ComPortOne Home Page

The Black Hawk War and Stillman's Run
Ogle County, Illinois 14 May 1832

www.ComPortOne.com
Genealogy Article Section


The following work was compiled and donated by: Armour Van Briesen, Stillman Valley, Illinois; Originally typed by Bertha Wallbloom of the North Central Illinois Genealogical Society; Presented by the Daughters of the American Revolution, Rockford, Chapter, Rockford, Illinois 5-101-IL. It is part of the State of Illinois Genealogical Records Committee. Permission to reprint given from James L Meissen, Ogle County Historian, Stillman Valley, Illinois

The Black Hawk War and Stillman's Run
Questions and Answers

14 May 1832   -   Ogle County, Illinois

Since the Indian War of 1832, many books and newspaper articles have been written. As there were no inhabitants of the northern Illinois area for several years the stories got watered down and left many unanswered questions. Writers have attempted to fill in these pieces and have com up with many errors and myths. As Major Stillman and Bailey's battalions were unattached to the Regulars or Militia it was not necessary to report to Governor Reynolds or General Atkinson, thus no report of the affair was recorded.

Several accounts have been respected as being quite authentic although they give conflicting stories. Some of these are "Collections of the Illinois State Historical Society"; "The Palimpsest" published by the Iowa Historical Society; Tazewell County History; Grand Old Times in McLean County, by Dr. E. Huis; Prelude to Disaster, Anthony F. C. Wallace; "Story of the Battle of Stillman's Run" by Hon John A. Atwood; letters from Oliver Hall; Capt. Asa Ball; Several quotations from eye witnesses and Fords History of Illinois. The excerpts below are taken from these sources. Also from the Bicentennial History of Ogle County.

Thomas Ford, the seventh governor of Illinois was a resident of the state since it was formed in 1818. He kept abreast of all the happenings and recorded them with great accuracy in his history which covers the state from 1818 to 1847, just before his death. He was a resident of Oregon, Illinois and circuit judge of that district before becoming Governor of Illinois in 1842. His accounts of the Black Hawk War, The Mormon War, The Lovejoy affair at Alton, and the Prairie Bandits are considered to be outstanding information.

How authentic is Black Hawks's Autobiography published in 1833?

Ford's History: Some historians have taken much of the matter of their histories from life of Black Hawk written at Rock Island in 1833, purporting to be his own statements written down on the sport. The work has misled many. Black Hawk knew but little, if anything about it. In point of fact, it was got up from the statements of Mr. Antoine LeClaire and Col. George Davenport, and was written by a printer, John Patterson and was never intended for anything but a catch penny publication. Mr. LeClaire was a half breed Indian interpreter, and Col. Davenport was an Indian trader, whose sympathies were strongly enlisted in favor of the Indians and whose interest was to retain them in the country for the purpose of trade.

The Palimpsest: It is a curious document [the autobiography] first published in 1833 by John B. Patterson a young Illinois newspaperman. Patterson said that Black Hawk dictated his life story to LeClaire and he translated it into English for publication. It is a flowery piece of prose, filled with stilted phrases of the day, and Patterson must have done a great deal of ghost writing on it.

McLean County History: since the first appearance of the autobiography in 1833, its accuracy, authenticity, and style have been but praised and dammed. The fault that critics find with it is usually expressed in one or more of these comments: Black Hawk didn't dictate it, the facts are garbled; no Indian would talk that way; no Indian would think of dictating his life story and LeClaire was an unreliable half breed.

The Palimpsest - Article by Donald Jackson: He was never a chief, nor even a chief of that fragment of the Sauk and Fox tribes which followed him. He was a Sauk warrior with courage and a clear goal.

Grand Old Times: He was an old chief of the Sacs, who had united with the Foxes, forming a single nation.

Hon. John Atwood: Black Hawk was a leader by nature if not a chief by birth. At age 15 he was ranked as a brave and at twenty-one became a chief of the Sac and Foxes.

Was Black Hawk a Potawatomi or a Sauk?

Hon. John Atwood: He was a Potawatomi at birth and became a chief of the Sac and Foxes.

The Palimpsest: Black Hawk was born in the Indian Village of Saukenuk

BiCentennial History of Ogle County: Black Hawk was a full-blooded Sauk.

