Extracted from History of Shelby and Moultrie Counties, 1881 p. 99-101

In relating a few of the incidents of the Black Hawk War, and before entering into detail of the causes and results of it, we give our readers a brief sketch of the celebrated warrior, who figured so conspicuously in those sanguinary campaigns. Macuta Mahietah, is the Indian name for Black Hawk. He was born in the Sauk village in the year 1767, and was an Indian of considerable talent and sagacity, shrewd, and eloquent in council; he, however, deported himself in that demure, grave and formal manner incident to almost all Indians. It is said he possessed a mind of more than ordinary strength, but slow and plodding in its operations. In comparison he could not be classed with the great Indian characters, such as Philip, Brant, Logan, Tecumseh, and such illustrious men. By the portraits of him now extant, the reader of character will readily observe in his large, high forehead and the lines worn by care in his face, massive jaws and compressed lips, a character indicative of more than ordinary ability. His ambition was to distinguish himself as a great warrior; yet he was merciful to the weak, the women and children. The only road for an Indian to distinguish himself and become a great man, is in war. So soon as he kills an enemy he may paint on his blanket a bloody hand, which will entitle him to a seat in the councils. In 1810 and 1811 Black-Hawk and comrades were "nursing their wrath to keep it warm," against the whites. A party of Sacs, by invitation, went to see the prophet at Tippecanoe. They returned more angry against the Americans. A party of Winnebagoes had massacred some whites, which excited for murder the Sac band headed by Black-Hawk. A part of his land and some Winnebagoes attacked Fort Madison in 1811, but were repulsed. Black-Hawk headed the Sacs in this attack.

In 1812 emissaries from the British arrived at Rock Island with goods, and secured Black-Hawk with five hundred warriors to go with Col. Dixon to Canada. When they reached Green Bay there were assembled there bands of the Ottowas, Pottawatomies, Winnebagoes and Kickapoos, under the command of Col. Dixon. Black-Hawk and band participated in the battles of River Raisin, the Lower Sandusky, and other places, but getting dissatisfied with the hard fighting and small amount of spoils, he, and twenty commrades, left for the Sauk village at Rock Island, where he remained for many years at peace, with the excption of a small battle on the Quiver River settlement in Missouri, in the present limits of St. Charles county, where one white man and an Indian were killed.

The principal cause of the Indian troubles in 1831-'32, better known as the Black-Hawk war, was the determination of Black-Hawk and his band to remain in their ancient village, located on Rock River, not far from its junction with the Mississippi. The government having some time previously, by various treaties, purchased the village and the whole country from the Sac and Fox tribe of Indians, had some of these lands surveyed, and in 1828 some of the lands in and around the ancient village were sold; the collision between the two races for the possession of the property produced the first disturbance between the Indians and the government. Seeing that war was inevitable, the Governor of Illinois made a call on the militia of the state for seven hundred men on the 26th of May, 1831, and appointed Beardstown, on the Illinois river, as the place of rendezvous. The call was responded to with that promptness characteristic of the early pioneers of the state. Their habits of life were such that all were familiar with the rifle. After marching eight days, the mounted militia reached a point a few miles below the Sac village on the Mississippi, where they joined the United States forces under Gen. Gaines, and encamped in the evening. The next morning the forces marched up to an Indian town prepared to give the enemy battle; but in the night the Indians had escaped and crossed the Mississippi. This ended Black-Hawk's bravado and his determination to die in his ancient village. The number of warriors under his command was estimated at from four to six hundred men. Black-Hawk and his band landed on the west side of the Mississippi, a few miles below Rock Island and there camped. "Gen. sent a peremptory order to him and his warriors that if he and his men did not come to Rock Island and make a treaty of peace, he would march his troops and give him battle at once. * * * * In a few days Black-Hawk and the chiefs and head men to the number of twenty-eight, appeared in Fort Armstrong, and on the 30th of June, 1831, in full council with Gen. Gaines and Governor John Reynolds, signed a treaty of peace."


During the winter of "31-"32 rumors were rife that Black-Hawk and his band were dissatisfied, restless, and preparing for mischief. A chief of the Winnebago Indians who had a village on Rock river, some thirty miles above its confluence with the Mississippi, joined Black-Hawk who was located on the west bank of the Father of Waters. The chief had great influence with Black-Hawk and his band. He made them believe that all the tribes on Rock river would join them, and that together they could bid defiance to the whites. By this unwise counsel Black-Hawk resolved to recross the river, which he did in the winter of 1832. That move proved to be their destruction. Through his influence and zeal Black-Hawk encouraged many of the Sacs and Foxes to join him at the head of his determined warriors. He first assembled them at old Fort Madison on the Mississippi; subsequently, marched them up the river to the Yellow Banks, where he pitched his tent April 6th, 1832. This armed array of savages soon alarmed the settlers, and a general panic spread through the whole frontier, from the Mississippi to Lake Michigan. Many settlers in terror abandoned their homes and farms, and the Governor decided, on the 16th of April, to call out a large number of volunteers to operate in conjunction with Gen. Atkinson, who was in command of the regular forces at Rock Island. The Governor ordered the troops to rendezvous at Beardstown on the 22d of April.

