« AnteriorContinuar »
progress was watched, but they were not attacked. Next day, with numerous re-enforcements, Gen. Atkinson's troops reached Burnt Village, a Winnebago town on the Whitewater river. They were now in a strange country, in which, for want of correct information, they were obliged to advance slowly and cautiously. There were traces of hostile Indians in the vicinity, and next day two soldiers, at a little distance from the camp, were fired upon by them, and one seriously wounded. But from this point it was difficult to discover the trail of tho enemy.
Nearly two months had now passed since tho opening of the campaign, and its purpose seemed as remote from accomplishment as ever. The new volunteers bad many of them become discontented, like the former ones. Their number had in fact become reduced one-half. The wearisome marches, the delays, the privations and exposures, had proved to them that this service was no pastime, and that its romance was not what it seemed in the distance. They sickened of such service, and wero glad to escape from its restraints. Not so, however, with Lincoln, who had found in reality the kind of exciting adventure which his spirit craved. While others murmured, and took their departure, he remained true and persistent, no less eager for the fray, or ambitious to play a genuine soldier's part, than at the beginning. Hardship was not new to him, and ho had a physical energy and endurance that would not be wearied into untimely discouragement.
It was not destined, however, that he should bo actively engaged in any battle more serious than those encounters already mentioned. The forces were divided and dispersed in different directions, on the 10th of July, with a view to obtaining supplies. Two days later, news was received that BlackHawk was thirty-five miles above Gen. Atkinson, on Rock river. A plan of Generals Alexander, Henry, and others, to take him by surpriso, without awaiting orders, was frustrated by their troops refusing to follow them. Gen. Henry finally set out in pursuit of the Indians, on the 15th of July, but was misled by treachery, ne continued on for several days, acquiring better information, passing the beautiful country around the Four Lakes, the present site of Madison, Wisconsin, and after another day's hard march came close upon the retreating Indians, and finally overtook them on the 21st. They were immediately charged upon, and driven along the high bluffs of the Wisconsin, and down upon the river bottom. The Indians lost sixty-eight killed, and of the large number wounded, twenty-five were afterward found dead on their trail leading to the Mississippi. The regulars, in this engagement on the Wisconsin, were commanded by Gen. (then Colonel) Zachary Taylor, afterward President of the United States. Gen. Henry, of Illinois, and Col. Dodge (afterward United States Senator), were chief commanders of the volunteers.
Waiting two days at the Blue Mounds, the forces still in the field were all united, and a hard pursuit resumed through the forest, down the Wisconsin. On the fourth day, they reached the Mississippi, which some of the Indians had already crossed, while the others were preparing to do so. The battle of the Bad-Axe here brought the war to a close, with the capture of Black-Hawk and his surviving warriors.
Mr. Lincoln, as yet a youth of but twenty-three, faithfully discharged his duty to his country, as a soldier, persevering amid peculiar hardships, and against the influences of older men around him, during the three months' service of this his first and last military campaign.
Sarcastically commenting on the efforts of Gen. Cass' biographers to render him conspicuous as a military hero, Mr. Lincoln, in a Congressional speech, delivered during the canvass of 1848, made a humorous and characteristic reference to bis own experience as a soldier. Wo give his language on this occasion, as a suitable pendent to our sketch of this period of Mr. Lincoln's youth:
"By the way. Mr. Speaker, did you know I am a military hero? Yes, sir, in the days of the Black-Hawk war, I fought, bled, and came away. Speaking of Gen. Cass' career, reminds mc of my own. I was not at Stillman's defeat, but I was about as near it as Cass to Hull's surrender; and like him, I saw the place very soon afterward. It is quite certain I did not break my word, for I had none to break; but I bent a musket pretty badly on one occasion. If Cass broke his sword, the idea is, he broke it in desperation; I bent the musket by accident. If Gen. Cass went in advance of me in picking whortleberries, I guess I surpassed him in charges upon the wild onions. If he saw any live, fighting Indians, it was more than I did, but I had a good many bloody struggles with the mosquitoes; and although I never fainted from loss of blood, I can truly say I was often very hungry.