What was Black Hawk like?

The Palimpsest: White men knew him as a hard-headed, consistent, and effect man for the distraught Indians. His young years were filled with violence. He fought the Osages at every opportunity. He practically wiped out the Osages. He joined the British in the War of 1812 and was made a General. He was ever ready to lead a war party and accept wampum collars, gunpowder and bolts of bright cloth from Canada.

Hon. John Atwood: His presence with English army was a constant menance to the U.S. soldiers, who dreaded his barbarous methods of warfare.

BiCentennial History: He had a hatred for the Cherokees who killed his father and organized a war party against them. He made war against the Chippewa, Osage and Kaskaskia. Many bloody battles were fought and Black Hawk had the glory of personally killing 13 or the enermy's bravest warriors.

Ford's History: At the close of the War of 1812, he has never joined in making peace with the United States, but he and his band kept up connection with Canada, and were ever ready to make war with our people. He was thirsting for revenge upon his enemies.

What were the Treaties?

Most accounts agree: In 1804, after the Lousiana Purchase, President Jefferson appointed Wiliam Henry Harrison, territorial governor of Indiana Territory. This included purchasing the lands of the Sauk and Fox tribes. A delegation of Sac and Fox went to St. Lous to parley about some murders which were committed on the frontier. Harrison happened to be there on business and held a conference with them. These chiefs had no authority to do such business but did sign a treaty which ceded 15 million acres of their homeland to America. Black Hawk was enraged and accused the Americans of getting the Inidan delegation drunk and givign them presents.

BiCenntenial History: Other tribes held claims to these lands, as well as the Sauk and Fox, and there fore the next year, a delegation went to Washington to visit President Jefferson. Black Hawk was not yet a man of power in his tribe and was not chosen to go.

Palimpsest: The white man did not bring war to the Mississippi Valley; the Indian tribes had long practiced war upon one another. Black Hawk's father fell before the Cherokees. Black Hawk himself fought the Osages at every opportunity. It was the Louisana Purchase of 1803, and some developments immediately after, that brought the loosely confederated SAuks and Foxes into conflict with the white man and started the train of events which lead to the Black Hawk War.

BiCenntenial History: In the War of 1812, most of the Sauk and Fox, Iowas, and Sioux were mildly inclined to favor the Americans, but the Winnebagos were angry and the Potawatomies were waving between neutrality and enmity toward the Americans. Black Hawk was ever ready to lead a war against the Americans.

BiCentennial History At the end of the War of 1812, Keokuk and the majority of the tribes signed the peace treaty of 1815, which reaffirmed the treaty of 1804. Black Hawk and his band refused to attend the council.

The Palimsest: In 1816, Black Hawk and his followers did sign a similar treaty in which they unconditionally assented to the old treaty of 1804. Black Hawk said "Here, for the first time, I touched the goose quill to the treaty."

What did the Indians receive in payment for their land?

BiCentennial History: Another treaty was negotiated in 1822 which recognized the treaty of 1804 plus another $1,000. Black Hawk seemed to approve as his signature was upon the treaty. ON August 4, 1824, another treaty was made between the Sauk and Fox recognizing all former treaties. On August 10, 1825 another treaty for the purpose of suspending the constant internecine wars of the Indians was made at Prairie du Chien that where all former treaties were recognized. It would seem that Black Hawk would understand everything now but he still continued his hostility to the Americans. It finally took military action to remove Black Hawk and his band.

Was Black Hawk on the warpath in 1831?

Ford's History: In the spring of 1831, he re-crossed the river, with his women and children and 300 warriors and some allies from the Potawatomi and Kickapoo nations to establish himself upon his former hunting grounds and principal village. He ordered the white settlers away, threw down their fences, unroofed their houses, cut up their grain, drove off and killed their livestock and threatened the people with death if they remained. The settlers complained to Gov. Reynolds. He considered this an invasion of the State. Gov. Reynolds sent letters to Gen. Gaines of the U.S. Army and Gen Clark, Supt of Indian Affairs. When Gen. Gaines got to Rock Island with several companies of regular soldiers he soon found that the Indians were bent on war. A call was made for volunteers and 1500 were made ready and marched to the vicinty of the Indian town. When they arrived they found that the Indians had left that same morning and had moveed across the river in their canoes. As the enemy had escaped and the rain came down in torrents, the army were determined to be avenged upon something so they burned the ancient Indian village which had been their home for over 60 years.

