(Picutures included in this chapter are: Elk in Fejervary Park and Fort Armstrong)
WARS AND TREATIES.
A BATTLE OF THE REVOLUTION FOUGHT IN THIS VICINITY - A POLYGLOT COMMAND - NO LOOT AND GREAT DISAPPOINTMENT - FIRST FLAG IN THE MISSISSIPPI VALLEY - THE FIGHT AT CAMPBELL'S ISLAND - THE BATTLE OF CREDIT ISLAND - OFFICIAL REPORTS - TREATIES MADE IN DAVENPORT - COL. J. H. SULLIVAN WRITES OF INDIAN CHIEFS - BLACK HAWK WAR ENDS INDIAN CLAIMS.
From the time when the Sacs and Foxes established themselves in this vicinity about 1730, the Sacs on Rock river near its mouth and the Foxes later on the site of Davenport, until the American war for independence, there is little or nothing of incident to note. In the war of the Revolution these Indians became the allies of Great Britain through their friendship for the traders and the Sacs and Foxes formed a part of the expedition which took part in a general attack upon the Spanish and American country about St. Louis. Spain had declared war upon England in 1779, so it was possible for every man in the Mississippi valley to be considered an enemy of the British crown. The expedition joined by the Sacs and Foxes had Pencour (St. Louis) as its objective point and was Dropping down the river from Prairie du Chien this organization of soldiers, traders, servants and Indians was joined here by the Sacs and Foxes and upon May 26, 1780, the settlement of Pencour was attacked, but a stubborn resistance prevented its capture. Crossing the river an unsuccessful attack was made upon Cahokia. There the British and Indian foray into the enemy's country came to an end and the invaders returned to the northern country in disorganized detachments.
AN IRISHMAN FULL OF FIGHT.
At Cahokia and in command of the Illinois country was Lieut. Col. John Montgomery, whom early historians have called "an Irishman full of fight." His official title was "commander-in-chief of the Virginia troops in the county of Illinois." In response to a call for reinforcements Col. Rogers Clark came across country from Fort Jefferson on the Ohio, arriving the day before the attack upon St. Louis. Before returning to Fort Jefferson, Col. Clark gave Montgomery orders to follow the enemy up the Illinois to Lake Peoria and then striking across the country to attack and destroy the villages of the Sacs and Foxes in this vicinity. Thus was brought about this local engagement of the war of the Revolution, the most northern in the Mississippi valley.
With ardor Col. Montgomery, the fighting Irishman of the historians, gathered together a motley force and pursued. His command was made up of Spaniards from St. Louis and vicinity, two companies of fifty men each, two companies from the French settlements in Illinois and the remainder American soldiers,-in all 350 men. There was very little of the pomp and circumstance of war about this expedition and very little glory, either, for the battle of Rock River is not mentioned in any history and were it not for the tireless search of William A. Meese, the Tri-cities' premier historian, the whole matter would be even now buried in the archives of Virginia. It was there he unearthed the correspondence which gives to this locality connection with the war for American independence.
BRAVE EVEN IN ORTHOGRAPHY.
Capt. Montgomery had but slight acquaintance with the spelling book, but he had other information more necessary in war times and a spirit of patriotism above question. Back in 1779 we find him writing to George Rogers Clark, "I can't tell what to do in regard of clothing for the soldiers, as the goods you sent me is gone, and I would be glad that if it is in your power to send a relefe to me for the soldiers, if it is onley as much as will make them a little jump jacote and a pear of overalls I think they mite scuffle threw." There's a fine spirit of determination for you. There was more than one Valley Forge in the Revolutionary war. One year later these same troops were given a chance to "scuffle threw" greater difficulties. Patrick Henry, governor of Virginia, wrote to Col. Clark that it would be well to withdraw his troops from the Illinois villages as he "need expect no help or supplies from the state." Yet in spite of his distance from any base of supplies and the precarious nature of his maintenance Capt. Montgomery remained in command of his district and gave a good account of himself.
In a letter, under date of February 22, 1783, to the Honorable Board of Commissioners for the Settlement of Western Accounts Montgomery writes: "In the spring of 1780 we were threatened with an invasion. Gen. Clark being informed of it hurried his departure with a small body of troops to the falls of the Ohio, when receiving other expresses from the Spanish commandants and myself luckily joined me at Cohos (Cahokia) time enough to save the country from impending ruin, as the enimy appeared in great force within twenty-four hours after his arrival. Finding that they were likely to be disappointed in their design they retired after doing some mischief on the Spanish shore, which would have prevented if unfortunately the high wind had not prevented the signals being heard. In a few days a number of prisoners and disarters left the enimy, confirming the report that a body of near thousand English and Indian troops ware on their march to the Kentucky country with a train of artillery and the general, knowing the situation of that country, appeared too be alarmed, and resolved to attempt to get there previous to their arrival. At the same time he thought it necessary that they enimy was retreating up the Illinois river should be pursued so as to attack their towns about the time they might have been disbanded, distress them, convince them that we would retaliate and perhaps prevent their joining the British emisarys again. Previous to my knowledge of the above resolution I had informed General Clark of my desire of leave of absence for some time, in order to return to my family. It was then that he informed me of his resolution; and that the public interest would not permit of my request being granted, that I must take command of the expedition to Rock river, while he would attempt to interrupt the army marching to Kentucky, and if they got there before him, except they weakened the country too much he would raise an army and attempt to play them the same game in the Miamai country, as he hoped I would go towards Miskelemachnor, and if we should be tolerable sucksessful and the business properly arranged I might absent myself for four or five months in the fall or winter.
(Note from transcriber: The above was typed as written in the book.)
