[image ALT: Much of my site will be useless to you if you've got the images turned off!]
mail:
Bill Thayer

[image ALT: Cliccare qui per una pagina di aiuto in Italiano.]
Italiano

[Link to a series of help pages]
Help
[Link to the next level up]
Up
[Link to my homepage]
Home

[image ALT: link to previous section]
Chapter 13

This webpage reproduces a chapter of
Old Fort Crawford
and the Frontier

by
Bruce E. Mahan

The State Historical Society of Iowa
Iowa City, Iowa, 1926

The text is in the public domain.

This page has been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
If you find a mistake though,
please let me know!


[image ALT: link to next section]
Chapter 15

This site is not affiliated with the US Military Academy.

p220 XIV
In the Neutral Ground

The removal of the Winnebago from Wisconsin to Iowa began in the spring of 1840 with Brigadier General Henry Atkinson in command of the project. With the Eighth Infantry under Colonel William J. Worth, a strong detachment of the Fifth Infantry from Fort Crawford under Brigadier General Brooke, and a troop of dragoons under Captain Edwin V. Sumner, Atkinson gathered several bands of Winnebago at the Portage and escorted them to Prairie du Chien. With most of them little difficulty was encountered and, except in a few instances, coercive measures were unnecessary. The bands that had been gathered at the Portage together with the Winnebago near Prairie du Chien crossed over to the west side of the Mississippi; but at this point manifested great aversion to going farther into the Neutral Ground. They set up their logs and tents along the river in a vain hope to be allowed to stay. An epidemic of dysentery added to their distress; they suffered much and many lives were lost. The misfortune and their distress at being forced to settle down in a narrow strip of land between the Sioux and the Sauk and Foxes induced General Atkinson to permit them to remain along the river until fall. But when autumn arrived the Indians still refused to move westward. Even the promise to carry all their property and their sick in wagons at government expense had no effect. The Winnebago were being made untractable by mercenary traders and whisky p221sellers who encouraged them in their refusal to move to the Turkey River site. The refusal of the government, however, to pay their next annuities anywhere except at their new agency was a potent factor in inducing the Winnebago to start westward from the Mississippi.518

In the meantime Captain Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Isaac Lynde with Company F of the Fifth Infantry had been sent from Fort Crawford into the Neutral Ground to protect the Winnebago in their new home from attacks by their enemies, the Sauk and Foxes. His soldiers marched to a point on Turkey River in what is now Winneshiek County, Iowa, a few miles north of the site selected for the new agency house and mission school. Here they went into camp on May 31, 1840, naming the place "Camp Atkinson" in honor of the department commander.519

Two days later about fifty mechanics, who had come from Prairie du Chien under the escort of Company F, began the erection of the barracks and quarters of the new post. Government teamsters hauled part of the material used in the construction of the buildings from the vicinity of Fort Crawford over the route later known as the old military trail. Throughout the summer and autumn of 1840, horses, oxen, and mules stamped their way over fifty miles of prairie drawing heavy loads of pine lumber, nails, and other supplies. A sawmill near the site selected for the new Winnebago school turned out walnut lumber for interior use while blocks of limestone were quartered in the immediate vicinity of the fort. Carpenters and masons completed quarters for the accommodation of Captain Lynde's company during the summer. At the same time other workmen erected a building near the landing on the west bank of the Mississippi opposite Fort Crawford for the storage of supplies p222until they could be hauled overland to the new post on Turkey River.520

At Fort Crawford during this interval the task of removing the Winnebago had necessitated the erection of stables and other accommodations for a squadron of dragoons. The garrison had been increased from a total of one hundred and thirty‑two in May to a total of four hundred and five in June by the return of detachments from the Portage. Throughout the rest of the year a force over four hundred troops was stationed at this post.521

Construction of the new fort on Turkey River continued throughout the fall and winter of 1840‑41; and during the next spring the post was given the name of Fort Atkinson. In the meantime, rumors of a warlike attitude on the part of the Sauk and Fox Indians led Governor Dodge of Wisconsin Territory to urge the sending of a mounted force into the Neutral Ground to help protect the Winnebago and to prevent their return to Wisconsin. To meet this situation General Atkinson from St. Louis ordered troops from Fort Crawford to march into the region of the Red Cedar and Turkey rivers until it was expedient to send mounted troops. He felt that it would be unwise to station dragoons at Fort Atkinson before the middle of May as there would be no barracks nor stables for their accommodation nor forage for their horses.522

The mechanics at Fort Atkinson began at once to erect additional barracks and to build stables. On June 24, 1841, Captain Sumner with Company B of the First United States Dragoons arrived from Fort Crawford and joined the garrison at Fort Atkinson. For six years thereafter this post was garrisoned both by infantry and p223mounted troops. In September, 1841, Company K of the First Infantry, which had arrived at Fort Crawford in August, moved over and relieved Captain Lynde's company. The Fifth Infantry which had been at Fort Crawford for many years now gave way to the First Infantry under the command of Brevet Colonel William Davenport.523

When work on Fort Atkinson was completed during the next year, 1842, four long rectangular barracks, two of stone and two of logs hewn flat, enclosed a square parade and drill ground of more than an acre. These buildings were two stories high and twenty feet from the ground to the eaves, each having an upper porch along its entire length, with the one on the officers' quarters screened in with movable wooden blinds. Commissioned officers and their families occupied one of the stone barracks; non‑coms and their families lived in one of hewn logs; while the private soldiers occupied the other two. In one of the latter — the stone building — the lower part was used as a hospital; while in the other, the upstairs section was fitted up with bunks, and the lower part was divided into several living rooms and one large room which was equipped with benches, a platform, and a pulpit. This room was designed to serve the double purpose of a chapel on Sundays, and a post school for the children of officers during the week.

