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Samuel Gardner Drake.

The aboriginal races of North America; comprising biographical sketches of eminent individuals, and an historical account of the different tribes, from the first discovery of the continent to the present period ... and a copious analytical index online

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Online LibrarySamuel Gardner DrakeThe aboriginal races of North America; comprising biographical sketches of eminent individuals, and an historical account of the different tribes, from the first discovery of the continent to the present period ... and a copious analytical index → online text (page 114 of 131)
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prepared to meet them, and a considerably sharp contest ensued. Sixteen
of the Indians were killed before they retreated. But few of the whites
were wounded. The garrison was in great fear of being cut off, having ex-
pended all their ammunition before a reinforcement arrived, which had b^en
sent for while the attack was going on.

About this time, as Black-hawk w r as approaching a small fort on Apple
River, about 12 miles from Galena, lie fell in with four men who had been
sent express to this place. They did not discover the Indians until fired
upon, when they fled for the fort, and the Indians pursued them; one of the
men, a 3Ir. Welsh, was wounded before reaching the fort, and another man
was killed in the fort, who had raised his head aoove the pickets to make
discovery. The Indians contented themselves by taking away a considerable
quantity of flour, and a number of cattle and horses. They would doubtless
have burnt the fort and buildings, and killed all the people, but from fear
that the light of them would be seen by some large body of white soldiers,
who might pursue and overtake them.

On the 25th of June, a pretty severe fight took place between a company of
spies under Major Dement and a band of Indians, not far from Kellog's
Grove. He had arrived there only the evening before, and being informed
that an Indian trail was discovered in the neighborhood, set off immediately
with 30 mounted men to attack them. He had not proceeded far before the
Indians appeared, and confidently attacked him. The Indian yell so fright-
ened the horses that they were thrown into confusion, and soon began a
retreat. The Indians pursued them a considerable distance, and lost nine of
their number, two of whom were chiefs. Five of the whites were killed,
and they lost about 30 of their horses.

On the 29th of June, three men were attacked in a field at the Cineinaway
Mound, about 10 miles from Galena, and two of them were killed. Major
Stevenson marched immediately in pursuit of the murderers. On arriving at
the Mound he found the bodies of the two men, John Thompson and Jaw?
Boxley, both shockingly mutilated. The heart of the former was taken out,
and both were scalped. Having left a few men to bury the dead, Major
Stevenson followed the trail of the party to the Mississippi, where he found
they had stolen a canoe and effected their escape across the river.

Mention has been made of the prompt action of congress for the relief of
the frontiers. "General Scott was ordered from the sea-board with nine com-
panies of artillery, and their cannon were to be drawn from the coast : nine com-
panies of infantry were ordered from the lakes, and two companies from
Baton Rouge, to put an end to the war. Such was the promptness with
which these orders were executed, that five out of the six companies of
artillery ordered from Fort Monroe in the Chesapeake arrived in 18 days al
Chicago, 1800 miles distant in the interior of the country. Unfortunately
this detachment was attacked bv the cholera on the route, and the whole



CHAP. IX.] RAVAGES OF THE CHOLERA. 649

were rendered unfit to take the field before they arrived at the scene of action."
Accordingly General Scott informed General Atkinson that lie could not
cooperate with him without endangering the troops already in the field, and
therefore directed him to act without reference to his forces.

The scenes of horror occasioned by this most singular disease will doubt-
less be told of in after-times with an effect which has not been surpassed in
that of the histories of the plagues in ancient days. Several of the com-
panies b.rfore mentioned were entirely broken up. Of a corps of 208 men
under Colonel Twiggs, but nine were left alive. Mr. John Norvell, at Detroit,
wrote on the 12th July, to the editor of the Pennsylvania Enquirer, concern-
ing its ravages in that region, as follows :

" I regret to add, that the intelligence from the regular troops is disastrous.
Of the three companies of artillery under Colonel Twiggs, and two or three
more companies of infantry with them, few remain. These troops, you will
recollect, landed from the steam-boat Henry Clay below Fort Gratiot. A great
number of them have been swept off by the disease. Nearly all the others
have deserted. Of the deserters, scattered all over the country, some have
died in the woods, and their bodies been devoured by the wolves. I use the
language of a gallant young officer. Others have taken their flight to the
world of spirits, without a companion to close their eyes, or console the last
moments of their existence. Their straggling survivors are occasionally seen
marching, some of them know not whither, with their knapsacks on their
backs, shunned by the terrified inhabitants as the source of a mortal pesti-
lence. Colonel Twiggs himself, and Surgeon Everett, are very low. They
were still living at the latest accounts from Fort Gratiot, and sanguine hopes
were entertained of their recovery. No other officers have yet been assailed,
except Lieutenant Clay.