PROCEEDED TO THE BUSINESS.
"After giving me instructions, he left Kohos the 4th of June and a small escort for the mouth of the Ohio on his rout to Kentucky. I immediately proceeded to the business I was ordered and marched 350 men to the lake opening on the Illinois river, and from thence to the Rock river, destroying the towns and crops proposed, the enimy not dareing to fight me, as they had so lately been disbanded, and they could not raise a sufficient force."
Col. Montgomery makes no mention of the Rock river engagement, probably considering it only one incident in the campaign, but James Aird, the trader, who dealt with the Indians at Credit island, told Lieut. Pike and the Sacs rallied an army of 700 warriors in defense of the Black Hawk village and if there was not something of a fight it is a strange circumstance, for the Indians outnumbered the attacking party two to one and the Sac was a fighting man whatever the odds either way. In any event, the raid as against the Black Hawk village was successful, as Mr. Aird spoke of the discomfiture of the Indian defenders and the bruning of the village.
The French, who composed a portion of this expedition of retaliation, expected much loot and were grievously disappointed. A letter from one of the Chokians to M. Mottin de la Balme, pensioner of the King of France, French colonel, etc., indicates their disgruntled attitude:
"Oh, Colonel Clark, affecting always to desire our public welfare and under pretext of avenging us, soon formed with us and conjointly with the Spaniards a party of more than 300 men to go and attack in their own village the savages who had come to our homes to harass us, and after substituting Colonel Montgomery to command in his place, he soon left us. It is then well to explain to you, sir, that the Virginians, who never employed any principle of economy, have been the cause, by their lack of management and bad conduct, of the non-success of the expedition and that our glorious projects have failed through their fault; for the savages abandoned their nearest villages where we have been, and we were forced to stop and not push further, since we had almost no more provisions, powder and balls, which the Virginians had undertaken to furnish us."
In a letter written by Capt. John Rogers, who commanded one of the companies in this expedition, he speaks of reaching the "river de la Rouze," which is a new variant on the name of Rock river. Here, he says, "we burn the towns of Saux and Reynards." If the Foxes shared in this castigation, it is possible that the town on the site of Davenport shared in the hostilities. But of this there is no record, or, at least, none has been discovered.
THE FIRST OF MANY TREATIES.
Soon after the events narrated, the Sacs and Foxes made their first treaty with the United States at Fort Harmar on the Muskingum river in Ohio. Boundaries were agreed upon and portection and friendship extended by the United States to these tribes.
In 1804 the treaty, given in full elsewhere, was made at St. Louis. Four years later adventurers began to enter the Indian country, led by reports of their richness in minerals. A fort was built in Iowa on Indian soil, a clear violation of the treaty of St. Louis, and this was resented by the Sacs and Foxes. Black Hawk led a war party which made an unsuccessful attack upon this fort.
Black Hawk was consistent in his allegiance to Great Britain, in his refusal to recognize the treaty which closed the war of the Revolution or the treaty of St. Louis. In his autobiography he tells of his parley with Pike in 1805. "Some time afterward a boat came up the river with a young American chief, at that time Lieutenant, and afterward General Pike, and a small party of soldiers aboard. The boat at length arrived at Rock river and the young chief came on shore with his interpreter. He made us a speech and gave us some presents, in return for which we gave him meat and such other provisions as we could spare. We were well pleased with the speech of the young chief. He gave us good advice, and said our American father would treat us well. He presented us an American flag which we hoisted. He then requested us to lower the British colors, which were waving in the air, and to give him our British medals, promising to send us others on his return to St. Louis. This was declined to do, as wer wished to have two fathers."
THE FIRST FLAG.
Here we have record of the first United States flag in the upper Mississippi valley, the first flinging to the breeze of the stars and stripes in all this region. How long Black Hawk and his braves lived under the starry banner or how much they respected it, owing to their divided allegiance, no one knows. Any love that Pike inspired for the "American father" was dissipated at the outbreak of hostilities between this country and Great Britain, known as the war of 1812, and the Sacs and Foxes lined up with the enemy.
WAR OF 1812
Throughout this war a portion of the Fox and Sac tribes at Rock island remained hostile to the United States. The first incident of the war which affected the region in the vicinity of Rock island was Governor Clark's expedition to Prairie du Chien. The following account of this expedition is taken from "Western Annals," by James H. Perkins:
About the first of May Governor Clark fitted out five barges, with fifty regular troops and 140 volunteers, and left St. Louis on an expedition to Prairie du Chien. On the 13th of June, Governor Clark, with several gentlemen who accompanied him, returned with one of the barges, having left the officers and troops to erect a fort and maintain the position. No Indians molested the party till they reached Rock river, where they had a skirmish with some hostile Sauks. The Foxes resided at Dubuque and professed to be peaceable and promised to fight on the American side. Twenty days before the expedition reached Prairie du Chien the British trader Dixon left that place for Mackinac with eighty Winnebagoes, 120 Follsavoine, and 100 Sioux, probably as recruits for the British army along the lake country. He had gained information of the expedition of Governor Clark from his Indian spies, and had left Captain Deace with a body of Mackinac fencibles with orders to protect the place. The Sioux and Renards (Foxes) having refused to fight the Americans, Deace and his soldiers fled. The inhabitants, also fled into the country but returned as soon as they learned they were not to be injured. A temporary defense was immediately erected. Lieutenant Perkins, with sixty rank and file from Major Z. Taylor's company of the Seventh regiment, took possession of the house occupied by the Mackinac Fur Company, in which they found nine or ten trunks of Dixon's property, with his papers and correspondence. A writer in the "Gazette" says:
FORT SHELBY IS BUILT.