[image ALT: zzz.]

Courtesy of Chas. Phil. Hexom

Old Fort Atkinson in Iowa

At one end of the parade ground a tall flag-staff towered above the works. A gunhouse with thick stone walls and peaked roof occupied the southwest corner of the works, which with its counterpart in the northeast corner guarded the approaches to the four sides of the stockade. In the southeast corner stood the stone magazine or powder-house, while in the opposite corner was p224located the quartermaster's storehouse adjoined by the sutler's store, with the guardhouse nearby. A picket fence of squared logs twelve feet high with loop holes at intervals of four feet enclosed the buildings. The entire fort when completed made, indeed, a formidable appearance.524

To complete the buildings and to build the road from the Mississippi required appropriations of some $90,000, a sum much greater than the circumstances warranted in the opinion of the Quartermaster General, who foresaw that the pressure of white population westward would, in a few years, force the Indians from this land, and thus render the fort useless.525

In his report in the autumn of 1842, Reverend Lowry, the sub‑agent, predicted a gloomy future for his charges. The Winnebago were still scattered — over eight hundred had wandered into lands north of the Neutral Ground, over two hundred more were on the Upper Iowa near the Mississippi, while only seven hundred and fifty‑six were at or near the Turkey River agency. Only one‑fourth of the 1500 acres that had been broken up were under cultivation. Many of the Winnebago still refused to leave their haunts along the Mississippi, while hundreds had slipped back into Wisconsin. Many had died from illness during the past year, and as many as thirty-nine had been killed in drunken brawls during the preceding fourteen months. Unscrupulous white men were debauching the Indians by giving them whisky in exchange for guns, horses, provisions, and goods, then selling these articles back again at exorbitant prices when the Indians received their annuities.526

It seemed almost a hopeless task for the military to keep the Winnebago within the confines of the Neutral p225Ground. Patrol duty for this and other purposes often took the mounted company at Fort Atkinson on long tours. Twice during 1842 requisitions from Governor John Chambers of Iowa Territory called Captain Sumner and his dragoons to spend several weeks in the saddle driving out squatters from the Indian lands to the south. Although heavy rains often pelted the troops, streams had to be forded, and the hardships of camp endured, the troopers welcomed the change from the routine of garrison life. The adventurer, too, who had squatted upon Indian land found himself ejected, his cabin burned down, his fences destroyed, and his crops trampled under foot. In August, 1842, Captain Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.James Allen with forty-four dragoons arrived at Fort Atkinson after a long journey overland from Fort Leavenworth. In a short time they were on their way to establish a temporary post called Fort Sanford near the Sauk and Fox Agency on the Des Moines River.527

The trouble caused by marauding bands of Winnebago who escaped from the vigilance of the troops at Fort Atkinson and recrossed the Mississippi brought a storm of protests from the whites who were coming in ever-increasing numbers to southwestern Wisconsin. Troops at Fort Crawford were frequently called upon to round up straying bands of Indians and send them back to Iowa. Moreover the pressure of the settlers in the Territory of Iowa made the acquisition of the Neutral Ground highly desirable. The first effort to induceiou the Winnebago to exchange the Neutral Ground for a new home in Minnesota was made in July, 1843, when Governor Chambers held a council with these Indians, and attempted to make a treaty. Company A from Fort Crawford came to the council to help preserve order, while Captain Sumner p226with his dragoons prevented some notorious whisky venders on the boundary from selling their product to the assembled tribesmen. Chambers's efforts, however, were in vain.528

Winnebago depredations continued, and residents in the border settlements were becoming exasperated beyond measure. During the autumn of 1843 and the spring of 1844 the indefatigable efforts of Captain Sumner and his dragoons brought many of these Winnebago who had clung to the west shore of the Mississippi within their boundary twenty miles westward.529 Nevertheless when President John Tyler removed Lowry in 1844 and appointed James McGregor as sub‑agent of the Winnebago the latter found the Indians very generally under the influence of whisky and in a state of great insubordination.530

A second attempt to buy the Winnebago rights to the Neutral Ground in 1844 failed as had the first in 1843. Then Governor Dodge of Wisconsin Territory in June, 1845, tried his hand at treaty making. Again a company from Fort Crawford came over to take part in the ceremony. But the fifteen hundred Winnebago who met Dodge in council at Fort Atkinson seemed to be completely under the influence of traders who from selfish motives opposed their removal. The result was an indecisive parley. Dodge recommended that the Winnebago themselves be permitted to select a new reservation in the Sioux country of Minnesota, and that delegations of both nations should journey to Washington to deal directly with the government.531