Was there unity among the Indians?

In the spring of 1832, when Black Hawk decied to re-cross again into Illinois, the Indians became divided. The peaceful ones joined with Keokuk and remained in Iowa and those warlike ones crossed with Black Hawk.

How many crossed the river in 1832?

Ford's History: On April 5th, Black Hawk re-crossed into Illinois with around 700 warriors and all their women and children. The women carried the supplies and the men carried guns and ammunition. He bypassed the Indian village and headed up the Rock into the country of the Potawatomi and Winnabagoes. Gov. Reynolds again called for volunteers and 1800 were inducted. These were put under the command of Brig. Gen. Samuel Whiteside. These were state militia, similar to the National Guard except that they had no training. General Atkinson was in charge of the regular army. The volunteers wre all from the counties of McLean, Tazwell, Peoria and Fulton. The object of both groups were to rendevous at Dixon.

Did the militia and regulars hate each other?

Illinois Historical Society Collection: The volunteers considered themselves "nature's noblemen" and "ring-tailed roarers". They called Atkinson's army "hot house lettuce" and "stuck ups" only capable of sipping tea with ladies and "eating yellow legged chickens." The regulars called the militiamen roughnecks who camped in filthy nests and better capable of fighting among themselves than of Indians.

What was Atkinson's next move?

On April 24th. Atkinson sent his first message to Black Hawk. It was a command to return to Iowa and an offer to send an officer to talk to him. The return message said that Neopope was now running things and they would not go back, they would go on. Neopope was encouraging Black Hawk that the other tribes were going to help. They offered wampum to the Winnebagoes but they rejected it.

Did Black Hawk believe in Neopope's promises of help?

Yes, all accounts agree that Neopope deceived Black Hawk into believing that other tribes along with the British would join in and give him all the support he needed. He was urged by other chiefs of the Sauk and Fox, who were not members ofhis British band, to turn back. When Keokuk tried to persude him not to come to Illinois, Black Hawk threatened Keokuk with violence.

Did Black Hawk consider himself and his band to be Americans?

Black Hawk and his main followers were known as "The British Band" and they flew a British flag on their camp.

Where did Black Hawk and his tribe go when they returned in 1832?

All accounts agree: He bypassed his burned Indian village, Saukenuk, and resided at the prophet's village at present, the town of Prophetstown. His plans were to establish a new village 40 miles to the north near the Kishwaukee River.

Did Gen Atkinson contact an Indian agent?

Gen Atkinson contacted Col. Henry Gratiot, a lead miner in southern Wisconsin, also and Indian agent. He visited the Winnebago camp near Beloit, Wisconsin and was told that on three occasions that the Sauk had sent them wampum, the last painted red, indicating war. 26 Winnebagoes accompanied Gratiot to the prophet's village. Here, Gratiot raised a white flag to indicate neutrality. When the Sauk noticed it, they tore it down. They told Gratiot that he could fly it while marching but not in the village. Gratiot had it replaced while the Sauks raised a British flag beside it. Theythen started to dance around the lodge, chanting war songs and brandishing lances, tomahawks, and rifles. Gratiot presented Black Hawk with the message from Gen Atkinson reading it to him, Neopope and 40 warriors. Black Hawk thrust back the letter he had previously received and told Gratior that "the Sauk's hearts are bad." He added that the British Band would not recross the Mississippi, and if the white army came after them, the Indians would fight. Immediately, Gen. Gratiot headed for Fort Armstrong with Black Hawk's message to Gen Atkinson. The time was ripe for an Indian war.

Did Black Hawk keep his promises?

Ford's History: In 1831, after Black Hawk and his band slipped away from Gen. Gaines, the General threatened to pursue the Indians across the river. This brought Black Hawk and his chiefs and the braves from hostile bands back to Fort Armstrong to sue for peace. A treaty was formed there with them, by which they agreed to remain forever after on the west side of the river, and never to re-cross it without the permission of the president or the governor of the state, and thus these Indians at last ratified the treaty of 1804, by which the lands were sold to the white people, and they agreed to live in peace with the government. If Black Hawk had kept his word, it would have been a bloodless war.