"The farms of Prairie du Chien are in high cultivation. Between two and three hundred barrles of flour may be manufactured there this season, besides a vast quantity of corn. Two of the largest boats were left in command of Aide-de-Camp Kennerly and Captains Sullivan and Yeizer, whose united forces amount to 135 men. The regulars, under command of Lieutenant Perkins, are stationed on shore and are assisted by the volunteers in building the new fort."
This was called Fort Shelby. On his return the people of St. Louis gave the governor a public dinner and expressed their hearty gratulations for the success of the enterprise.
About the last of June Captain John Sullivan, with his company of militia and some volunteers whose term of service had expired, returned from Prairie du Chien and reported that the fort was finished, the boats well manned and barricaded; that the Indians were hovering around and had taken prisoner a Frenchman while hunting his horses. The boats employed carried a six-pounder on their main deck and several howitzers on the quarters and gangway. The men were protected by a musket-proof barricade. On the 6th of August, the Gazette (our authority in these details) states: "Just as we had put our paper to press Lieutenant Perkins, with the troops which composed the garrison at Prairie du Chien, arrived here. Lieutenant Perkins fought the combined force of British and Indians three days and nights until they approached the pickets by mining. Provisions, ammunition and water expended, when he capitulated; the officers to keep their private property and the whole not to serve until duly exchanged. Five of our troops were wounded during the siege."
In a letter form Captain Yeizer to Governor Clark, dated St. Louis, July 28, 1814, we find the following facts: Captain Yeizer commanded one of the gunboats a keelboat fitted up in the manner heretofore described. On the 17th of July, at 1:30 o'clock, from 1,200 to 1,500 British and Indians marched up in full view of the fort and the town and demanded a surrender, "which demand was positively refused." They attacked Mr. Yeizer's boat at 3 o'clock, at long-shot distance. He returned the compliment by firing round-shot from his six-pounder, which made them change their position to a small mound nearer the boat. At the same time the Indians were firing from behind the houses and pickets. The boat then moved up the river to head of the village, keeping up a constant discharge of firearms and artillery, which was answered by the enemy from the shore. The enemy's boats then crossed the river below to attack the Americans from the opposite side of the river. A galling fire from opposite points was not kept up by the enemy on this boat, until the only alternative was left for Captain Yeizer to run the boat through the enemy's lines to a point five miles below, keeping up a brisk fire. In the meantime another gun-boat that lay on shore was fired on until it took fire and was burnt. In Captain Yeizer's boat two officers and four privates were wounded and one private killed. The British and Indians were commanded by Colonel McCay, (Mackey) who came in boats from Mackinac, by Green bay and the Wisconsin, with artillery. Their report gives from 160 to 200 regulars and "Michigan fencibles," and about 800 Indians. They landed their artillery below the town and fort and formed a battery, atacking the forts and the boats at the same time. After Captain Yeizer's boat had been driven from its anchorage sappers and miners began operations in the bank, 150 yards from the fort. Lieutenant Perkins held out while hope lasted. In the fort were George and James Kennerly, the former an aid to Governor Clark, the latter a lieutenant in the militia.
BATTLE OF CAMPBELL'S ISLAND.
At this time General Benjamin Howard was in command of the military district extending from the interior of Indiana to the frontier of Mexico. After the return of Governor Clark from Prairie du Chien, and, as it appears, prior to the receipt of news of the engagement at that place, General Howard fitted out an expedition, under the command of Captain John Campbell, First United States infantry, to proceed to Prairie du Chien and strengthen the garrison at that place. The expedition consisted of forty-two regulars, sixty-six rangers and about twenty-one other persons, including boatmen, women and the sulter's establishment. This expedition left St. Louis early in July, 1814, and proceeded up the river in three keel-boats as far as Rock island, near which place it was attacked by the Indians and nearly destroyed. The following account of this expedition is taken from Governor Reynolds' "Life and Times."
Lieutenant Campbell commanded the boat with the regulars, and Captain Stephen Rector and Lieutenant Riggs the other two barges, manned by the rangers. The expedition reached Rock island in peace, but the Sac and Fox Indians, in great numbers, swarmed around the boats but still professed peace. The barge commanded by Rector was navigated mostly by the French of Cahokia, and were both good sailors and soldiers; and the same may be said of the company under Lieutenant Riggs, except as to the knowledge of navigation. The boats lay still all night at or near the Sac and Fox villages at Rock island, and the Indians were all night making hollow professions of friendship. Many of the French, after the battle, informed me that they knew the Indians would attack the boats, and accordingly they informed Lieutenant Campbell, but he disbelieved them. The French said that the Indians wanted them to leave the Americans and go home. They would squeeze the hands of the French and pull their hands down the river, indicating to leave. The Indians disliked to fight their old friends the French.