When John E. Fletcher, the new sub‑agent to the Winnebago, entered upon his duties at the Turkey River agency on July 5, 1845, he found the condition of his p227charges better than he anticipated. They were at that date on friendly terms with all neighboring tribes. But their proximity to the whites, he said, was not favorable to their moral improvement. Although Captain Sumner and his dragoons were an effectual check against the smuggling of liquor into the reservation, it was impossible to prevent the Indians from going singly and in small numbers to white settlements to procure it.532 Two such places, known as Sodom and Gomorrah and located just over the boundary on the road from Fort Crawford to Fort Atkinson, did a thriving business.533

The summer of 1845 was long remembered by the dragoons at Fort Atkinson. Joined by Captain Allen's company from the new Fort Des Moines the two outfits spent some three months on an extended trip into the Minnesota region of Iowa Territory. June rains and floods delayed the march so that Traverse des Sioux, the objective of the trip, was not reached until June 22nd. Captains Sumner and Allen held many impressive councils with Indians, and warned a band of half-breeds from Canada that they were trespassing on the territory of the United States. Leaving Traverse des Sioux on August 11th the two companies set out on the return march. By steady riding Captain Sumner's company made the journey in eight days, but the dragoons rode back into Fort Atkinson with uniforms badly worn, horses jaded, and the men weary from the long trip.534

The story of the Winnebago in the Neutral Ground during the remainder of 1845 differs little from the dreary tale of their misery during preceding months. Lieutenant Colonel Henry Wilson had replaced Colonel Davenport as commandant of Fort Crawford, and on September 17th, the garrison was withdrawn, as a part p228of the general movement to concentrate the Regular Army in Texas. Late in the same month, Governor Chambers in a report to T. H. Crawford, United States Commissioner of Indian Affairs, complained of the renewed wanderings of the Winnebago into the settled parts of Wisconsin, and their obstinate perseverance in establishing themselves in considerable numbers on the Mississippi. Evidently out of patience with the repeated failures to secure the removal of the Winnebago from Iowa he declared that the Winnebago Indians were "the most drunken, worthless and degraded tribe of which I have any knowledge."535 In December, 1845, Lieutenant Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.A. Pleasonton moved over from Fort Atkinson with Troop B of the dragoons — twenty‑six men — and reoccupied Fort Crawford.536

Early in February, 1846, the platoon at Fort Crawford, under the command of Lieutenant Thomas R. Thompson, who had assumed command of the post in January, proceeded to Muscoda on account of trouble there between the settlers and some wandering Winnebago. They went into camp at this place and made excursions in the vicinity to collect and remove the Indians. As soon as the excitement of the settlers was allayed part of the platoon marched to Baraboo River where the troopers apprehended Dandy, a chief who had persistently refused to move to Iowa. He was retained as a hostage for the removal of his band as soon as the weather moderated and the streams were free from ice. On the 28th "Mos-e‑mon-i‑ka", the leader of the Rock River band, was captured near Eustis Rapids on Rock River and retained in custody with the same view. During much of the month the weather was below zero, and the snow was from eight to twelve inches deep. The detachment returned to Fort p229Crawford on March 6th and 8th, after a month of arduous field service. Later in the month Troop K of the dragoons arrived from Fort Leavenworth, and increased the garrison at Fort Crawford to three officers and fifty-eight men. Second Lieutenant Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.T. C. Hammond commanded the post in April as Lieutenant Thompson had been ordered back to Fort Atkinson with a detachment from B Company. In May Captain Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Philip St. George Cooke, who had brought fourteen recruits to Fort Crawford early in the month, assumed command of the post with a garrison of four officers and sixty‑one dragoons.537

The breaking out of war between the United States and Mexico, however, necessitated the withdrawal of the dragoons from Fort Crawford and the garrison from Fort Atkinson in the early summer of 1846. Both the Governor of Wisconsin and the Governor of Iowa were called upon to raise volunteers to man these posts. At Prairie du Chien a company of Territorial volunteers known as "Dodge Guards" was enrolled on June 25th, and under the command of Captain Wiram Knowlton moved into Fort Crawford.538 To James M. Morgan of Burlington, who held a commission as captain from Governor Clarke of Iowa Territory, fell the task of enlisting a company for service at Fort Atkinson. By July 11th sixty-eight men had enrolled at Burlington, and Morgan — "Little Red" as he was affectionately called — left with his command on a steamboat for McGregor's landing. Thence they marched over the military road to Fort Atkinson. At the fort three more men enrolled, and on July 15, 1846, the entire company was mustered into the service of the United States for twelve months.539