Among those who enlisted from Shelby county in Captain Daniel Price's and Captain Peter Warren's companies were the following persons: William Price, Elijah Biggs, John Cochran, jr., Green Frazier, John Perdew, Nathan Curry, A. G. Frazer, Abner Poe, David Elliott, John Simpson, Samuel Parks, Samuel Rankin, Levi Casey, John Green, Charles Welch, Thomas Hall, Jordan Ball, Thomas Scribner, Joseph McClain, John Hall, William Green, James Whosong, William Templeton, William Sherrell, L. Mosely. Capt, Daniel Price was one of the early settlers of Ash Grove township; and Captain Peter Warren was a resident of the Sand Creek settlement--he was better known as Colonel Warren, having been a colonel of militia prior to his becoming a citizen of Shelby county; he was also subsequently a brigadier general of militia. The soldiers from Shelby county did good service in the campaigns against Black-Hawk.

The following are the names of those who have lived in Moultrie county, that served in the Black-Hawk war: William Snyder, Wesley W. Smith, John Hill, Edward Woolen, James O. Ward, Andrew Scott, and James M. Greer.

The force marched to the mouth of Rock river, where General Atkinson received the volunteers into the United States service and saaumed command. Black-Hawk and his warriors were still up on the Rock river.

The army under Atkinson commenced its march up the river on the 9th of May. Gov. Reynolds, the gallant "Old Ranger,: remained with the army, and the President recognized him as a Major-General, and he was paid accordingly. His presence did much toward hormonizing and conciliating those jealousies which generally exist between volunteers and regular troops. Major John A. Wakefield and Col. Ewing acted as spies for a time in the campaign of '32, to discover the location of the enemy, if possible. A Mr. Kinney acted as guide for them; he understood the Sac dialect. On the 14th May, 1832, Major Stillman's command had a sort of running battle with the Indians at or near what is now known as Stillmans Run, a small sluggish stream; in the engagement eleven white men and eight Indians were killed. Black-Hawk and his warriors fought with the spirit born of desperation. Black-Hawk says in his book that he tried at Stillman's Run to call back his warriors, as he thought the whites were making a sham retreat in order to draw him into an ambuscade of the whole army under Gen. Whiteside. The hasty retreat and rout of Stillman and his army was in a measure demoralizing to the entire force; undoubtedly the cause of the defeat was a lack of discipline. When Gov. Reynolds learned of the disaster of Major Stillman, he at once ordered out two thousand additional volunteers. With that promptitude characteristic of the old "War Governor," he wrote out by candle-light, on the evening of Stillman's defeat the order for the additional troops, and by daylight despatched John Ewing, Robert Blackwell and John A. Wakefield to distribute the order to the various counties. The volunteers again promptly responded. On the 10th of July the army disbanded for want of provisions. Gen. Scott arrived soon after with a large force at the post of Chicago, to effect if possible a treaty with the Indians. Small detachments of Back-Hawk's warriors would persistently hang on the outskirts of the main body of the army, thieve and plunder, and pounce upon and kill the lonely sentinel or straggling soldier. On the 15th of July the soldiers were reviewed, and those incapable of duty were discharged and returned home. Poquette, a half-breed, and a winnebago chief, the "White Pawnee," were selected for guides to the camp of Black-Hawk and band. Several battles and skirmishes occurred with the enemy, the principal of which was on the banks of the Mississippi, where the warriors fought with great desperation; over one hundred and fifty were killed in the engagement, and large numbers drowned in attempting to swim the river. After the battle the bolunteers were marched to Dixon, where they were discharged. This ended the campaign and the Black-Hawk war. At the battle of the Bad Axe, Black-Hawk and some of his warrirs escaped the Americans, and went up the Wisconsin river, but he subsequently surrendered himself. Fort Armstrong, on Rock Island, was the place appointed where a treaty would be made with the Indians, but before it was effected that dreadful scourge, the cholera of '32, visited not only the regular army, depleting its ranks far more rapidly than the balls of the Indians had done, but it also sought out its many victims in the dusky bands of the Black-Hawk tribe.

On the 15th September, 1832, a treaty was made with the Winnebago Indians. They sold out all their lands in Illinois and all south of the Wisconsin river and west of Green Bay, and the government gave them a large district of country west of the Mississippi and ten thousand dollars a year for seven years, besides providing free schools for their children for twenty years, oxen, agricultural implements, etc, etc.

September 21st, 1832, a treaty was made with the Sac and Fox tribes, on which they cede to the United States the tract of country out of which, a few years afterwards, the State of Iowas was formed. In consideration of the above cession of lands, the government gave them an annuity of twenty thousand dollars for thirty years, forty kegs of tobacco, and forty barrels of salt, ore gensmith, blacksmith shops, etc, etc, six thousand bushels of corn for immediate support, mostly intended for the Black-Hawk band.

The treaties above mentioned terminated favorably, and the security resulting therefrom gave a new and rapid impetus to the development of the state, and now enterprising towns and villates, and beautiful farms adorn the rich and alluvial praires that before were only desecrated by the wild bands who inhabited them.