The fleet all set sail in the morning and above Rock island the wind blew so hard that Campbell's boat was forced on a lee shore and lodged on a small island near the mainland, known from this circumstance as "Campbell's Island." The Indians, commanded by Black Hawk, when the wind drifted the boat on shore, commenced an attack on it. The boats of Rector and Riggs were ahead and could see the smoke of the fire arms, but could not hear the report of the guns. They returned to assist Campbell but the wind was so high that their barges were almost unmanageable. They anchored near Campbell but could not reach him, the storm raged so severely. When Campbell's boat was driven ashore by the wind he placed out sentinels and the men commenced cooking their breakfast; but the enemy in hundreds rushed on them, killing many on the spot, and the rest took refuge in the boat. Hundreds and hundreds of the warriors were on and around the boat and at last set it on fire. Campbell's boat was burning and the bottom covered with the dead, the wounded and blood. They had almost ceased firing when Rector and his brave men most nobly came to the rescue. Cambell himself lay wounded on his back in the bottom of his boat and many of his men dead and dying around him. Riggs' boat was well fortified but his men were inexperienced sailors. Rector and company could not remain inactive spectators of the destruction of Campbell and men, but in a tempest of wind raised their anchor in the face of almost a thousand Indians and periled their lives in rescue of Campbell. No act of noble daring and bravery surpassed the rescue of Campbell during the war in the west. The rangers under Rector were mostly crisis. Rector and his men were governed by the high and ennobling principles of chivalry and patriotism. Rector's boat was lightened by casting overboard quantities of provisions and then many of the crew actually got out of the boat into the water, leaving the vessel between them and the fire of the enemy and pushed their boat against the fire of the warriors to Campbell's boat, which was in possession of the Indians. This was a most hazardous exploit for forty men, forcing their barge to a burning boat in possession of the enemy, nearly a thousand strong, and taking from it the wounded and living soldiers, together with their commander.
WOUNDED MEN ARE RESCUED.
A salt-water sailor by the name of Hoadley did gallant service in this daring enterprise by his superior knowledge of the management of a vessel. Rector took all of the live men from Campbell's boat into his; and his men, in the water, hauled their own boat out into the stream. The Indians feasted on the abandoned boat of Campbell. Rector had his boat crowded with the wounded and dying but rowed night and day until they reached St. Louis. It was supposed the boat of Riggs was captured by the enemy; but the vessel was strongly fortified so that it lay, as it were, in the hands of the Indians for several hours; the enemy having possession of the outside and the whites of the inside; but the wind in the evening subsided and Riggs got his boat off without losing many men. It was a general jubilee and rejoicing when Riggs arrived at St. Louis; the hearts of the people swelled with patriotic joy to know that the lives of so many brave soldiers were saved by the courage and energies of Rector, Riggs and their troops. I saw the soldiers on their return to St. Louis and the sight was distressing. Those who were not wounded were worn down to skeletons by labor and fatigue.
TO DAVENPORT FOR DISTRIBUTION.
Writing of this engagement Black Hawk, in his autobiography, tells of the disposition of the spoils of war. He first emptied the cargo of whiskey, "bad medicine," several barrels, in the river; next, to quote him, "I found a box full of small bottles and packages which appeared to be bad medicine also, such as the white medicine men kill the white people with when they get sick, this I threw into the river." The ammunition intended for Fort Shelby fell into Black Hawk's hands, also boat loads of guns, clothing and provisions which were brought to the Fox village on the site of Davenport for distribution. The same day of the Campbell's island fight, Fort Shelby, at Prairie du Chien, surrendered to an overwhelming force of British and Indians, the name changed to Fort McKay and the command given to Captain Thomas G. Anderson.
The National Intelligencer of August, 1814, states the number of killed and wounded in this engagement to have been thirty-six. Capt. Campbell and Dr. Abram Stewart, surgeon's mate, were also wounded, the former seriously. After this disaster and the return of the survivors to St. Louis, another and larger expedition was fitted out, the object of which was to punish the Indians at Rock island and to establish and maintain a fort at or near that place. The detachment was under the command of Brevet Major Zachary Taylor, Seventh United States infantry, afterward president of the United States, and consisted of 334 officers and men (regulars, militia and rangers). There were only forty of the regular troops and it is presumed that these belonged to the Seventh United States infantry.
BATTLE OF CREDIT ISLAND.
August 21st the British were informed by the Fox Indians that another expedition, larger than the preceding ones, had left St. Louis for the upper river. Six days later, Captain Anderson sent Lieutenant Duncan Graham to meet this new force with a command of thirty British soldiers, a brass three-pounder and two swivels, with instructions to harass the Americans and if possible compel a return to St. Louis. Thus was brought about an engagement within the corporate limits of the city of Davenport and known as the battle of Credit Island. The unwieldly nature of the keel boats, the inadequate means of propulsion or maneuver, brought disaster to the American arms. These were not battle ships but rather transports and of the most primitive sort. The issue of the conflict brought no reproach to the officer in command, Major Taylor, later the hero of the Mexican war and president of the United States.
ST. LOUIS TREATY REAFFIRMED.