For the assistance of Captain Morgan's Independent Company of Iowa Volunteers it was decided to enlist a p230mounted company, and the duty of enrolling the cavalrymen was assigned to John Parker of Dubuque, who was commissioned captain. His task proved easy despite the fact that the members had to furnish their own horses, saddles, and equipment. This company was mustered into service at Fort Atkinson on September 9, 1846, by Brevet Major Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Alexander S. Hooe to serve for twelve months unless sooner discharged. However, much to the indignation of the officers and men of Parker's "Iowa Dragoons Volunteers", and against the vigorous protests of Governor Clarke and Augustus C. Dodge, Delegate in Congress, the War Department decided to dispense with the services of the mounted company. Accordingly the company was mustered out by Major Hooe on November 5, 1846, after only sixty-nine days of service. Thus the mounted volunteers, their military zeal dampened by resentment, turned the heads of their war horses homeward, and sullenly returned to log cabins or towns, there to resume the prosaic labors of farm and shop.540 To Morgan's and Knowlton's infantry companies was left the task of holding in check the lawless Winnebago.

Meantime Winnebago delegates had concluded a treaty at Washington, D. C., by which they surrendered all their rights to the Neutral Ground, and agreed to remove to a new home in Minnesota within one year after the ratification of the treaty by the United States Senate. This treaty, which the government had been trying to conclude for three years, was proclaimed the law of the land on February 4, 1847.541 The end of Indian troubles in the region about Fort Atkinson and Fort Crawford seemed to be in sight.

The time has now come for a farewell glance at the p231Winnebago farm and school as reëstablished on the Turkey River site. Despite the efforts of their agents and the farm superintendents the Winnebago for the most part could not be induced to give serious attention to agriculture. Although the land selected for farming operations on the Turkey River and the Red Cedar River was of unsurpassing fertility, only a small percentage of the Indians were sufficiently interested to devote their time to farm work. During the first year in the Neutral Ground only 450 acres of the 1500 broken up were under cultivation. But the next year John Miller, the farm superintendent, reported the raising of an abundant crop of wheat, oats, corn, and turnips.542

Benjamin Terrill had charge of the farm after September, 1843, employing seven hands in the winter and from eleven to sixteen in the spring and summer. These hands plowed the land for the Indians, helped them fence it, and opened new tracts for bands as they straggled in from the Mississippi. But Terrill's reports for 1843 and 1844 were not encouraging. The mill on Turkey River had been damaged, and was being used by insubordinate and drunken savages as a plaything. The Indians, too, were stealing the superintendent's corn, potatoes, and turnips, almost beyond endurance. The braves were only too willing for the plots to be plowed by the hired hands of the agency, then cultivated by the Indian women, while they spent the time in loafing, playing, hunting, or in drunken brawls.543

By 1846, however, some progress had been made in prevailing upon the Indians to raise crops. Their slightly increased interest in agriculture was attested by the fact that six chiefs and several headmen had held plows day after day notwithstanding the Indian idea that it p232was degrading for a man to work. Corn, oats, potatoes, beans, turnips, squashes, and other vegetables made up the crops. Additional wagons, sets of harness, and plows were demanded, and additional fields were broken for bands on the Iowa River. Attached to the agency were a carpenter's shop and blacksmith shops where tools were manufactured for the Indians and hoes, axes, knives, hatchets, fishing spears, and farm implements were repaired.544

Although an attack by the Sioux in the spring of 1847 interrupted farming operations along the Red Cedar River that season, this year, nevertheless, marked the peak of attainment in agriculture for the Winnebago in the Neutral Ground. After the harvest a committee representing an agricultural association that had been organized by Sub‑agent Fletcher examined the Indians' crops and awarded wagons, harness, plows, and other farm implements as prizes for the best products. A plentiful crop and their annuities assured them of a comfortable living during the winter and coming spring. Early in May, 1848, five men with a team and tools were sent ahead to prepare fields in the new Winnebago reservation in Minnesota, while three remained to cultivate and harvest the last crop at the Turkey River farm. Thus the Winnebago farm experiments in Iowa came to an end.545

The new Winnebago school at Turkey River made steady progress despite the handicaps of irregular attendance and opposition from some of the Indians. The report of J. W. Hancock made in August, 1842, indicated that more than one hundred pupils were receiving instruction under him. Besides the regular subjects, vocal music had been added to the curriculum. Many of the p233children had learned "a large number of tunes", which they sang "with much accuracy and delight". In three months' time the girls had made sixty-five shirts, fifty-five pantaloons, sixty gowns, eight coats, eight aprons, two red sacks, and twenty‑one corn bags. Boys who were old enough had worked on the adjoining farm for one or two hours every day.546

John L. Seymour became principal of the school in 1842, and under his supervision the institution grew both in attendance and in the number of teachers. Nevertheless, he complained that the dread of restraint, the irregularity of attendance, and general ignorance of the English language made it almost impossible to keep any two of the pupils "in the same degree of advancement" and required extraordinary labor and patience on the part of the teachers.547