NOTICE SENT TO MILITIA: APRIL 24, 1832, SANGAMON JOURNAL

TO THE MILITIA OF THE NORTH WESTERN SECTION OF ILLINOIS:

Your country requires your service. The Indians have assumed a hostile attitude, and have invaded the state, in violation of the treaty of last summer. The British band of Sacs and other hostile Indians, headed by the Black Hawk, are in possession or Rock River country, to the great terror of the frontier in imminent danger. I am in possession of the above information gentleman of respected standing and from General Atkinson, whose character stands so high in all classes.

John Reynolds, Commander in Chief.

1900 Illinois volunteers rally to call

Ford's History: Black Hawk moved his band up the Kishwaukee River, hoping to parley with other tribes although he no longer trusted Neopope. He kept that secret from his tribe. Gov. Reynolds along with Gen. Whiteside started from Beardstown on the 27th of April for Dixon's Ferry. While awaiting arrival of the regulars with General Atkinson and their supplies, parties wre sent out to reconnoite the enemy and ascertain their position.

Where were Stillman''s men from?

The two batallions of 275 men under the command of Major Isaac Stillman and Maj. David Bailey were from [4] counties, McLean, Tazewell, Peoria and Fulton counties.


What happened when the regulars and militia met at Rock River?

Illinois State Historical Society: On May 7th, the first of the Militia appeared. Gen. Atkinson arrived at Fort Armstrong on May 8th and mustered the militia into federal service. Gen. Sam Whiteside commanded 1500 mounted volunteers and Col. Zachery Taylor the 320 regular infantrymen which were appended by 150 pedestrian colunteers. Stopping at the prophet's village, they found it abandoned so burned it down. They rode into Dixon's clearing on May 12th.

When did Stillmand and Bailey come into action?

Illinois Historical Society: Major Stillman had 4 years of army service and held the rank of Captain. Because he was not able to raise his own batallion, he was made a Major instead of a Brig. Gen. Major Bailey had done service in the War of 1812, therefore he thought he should assume command, but Gov Reynolds selected Stillman. This resulted in a hatred between the two men and their commands. Stillman's men lead first and Bailey's followed behind. Neighter had reported at Beardstown nor been mustered into federal service; therefore, the men argued that these two batallions came uner the jusrisdiction of neither Whiteside nor Atkinson. Stillman was not sure he liked the idea of going on a dangerous mission but gave in to the wants of his men.

Who were the other officers in Maj. Stillman's and Bailey's batallion?

FIFTH REGIMENT, WHITESIDE'S BRIGADE:
Col. James Johnson, Capt. John Adams, Capt. Merritt L. Govell, Capt. Abner Eads, Capt. Robert McClure, Capt. Asa Ball, Capt. Isaac Pugh, Capt David Barnes.
Since the end of April the two batallions had been ranging the frontier between the Rock and the Illinois Rivers on special orders of the governor. Neither had been reported at Beardstown nor mustered into federal service; therefore, the men argued that these two barallions came under the jurisdiction of neither Whiteside nor Atkinson.

When Gov. Reynolds arrived at Dixon's Ferry, several of Stillman's men the ringleader being Capt. Abner Eads, or Peoria, requested that he and a handful of Illinois Suckers could end the war while the regulars wre crawling along, stuffing themselves with beef and high living. Major STillmand consented to go against his better judgement. He asked John Dixon's opinion and was told that it would be very disasterous for a little force of less than 300 men to meet up with a bunch of Indian warriors. Stillman said that all his officers and men were determined to go so he must lead them if it cost him his life.

On May 12, Gov Reynods issued the following order:
The troops under the command of Major Stillman, including the batallions of Major Stillman and Major Bailey will forthwith proceed with four day's rations to the head of Old Man's Creek, where it is supposed the hostile Sac Indians are assembled, for the puposed of taking all cautious measure to coerce said Indians into submission, and report themselves to this deaprtment as soon thereafter as practicable.