Under date of Fort Madison, September 6, 1841, Major Taylor reports to Gen. Howard:
SIR: In obedience to your orders I left Fort Independence on the 2d ult., and reached Rock river, our place of destination, on the evening of the 4th inst., without meeting a single Indian or any occurrence worthy of relation. On my arrival at the mouth of Rock river the Indians began to make their appearance in considerable numbers; running up the Mississippi to the upper village and crossing the river below us. After passing Rock river, which is very small at the mouth, from an attentive and careful examination as I proceeded up the Mississippi I was confident it was impossible for us to enter its mouth with our large boats. Immediately opposite its mouth a large island commences, which, together with the western shore of the Mississippi, was covered with a considerable number of horses; which were doubtless placed in those situations in order to draw small detachments on shore. But in this they were disappointed and I determined to alter the plan which you have suggested - which was to pass the different villages as if the object of the expedition was Prairie du Chien - for several reasons: first, that I might have an opportunity of viewing the situation of the ground to enable me to select such a landing as would bring our artillery to bear on the villages with the greatest advantage. I was likewise in hopes a party would approach us with a flag, from which I expected to learn the situation of affairs at the Prairie, and ascertain in some measure their numbers and perhaps bring them to a council, when I should have been able to have retaliated on them for their repeated acts of treachery; or, if they were determined to attack us, I was in hopes to draw them some distance from their towns toward the rapids, run down in the night and destroy them before they could return to their defense. But in this I was disappointed - the wind which had been in our favor, began to shift about at the time we passed the mouth of Rock river; and by the time we reached the head of the island, which is about a mile and a half long, it blew a perfect hurricane, quarterly down the river, and it was with difficulty we made land at a small island containing the six or eight acres covered with willows, near the middle of the river, and about sixty yards from the upper end of the island. In this situation I determined to remain during the night, if the storm continued; as I knew the anchors of several of the boats in that event would not hold them and there was a great probability of their being drifted on sand-bars, of which the river is full in this place, which would have exposed the men very much in getting them off, even if they could have prevented their filling with water. It was about 4 o'clock in the evening when we were compelled to land, and large parties of Indians were on each side of the river, as well as crossing in different directions in canoes, but not a gun was fired from either side. The wind continued to blow the whole night with violence, accompanied with some rain, which induced me to order the sentinels to be brought in and placed in the bow of each boat. About daylight Captain Whitesides' boat was fired on at the distance of about fifteen paces and a corporal who was on the outside of the boat was mortally wounded. My orders were if a boat was fired on to reutrn it, but not a man to leave the boat without positive orders from myself. So soon as it got perfactly light, as the enemy continued about the boat, I determined to drum them from the island, let their numbers be what they might - provided we were able to do so. I then assigned to each boat a proper guard, formed the troops for action, and pushed through the willows to the opposite shore; but those fellows who had the boldness to fire on the boats, cleared themselves as soon as the troops were formed, by wading from the island we were encamped on to the one just below us. Captain Whitesides, who was on the left, was able to give them a warm fire as they reached the island they had retreated to. They returned the fire for a few moments when they retreated. In this affair we had two men badly wounded. When Captain Whitesides commenced the fire, I ordered Captain Rector to drop down with his boat to ground and to rake the island below with artillery, and to fire on every canoe he should discover passing from one shore to the other which should come within reach. In this situation he remained about one hour, and no Indians making their appearance, he determined to drop down the island about sixty yards and destroy several caonoes that were laying to shore. This he effected, and just on setting his men on board the British commenced a fire on our boats with a six, a four and two swivels, from behind a knoll that completely covered them. The boats were entirely exposed to the artillery, which was distant about 350 paces from us. So soon as the first gun fired I ordered a six-pounder to be brought out and placed, but, on recollecting a moment, I found the boat would be sunk before any impression could be made on them by our cannon, as they were completely under cover, and had already brought their guns to bear on our boats - for the round-shot from their six passed through Lieutenant Hempstead's boat and shattered her considerably. I then ordered the boats to drop down which was done in order and conducted with the greatest coolness by every officer, although exposed to a constant fire from their artillery for more than half a mile. So soon as they commenced firing on us in every direction, whether they were able to do us any damage or not, from each side of the river. Captain Rictor, who was laying to the shore of the island, was attacked the instant the first gun was fired, by a very large party, and in a close and well-contested contest of about fifteen minutes they drove them, after giving three rounds of grape from his three-pounder. Captain Whitesides, who was nearest to Captain Rector, droped down and anchored nigh him, and gave the enemy several fires with his swivel; but the wind was so hard down stream as to drift his anchor. Captain Rector at that moment got his boat off, and we were then exposed to the fire of the Indians for two miles, which we returned with interest from our small arms and small pieces of artillery, whenever we could get them to bear. I was compelled to drop down about three miles before a proper place presented itself for landing, as but few of the boats had anchors sufficient to stop them in the river. Here I halted for the purpose of having the wounded attended and some of the boats repaired, as some of them had been injured by the enemy's artillery. They followed us in their boats until we halted on a small prairie and prepared for action, when they returned in as great a hurry as they followed us.
I then collected the officers together and put the following questions to them: Are we able, 334 effective men - officers, non-commissioned officers and privates - to fight the enemy with any prospect of success and effect, which is to destroy their villages and corn? They were of opinion the enemy was at least three men to one, and that it was not practicable to effect either object. I then determined to drop down the river to the Lemoine without delay, as some of the ranging officers informed me their men were short of provisions, and execute the principal object of the expedition in erecting a fort to command the river. This shall be effected as soon as practicalbe with the means in my power, and should the enemy sttempt to descend the river in force before the fort can be completed every foot of the way from the fort to the settlements shall be contested.
In the affair at Rock river I had eleven men badly wounded, three mortally, of whom one has since died. I am much indebted to the officers for their prompt obedience to orders, not do I believe a braver set of men could have been collected than those who composed this detachment. But, sir, I conceive it would have been madness in me, as well as a direct violation of my orders, to have risked the detachment without a prospect of success. I believe I should have been fully able to have accomplished your views, if the enemy had not been supplied with artillery, and so advantageously posted as to render it impossible for us to have dislodged him without imminent danger of the loss of the whole detachment.
ZA. TAYLOR, Brevent Major, Commanding Detachment.
The larger of the two islands referred to in the above communication by Gen. Zachary Taylor, a short time after the battle referred to by him had attached to it the name of "Credit" island, which name has subsequently been often changed to suit the whims or fancies of its several owners.
Just below Davenport this beautiful island is situated and contains some 200 acres, once well wooded and now partially farmed. It is a very creditable sort of island, indeed well known all the country around. It's a queer sort of name for an island, yet nothing discreditable as to name or condition. It came honestly enought by it and this is how:
In the early days of this section, as far back as 1815 to 1830, the Great American Fur Company did a thrifty business in this locality, selling goods to the Indians and taking pay in peltries. It was the custom of the Indians to go on "tick." They were good pay masters, it is said, but giving cash down was no part of their commercial training. As a matter of fact, it is a good deal so with people of today who are not purely savage. It was the custom of the noble redman, as soon as his delicate wives had gotten the corn, beans, and papooses gathered in the fall, to put out on their annual winter hunt after furred animals, but they had no ammunition at that time of year, having used it all the previous season. Besides, their personal wardrobe was out of repair and their squaws and daughters desired something stunning for the winter gaieties. Under the circumstances what could an Indian or even a white savage do but to "run his face?" What would you do yourself? You would use your credit, if you had any; so did the Indian.
