History of the Butterfly, Part 96: The Battle of Stillman’s Run

Black Hawk knew his plan was not working shortly after he crossed the Mississippi.  He was not able to remain in Saukenuk, and when he went up the Rock River and met with some of the other tribes that he had expected to side with him, he found them sympathetic to his cause but unwilling to fight with him.  It is unclear exactly what his plans were at that time, although in his autobiography he mentions that he expected to meet again with General Atkinson (who he called the White Beaver) and allow his tribe to be escorted back across the river.

Unfortunately, Governor Reynolds had called for a militia to be formed.  Black Hawk would soon be involved in a fight that would be called “The Battle of Stillman’s Run”.

From his autobiography:

“After this depuation started, I concluded to tell my people, that if the White Beaver came after us, we would go back—as it was useless to think of stopping or going on without provisions.  I discovered that the Winnebagoes and Pottowatomies were not disposed to render us any assistance.  The next day, the Pottowattomie Chiefs arrived at my camp.  I had a dog killed, and made a feast.  When it was ready, I spread my medicine bags, and the chiefs began to eat.  When the ceremony was about ending, I received news, that three or four hundred white men, on horseback, had been seen about eight miles off.  I immediately started three young men, with a white flag, to meet them, and conduct them to our camp, that we might hold a council with them, and descend Rock river again.  And directed them, in case the whites had encamped, to return, and I would go and see them.  After this party had started, I sent five young men to see what might take place.  The first party went to the encampment of the whites, and were taken prisoners.  The last party had not proceeded far, before they saw about twenty men coming towards them in full gallop?  They stopped, and finding that the whites were coming so fast, in a warlike attitude, they turned and retreated, but were pursued, and two of them overtaken and killed!  The others made their escape.  When they came in with the news, I was preparing my flags to meet the war chief.  The alarm was given.  Nearly all my young men were absent, about ten miles off.  I started with what I had left, (about forty), and proceeded but a short distance, before we saw a part of the army approaching.  I raised a yell, and said to my braves:–Some of our people have been killed!—wantonly and cruelly murdered!  We must revenge their death!

In a little while we discovered the whole army coming towards us in full gallop!  We were now confident that our first part had been killed!  I immediately placed my men in front of some bushes, that we might have the first fire, when they approached close enough.  They made a halt some distance from us.  I gave another yell, and ordered my brave warriors to charge upon them—expecting that we would all be killed!  They did charge!  Every man rushed and fired, and the enemy retreated! In the utmost confusion and consternation before my little, but brave band of warriors!”

About the roused bear

Nature photographer from central Iowa.
This entry was posted in American Indians, Black Hawk, oarisma poweshiek, The History of the Butterfly and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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