Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

of an attack the artillery looking down from the bluffs on what would have been the battle field, was too far away to distinguish friends from foes. On arriving at the river between the island and town, it proved to be a deep, bold stream at that point unfordable, and hence the progress of the troops was delayed till scows could be procured to ferry them over. When the town was finally entered it was found deserted, the inhabitants having the previous night crossed to the west side of the Mississippi. It was supposed that Generals Duncan and Gaines, before leaving camp, believed that the Indians would abandon their village, and now that such was the case, it served to explain the apparent neglect in ascertaining the presence of Indians and the seemingly unfavorable disposition of the forces. General Gaines appears to have been an efficient officer, anxious to settle the difficulties without the effusion of blood, and great credit was undoubtedly due Governor Reynolds and General Duncan for the promptness

ith which the troops were called out, organized and marched to the seat of war.

The number of warriors who fled across the Mississippi could never be definitely ascertained. Many of the straggling and disaffected Winnebagoes, and Potawattomies, doubtless united with the band of Black Hawk, and perhaps the number amounted to from 400 to 600. The Indians having escaped without injury, the volunteers took vengeance on the village by burning it to the ground, although the dwellings would have sheltered them from the incessant rains which prevailed during the day.

6 Thus perished this aucient village which had been the delightful home of 6000 or 7000 Indians, where generation after generation had been born, had died and been buried, where the old men had taught wisdom to the youth, whence the Indian youth had often gone out in partles to hunt or to war, and returned in triumph to dance around the spoils of the forest or the scalps of the enemy, and where the dark-eyed Indian maidens, by their presence and charms, had made it a scene of delightful enchantment to many an admiring warrior. 9*

Black Hawk and his warriors having departed the night preceding the destruction of their village, encamped on the west bank of the Mississippi, while the Americans took a position 12 miles above where Rock Island now stands. Gen. Gaines sent an order to Black Hawk, requiring him and his band to return and enter into a treaty of peace, or he would move on them with all the troops under his command. Several days afterward some of the chiefs made their appearance, but Black Hawk and the majority of them refusing to come, a more peremptory demand was made, which had the desired effect. He and about 30 chiefs of the British band of the Sacs, now came and in full council with Gen. Gaines, and Gov. Reynolds, on the 30th of June, 1831, signed an agreement of which the following is the first article. "The British band of the

Sac Indians, are required peaceably to submit to the authority of the friendly chiefs and braves of the united Sac and Fox nations, and at all times hereafter to reside and hunt with them upon their own lands, west of the Mississippi river, and to be obedient to their laws and treaties, and no one or more shall ever be permitted to recross said river, to the usual place of residence, nor any part of their old hunting grounds east *Ford's History.

of the Mississippi, without permission of the president of the United States or governor of the State of Illinois.”

The truism that the brave are merciful, was well illustrated by the treatment extended by Gen. Gaines and Gov. Reynolds to the vanquished and unfortunate Indians, after the conclusion of the treaty. The larger part of the invading force had been deluded by listening to the bad counsel of Black Hawk and other leaders, and as a consequence, their helpless women and children, were then destitute of food and clothing. Gov. Reynolds in a conversation on the subject remarked, "I presume this is the last time the gov. ernment will have any trouble with these Indians; the women and children are not so much to blame, and a support for them one summer, will be nothing to the United States. The government has possessed their fine country, and I cannot rest satisfied to leave them in a starving condition." Provisions were accordingly distributed among them at stated periods, exceeding in amount the quantity they would have raised. The volunteers seeing this exhibition of charity, ridiculed the adjustment of the Indian dif. ficulties by calling it a corn treaty, and saying, "we give them bread, when we ought to give them lead."

The enemy being apparently humbled and quiet restored, the army was disbanded and returned home in the best of spirits, not a single person, by disease, accident or otherwise, having lost his life.

CHAPTER XXXIII

1832—SECOND CAMPAIGN OF THE WAR.

Black Hawk induced by White Cloud to recross the Mississippi

Refuses to obey the order of Gen. Atkinson to return-State Forces re-organizedMarch to Rock River and unite with the Regulars Army proceeds up the river in pursuit of the enemy-Battle of Stillman's Run-Call for fresh troops- The old forces disbanded.

Prior to the expulsion of the Indians from their village, Naopope, a chief of the British band and second in command to Black Hawk, had started on a visit to Malden to consult his English father concerning the right of the Indians to retake possession of their lands on Rock river. According to his statement, he was advised by the authorities at Malden that the Americans, without a previous purchase, could not take possession of their lands. On his return he also visited Wa-bo-kies-shiek or White Cloud, the prophet of the Winnebagoes. His home was a village bearing the name of Prophetstown, situated on Rock river, 35 miles from its mouth. Like the prophet of the Wabash, he had great influence with his countrymen. He was a stout, shrewd looking Indian, about 40 years of age and claimed that one of his parents was a Sac and the other a Winnebago. A full and flowing suit of long hair graced his head, which was surmounted by a white head-dress several inches in height, resembling a turban and emblamatic of his profession. Sagacity and cunning were prominent traits of his character and essential to the prophetic pretensions by which he imposed on the credulity of his ignorant followers.