It was the custom of the traders to appear along in September, and for the better protection of their goods and chattels and horses from unforeseen stampeding invasion, they almost invariably betook themselves to the island in question. There they were visited in canoes by the Indians, who swarmed hither from all the country round about to trade. The traders would erect temporary stores in which were exposed for sale or barter vast quantities of goods of every description - dry, hard and liquid - that were considered useful or ornamental in the proud savage's home. The average Indian's word was considered gilt-edged, and on four and six months' promises, generally bought all the powder, lead, guns, traps and dry goods desired, conditioned upon paying a rousing good price in peltries. So the business was all done on credit and from the long duration of the custom here recited the beautiful island below Davenport gained the well known name of Credit island.
THE BRITISH ACCOUNT.
After this digression, by way of description of the battle ground mentioned in Gen. Taylor's letter, we will hark back to the aforesaid "battle of Credit Island," and give the other side of the story as related in a letter to his superior officer, Captain Thomas G. Anderson, in which Lieutenant Duncan Graham, at the head of the British contingent, had the following to say:
Rock River, September 7, 1814.
Capt. Thomas G. Anderson:
Sir: - I mentioned to you in my letter of the 4th inst. by the information I had from the Indians, that the enemy were within thirty leagues of this place on their way up. As soon as I found out their strength I concluded the place of their destination must be La Prairie du Chien. The rapids was the only place where we could attack such a force to any advantage. On the 5th inst., we moved to the west side of the island, and took our position at the narrowest part of the channel, the only place where they could pass at that point. We were determined to dispute the road with them, inch by inch.
They appeared in sight at 4:00 o'clock, p. m., with a strong fair wind. There were eight large boats, four of which were equal in size to the one that made her escape from the Prairie. The largest of them had a large white flag flying at her mast head. When they came to the head of Credit island, about two miles from us, a storm of rain, thunder and lightning came on, and the wind shifted to the opposite point of the compass, which compelled them to pass the remainder of the day and that night here. All the women and children were sent to the island. I took all the Sioux with us to cover the guns in case of being obliged to retreat, as they promised they would rather be killed to the last man than give up the guns.
I told the Sauks in case the enemy should attempt to land at their village to retreat to the island and then we would return and attack them. The 6th, at break of day, some of the Sauks came to us and requested that we should attack them immediately, as the wind was against them and some of their boats were aground. We crossed to the mainland at the Foxes' village. There we left our boats and went as quickly as possible through the prairie unperceived by the enemy until we were on the beach opposite to them. Here we had a close view of them. I had no idea of the enormous size of their boats before. They lay with their broad sides close to a low, sandy beach. The largest of them had six port-holes open on the side next to us. The channel was about 600 yards broad.
We were on an elevated spot but no covering. I requested the Indians not to waste their ammunition firing at the boats, and save it in case the enemy should attempt to land. They did so. Finding they could not make up matters with the Sauks, as they had killed one of their sentinels in the night, they took down the white flag and put up the bloody in its place, which I believe to be a signal of no quarters. It was then 7:00 o'clock in the morning. Everything being ready, we opened a brisk fire from the three-pounder and two swivels on our boats. In about three-quarters of an hour the largest of their boats, which was ahead of the others, after having about fifteen shots through her, began to push off and dropped astern of the rest, and made the best of her way down the current. The others soon followed her. We kept firing at them along the bank, as far as the ground would permit us to drag the guns, but they soon got out of our reach. They went on about a league and put to shore. I thought they might intend to throw up some breastworks and make a stand at that place. I sent immediately for the boats to go with all the Indians to endeavor to dislodge them from there. By the time we were ready to embark some of the Indians that followed returned and informed us that it appeared to them that the Americans had committed the bodies of some of their men to a watery grave, well knowing if they buried them on shore they would be torn to pieces. They then got up their sails, the wind being fair, and made the best of their way off. As the enemy landed at that place the Indians say there were about a thousand men. I think their number to be between six and eight hundred.
If we had had a larger supply of ammunition and provisions we might have harassed them as far as the rapids of the river Des Moines, but having only a scanty supply of the one and entirely destitute of the other, we were obliged to give up pursuing them any further. Although we have not been able to capture any of their boats they have been completely repulsed and, I have every reason to believe, with a considerable loss, as out of fifty-four shots that we fired at them, there were only three or four that did not go through their boats. The action lasted about an hour. One of the swivels was served by Lieut. Brisbois, and the other by Colin Campbell, which they executed with credit to themselves; and all attached to the expedition behaved themselves in a manner worthy of veteran troops, for they seemed to vie with each other who would be the foremost, notwithstanding they were entirely exposed to the enemy's shot, and I am happy to say that not a man was hurt. It is to the skill and courage of Sergeant Keating, on whom everthing depended, that we owe our success, and no praise of mine can bestow on him what he deserves. As the Indians had no communication with the enemy I have not been able to find out who commanded the American expedition.
GOVERNOR REYNOLDS' NARRATION.
