Black Hawk War

In 1832 Black Hawk and his people returned to their land. Conflict followed.


Since women and children accompanied the group, it was more like the tribe’s annual spring migration to plant crops then a declaration of war.


White settlers wanted no part of Black Hawk’s return into the area. Under the leadership of General Henry Atkinson, United States troops and volunteers from the Illinois militia set out to stop Black Hawk and his band. The conflict which resulted became known as the Black Hawk War.


Over a period of 15 weeks, Black Hawk and his people were chased across northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin. Realizing that he could not win, Black Hawk tried to surrender at least twice, but was fired upon by soldiers. The war ended with a fierce battle near the Bad Axe River in Wisconsin. Both women and children were fired upon. By the war’s end over 500 Indians had been killed, almost all of Black Hawk’s band. Although Black Hawk escaped, he was soon turned over to the government by a group of Winnebago.

“First People of the Prairies,” The Iowa Heritage: Program # 1, Iowa PBS, 1979.