The order bore the signature of Brigade Major Nathan Buckmaster. Whiteside refused to sign and Reynolds shrewdly avoided doing so. No one knew how to coerce the Sauk through cautious measures.

What were the other soldiers stationed at Dixon doing?

BiCentennial History: Gov. Reynolds selected the able and discreet officers including Capt. John Dement, Col. James Stapp, Major Joseph Chadwick and Benjamin Moore along with a French trader, Louis Quilmette. They were to proceed to Paw Paw Grove, 40 miles to the southeast. Here they were to contact the Potawatomi camp located there and find out for sure whether they were neutral. During their journey, a large band of BlackHawk's tribe overtook them and tried to lure them into an ambush. It was discovered that this scouting party of Black Hawk's was out to recruit Potawatomies and Winnebagoes in spite of Black Hawk's pretensions of peace.

What was Stillman's march from Dixon like?

BiCentennial History: The two brigades started from Dixon's Ferry in the morning of May 13th with several adventure seeking men from the main along. The rain came down in torrents and they only made 10 miles the first day. The baggage train consisted of six wagons drawn by oxen and guarded by 50 men. Commisary Assistant Samuel Hackelton was in charge and it contained enough rations for four days plus 2 kegs of whiskey. The first night they camped northeast of Grand Detour on the east side of Rock River. Stillman's brigade arrived at Old Man's Creek in the late afternoon. Bailey and his brigade arrived a short time later. The creek was flooded by heavy rains and the south side being swampy, they decided to cross and camp in a grove of scrub oaks. They didn't realize that it was poor judgement for an army to camp with its back toward a body of water. Campfires were made and supper was being prepared.

What about the whiskey they had along?

BiCentennial History It has been the opinion of some people that whiskey was the cause of this unfortunate affair; but this is hopelessly improbable in the face of the fact that but two casks were taken with the baggage train to be consumed by 275 men, who lived in a whisky drinking age where 5 or 10 drinks made little difference in a daily average. The Indians poured out one cask after the battle under the direction of Black Hawk so that left but one cask to have been previously consumed; therefore it is certain that whiskey cut no figure in this panic.

Armstrong's History of Illinois: Some of the men were drunk, but there were many exceptions, for some never touched, tasted or handled the soul damming stuff.

Did Stillman's men fire upon messengers bearing a white flag?

Black Hawk's Autobiography: "I sent three braves with a white flag to the camp that we might hold council with them, and descend Rock River again."

Hon. John Atwood A SLANDER REFUTED: Some writers tell us that the Indians were bearing a white flag, and had come to negotiate terms of peace. Both Brown's and Edward's Histories of Illinois, on file in the State Historical Libary at Sprigfield, deny the charge and declare with a great deal of emphasis the story to be maliciously false.

When was the first shot fired?

Grand Old Times of McLean County Stillman's guards, who had been out during the day to the right, left, rear and front, came in. The left guard broguth in some Indian ponies, which they had found, and created quite an excitement. Some of the men began to ride the ponies. Just then some Indians appeared on the hill to the north. The officers thought them to be some of the guard but Davis Simmons said to Stillman, "no, the advance guard came in some time ago, General. It's Indians." Twenty or thirty men some without saddling their horses, under Capt. Covell started toward the Indians. The two messengers came into camp while the remainder started retreat. The other messenger was brought into camp. Capt. Covell returned to camp saying "It's all nonsense, they are friendly Indians." Covell could somewhat understand the Indian's language. The Indians said "We Potawatomies" and pointed to the hill saying "Heap of Sac out there." They then proposed to trade trinkets for a gun belonging to David Alexander, from Pekin. The first shots were fired between the camp and the Kishwaukee River where Black Hawk was camped. Two of the fleeing Inidans were shot.

History of Tazwell County Three Indian braves were sent by Black Hawk who had spies watching the movements of Stillman's men. He sent five more to see what happened to the first three. The white men including Capt Eads chased these last five into Black Hawk's camp and killed two of the fleeing Indians. These were the first shots fired. Black Hawk seemed to have around 40 braves ready who charged after the white men.

Was any effort made for a parley with the Indians?