In his "Life and Times" Governor Reynolds gives a spirited account of this battle which was fought in the suburbs of Davenport; a battle which it is hoped will be duly commemorated by the people of Iowa even as the site of the engagement on Campbell's island has been marked by the people of Illinois. Governor Reynolds had a brother in the Credit island fight and doubtless received from him details of the narration. It is interesting to note in what particulars the three accounts agree and in what points there are disagreements. The Captain Rector, Governor Reynolds mentions, was a cousin of the hero of the Campbell's island fight. Verily, "The Rector family never knew what fear was." This is the account:
"Nothing uncommon occurred until they reached Rock island, where they met British soldiers cannon and swarms of Indians. The English had captured our garrison at Prairie du Chien and had the whole country in possession north of the settlements near the present city of Alton.
"Our white enemy was at Rock island with many regulars, six pieces of cannon and hordes of Indian warriors. Major Taylor, with his usual sound judgment anchored his fleet out in the Mississippi about one half mile above the mouth of Rock river and not far from Three Willow islands. It was supposed that the English had ordered the Indians to occupy these islands in great numbers in the night, as they swarmed with the red warriors at daylight. The English had in the night planted cannon in battery at the edge of the water so as to destroy our boats in the morning. It was the English calculation that the cannon would destroy our boats and the men would have to swim to the islands where the Indians would kill them. It is almost impossible to circumvent the Americans. Taylor ordered all his forces except twenty men on each boat to proceed to the islands and destroy the Indian warriors on them. This order was executed with great vigor and efficiency and the Indians were either killed or drove to the lower island; but in the meantime the British cannon opened a tremendous fire on our boats that caused the soldiers to rush back to the boats to save them from the cannon balls which were piecing them in every direction. British officers were mounted on horseback giving commands to the cannonades and many regulars and hundreds of Indians obeying. The boats were unable to resist the cannon and almost every shot told on them. In the battle some Indian canoes were seen on the lower island and Captain Rector was ordered with some men to scour the island. He did so and drove the Indians back into the willows; but the enemy reinforced and in turn drove Rector back to the sand beach again. In this sortie from his boat Rector was elegantly dressed in military costume with a towering feather in his cap and a sword drawn, leading his men to the charge. In this exposed situation with hundreds of guns fired at him he moved on undaunted as if he were in his mess-room with his comrades. The Rector family never knew what fear was. The boats under Taylor were ordered to retreat down the river; but just as Rector's boat got under way it grounded and stuck fast. The Indians surrounded it and it was with the utmost hard fighting they were kept out. All the boats had left except Captain Samuel Whitesides, who saw the imminent danger of Rector and with true courage and kindness of heart returned to save his brother soldiers. If Whitesides had not returned, Rector and all his men were doomed to destruction. Rector's boat being saved all descended the river until they were out of reach of the cannon, when Major Taylor called a council of his officers.
"It was ascertained that there were more than 1,000 Indians at and near Rock island and a detachment of British regulars with six field pieces; and the effective American soldiers were only 334 in number. This showed the force of the enemy to be more than three to one over the Americans.
"Under all circumstances it was considered imprudent and improper to attach such superior forces and the whole fleet descended the river to the site where Warsaw now stands. At this point Fort Edwards was built and Fort Johnson a few miles above was burned. After the erection of Fort Edwards the troops remained three or four weeks, but the major part of them descended the river to St. Louis and were discharged the 18th of October, 1814.
"Thus ended this expedition which pretty much closed the war in the West. Scarcely any further Indian depredations were committed and the troops were generally disbanded. On the 24th of December, 1814, peace was concluded at Ghent in Europe; but the act was not known for some months therafter.
"I saw in the harbor of St. Louis the boats that were in Taylor's battle at Rock island and they were riddled with the cannon balls. I think the balls were made of lead; at any rate they pierced the boats considerably."
ST. LOUIS TREATY REAFFIRMED.
At the close of the war of 1812, Sept. 13, 1815, at Portage des Sioux, a treaty was made between the United States and the Sacs, which reaffirmed the St. Louis treaty of 1804 and those of the Sac tribe at this treaty represented agreed to keep entirely separate from the Sacs of Rock river, the British band who, under Black Hawk, had joined the British in the war just ended. The following day, the Foxes entered into a similar agreement. May 13th the Rock river Sacs also entered into treaty with the government at St. Louis, affirming the treaty of 1804 and this time Black Hawk "touched the goose-quill."
In a treaty held at Washington, August 4, 1824, the Sacs and Foxes relinquished all title to lands in Missouri, and the southeast corner of Iowa, known as the "half-breed tract," was reserved for the use of the half-breeds of the Sacs and Foxes, they holding title in the same manner as Indians.
August 19, 1825, a treaty was held at Prairie du Chien in which the boundary line between the Sioux and Sacs and Foxes was determined. In 1830 these tribes conveyed a strip of twenty miles on each side of the boundary line to the United States as a neutral strip in the interest of peace between these ancient enemies, the Sioux, Sacs and Foxes.
THE BLACK HAWK PURCHASE.
In 1832, September 21st, General Winfield Scott and Governor Reynolds negotiated with the Sacs and Foxes and Winnebagoes for the purchase of 6,000,000 acres of land on the west bank of the Mississippi known as the "Black Hawk Purchase." This treaty was held near Farnam and Fifth streets. This incomparable domain was purchased at an expense computed to be 9 cents an acre. At this treaty, 400 acres on the Iowa river, including Keokuk's village, was not transferred and was afterward known as "Keokuk's Reserve."
In 1836 Governor Henry Dodge, of Wisconsin territory, negotiated a treaty by which this reserve passed into the hands of the United States and the Sacs and Foxes moved to a reservation on the Des Moines river, where an agency was established for them. This site is now occupied by the town of Agency City, in Wapello county. Here Keokuk, Appanoose and Wapello, chiefs of the united tribes, had large farms under cultivation.
