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SERVICE IN THE BLACK-HAWK WAR-1832.
Breaking out of the Black-Hawk War.-The Invasion of 1831.-The Rock-river Country Threatened.-Prompt Action of Gov. Reynolds.Retreat of Black-Hawk. Treaty of 1804 Re-affirmed. — Bad Faith of the Indians.-Invasion of 1832.-Volunteers Called For.Abraham Lincoln one of a Company from Menard County. He is chosen Captain.-Rendezvous at Beardstown.-Hard Marches across the Country to Oquawka, Prophetstown and Dixon.--Expected Battle Avoided by the Enemy.-Discontent among Volunteers.-They are Disbanded.-Captain Lincoln Remains, Volunteering for Another Term of Service.--Skirmishing Fights.-Arrival of New Levies.Encounter at Kellogg's Grove.-Black-Hawk at the Four Lakes.He Retreats.---Battle on the Wisconsin.---Hastens Forward to the Mississippi.---Battle of the Bad-ax.---End of Lincoln's First Campaign.---Autobiographic Note.
WHILE Abraham Lincoln was quietly performing his duties in the pioneer "store," in Menard county, reports were received of an alarming Indian invasion, on the western border of the State. In the spring of 1831, the noted Black-Hawk, an old chief of the Sac tribe of Indians, repudiating the treaty by the terms of which they had been removed beyond the Father of Waters, re-crossed the river with his women and children, and three hundred warriors of the Sacs, together with allies from the Kickapoo and Pottawatomie nations. His object was again to take possession of his old hunting-grounds, and to establish himself where the principal village of his nation before had been, in the Rock-river country. The Indians began committing depredations upon the property of the white settlers, destroying their crops, pulling down their fences, driving off and slaughtering their cattle, and ordering the settlers. themselves to leave under penalty of being massacred.
In response to the representations of Gov. Reynolds, to whom the settlers applied for protection, Gen. Gaines, commander of the United States forces in that quarter, took prompt and decisive measures to expel these invaders from the State. With a few companies of regular soldiers, Gen. Gaines at once took up his position at Rock Island, and at his call, several hundred volunteers, assembled from the northern and central parts of the State, upon the proclamation of Gov. Reynolds, joined him a month later. His little army distributed into two regiments, an additional battalion, and a spy battalion, was the most formidable military force yet seen in the new State. The expected battle did not take place, the Indians having suddenly and stealthily retired again, in their canoes, across the river. The troops had been advanced to Vandruff's Island, opposite the Indian town, where the engagement was anticipated, and there was much dissatisfaction among the volunteers, and some complaints against the generals, Gaines and Duncan, for permitting the enemy to escape.
Whether or not either of these commanders was chargeable with blame, this retreat of Black-Hawk only prolonged the difficulties impending, and prepared the way for a more formidable and eventful campaign the next season. Gen. Gaines, however had taken measures to preclude any such possibility, so far as the deliberate engagements of the uneasy chief could avail for that purpose. Intimidated by the threats of Gaines to cross the river, and to prosecute the war on that ground, Black-Hawk sued for peace. A treaty was entered into, by which he agreed that he and his tribe should ever after remain on the west side of the river, unless by permission of the State Governor, or of the President. Thus was the treaty of 1804 re-affirmed, by which the lands they were claiming had been distinctly conveyed to the United States Government, which, in turn, had sold them to the present settlers.
In express violation, however, of this second deliberate engagement, Black-Hawk and his followers began, early in the spring of 1832, as we have seen, to make preparations for another invasion. Many and grievous wrongs have undoubtedly been inflicted upon the savage tribes by the superior race,
that has gradually, but steadily driven the former from their ancient homes. But the bad faith shown in this case, and the repeated violation of deliberate and voluntary agreements, was wholly without justification or excuse. No provocation or plausible pretext had arisen after the treaty of the previous June; yet Black-Hawk, under the misguided influence and false representations of the "Prophet," who persuaded him to believe that even the British (to whom Black-Hawk had always been a fast friend), as well as the Ottawas, Chippewas, Winnebagoes and Pottawatomies, would aid them in regaining their village and the adjoining lands. Under this delusion, to which the wiser Keokuk refused to become a dupe, though earnestly invited to join them, Black-Hawk proceeded to gather as strong a force as possible. He first established his headquarters at the old site of Fort Madison, west of the Mississippi. After his preparations, of which the people of Illinois were advised, had been completed, he proceeded up the river with his women and children, his property and camp equipage, in canoes, while his warriors, armed and mounted, advanced by land. In spite of the warning he had received, that there was a strong force of white soldiers at Fort Armstrong, on Rock Island, he continued on to the mouth of Rock river, where, in utter recklessnes and bad faith-paying not the slightest regard to his solemn agreement of the last year-the whole party crossed to the east side of the Mississippi, with a declared purpose of ascending Rock river to the territory of the Winnebagoes. This was in the early part of April, 1832. Black-Hawk, after he had gone some distance up this latter river, was overtaken by a messenger from Gen. Atkinson, who had command of the troops on Rock Island, and ordered to return beyond the Mississippi. This was defiantly refused.
Gov. Reynolds again issued a call for volunteers to protect the settlers from this invasion. A company was promptly raised in Menard county, in the formation of which Abraham Lincoln was one of the most active. From New Salem, Clary's Grove, and elsewhere in the vicinity, an efficient force was gathered, and in making their organization, Lincoln was elected Captain. This was the first official honor he had ever
received by the suffrages of his fellows, and one that afforded particular satisfaction to his not unaspiring, though modest spirit, as he, long afterward, frankly admitted.
Their first march was to the rendezvous appointed by Gov. Reynolds, at Beardstown, one of the earlier settlements on the Illinois river, forty miles west of New Salem. Here eighteen hundred men were speedily assembled, under the direction of the Governor. The forces were organized into four regiments, with an additional spy battalion. Gen. Samuel Whiteside, of the State militia, who had commanded the spy battalion in the campaign of the previous year, was now intrusted with the command of the whole brigade. Gen. James D. Henry was placed at the head of the spy battalion.
This little army, a more imposing force than that of the preceding year, set out from Beardstown on the 27th of April, for the scene of action. Three or four days' hard marching across the country brought the volunteers to Oquawka, on the Mississippi, from whence they proceeded, without delay, northward to the mouth of Rock river. Here it was arranged with Gen. Atkinson, commander of the regulars, that the volunteer force should march up the latter stream a distance of about fifty miles, to Prophetstown, where they were to encamp, awaiting the arrival of the regulars, with provisions, by the river. Gen. Whiteside, however, instead of following out this plan, set fire to the Prophet's village, on arriving, and pushed forward toward Dixon's Ferry, forty miles further up the river.
These incessant marches must have severely taxed the endurance of many of the inexperienced soldiers, but to Capt. Lincoln, reared as he had been, they rather hightened the exhilaration which attended these adventures from the start. The prospect of speedily overtaking and encountering the enemy in battle, and the hope of winning, in the fight, some special honors for the little contingent under his command, relieved the sense of fatigue. A short distance below Dixon's Ferry, it was ordered that the baggage-wagons should be left behind, and that a forced march should be made upon that place. Arrived there, Gen. Whiteside halted, and sent