Grand Old Times of McLean County: When the white men came charging into Stillman's camp yelling "Parade! Parade!" they were declaring that Indians were thick all over the hill. The white men then formed and moved forward making a halt near a slough. Here, the officers went ahead, and Thomas O. Rutledge declared that some kind of parley was held with the Inidians. The Indians swung a red flag in defiance. Lieut. Gridley gave orders to march forward. The white men then moved back again across the slough to the high ground, but soon there was confusion as it seemed that Indians were coming from all directions. War swhoops were sounded in all directions. Advancing Indians slammed their tomahawks into trees and simulated dying groans and screams. The three Indians in the camp started whooping too. The white men believed that they had been led into atrap and a vast host of Indians were bearing in on all sides. Private Maxfield heard someone shout, "kill these damned Indians." Thomas Reed of Ead's Company killed one of the Indians in cold blood. As the first wave of fleeing volunteers stampeded past Stillman's camp he ordered an advance. Capt. Eads shouted that only a fool would advance.

Stillman then orded his men to retreat, and form a line across the creek and break the line of the Indians on the left. No one was ready to obey and most of the volunteers fled for Dixon.

Do any other accounts mention a red flag of battle?

Ford's History: The Indians displayed a red flag the emblem of defiance and war.

History of Tazwell County: The Indians swung a red flag in defiance.

What was the battlefield like?

James Doty was killed north of the camp at the bottom of the rise. He was buried there the next day where he fell. Andrew Dickey was shot through the thigh, but crawled under the bank of the creek and excaped. Major Hackelton was wounded and also hid in the bank of the creek among the willows and excaped. He had killed an Indian in hand combat. Gideon Munson was a government scout, and his body was found near the creek to the east. He was brought in to the burial place on the hill. Bird W. Ellis was found about a mile and a half south of the battlefield and was buried where he fell. During the battle in the twilight of the evening such shouts as "Halr and fight" and "For God's sake don't leave us" was heard. Capt. Adams shouted "Come back you cowards and we will whip them". Joseph Draper was badly wounded but manage to get about 5 miles away where he died of his injuries. He wrote of his experience on his canteen and was found several days later. Also killed were: David Kreeps, Zadock Mendinhall, James Milton, Joseph B Farris, Serg. John Walters, Tyrus N Childs, Maj. Perkins and Capt. John Adams.

What are Tazwell County History and McLean County History claimed as being the most accurate of accounts?

Those histories recorded the eye witness accounts of Stillman's men, who were from those counties, other histories are watered down accounts from stories passed down ad not authentic. This accounts for the inaccuate story of Stillman's men firing on the scouts with the white flag. The one flag bearer killed was not shot until the soldiers were retreating and by that time James Doty, a white man had been killed by Indians a mile north of camp. Some of these accounts are from information given by: John W. Caldwell, J.M. Roberts, Elmore Schumaker, W.S. Rankin, David Alexander, Jonathan haines, Joseph Landes and several others lived in the Tazwell and McLean area for many years and were considered good authority.

Who were the last men at the battleground?

Tazwell History: Capt. John Adams and Major STillman along with Col. Stephenson, Samuel Hackelton, Major Perkins, James Strode and several others who were killed on the hill kept firing at the Indians and slowing them down thus enabling the others to retreat to Dixon.

Stillman, Hackelton, Stephenson and Strode were the only ones who escaped being killed and stood it out as long as they could. They saw Capt. Adams kill two Indians, and then his horse was shot from under him and he was brutally murdered.

How far did the Indians pursue the fleeing white men?

Tazwell History: Very few Indians pursued the white men beyond Old Man's Creek. The scattered plunder left at the camp was more attractive. EArly the next morning, Black Hawk himself toured the battlefield. He picked over the camp, emptied out the whiskey, gathered up the saddlebags, firearms, etc. and buried the dead Indians.

How many casualties were there?

Black Hawk claimed there were three Indians. The white men claimed there were seven. There were three Indian scouts, two Indians killed on the battlefield by Capt. Adams, and two found south of town near the body of Bird W Ellis. There were twelve, or possibly thirteen white men killed. Eight are buried on the hill, one north of town and the first settlers found what appeared to be three more graves to the sough. Some accounts claim thirteen although only twelve names are available. At the roll call on Tuesday, Ma7 15th, 52 men were absent. These who were not killed fled to their own homes and did not return.

