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Schoolcraft, Henry Rowe.. History of the Indian Tribes of the United States: Their Present Condition and Prospects, and a Sketch of Their Ancient Status. Volume 6. . Philadelphia: Lippincott, Grambo and Co, 1857. [format: book; image], [genre: government document; report]. Permission: Northern Illinois University
Persistent link to this document: http://lincoln.lib.niu.edu/file.php?file=schoolcraft6.html


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Chapter V. — Leading Events of the Campaign Against
Black Hawk.

THE effect of an Indian war on the frontiers is always appalling; a few hundred hostile Indians having the power of alarming the inhabitants, and disturbing the settlements throughout a wide extent of country. Their apparently ubiquitous character, their subtlety, and the facility with which they thread the mazes of the forest, the horrid cruelties practised on the defenceless inhabitants of the settlements, and their wild onset and noisy outcries when driven into open conflict, always make a deep impression. The ordinary militia are not adequate to the task of repelling such inroads. A man suddenly summoned from his plow, or his work-bench, to the field, has not sufficient discipline, or knowledge of camp duty, to render him of much service in sudden emergencies. Frequently, he neither knows the position nor the number of his enemies, and rather helps to increase the existing confusion and panic, than to allay it. Such was the effect of Black Hawk's inroad into Illinois and Wisconsin; and, before a sufficient force of the regular army could be drawn from remote points, the most that the militia and volunteers could effect, was to keep him in check. For a considerable time, the headquarters of the Sac chief was located at, or about, Lake Coshkinong, near the upper end of Rock River valley, or at the intersection, or on the line of the Four Lakes, now the site of Madison, the State capital of Wisconsin.

One of the most singular and appalling incidents of this campaign, was the fact that the Asiatic cholera first made its appearance among the United States troops while on their march to the scene of conflict. On the banks of the St. Clair, at Fort Gratiot, at
Michilimackinac, at Chicago, and at every harbor for vessels and steamers, the most frightful mortality occurred. A characteristic feature of this disease was the rapidity with which it terminated in a fatal result — a few hours only intervening between the appearance of the first symptoms and death. The best medical men were at fault, and had to study the features of the disease before they could cope with it.

This calamity added to the delay in reaching the scene of action, and gave the wily chief a little breathing time. General Scott landed his army at Chicago with all practicable expedition, and instantly sent forward a detachment to reconnoitre the position

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of
Black Hawk, and force him to give battle. A general action is, however, one of the very last resorts of an Indian captain. It is contrary to the Indian mode of warfare, which consists of operations in detail, secret and crafty attacks, and sudden movements, which are practicable only for an army unencumbered with baggage. General Atkinson pursued the Indians up the Rock River valley, where their trail gave evidence of their suffering from want of food. In this pursuit, the knowledge of woodcraft, of the Indian mode of warfare, and of the local geography, possessed by Colonel S. Dodge, enabled the commander to conduct his movements with great precision. After some skirmishing,
Black Hawk was traced across the Wisconsin river, and hotly pursued towards the west. After a harassing march, his ill-fed, starving, and worn-down forces, were finally overtaken at the junction of the Bad Axe river with the Mississippi, where a steamer (the Warrior) opened her fire on him. While in the act of effecting a crossing, the American army arrived, and an immediate action ensued, in which the Indians were defeated. Some of the Sac warriors, and the women and children of the tribe, had, however, succeeded in crossing.
Black Hawk escaped, but soon afterwards voluntarily delivered himself up to the agent at Prairie du Chien.


Black Hawk was carried a prisoner to Washington. Private vengeance clamored for his blood, in expiation of the foul murders perpetrated by his warriors; but, to the credit of the President, General Jackson, he promptly and decidedly resisted these importunities, saying that the chief had surrendered as a prisoner of war, and was entitled to, and should be, treated as such. After his advent at the capital,
Black Hawk was taken to see the military works at Fort Monroe, by an officer of the army, who was appointed to escort him through the seaboard cities, to his own country, that he might form adequate notions of the populousness of the Union. He was safely conducted to his home, on the distant Mississippi, where he lived many years, a wiser and a better man. After his death, his tribesmen gave to his remains those rites of sepulture which are only bestowed upon their most distinguished men. They buried him in his war dress, in a sitting posture, on an eminence, and covered him with a mound of earth.

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Schoolcraft, Henry Rowe.. History of the Indian Tribes of the United States: Their Present Condition and Prospects, and a Sketch of Their Ancient Status. Volume 6. . Philadelphia: Lippincott, Grambo and Co, 1857. [format: book; image], [genre: government document; report]. Permission: Northern Illinois University
Persistent link to this document: http://lincoln.lib.niu.edu/file.php?file=schoolcraft6.html
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