"You will remember that the troops under Colonel Cummings, several of
whom died here, embarked on board the steam-boat William Penn, on Sunday
last, for Chicago. The sickness among them increased as they proceeded to
Fort Gratiot, and became so great by the time they arrived there, that they
were disembarked, and have returned to the vicinity of this city, and en-
camped at Springwells, about three miles below town. Seventeen or eight-
een of them have died, and some still remain sick, probably never to recover.
One half of the command of General Scott, ordered to Chicago by the lakes,
will never reach him; a large portion of them dying; a still larger number
deserting from an overwhelming dread of the disease, and the residue obliged
to march back again."

In pursuing the thread of events in our narrative, we left General Atkinson
in pursuit of Black-hawk, whose camp was said to be at the Four Lakes.
General Atkinson had got this information from a Pottowattomie Indian, named
WAPANSETH, whom, with several others, he had employed for the purpose.
He said the old chief's camp was " inaccessible on all sides, except through a
narrow pass, which was muddy, being otherwise surrounded by water or
swamps. It was a little above the junction of a small creek, called White-
water, with the principal stream of Rock River, and between the two."
But, as we have already noted, when the army arrived at the Four Lakes,
Black-hawk had gone ; and so \vell did he manage his retreat that the whites
were deceived as to the direction he had taken.

"Gen. Atkinson, expecting, when he marched, to meet the enemy in a
short time, had taken with him but a small quantity of provisions, in conse-
quence of which he was obliged to halt and divide his forces at Lake Cosh-
ko-nong (one of the four) above named. He himself with the regulars, some
650 strong, remained at the lake ; the militia, consisting of three brigades,
under Generals Posey, Dodge and Henry, about 2000 men, were ordered to
march to Fort Winnebago, on the Ouisconsin, where stores were hourly ex-
pected. It was the intention of the commander-in-chief to consolidate his
forces, and renew the pursuit as soon as he had obtained sufficient stores."

Instead of crossing the country to escape beyond the Mississippi, as was
expected, Black-hawk descended the Ouisconsin to escape in that direction;
by which means General Dodge came upon his trail and commenced a vigor-
ous pursuit. The old chief had received encouragement that in the country

55



650 BATTLE OF THE OUISCONSIN. [EooK V

to which lie had retreated, he should not only r< e.'ive additional forces liv
which he could withstand all the Americans could bring against him, Im,
also provisions in abundance. lie found too late that he had heeii deceived
in both particulars; he was obliged to fly from .ll/:inson's army, \\ithoiit pro-
visions, nor had he time to procure any upon the way. Dodge was imme-
diately upon his trail, but did not overtake him until near a hundred miles
pursuit.

On the 21 of July, General Dodge, with about 1K)() men besides Indians
came up with Black-hawk on the Ouisconsin, 40 miles from Fort Winnebago,
over against the old Sac village, and it was only by the superior management
of the old warrior chief, that himself or any of his people escaped capture. A
great number of Indians belonged to Dodge's army, who contributed much
to the successful result of the affair. The whites came upon the Indians as
they were about to cross the river, and the time being evening, may account
for their not being all cut off; for immediately after the attack began, it was
so dark that the whites could not continue it without disadvantage to them-
selves. A letter dated at Fort Howard, 25 July, gives the following account
of the affair :

" Last evening we received the intelligence of a battle having been fought be-
tween Gen. Dodge and his division, and the Sacs and Foxes, in which the former
were victorious. The particulars, as stated in Capt. Plimpton's letter to Capt.
Clark, are these : Parqudt, with a few Wirmebagos, left the Portage a few
days since, to proceed to Gen. Dodge's army, and guide them to the Sac
camp. On Saturday morning last, 21st inst., Gen. Dodge sent his adjutant
to report to Gen. Atkinson of his movements. He had not proceeded far
before he came upon the Sacs' and Foxes' trail, directing their course to the
Ouisconsin river. He immediately returned and reported the circumstance
to Gen. Dodge, who pursued and overtook them about sundown of the same
day, (Saturday) on the left bank of the Ouisconsin, and about 40 miles from
Fort Winnebago, when the fight ensued ; the Indians at the same time re-
treating. The night being very dark, they found it impossible to pursue
them. They had found, when Parque.tl left them, which was early the next
morning, l(i Indians killed, and but one white rfian killed, and four wounded.
Parquett thinks not less than 40 Indians fell in the engagement."