Who was the first to reach Dixon?

James Strode, who had been a Colonel in the militia and was now a private in Stillman's army wasone of the last to leave the battlefield but also the first to reach Dixon's Ferry. He woke up John Sixon at midnight, then stragglers kept coming in the rest of the night. Immediately, Gov. Reynolds while in his night shirt, dispatched letters to cope with the crisis. By candlelight he wrote ot Gen Atkinson and dispateched three messages to the south to call up two thousand additional volunteers. He was not surprised that an Indian war was on.

What did the burial party find?

Illinois Historical Scoiety Collection: Gen Whiteside and Gov. Reynolds with Whiteside's army started for the battlefield on the morning of the 15th of May. Major Stillman was left in charge of the camp at Disxon. He feared for Whiteside's army because of the affair the night before and sent an express to Gen . Atkinson, who felt that Gen. Whiteside's army could handle the situation. Expecting to find many bodies on the field, they were amazed to find so few. These were horribly mutiliated, scalped, genitals scooped out, entrails scattered about. Capt. Adams and Major Perkins had their heads cut off and skinned. Gov. REynolds ordered the bodies to be placed in a common grave. The army lay on their arms in watchful vigilance throught the night. Random shots were heard to the far north, the Indians discharging firearms to deter the Americans from following them. In the morning, Whiteside paraded his army on the open prairie, a challenge to Black Hawk, then retraced tis way back to Dixon to wait Atkinson's supply boats.

Was Abraham Licoln in the burial party?

Yes, Abraham Lincoln was at that burial and visited the place two more times later. He was there on May 15th on his way to the Indian camp along the Kishwaukee River, where they found the scalps taken at Stillman's Run. He then passed through in late June on his way to Whitewater, Wisonsin. ON June 29th, they found the remains of dead horses, burnt wagons and tattered clothes still laying around the battlefield.

What about Jefferson Davis and Zachary Taylor?

Jeffererson Davis was on a three weeks furlough. He hurried back to Dixon but did not attend the burial. Zachary Taylor did attend the burial. Later Jefferson Davis married TAylor's daughter.

Were the settlers in the area in grave danger?

Illinois Hisotrical Society Collection: The Illinois militia wree only enlisted for 30 days. During the last part of May, their time was nearly up and they were anxious to get back home to their farm operation. Most families living in the area realized the danger andleft for other places of safety. Three families near Ottawa, Davis, Hall and Pettigrew decided to move into one house and try to remain. Teh Indiansn came in the day time and sneaked into the house unnoticed. The families were massacred in cold blood. Some of the vicitms were shot, some had spears ran through them and the tomahawked. The children were chopped into bits. The women were hung up by the heels with their cothes in disarray. The Indians cheered as the women shrieked. The two Hall girls were taken captive. They were transported to Wisconsin and ransomed for $2000. Gen Atkinson arranged for their release throguh the Winnebago tribe. They were held in a wigwam where the scalp of their sister was hanging on the wall. Wach girl was given a section of land by the government.

Did Black Hawk's Band continue to raid settlements?

Black Hawk split his warriors into small bands who covered a large area with their raiding parties. They were hiding in the swamps around Lake Koskonong, and the white men did not know where to find them. The U.S. troops had to criss cross the country in small units to try to locate them.

Other Indian raids

Indians ambushed a messenger and his escorts in the west end of Ogle County. William Durley was killed. This was a week after Stillman's Run. This detail was taken a message from Gen Strode at Galena to Gen Atkinson at Dixon's Ferry.

On May 22, Gen Atkinson dispatched Felix St. Vrain, an Indian agent to Fort Armstrong on an express with several men. On the way they met Chief Little Bear, a long time friend of St. Vrain's with a party of Indians. St. Vrain had no fear as the chief had once adopted him as a brother and had entertained him at his house. The Indians, untrue to gratitude, friendship and brotherhood in time of war, murdered and scalped him and all his party.

On June 16, Henry Dodge and his men had an Indian fight near Pecaontica. The same day, Capt. Adam Snyder met with some Indians in the Battle of Kellogg's Grove. Three white and six Indians were killed.

