He (Black Hawk) has excited domestic Insurrections amongst us, and has endeavored to bring on the Inhabitants of our Frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known Rule of Warfare, is an undistinguished Destruction, of all Ages, Sexes and Conditions. - Declaration of Independence
The Black Hawk War, was a bloody conflict between the Sac and Fox and the United States in 1832. After the War of 1812, whites settling the Illinois country exerted pressure on the Native Americans. A treaty of 1804, which had no real claim to validity, provided for removal of the Sac and Fox west of the Mississippi. A Native American leader, Black Hawk (1767-1838), who was born in the Sac village near the site of present Rock Island, Ill., and who had fought for the British in the War of 1812, denounced the treaty and resisted removal. Years of intermittent skirmishing followed. In 1831 the whites used force to impose a new treaty that compelled the Native Americans to retire from their lands. In April 1832, Black Hawk, with some 400 braves and their families, returned to Illinois. Not receiving the support he expected, he admitted defeat, but when one of the peaceful emissaries he sent was shot down, the outraged Black Hawk successfully attacked a larger white force, then retired into what is now Wisconsin. A large force of volunteers was gathered under Gen. Henry Atkinson. The last battle of the war took place on the Bad Axe River, where Black Hawk was attacked by these troops and a Sioux war party. Trapped, almost all of his band, including women and children, were wiped out. Black Hawk himself escaped, surrendered to the Winnebago, was turned over for imprisonment, and was released in 1833 to return to the remnants of his tribe and his family in Iowa.
"The Lakeside Classics: The Early Day of Rock Island and Davenport, The Narratives of J. W. Spencer and J. M. D. Burrows" and Edited by Milo Milton Quaife, Secretary of the Burton Historical Collection, Chicago, The Lakeside Press, R. R. Donnelley & Sons Co., 1942. (Submitted by Katheryn Haddad)
"I camped two miles or more this side of the Meridosia. All night I could hear the wolves walking about me....The next day I reached the fort at Rock Island, delivering the mail, and bringing the news of the election of General Jackson....
"The first season I lived here, about forty of our Indians swam the Missouri River in the night, broke into an encampment of one hundred of the Sioux lodges, and killed fifteen of them with their knives....That same season, three of our Indians, on a scout on the Missouri, discovered an Omaha Indian on the prairie. They told me they got into a low, busy tree, and bleated like a deer, bringing the man near, when they shot and killed him. This Indian had a gun and bridle with him; these, with his scalp, they brought home with them.
"After coming in the fall of 1818, and making my selection for a farm, I moved from Morgan County, arriving here on the first day of March 1829. As there was no house to be had, the next best chance was a wig wam. We found one on the bluff near where Henry Case now lives, which we thought we could use until we could build a cabin....ABOUT THE LAST OF MAY CAME MR. GOBLE (George W. (7) Goble) AND HIS SON BENJAMIN, settling above Joseph Danfort."
"The General's [Gaines] force was very small - only about five hundred men in all...at the garrison. The men and boys of the settlemen were all at the fort away from their homes doing nothing. I went with another citizen and called on the General and proposed that the men and boys of the settlement be formed into a company, which was accordingly done. The company numbered fifty-eight men, and was called THE ROCK RIVER RANGERS. We were mustered into service the 5th of June 1831....BENJAMIN GOBLE...corporal.
Black Hawk's War, by Caroline Strong, Fort Paine, July 12th, 1832 (Naperville Illinois)
My dear Venilea,
I suppose by now you hear much said of the present affliction of this State. How eagerly must you search for and listen to all the news concerning us! How your affectionate heart must beat with anxious and tender solicitude for the fate of your far off R. & C. who are really in the midst of trouble! I tell you I am tired of war times & war fare & I guess you would be too if you had to live as I do. For four days after we came to this place we had to live entirely out of doors 'tho we were permitted to sleep under shelter. Since then we have had a comfortable house. There are 2 small rooms & six families to occupy them. There are twenty-two children. There are five or six crying, two or three scolding almost constantly besides all the rest of the confusion naturally expected in such a place as this. And here I am in a crazy chamber (in the midst of this confusion) sitting on my feet, with my paper on a chair, scribbling to you. I tell you this, not as troubles but to let you see how pleasantly I am situated! We stayed at Chicago nearly four weeks when thinking we should be as safe at home as there we ventured to return. A day or two after we got home General Atkinson sent forty of his men, commanded by Captain Paine, to build a fort & to remain at this place which is four miles from our house. The day after they arrived here one of their men was killed by hostile Indians. The wretches after scalping him escaped with a span of horses. They had lurked about the place a number of days watching the road. We passed within a few rods of them on our return from Chicago. If we had had horses we should probably have lost our lives as these animals seem to be their first object. Where they find two or three men alone with horses they are sure to kill the men and take the horses. Where there is no danger of discovery they mangle them in the most horrid manner. Some were found, their heads in one place and bodies in another. Some with their eyes picked out & noses cut off. One man's body was cut to pieces, his entrails taken out and wound around his neck. One's heart was taken out & cut and chewed to pieces. But our unworthy lives are still spared, our Heavenly Father has delivered us from dangers seen and unseen whilst our neightbors (literally speaking) have fallen victims to the blood thirsty savages. Two months ago we were quietly pursuing our labours, thought not of danger or interruption, especially from such a quarter. But what a contrast! What before was peace & prosperity was suddenly reversed into scenes of fear, distress & poverty. Homes were deserted, farms left uncultivated, large droves of cattle left to range unmolested their boundless fields. Now, people are just beginning to creep out of their hives & tremblingly take a peep at their old homes which I assure you do not look as though they had ever been inhabited by human beings. Some houses where the unfortunate owners were providentially permitted previously to escape, were visited by Indians & everything destroyed. It was not carried off or burned but left in the house to aggravate and distress the now destitute owners. Good furniture, iron ware, crockery smashed to atoms, clothing and bedding torn and cut to pieces. Murdered cats, dogs & hogs lay about the house. Other houses with their contents were burned. I never before realized the uncertainty of life so much as at present. Never before did I feel the importance of living every day as though it were our last to be so spent. I never felt so little desire to accumulate wordly riches as at present.
Submitted by Katheryn Haddad.
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