We have the official account of the battle by General Dodge ; but as it
contains no additional facts, and is less minute than this, it was "not thought
worth while to insert it.

The truly deplorable condition of the Indians at this time cannot well be
conceived of. In their pursuit of them before the battle, the whites found
numbers dead in the way emaciated, and starved to death ! When overtaken
by Gen. Dodge, they were not estimated to be but about 300 men, besides
women and children, and although the affair of the 21st is called a battle, it
does not seem that it can scarcely deserve that name, for if there had been
any thing more than a show of resistance, more of the whites would have
been killed.

The Indians report that they were attacked about a mile from the river:
the approach of the army was discovered, and Black-hawk, with only 50 or
60 men, met them, to give the remainder time to cross to an island. JVeapope,
who had been ordered to march in the rear with about 20 warriors, to give
notice when the whites were discovered, had been passed by them by an un-
expected route, and Black-hawk heard no more from him until after the war.
He found there was no chance of success by continuing it, deserted his
braves, went to the Winnebago village, and soon after became a prisoner to
the whites. Meanwhile General Atkinson had marched from Coshconong,
and following in the trail of Dodge, had arrived within two days' march of
the place where the fight had been with the Indians, and was immediately
ready to cooperate with him. After receiving the news of the battle, he inarched
to the Blue Mounds on the Ouisconsin, opposite to where the fight had been.

The Indians were surprised that they were not pursued ; but for want of
boats or canoes, or the means of constructing rafts, they could not even cross
to the island to which the Indians had escaped for two days after, and in the
mean time they escaped. That they were not pressed harder on the night of



CHAP. IX.] AFFAIR WITH THE STEAM-BOAT WARRIOR. 651

the battle, General Dodge, urged in excuse, that his men were worn down with
fatigue, having marched 40 miles that day.

Among the prisoners taken by General Dodge's party, was the wile of the
warrior called the BIG-LAKE. She was a sister of Keokuk, and her husband
had been killed in the fight. Although the whites were satisfied before, they
were now informed by this squaw of Black-hawk's final resolution ; which
was, for such of his men as had good horses to proceed with him and strike
the Mississippi above Prairie du Chien, while the remainder should proceed
by the Ouisconsin ; and a place of rendezvous was appointed for all to meet
on the west side of the great river. This squaw also stated that before the
battle on the Ouisconsin, in which she was taken, 200 of Black-hawk's men
had been killed.

General Dodge having recommended a cannon to be placed on the bank
of the river, at a suitable place below the battle-ground, to cut off such .'is
should attempt an escape in that direction, marched with his army on the
23d, and joined General Atkinson at the Blue Mounds, and every thing wac
immediately put in readiness to pursue the main body of the Indians undei
Black-hawk.

As was intended, many fell into the hands of the whites as they descended
the Ouisconsin. Some of the boats conveying these poor wretches were
overset, and many of those in them were drowned ; the greater number, how-
ever, fell into the hands of their enemies in their passage. Many of the
children were found to be in such a famished state that they could not be
revived.

Several untoward circumstances now transpired to prevent the escape of
the main body under Black-hawk. The first was his falling in with a steam-
boat on the 1st of August, just as they were preparing to cross the Mississippi, by
which means that day was lost. And upon the next day, the whole army of
whites under General Atkinson came upon them, which completed their
destruction. As in the affair of the 21 of July on the Ouisconsin, Black-hank
did not wish to fight, but to escape ; and when the steam-boat fell in with
him he used every means to give the captain of her to understand that he
desired to surrender. He displayed two white flags, and about 150 of his
men approached the river without arms, and made signs of submission ; but
whether, as was said by the whites, the interpreter on board was so frightened
that he could not convey the meaning of those on shore to the captain of the
boat, or whether, as it would seem, the whites were determined to kill Indians,
we will not take upon us to decide, but lay before the reader the account of
the affair by Captain /. Throcmorton, of the boat, which is as follows :