"Mr. Speaker, if I should ever conclude to doff whatever our Democratic friends may suppose there is of black-cockade Federalism about me, and, thereupon, they should take me up as their candidate for the Presidency, I protest they shall not make fun of me as they have of Gen. Cass, by attempting to write me into a military hero."
EIGHT TEARS IN THE LEGISLATURE OF ILLINOIS—1834-41.
A New Period in Mr. Lincoln's Life.—His Political Opinions.—Clay and Jackson.—Mr. Lincoln a Candidate for Representative.—His Election in 1834.—Illinois Strongly Democratic.—Mr. Lincoln as a SarTeyor.—Land Speculation Mania.—Mr. Lincoln's First Appearance in the Legislature.—Banks and Internal Improvements.—Whig Measures Democratically Botched.—First Meeting of Lincoln with Douglas.—The Latter Seeks an Office of the Legislature and Gets it.— Mr. Lincoln Re-elected in 1836.—Mr. Douglas also a Member of the House.—Distinguished Associates.—Internal Improvements Again.—Mr Lincoln's Views on Slavery.—The Capital Removed to Springfield.—The New Metropolis.—The Revulsion of 1837.—Mr. Lincoln Chosen for a Third Term.—John Calhoun of Lecompton Memory.—Lincoln the Whig Leader, and Candidate for Speaker.— Close Vote.—First Session at Springfield.—Lincoln Re-elected in 1840.—Partisan Remodeling of the Supreme Court.—Lincoln Declines Further Service in the Legislature.—His Position as a Statesman at the Close of this Period.—A Tribune of the People.
We now approach the period of Mr. Lincoln's transition to the more natural position in which, as a professional man and a statesman, he was to attain that success and eminence for which his rare endowments fitted him. Hitherto, he had been unconsciously undergoing a varied training, the whole tendency of which, if rightly subjected afterward to a high purpose in life, could not fail to be advantageous. He had learned much of the world, and of men, and gained some true knowledge of himself. The discipline of those hard years of toil and penury, Bo manfully and cheerfully gone through with, was of moro value to him, as time was to prove, than any heritage of wealth or of ancestral eminence could have been. Still the conflict with an adverse fortune was to continue; but from this time onward, a more genial future began to shape itself in the hopes and aspirations of the self-reliant youth. His later experiences had shown him more clearly that he was not to be a mere private in the great battle of life, but that he had certain qualities which could place him at the head of a brigade or of a column, if he were so minded. Nor was he indifferent to the good opinion of his fellow-men. The confessed satisfaction which the captaincy of a company of volunteers had given him, as the expressed preference of a hundred or two of associates for him above all others, as a leader, showed that, however distrustful as yet of his own powers, he was not without ambition, or unable to appreciate popular honors.
This campaign likewise, besides the excitements of varied adventure which it afforded, so much to his natural inclination, had brought him in contact with inspiring influences and associations, and had demonstrated, and doubtless improved, his powers of fixing the esteem and admiration of those around him. He had been, as is told of him, a wild sort of a boy, and in his peculiar way he had attached his associates to him to a remarkable degree. This will be seen from a circumstance to be presently related. His horizon had been enlarged and his dreams ennobled. Meantime, it is to be remembered, that he had come home from the Black-Hawk war with no definite business to resort to, and still under a necessity of devoting his chief and immediate energies to self-support.
He has, then, reached a new epoch of his youth, at this date, and entered on another distinct period of his history. Proof of this we shall find in the fact that he became, on returning home, a candidate for representative in the State Legislature, the election of which was close at hand. A youth of twenty-three, and not at all generally known through the county, or able, in the brief time allowed, to make himself so, it may have an appearance of presumption for him to have allowed the use of his name as a candidate. He was not elected, certainly, and could hardly have thought such an event possible; yet the noticeable fact remains that he received so wonderful a vote in his own precinct, whero he was best if not almost exclusively known, as may almost be said to