on yours would vengeance wreak
And plotted just these soldiers all to slay,


And raze Fort Armstrong in a day.

The plan was well concealed

Until by me it was revealed ;

I saved yon from a bloody death —

Give back to me my father 's breath ;

'Tis all I ask as my own due,

Eemember that my race I quit for you."

The soldier felt the gratitude

He owed to her who did such good;

The parent felt more deeply still

The daughter in the maid's strong will;

He saw himself in the Indian chief

And to himself in him he gave relief;

He saw his daughter in Winnemuk,

And in her love for parent pleasure took.

The Winnebago father then he called

And to an oath the Indian thralled,

And sent both out the camp

Upon their homeward tramp.

Off with a joy went Winnemuk

As she the hand of parent took,

And led him through the Bluecoats there

Who stood around them everywhere.

But over all her joy a shade

Winds in the feature of the Indian maid,

For, as she slowly sauntered out,

Slyly she cast a glance about

To glimpse another's longed-for look —

Torn was the heart of Winnemuk.


Although she now possessed her father dear,
She still let fall the tear;
As she beheld a well-known face,
Delight and dolor ran a race,
Pursuing one the other like the clouds
Which belt the sky in sable shrouds.
Love 's hammer pounded in her heart
For him from whom she now must part,
And who was sworn to slay her kind :
That war was fiercely raging in her mind,
Fate bade her love her race's foe —
Whichever won, to her was overthrow.
Daughter and father strode toward home,
The gleaming sun would somehow gloam,
His eye looked blood-shot on that day,
A mist cut all the smile out of his ray
While trod the twain their way,
Neither had much to say.


And now beneath that sultried sun
The onward march of Taylor is begun,
Not far from when old Sol sank down
The Bluecoats were near Prophetstown,
Their entrance caused that sudden wonder
Which drove the council chiefs asunder,
Also the tumult and the scare
Confounding all the redskins there.
Black Hawk commanded a retreat


Up the river sped the moecasined feet

Of squaws with young and aged massed

But in their hurry hardly knowing

Whither their front was going.

Still onward, winding, wavering they passed

Now through the stream-lined wood,

Now through the creeks and swamps aghast,

Champing meanwhile a little food.

But how turns out that synod of the races ?

Never again are seen their faces

United in their lofty scheme,

Scattered to the winds they seem

A dream within a dream.

Swartface, White Cloud and Molinar

Have dropped the talk and work of war

And fled out of its path afar.

So Black Hawk is now left alone

To reap what he has sown ;

The Indian bold will never rest —

Dares Death to do its best.

One of the roads from Prophetstown

Swartface now by himself turned down,

Stepped slowly to his surging thought

Which had in him a resolution wrought :

"That man I cannot fight —

That Captain holds my soul, my sight,

He is to me the only man

Able the Eace to overspan,

The red and black he dared to save


Just from their yawning grave.

In my rent soul the black and white

He harmonized for the first time,

Giving to one its God-born right,

Relieving the other of its crime.

My father and my mother born in me,

But ever fighting hitherto,

Begin through him now to agree,

Yea reconciled they rise to view.

I am no longer what I was

That Captain is the moving cause.

And love for my own wife and child,

Whom once I quit as cursed,

Is coming back and makes me mild;

My life is suddenly reversed.

As negro-lover he was defamed,

But that for me he was well named ;

I feel me soften in my hate,

I must begin my new estate

Compelling Fate,

Under that Captain I would soldier be —

Enlist me in his company

If ever such a chance should come to me ' '

So Swartf ace mused along the way,

Unstrung he seemed for any fray ;

No hurry showed he in his flight,

He hardly marked his left or right,

Self-occupied with inner fight.

For as he quit old Prophetstown,

He felt he must himself put down,


A change must be from what he was before,

A crisis going on within he knew

A palingenesis flashed on his view.

But he could hardly work it out alone,

So all his thoughts to one end bore,

To find the man who first the seed had sown —

That Captain he must see once more

Who seemed the time to rise above

And gave him his first glimpse of love.

Some questions too he fain would ask,

For on him had arisen a new task,

Which would not let him stay in peace

Until by doing it he found release.

But see White Cloud drop his prophetic

And skip with haste into the woods,
Whose secret depths full well he knew,
Oft had he hid in them from view,
When he might have his prophet- spell,
Some future action to foretell
Which the Great Spirit him dictated,
Though with ambition it was always mated,
Not now he thinks of being the red Pope,
His terror speaks another scope ;
Not now will he unite the races
In one great federation,
And be high-priest of all the tinted faces,
His mind schemes now his own salvation ;
He seeks to save just one red skin,


Glad to creep out where he crept in ;
He cannot think of any other —
Not even of his sacerdotal brother.

Bnt whither shifts Francesco Molinar

Who had so often blest the war?

He must have glimpsed a snatch of God,

Wielding above him a good-sized rod.

When he beheld the synod parting,

He was himself not slow in starting,

Henceforth he knew the red men fated,

Their life could not be renovated,

At least not in his pre-formed way,

So he would there no longer stay.

He wandered down the Biver's shore,

St. Louis found he, but no more

It held to Spain nor yet to France ;

The mighty scroll of turning circumstance

Unrolled to him as if in trance;

The rulers spoke the Saxon tongue,

Whose every word his ear-drum stung ;

A shade of the Virginia dialect

The Yankeelander might detect;

But Molinar cared naught for that,

He spiteful on this new world spat :

"Methinks again the barbarous North

Has poured its teeming millions forth,

And overwhelmed all civilization

With fresh Teutonic desolation,

Worse than the Goths of savage Alaric,


Worse than the Vandal fiends of Genseric; —

Just here takes place a new destruction

Of our beloved Rome,

And of it gleams no hope of reconstruction

In all the ages still to come.

Our ethnic struggle here is lost

Our Church, our State, our Stock must pay

the cost.
But haste ! I have to seek another home. ' '
So Molinar spoke his despair,

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Online LibraryDenton Jaques SniderLincoln in the Black Hawk war, an epos of the Northwest → online text (page 12 of 16)