In 1837 a treaty was held at Washington in which the Sacs and Foxes conveyed to the government a tract of 1,250,000 acres, lying west of the Black Hawk purchase and adjoining it. This piece of land had a breadth of twenty-five miles in the center and ran off to a point at both ends. At this treaty the Sacs and Foxes relinquished all title to any lands in Iowa, and in 1842, at a final treaty held at Agency City, John Chambers, acting for the United States, the Sacs and Foxes closed accounts with the government by relinquishing title to all lands west of the Mississippi. All the lands east of the great river they had parted with in earlier treaties.
IOWA RESERVE PURCHASED.
The treaty of 1836 was held at Davenport. The site is in doubt. Some of the older citizens place it on East River street, on the height between Bridge and Mississippi avenues; others say where Prospect park is located. Dr. E. S. Barrows, who was present at the treaty, gave the former location. He used to say that Black Hawk's camp was on the hills later known as Camp McClellan and now McClellan Heights. At that time the water in the river was so low that the Indians in passing to the trading point on the island waded the river except for a rod or two in the channel where their ponies swam.
Col. J. H. Sullivan, well known as the mayor of Rockingham, was also present at the signing of this treaty, and wrote to Ohio relatives of the occurrence. A copy of a Zanesville paper preserves his graphic description. The extract:
"We have been permitted to make the following extract from a letter for publication from our talented and enterprising friend Col. John H. Sullivan, of Rockingham. Wisconsin territory, to his father of this place, dated Oct. 2, 1836, after visiting the treaty ground where the Sac and Fox chiefs with a few hundred of their braves and principal men were assembled on the west side of the Mississippi opposite Ft. Armstrong on Rock island for the purpose of selling to the U. S. government the whole of the reserve on the Iowa, containing 250,000 acres, and which were disposed of at the rate of 75 cents an acre. The two bands of Foxes under Poweshiek and Wapello were encamped on the Wisconsin side of the Mississippi, opposite and about half way up Rock island. The encampment was on a slope of the bluff and at a little distance looked quite picturesque, as the Indians flitted about the bulrush and bark tents, arrayed in their showy green or red blankets, looking for all the world when you gave a glance at their horses browsing on the bluff tops, like a picture of an Arab encampment, glowing with the bright and gorgeous colors of orientalism; but when you came nearer, all the glory vanished. Your eye would go to scrutinizing the tents with all the dirty paraphernalia of skinning, jerking meat and general cooking operations.
"About a half a mile above this encampment lay the far more neatly arranged tents of the Sacs - which was Black Hawk's band but is no more. It is called his, but alas, poor old man, the scepter has departed from Judah, has no voice in council - no authority in the tribe. This encampment was made immediately on the bank of the river, on a kind of promontory, and the tents were arranged around in the form of a crescent. Above them and fronting the hollow of the crescent was erected the council lodge. At one end was placed Gov. Dodge, Capt. Boone and Lieut. Lea - the commissioners - together with General Street, the Indian agent; and the Indian traders fronting them - and on each side of the coucil house were arranged the tawny warriors, decked out in the most imposing finery. The mass of the warriors and braves were standing; the chiefs and headmen sitting in front of the standing phalanxes, all listening with dignified attention to the propositions of the governor and as each sentence was interpreted to them, signifying their approbation by the interjectional 'Heigh.'
DISTINGUISHED RED MEN.
"Who is that sitting in front upon the ground with an air of a good deal of nonchalance, but who is not forgetful of propriety and of the proper mode of commanding respect, amid all this apparent indifference? That is Wapello Poweshiek, the chief of the most numerous but of the poorest band of all. He has not management enough to keep his band in as thrifty a state as the rest. Who is that blear eyed young looking fellow, to whom Keokuk is looking as if he were watching his emotions? That is Appanoose, a very talented but dissipated chief. What fellow is that with uncombed and unshorn hair - his naturally fierce countenance rendered hideous by his smearing it fantastically with black and black only? That is Pashi-pa-ho, or the stabbing chief, so named from the many assassinations he has committed. He is of the purest princely blood of any living chief in the two nations. I need not ask who that next one is. That nobility of countenance, fine contour and talented expression only belong to Keokuk. See, he rises. He is going to speak. As he steps out from the other Indians, you see still more strikingly the difference between him and the ordinary Indians. His form is of the largest class - tall without seeming to be so - full and portly without the slightest tendency to corpulency. His chest and shoulders and right arm were bare save the necklace of bear's claws, and the large snake that was encircling and pendent from his right arm. His left arm, passing through the folds of his blanket, brought that article of dress close to his form, without checking the freedom of sinister limb. In the left hand he sported a fine pongee silk handkerchief. The large snake skin, which was lined with some rich material and had attached to it a number of little bells that gave forth a tinkling sound at every gesture, added no little grace and impressiveness to elocution. He advanced with stately step - the massy trappings of his white buckskin leggins half concealing, half disclosing, set off his finely formed and comparatively small foot to considerable advantage. He advanced to the governor's stand and shook hands with and fixing his keen eyes on the governor commenced. As he advanced with the subject, his broad and massive chest swelled with the force of thought and feeling, and his voice rang clear as a trumpet. He was fluent in words, energetic and graceful in action.
"The result was the sale, as I have stated, of the entire Iowa reservation."
WHITE PEOPLE IN UNDISTURBED POSSESSION.
An account of the Black Hawk war which marked the end of the red man's claim to local territory would naturally close this chapter, but anything which could here be written is told in succeeding chapters. When the treaties which followed the Black Hawk war had been signed the white people were left in undisturbed possession. As to the merits of bargain and sale, conquest and dispossession the perspective of time will make all things clear.