Steamboat Warrior’s Fight

On the 2d of August, 1832, the steamboat, Warrior, was lying at Prairie du Chien, and word having been received at the fort that Black Hawk’s main army was then at, or near the river above, at a point designated for all to meet for the purpose of crossing the river, Lieut. Kingsbury took her in charge, and started up with one company, in order to intercept the Indians and prevent their crossing before the main army arrived, as he knew it was in close pursuit of them. The boat soon came in view of Indians on both sides of the river–Black Hawk and several lodges having already crossed over-when they were hailed by Lieut. Kingsbury. A white flag was hoisted by the Indians, and Black Hawk directed the Winnebago interpreter on board the Warrior, to say to his chief that he wanted him to send out his small boat so as he could go on board, a he desired to give himself up. The Winnebago, however, reported to the commander that they refused to bring their flag aboard. He then directed his interpreter to say that if they still refused he would open fire upon them. In reply, the interpreter said they still refused, when the Lieutenant directed his six-pounder to be fired among them, and also opened a musketry fire by his company. This was returned by the Indians, and the battle continued for some time. Several Indians were killed at the first fire, after which the remainder sought protection behind trees, stumps, etc. It was then getting late in the afternoon, and as the boat was nearly out of wood they dropped down to the fort to replenish, and started back again the next morning. On reaching an island some miles above their battle-ground of the day before, they commenced to rake it with their six-pounder, supposing the Indians had taken shelter there, and the army considering it a salute, Gen. Atkinson returned it. Soon after the boat landed and took on board Gen. Atkinson and the regulars and then returned to Prairie du Chien. The Illinois volunteers were ordered to Dixon, at which place they were discharged, while the troops of the lead mines were mustered out at Galena. After the boat started down the evening before, Black Hawk and a few of his people left for the lodge of a Winnebago friend, and gave himself up. Thus ended a bloody war which had been forced upon Black Hawk by Stillman’s troops violating a flag of truce, which was contrary to the rules of war of all civilized nations, and one that had always been respected by the Indians. And thus, by the treachery or ignorance of the Winnebago interpreter on board of the Warrior, it was bought to a close in the same ignoble way it commenced–disregarding a flag of truce–and by which Black Hawk lost more than half of his army. But in justice to Lieut. Kingsbury, who commanded the troops on the Warrior, and to his credit it must be said, that Black Hawk’s flag would have been respected if the Winnebago, who acted as his interpreter on the boat, had reported him correctly.

Black Hawk, Patterson, J. B., editor, Leclair, Atoine, interpreter  Autobiography of Black Hawk or Ma-Ka-Tai-Me-She-Kia-Kiak, Self Published by J. B. Patterson, 1882.

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