When James McGregor became sub‑agent of the Winnebago difficulties arose between him and Seymour and the other teachers of the Winnebago school, with the result that early in the fall of 1844 McGregor dismissed the entire teaching force. He gave as his reasons for this act to Governor Chambers that the teachers exercised no moral influence over the Indians and were incompetent to discharge their duties. Moreover, he claimed that the teachers were inimical to him and evinced no disposition to aid him in "seconding the views of the government." Seymour protested vigorously to Governor Chambers against the summary action of the sub‑agent, while Major G. Dearborn, the commandant, and other officers at Fort Atkinson sent testimonials to the Governor in Seymour's behalf. McGregor recommended the appointment of Reverend Joseph Cretin, a Catholic priest of Dubuque, as principal of the school. Notwithstanding a strenuous p234effort on the part of Cretin's friends to secure his appointment, Governor Chambers, regarding the action of the sub‑agent as unwarranted, instructed McGregor to restore the dismissed teachers to their former positions. McGregor acknowledged the receipt of the order and replied that he had promptly complied with it.548

H. N. Thissell acted as principal of the school in 1845, and reported the total attendance to be one hundred and sixty‑six — eighty-three boys and eighty-three girls.549 During this year the Reverend Cretin, while acting as missionary to the Winnebago, asked to be allowed to establish a mission school among these Indians. Governor Chambers, however, informed him that missionary schools could not be permitted so near to those of the United States, but that Cretin's request to remain as a missionary was granted.550

On May 1, 1846, Reverend David Lowry resumed his duties as superintendent of the Winnebago school after an absence of about two years. Manual labor in the field and the shop became a definite part of the instruction for the boys, while domestic service — cooking, sewing, and knitting — held a prominent place in the curriculum for girls. John B. Newhall, who visited the school in 1846, declared that it was "an interesting spectacle to behold, in the midst of the forest, far beyond the confines of civilization, an assemblage of one hundred children of nature, eschewing the wild excitement of savage life, throwing aside the bow and quiver, and bowing to the shrine of learning." During the school year of 1846‑1847 two hundred and forty-nine children were enrolled in the school — the largest number in the history of the institution. Lowry no longer doubted the practicability of educating the Winnebago.551 But early in May, 1848, the p235Winnebago school on Turkey River came to an end with the preparations to transport the Indians to their new reservation in Minnesota.552

During the two years from 1846 to 1848 when Morgan's and Knowlton's volunteers were stationed at Fort Atkinson and Fort Crawford the troops were kept busy in trying to keep wandering Winnebago within the Neutral Ground, and in adjusting difficulties caused by Indian depredations. The murder of a white man named Riley by a Winnebago at Sodom in March, 1847, brought the troops from Fort Atkinson to apprehend the murderer.553 The culprit fled to Wisconsin, but was taken by the Fort Crawford soldiers and turned over to the civil authorities of Clayton County. Another test of the ability of Morgan to handle a difficult situation came when a band of Sioux, seeking revenge on the Sauk and Foxes, murdered several Winnebago near the Red Cedar River. A detachment from Fort Atkinson immediately marched into the Indian country to bring the Sioux to terms. Chiefs of both tribes were compelled to hold a council at Fort Atkinson at which the Sioux agreed to pay horses and money for the murdered braves. This arrangement was satisfactory to the Winnebago, and the matter was adjusted without further bloodshed. The incident, however, was not forgotten by the Winnebago, and it added to the difficulty in getting them to move into the country of the Sioux.554

When Morgan's company had served twelve months it was mustered out at Fort Atkinson, and on the same date, July 15, 1847, a new company was formed which came to be known as "Morgan's Company of Iowa Mounted Volunteers". It was felt that the task of keeping the Winnebago in line was too great for infantry alone; furthermore, the plan to move the Winnebago to p236Minnesota was under way, and a mounted force was needed for this task. In July, too, Captain Knowlton's company was mustered out, and on the same day another company enrolled. As in the case of the Iowa volunteers the new company was composed for the most part of men who had reënlisted. In both cases the act of mustering out the volunteers who had served for twelve months, and the remuster of the new companies was performed by Major Hooe, who for some months had been in command of Fort Crawford.555

In the fall of 1847, the last payment of annuities to the Winnebago in the Neutral Ground took place near the agency on Turkey River. Each individual received a blanket, a quantity of calico, several kinds of cloth, and a liberal payment in money. The bands were drawn up in long rows to receive their share of the payment. Morgan's company of mounted volunteers was on hand to prevent the smuggling of whisky, and to preserve order. In their "new uniforms" and with their "handsome horses", said an eye‑witness, they "presented a truly military and excellent appearance." No sooner had the Indians received their annuities, however, than they went in great numbers to the Mississippi, and many recrossed the river into Wisconsin where they committed minor depredations on hogs, poultry, and other possessions of the settlers.556