On June 24, the Indians attacked Apple River Fort. Black Hawk was unsuccessful in this attack and decided to retreat.

The next day, the Indians met with Maj. John Dement at Kellogg's Grove and 15 Indians, two of them chiefs and six white men were killed.

Indians continued to terrorize and attack throughout the summer. The federal government was dissatisfied with Gen Atkinson and sent Gen. Winfield Scott to replace him. On the way Scott's army got the cholera and many died.

The Indians were finally subdued and the war ended with the Battle of Bad Axe in August of 1832. Black Hawk was captured and taken on a trip to Washington and New York. He resided in a lodge along the Iowa River. He died in 1838.

MAJOR ISAIAH STILLAMN was born in Massachusetts in 1793. He was 39 years old at the time of the Black Hawk War. He came to Illinois as a trader and huckster of pots and pans and other notions. He resided at the Coopers Creek Landing [Fulton County]. He entered the militis as a captain in 1827. By 1832 he had advanced to a Brigadier General elect, responsible for defense of all that vast emptiness west of the Illinois River. In April of 1832, Gov Reynolds ordered him to rasie a command. He was unable to raIse a full batallion so therefore was made a Major instead of a General. The next year after Black Hawk War, he eas promoted to General. He died in Kingston, Peoria County on April 15, 1861, at the age of 67. He is buried in Peoria.

MAJOR DAVID BAILEY was a soldier in the War of 1812. He lived at Pekin.

JAMES M. STRODE was Quartermaster General, commanded during the Indian disturbance in 1831. Enlisted as a private in 1832. He took part in Stillman's Run, was then made a Colonel and given command of the fort at Galena.

CAPT. JOHN ADAMS His parents had been killed by Indians. He was under Major Bailey's command. He was 40 years old at the time of battle. He had left a wife and 4 sons and 4 daughters to come and fight the Indians. He was born near Nashville, Tennessee. He lived at Atlanta, Illinois. Mrs Adams lived for 39 years after his death and her mind became dethroned. She always expected that he would some day return.

GENERAL ASAMEL GRIDLEY was Bloomington's first millionaire. He laid out the town on LeRoy, also Lexington, two towns near Bloominton and then later the town of Gridley was laid out on his land. He was instrumental in getting the Illinois Central Railroad to come through that area. He helped found the McLean County Bank and managed the City Gas, Light and Coke Co for 25 years.

WILLIAM McCULLOUGH beccame a Lieutenant Colonet in the 4th Illinois Calvary in the Civil War. Before that he served several terms as county sheriff and county clerk. He fought at Fort Henry, Fort Donaldson, Shiloh and Corinth. He lost an arm in a farm accident but rode his horse behind the ranks, trying to rally tjem near Coffeecille, Mississippi, and while doing this he was shot and fell from his horse.

MAJOR MERRITT COVELL was one of the active fighters who took chase after the Indians and helped layout the town of LeRoy near Bloomington.

DAVOD MAXWELL was 1st Corporal in Capt. Robert McClure's company, enrolled in McLean County, May 4th 1832. He returned to Ogle County after the war and became the first permanent settler of Pine Rock Township.

WILLIAM COPES was a private in Capt. Merritt Covell's company. He was the only veteran of the battle to attend the dedication of the Soldier's Monument in 1902.

OLIVER HALL of Atlanta, Illinois. He corresponded with Luke Dickerman of Stillman Valley in 1886. He attended the burial rites and tried to describe where the graves were.

iSAAC PERKINS, DAVID KREEPS, and ZADOK MENDINALL were in Capt. Adams command.

ASSHAL GRIDLEY, WILLIAM McCOULLOUGH, WILLIAM COPES, JOSEPH DRAPER were in Merritt Covell's command.

JAMES MILTON was in Capt. James Johnson's command.

JOHN WALTERS was in Capt. Asel Ball's command.

BIRD W. ELLIS, TYRUS M. CHILDS, JOSEPH B. FARRIST: Capt. David Barnes command.

JAMES DOTY: Capt Abner Eads command.

GIDEON MUNSON: a civilian believed to be a government scout.


To view the Stillman Valley Monument click here.

More information on the Black Hawk War and Stillman's Run