" Prairie du Chien, 3 Aug. 1832. I arrived at this place on Monday last,
[30 July,] and was despatched, with the AVarrior alone, to Wapashaw's village,
120 miles above, to inform them of the approach of the Sacs, and to order
down all the friendly Indians to this place. On our way down, we met one
of the Sioux band, who informed us that the Indians (our enemies) were on
Bad-axe River, to the number of 400. We stopped and cut some wood, and
prepared for action. About 4 o'clock on Wednesday afternoon, [1 Aug.]
we found the gentlemen [Indians] where he stated he had left them. As we
neared them, they raised a w r hite flag, and endeavored to decoy us ; but we
were a little too old for them ; for instead of landing, we ordered them to send
a boat on board, which they declined. After about 15 minutes' delay, giving
them time to remove a few of their women and children, we let slip a six-
pounder loaded with canister, followed by a severe fire of musketry; and if
ever you saw straight blankets, you would have seen them there. I fought
them at anchor most of the time, and we were all very much exposed. I have
a ball which came in close by where 1 was standing, and passed through the
bulk-head of the wheel-room. We fought them for about an hour or more,
until our wood began to fail, and night coming on, we left, and went on to the
Prairie. This little fight cost them 23 killed, and, of course, a great many
wounded. We never lost a man, and had but one man wounded, (shot through
the leg.) The next morning, before we could get back again, on account of a
heavy fog, they had the whole [of General Atkinsons'] army upon them. We
found them at it, walked in, and took a hand ourselves. The first slioi from



652 DEFEAT OF BLACK-HAWK ON Till; MISSISSIPPI. [B..o K V.

the Warrior laid out ///m. I can hardly tell you any tiling about it, for I am
in groat haste, as I am now on my way to the field again. The army lost
eight or nine killed, and seventeen wounded, whom we, brought down. One
died on deck last night. We brought down 36 prisoners, women and children.
I tell you what, Sam, there is no fun in fighting Indians, particularly at tins
season, when the grass is so very bright. .Every man, and even my cabin-bo\,
fought well. We had 10 regulars, 5 riflemen, and 20 of ourselves. Air. //o/r,
of Platte, Mr. James G. Soulard, and one of the Rolettes, were with us, and
fought well."

Lieutenant Kingsbury, an officer in command of the United States' troops on
board the Warrior at the time of the fight, reported that, about 40 miles above
Prairie du Chien, a great number of the Sacs and Foxes were seen, who hoisted
a white flag, but would not send a canoe on board, although they were told
that, in case they did not, they should be fired upon, which was imme-
diately done. They seemed much alarmed when the six-pounder was dis-
charged upon them, and all immediately covered themselves with trees and
whatever offered. Five or six were supposed to have been killed.

Early on the morning of the next day, August 2, the whole combined army,
amounting to 1600 men, came up with the Indians ; and the following are
the particular details of that whole transaction, as published at Galena, four
days after it happened, namely, August 6.

" The whole army under General Atkinson, embracing the brigades com-
manded by Generals Henry, Posey, and Alexander, and squadron under com-
mand of General Dodge, all crossed over to the north side of the Ouisconsin
at Helena, on the 28th and 29th ult. They took up a line of march in a
northerly direction, in order to intersect the Indian trail. At the distance of

*/

about five miles, the great trail w r as discovered, leading in a direction N. of W.
towards the Mississippi, and supposed to be about four days old. General At-
kinson, seeing the direction of the enemy, knew well that it would require all
diligence and expedition to overtake them before they would cross the Mis-
sissippi, and hence commenced from that time a. forced march', leaving all
baggage wagons, and every thing else which was calculated to retard the
pursuit.

" The country through which the enemy's trail led our army between the
Ouisconsin Bluff's and the Kickapoo River was one continued series of moun-
tains. No sooner had they reached the summit of one high and almost per-
pendicular hill, than they had to descend on the other side equally steep to
the base of another. Nothing but a deep ravine, with muddy banks, separated
these mountains. The woods, both upon the top of the highest mountains,
and at the bottom of the deepest hollows, was of the heaviest growth. The
under-bushes were chiefly thorn and prickly ash. This is a short description
of the route, and shows the difficulties of the pursuit. Notwithstanding all
this, our army gained on the enemy daily, as appeared from the enemy's en-
campments. The tedious march thus continued was met by our brave troops
without a murmur; and as the Indian signs appeared more recent, the officers
and men appeared more anxious to push on. On the fourth night of our
march from Helena, and at an encampment of the enemy, was discovered an
old Sue Indian, by our spies, who informed them that the main body of the
enemy had, on that day, gone to the Mississippi, and intended to cross on the
next morning, Aug. 2d. The horses being nearly broken down, and the men
nearly exhausted from fatigue, General Atkinson ordered a halt ibr a few
hours, (it being after 8 o'clock,) with a determination to start at 2 o'clock for
the Mississippi, about ten miles distant. At the precise hour the bugles sound-
"* and in a short time all were ready to inarch.