Preparations now went on apace to remove the Winnebago early in 1848. Soon after the treaty of 1846 had been completed Henry M. Rice, as the representative of the Winnebago, had selected a new home for them in the country lying in the present State of Minnesota between the Watab River on the south, and the Long Prairie and Crow Wing rivers on the north.557 In February, 1848, p237Morgan, at the request of Governor Dodge, sent a detachment under Lieutenant J. H. McKenny to remove wandering Winnebago who were annoying settlers in Wisconsin. The troops rode to Dubuque, crossed the river, and went as far as Madison before returning by way of Fort Crawford and the military trail. Later Morgan sent troops for the same purpose to Black Hawk County, Iowa, where settlers were complaining of Indian encroachments. For weeks before the time set for departure from the Neutral Ground detachments from Morgan's Company were engaged in rounding up stragglers who tried to escape the migration by stealing back to Wisconsin. In the meantime Knowlton's volunteers were collecting scattered groups east of the Mississippi preparatory to escorting them to Prairie la Crosse to join the main body en route. Teamsters, wagons, mules, and supplies were brought to Fort Atkinson for the journey. Arrangements were made for Second Lieutenant Benjamin Fox to move over from Fort Crawford with twenty-five men of Knowlton's company to occupy Fort Atkinson during Morgan's absence; and the day for the departure was set.558

Late in May Morgan had succeeded in assembling near the agency on Turkey River all of the Winnebago in the Neutral Ground, save two or three of the river bands who were to be escorted up the Mississippi in canoes by part of Knowlton's troops. Last minute difficulties, however, arose with the Indians on Turkey River through apprehension of attacks by the Sioux in their new home, and through the desire of many to remove to the Missouri River among the Pottawattamie. A final flare up resulted in all but two of the bands making an attempted flight in a body toward the Missouri. Morgan despatched Lieutenant McKenny with fifty troopers to check the p238flight. He overtook the Indians about midnight, and by taking up a position west of them and by keeping his men in the saddle all night held the Indians in check. They were brought back to the encampment where preparations to start on the long journey continued.559

On June 8, 1848, the cavalcade moved north from the encampment headed for Wabasha's Prairie on the Mississippi. Between two and three thousand Indians with sixteen hundred ponies, one hundred and sixty‑six army wagons loaded with the supplies and movable property of the tribesmen as well as the goods of the agency, a lumbering cannon, and the mounted volunteers armed with rifle, sword, and revolver made up the picturesque caravan that slowly crawled across the prairies toward Minnesota. Halts for the night were made, and delays were frequently caused by difficulties in persuading the Indians to start again. It required, too, constant watchfulness and vigilance on the part of the soldiers to prevent small groups from sneaking away at night to return to their old home. When Wabasha's Prairie was reached, a conspiracy on the part of the Winnebago to resist further progress and to settle on land near the lower band of the Sioux was frustrated by an overwhelming display of force. Captain Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Seth Eastman with regulars from Fort Snelling and Captain Knowlton with a detachment from Fort Crawford joined Morgan, and the Winnebago decided to continue the migration peaceably.560

From Wabasha's Prairie the Indians were transported by steamboat group by group to the Falls of St. Anthony where the land journey was resumed. On July 30, 1848, the caravan reached its destination at the mouth of the Watab River, after a journey of over three hundred miles. Morgan's men stayed to maintain order while the agency p239buildings were being erected, and to clear the country of whisky venders. Early in September they set out on the return journey to Iowa. They rode back to Fort Snelling where they turned over their arms and accouterments, and on the same day took passage on a steamboat for McGregor's Landing. Here the troops rested for two days while the officers visited friends at Fort Crawford across the river. From McGregor's Landing Morgan's men set out once more on the fifty mile trip along the old military trail to Fort Atkinson. On September 11, 1848, they were mustered out of service by Major Hooe, and the Mounted Volunteers returned to the more prosaic duties of civilian life in the new Commonwealth.561 Captain Knowlton's company of "Dodge Guards" had already been discharged on September 4th at Fort Crawford.562 For more than two years Iowa and Wisconsin volunteers had performed the most arduous of frontier duty with honor and credit.

Late in September, 1848, Fort Atkinson was occupied by Company C of the Sixth Infantry, under Captain Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.T. L. Alexander. At the same time Lieutenant Colonel Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Gustavus Loomis with the field and staff, non‑commissioned staff, band, and Companies B and F of the same regiment reoccupied Fort Crawford. Upon the departure of Loomis on October 31st, Captain Charles S. Lovell became commandant, and occupied this position until the troops were withdrawn from Fort Crawford in the spring of the next year. The need for Fort Atkinson having ended with the removal of the Winnebago the post was abandoned on February 24, 1849. The teamsters harnessed the mules for the last time while the privates loaded their supplies on army wagons and, lowering the flag, the company marched away toward Fort Crawford p240leaving a single caretaker in charge of the government property. In the sleeping quarters of the soldiers, tacked on one of the massive black walnut bunks, a departing soldier had left a card with the inscription "Farewell to bedbugs".563

Fort Crawford, too, being no longer needed was soon evacuated. On April 24, 1849, Company C with the band and non‑commissioned staff left Prairie du Chien on the steamboat Senator for Fort Snelling, while Companies B and F left the day following on board the Dr. Franklin en route for Fort Leavenworth. Lieutenant R. W. Foote with a small detail of soldiers remained behind to dispose of government property and stores.564 The sale of these goods took place on May 30, 1849, and the remaining troops departed. A lone caretaker was left in charge of the silent post which for years had resounded with the tramp of marching soldiers and the sound of arms.565


The Author's Notes:

518 Wisconsin Historical Collections, Vol. VII, pp362, 363; Executive Documents, 26th Congress, 2nd Session, Vol. I, No. 2, pp228, 229, 249‑251, 334‑338.