White Cloud informed his visitor that not only the British but the Ottawas, Chippewas, Potawattomies and Winnebagoes would assist his tribe in regaining their village and the lands around it. When Naopope in the summer succeeding the treaty, returned to bis friends he communicated this information to Black Hawk who affected to believe it, and immediately commenced recruiting to increase the number of his braves. He also sent a messenger to Keokuk apprising him of the good news and requesting his co-operation. The latter, however, was a chief of too much sagacity to be misled by these promises of British and Indian assistance, and wisely admonished Black Hawk that he was deceived and should therefore abstain from hostile demonstrations. The latter, however, willing to credit any report that even faintly promised an opportunity to wreak vengeance on his old adversaries the Americans, rejected this good counsel and persistently

382

pursued his own plans. Having resolved to bid defiance to the whites, in the winter of 1831-32, great efforts were made to obtain recruits, and the number of his warriors embracing the chivalry of the nation, was augmented to 500. His headquarters were at the site of old Fort Madison on the west side of the Mississippi, whence he moved up the river, his warriors proceeding on horses and his women and children and baggage ascending in canoes. A halt was made opposite the site now occupied by Oquawka, where they were met by White Cloud the prophet. His mission was to further strengthen Black Hawk's determination to recross the Mississippi, by assuring him that he might depend on the assistance of other tribes. Naturally prone to mischief and entertaining a strong prejudice against the whites, he was at all times ready to stir up strife without caring for the evils that might be inflicted on those who listened to his advice. In a speech to the warriors and braves, he told them that by following his advice they had nothing to fear and much to gain; that the American war chief would not interfere with them if they refrained from hostilities, and that strengthened by reinforcements the time would come when they would be able to pursue a different course. Pleased with this advice, on the 6th of April, 1832, they proceeded to the mouth of Rock river and the whole party crossed the Mississippi and commenced ascending the former stream, for the avowed object of entering the territory of the Winnebagoes and raising a crop with them, when the real object was to secure them as allies. After they had proceeded some distance they were overtaken by an order from General Atkinson, then in command of the regulars at Fort Armstrong, requiring them to recross the Mississippi, which they refused to do, alleging that the general had no right to make such a demand, as they were peaceably journeying to the village of their friends for the purpose of raising corn. Before they had reached their destination another courier was sent in pursuit, who this time informed them unless they returned force would be used to effect their expulsion. The Indians replied that they would not be driven back, but did not intend to make the first attack upon the whites. Black Hawk on arriving among the Potawattomies and Winnebagoes, readily obtained permission to cultivate corn with them, but they refused to unite in any acts of hostility against the United States, and denied having given the prophet any assurances of co-operation.

The refusal of Black Hawk and his warriors to comply with the demand of General Atkinson, and the imposing character of bis military operations, created a general panic along the whole northern frontier from the Mississippi to Lake Michigan. Most of the settlers abandoned their homes and moved into the interior, while messengers were at the same time sent to inform Gov. Reynolds of the hostile attitude assumed by the Indians. The governor understanding the belligerent character of the settlers and Indians, and knowing that the slightest indiscretion committed by either party might involve the whole frontier in a bloody war, determined, on the 16th of April, to call out a large body of volunteers as the best means of averting such a calamity or meeting it in case of its actual occurrence. Gen. Atkinson in command of the regular forces near the scene of the threatened hostilities, at the same time, made a requisition for troops, stating

the frontier was in great danger and that the force under his command was insufficient for its defence. Danger being imminent the 22d was made the time for meeting, which gave only 6 days for the troops to meet at Beardstown, again selected as the place of rendezvous. The governor, with great promptness, sent influential messengers to the northwestern counties of the State, in which levies were to be made and addressed the following letter to the citizens : " Fellow.citizens : Your country requires your service. The Indians have assumed a hostile attitude and invaded the State, in violation of the treaty of last summer. The British band of Sacs and other hostile Indians are in possession of the country on Rock river, to the great terror of the frontier inhabitants, and I consider the settlers in imminent danger. Under these circumstances I have not hesitated what course I should pursue. No citizen ought to remain inactive when his country is invaded and the helpless part of community is in danger. I have called out a strong detachment of militia to rendezvous at Beardstown on the 22d inst. Provisions for the men and food for the horses will be furnished in abundance. I hope my countrymen will realize my expectations and offer their services as heretofore with promptitude and cheerfulness in defence of their country.”

Daily accounts respecting the operations of the Indians were received. Judge Young, Col. Strode and Benjamin Mills wrote to the governor urging the speedy protection of the frontiers as the Potawattomies and Winnebagoes had joined Black Hawk and the inhabitants were in great danger. On the receipt of this intelligence 200 men under the command of Major Stillman were ordered to guard the frontier near the Mississippi, and 200 ununder Major Bailey the frontier between the Mississippi, and the settlements on the Illinois. Such was the threatening aspect of affairs; the call of troops was now extended to every portion of the State, for the purpose of raising a reserve force of 5,000 men to be ready in case of emergency. Various causes operated to retard the progress of the campaign, and this precaution proved highly advantageous in the closing stages of the war. As in the preceding year, many of the most conspicuous men of the State volunteered, their prominence in public life giving them elegibility for potions in the organization of the forces.

Eighteen hundred men met at the place rendezvous and were divided into four regiments, an odd and a spy battalion. An election being held for field officers, Col. DeWitt was chosen commander of the first regiment; Col. Fry of the 2d; Col. Thomas of the 3d, Col. Thompson of the 4th, and Major James of the odd battalion. The governor, who participated in the campaign, placed Gen. Whitesides in command of the brigade, and Col. James D. Henry in command of the spy battalion. He also appointed Colonels Enoch C. March and Samuel C. Christy to procure supplies; as brigade quartermaster, William Thomas; as staff officers, James B. Stapp and Joseph M. Chadwick; as pay. master, James Turney, as adjutant general, Vital Jarrot, and as ordnance officer, Cyrus Edwards. On the 27th of April the army started from their encampment, a few miles north of Rushville, for Oquawka on the Mississipi river, with only a few days' rations, while Col. March was dispatched to St. Louis for additional supplies which were to be sent up the river to the

« AnteriorContinuar »