General Dodges squadron was honored with being placed in front ; the
iiiiantry folio wed next ; General Henry's brigade next ; General Alexander's next :
and General Poseifs formed the rear-guard. General Dodge called for, and
as soon received, 20 volunteer spies to go ahead of the whole army.

"In this order the march commenced. They had not, however, gone more
than five miles, before one of our spies came back, announcing their having
come in sight of the enemy's picket-guard. He went ba'.k, and the intelli-
gence was quickly conveyed to General Atkinson, then to all the commanders



CHAP. IX.] DEFEAT OF BLACK-HAWK ON THE MISSISSIPPI. 653

of the brigades ; and the celerity of the march was instantly increased. In a
few minutes more, the firing commenced at about 500 yards ahead of the from
of the army, between our spies and the Indian picket guard. The Indians
were driven by our spies from hill to hill, and kept up a tolerably brisk firing
from every situation commanding the ground over which our spies had to
march ; but being charged upon and routed from their hiding-places, they
sought safety by retreating to the main body on the bank of the river, and
joining in one general effort to defend themselves there or die on the ground.

"Lest some might escape by retreating up or down the river, General At-
kinson very judiciously ordered General Alexander and General Posey to form
the right wing of the army, and march down to the river above the Indian
encampment on the bank, and then move down. General Henry formed the
left wing, and marched in the main trail of the enemy. The U. S. infantry,
and General Dodge's squadron of the mining troops, marched in the centre.
With this order our whole force descended the almost perpendicular bluff,
and came into a low valley, heavily timbered with a large growth of under-
brush, weeds and grass. Sloughs, deep ravines, old logs, &c. were so plenti-
ful as to afford every facility for the enemy to make a strong defence. Gen-
eral Henri) first came upon and commenced a heavy fire, which was returned
by the enemy. The enemy, being routed from their first hiding-places, sought
others. General Dodge's squadron and the U. S. troops soon came into action,
and, with General Henry's men, rushed into the strong defiles of the enemy,
and killed all in their way, except a few who succeeded in swimming a slough
of the Mississippi, 150 yards wide. During this time the brigades of Generals
Alexander and Posey were marching down the river, when they fell in with
another part of the enemy's army, and killed and routed all that opposed
them.

" The battle lasted upwards of three hours. About 50 of the enemy's women
and children were taken prisoners, and many, by accident in the battle, were
killed. When the Indians were driven to the bank of the Mississippi, some
hundreds of men, women, and children, plunged into the river, and hoped by
diving, &c. to escape the bullets of our guns ; very few, however, escaped our
sharp-shooters.

" The loss on the side of the enemy never can be exactly ascertained, but,
according to the best computation, they must have lost in killed upwards of
150. Our loss in killed and wounded was 27.

" Some had crossed the river before our arrival ; and we learn by a prisoner,
that Black-hawk, while the battle waxed warm, had stolen off, and gone up
the river on this side. If he did, he took nothing with him ; for his valuables,
many of them, together with certificates of good character, and of his hav-
ing fought bravely against the United States during the last war, &c., signed
by British officers, were found on the battle-ground.

" It is the general impression in the army and at this place, that the Sacs
would be glad to conclude a peace on almost any terms we might propose.
On the morning of the 4th inst. a party of Sioux came to our camp, and beg-
ged premission to go on the back trail and have a fight with them. On the
same day, our whole army started to go down to Prairie du Chien, (about 40
miles,) and wait further orders.

" General Atkinson, accompanied by Generals Dodge and Posey, with tho
U. S. infantry, arrived at the Prairie on the evening of the 4th, on board the
S. B. Warrior, and will remain until the mounted volunteers arrive. The



Online LibrarySamuel Gardner DrakeThe aboriginal races of North America; comprising biographical sketches of eminent individuals, and an historical account of the different tribes, from the first discovery of the continent to the present period ... and a copious analytical index → online text (page 114 of 131)