[decorative delimiter]

519 Annals of Iowa (Third Series), Vol. IV, p449.

[decorative delimiter]

520 The Palimpsest, Vol. II, p336; Executive Documents, 26th Congress, 2nd Session, Vol. I, No. 2, p88.

[decorative delimiter]

521 Executive Documents, 26th Congress, 2nd Session, Vol. I, No. 2, p88; Post Returns, Fort Crawford, 1831‑1856, May to December inclusive, 1840, in the Adjutant General's Office, War Department, Washington, D. C.

[decorative delimiter]

522 Annals of Iowa (Third Series), Vol. IV, pp449‑451.

[decorative delimiter]

523 Annals of Iowa (Third Series), Vol. IV, p451; Post Returns, Fort Crawford, 1831‑1856, August to November, 1841, in the Adjutant General's Office, War Department, Washington, D. C.

[decorative delimiter]

524 Hexom's Indian History of Winneshiek County, Chapter on Fort Atkinson; Mahan's Old Fort Atkinson in The Palimpsest, Vol. II, pp338, 339.

[decorative delimiter]

525 The Iowa Journal of History and Politics, Vol. XIII, pp185‑188, 329; The Palimpsest, Vol. II, p339; Senate Documents, 27th Congress, 3rd Session, Vol. I, No. 1, p231.

[decorative delimiter]

526 The Iowa Journal of History and Politics, Vol. XIII, pp329, 330. For an excellent description of the Winnebago in 1842 see The Iowa Journal of History and Politics, Vol. XIII, pp251‑257.

[decorative delimiter]

527 The Palimpsest, Vol. II, p341; Annals of Iowa (Third Series), Vol. IV, pp291, 293.

[decorative delimiter]

528 The Iowa Journal of History and Politics, Vol. XIII, pp330, 331; Post Returns, Fort Crawford, 1831‑1856, July 1843, in the Adjutant General's Office, War Department, Washington, D. C.; Senate Documents, 28th Congress, 1st Session, Vol. I, No. 1, pp263, 284‑288.

[decorative delimiter]

529 The Iowa Journal of History and Politics, Vol. XIII, pp331, 332; Senate Documents, 28th Congress, 1st Session, Vol. I, No. 1, p382, 28th Congress, 2nd Session, Vol. I, No. 1, pp306, 417, 418.

[decorative delimiter]

530 The Iowa Journal of History and Politics, Vol. XIII, p332; Senate Documents, 28th Congress, 2nd Session, Vol. I, No. 1, pp424‑428, 31st Congress, 1st Session, Vol. II, No. 1, p1045.

[decorative delimiter]

531 Senate Documents, 29th Congress, 1st Session, Vol. I, No. 1, pp450, 460, 461; The Iowa Journal of History and Politics, Vol. XIII, pp332, 333; Post Returns, Fort Crawford, 1831‑1856, June, 1846, in the Adjutant General's Office, War Department, Washington, D. C.

[decorative delimiter]

532 Senate Documents, 29th Congress, 1st Session, Vol. I, No. 1, pp487, 488.

[decorative delimiter]

533 History of Allamakee County, Iowa (1913), Vol. I, pp242‑245.

[decorative delimiter]

534 Pelzer's The Marches of the Dragoons, pp115‑119; Senate Documents, 29th Congress, 1st Session, Vol. I, No. 1, pp217‑220.

[decorative delimiter]

535 Post Returns, Fort Crawford, 1831‑1856, January to September, 1845, in the Adjutant General's Office, War Department, Washington, D. C.; Senate Documents, 29th Congress, 1st Session, Vol. I, No. 1, pp208, 220d; Chambers to Crawford, September 28, 1845, in the Indian Office Files, 1845, No. 61.

[decorative delimiter]

536 Post Returns, Fort Crawford, 1831‑1856, December, 1845, in the Adjutant General's Office, War Department, Washington, D. C.

[decorative delimiter]

537 Post Returns, Fort Crawford, 1831‑1856, January to May inclusive, 1846, in the Adjutant General's Office, War Department, Washington, D. C.

[decorative delimiter]

538 Post Returns, Fort Crawford, 1831‑1856, July, 1846, in the Adjutant General's Office, War Department, Washington, D. C.

[decorative delimiter]

539 Roster and Record of Iowa Soldiers, Vol. VI, pp791‑796; The Palimpsest, Vol. II, pp344, 345. See also "Captain James M. Morgan's Independent Company of Iowa Infantry Volunteers" in the Harvey Reid Manuscript.

The Harvey Reid Manuscript, now in the possession of the State Historical Society of Iowa at Iowa City, is a comprehensive survey of the militia in Iowa during the Territorial period, the companies raised for service during the Mexican War, and biographical sketches of the men in these companies. It includes also a "Narrative of the March of Morgan's Mounted Volunteers" from Fort Atkinson, Iowa, to Long Prairie, Minnesota, as a military escort in the removal of the Winnebago. This narrative was written by William Reid, a private in Morgan's Company. Parts of the manuscript have been printed in the Roster and Record of Iowa Soldiers, Vol. VI, pp783‑881.

[decorative delimiter]

540 Roster and Record of Iowa Soldiers, Vol. VI, pp797‑800; The Palimpsest, Vol. II, pp345, 346. See also "Captain John Parker's Company of Iowa Dragoons Volunteers" in the Harvey Reid Manuscript.

[decorative delimiter]

541 United States Statutes at Large, Vol. IX, pp878, 879.

[decorative delimiter]

542 Senate Documents, 26th Congress, 2nd Session, Vol. I, No. 1, p338, 27th Congress, 3rd Session, Vol. I, No. 1, pp419‑421, 28th Congress, 1st Session, Vol. I, No. 1, pp382‑384; The Iowa Journal of History and Politics, Vol. XIII, p338.

[decorative delimiter]

543 The Iowa Journal of History and Politics, Vol. XIII, pp338, 339; Senate Documents, 28th Congress, 2nd Session, Vol. I, No. 1, pp427‑430, 29th Congress, 1st Session, Vol. I, No. 1, p488.

[decorative delimiter]

544 House Executive Documents, 29th Congress, 2nd Session, Vol. I, No. 4, pp247‑250; The Iowa Journal of History and Politics, Vol. XIII, p340.

[decorative delimiter]

545 Senate Documents, 30th Congress, 1st Session, Vol. I, No. 1, pp864‑866; The Iowa Journal of History and Politics, Vol. XIII, p340.

[decorative delimiter]

546 The Iowa Journal of History and Politics, Vol. XIII, p345; Senate Documents, 27th Congress, 3rd Session, Vol. I, No. 1, pp480‑482.

[decorative delimiter]

547 The Iowa Journal of History and Politics, Vol. XIII, p346; Senate Documents, 28th Congress, 1st Session, Vol. I, No. 1, pp355‑357, 28th Congress, 2nd Session, Vol. I, No. 1, pp357, 358, 427.

[decorative delimiter]

548 McGregor to Chambers, October 26, 1844, Dearborn to Chambers, October 21, 1844, Officers at Fort Atkinson to Chambers, September 18, 1844, Chambers to T. H. Crawford, November 14, 1844, Reverend M. Loras to Chambers, November 11, 1844, Charles Corkens, John King, and Timothy Davis to Chambers, November 2, 1844, Chambers to McGregor, October 31, 1844, and McGregor to Chambers, November 13, 1844, in the Indian Office Files, 1844, Nos. 436, 434, 435, 438, 441, 443, 433, 444.

[decorative delimiter]

549 The Iowa Journal of History and Politics, Vol. XIII, p346; Senate Documents, 29th Congress, 1st Session, Vol. I, No. 1, pp562, 563.

[decorative delimiter]

550 Cretin to Chambers, June 10, 1845, Chambers to Cretin, July 11, 1845, in the Indian Office Files, 1845, Nos. 132, 134.

[decorative delimiter]

551 The Iowa Journal of History and Politics, Vol. XIII, pp346, 347; House Executive Documents, 29th Congress, 2nd Session, No. 4, pp249, 315‑317; Newhall's A Glimpse of Iowa in 1846, pp38, 39; Senate Documents, 30th Congress, 1st Session, Vol. I, No. 1, pp930, 931.

[decorative delimiter]

552 The Iowa Journal of History and Politics, Vol. XIII, p347.

[decorative delimiter]

553 The Prairie du Chien Patriot, March 16, 30, 1847.

[decorative delimiter]

554 The Prairie du Chien Patriot, June 1, 1847; Niles' Weekly Register, Vol. LXXII, p321.

[decorative delimiter]

555 The Prairie du Chien Patriot, July 20, 1847; Roster and Record of Iowa Soldiers, Vol. VI, p801; Post Returns, Fort Crawford, 1831‑1856, December, 1846 to July, 1847, in the Adjutant General's Office, War Department, Washington, D. C.

[decorative delimiter]

556 The Prairie du Chien Patriot, October 5, November 2, 1847; Fletcher to T. H. Harvey, October 20, 1847, in the Indian Office Files, 1847, No. 228.

[decorative delimiter]

557 See "Captain James M. Morgan's Company of Iowa Mounted Volunteers" and "Narrative of the March of Morgan's Mounted Volunteers" in the Harvey Reid Manuscript; Mahan's Moving the Winnebago in The Palimpsest, Vol. III, pp33, 34.

[decorative delimiter]

558 The Prairie du Chien Patriot, March 7, 17, June 7, 1847; The Palimpsest, Vol. III, p34; Morgan to J. H. McKenny, February 15, 1848, McKenny to Morgan, March 17, 1848, Morgan to R. Jones, May 1, 1848, in the Indian Office Files, 1848, Nos. 215, 216, 214. See also "Captain James M. Morgan's Company of Iowa Mounted Volunteers" in the Harvey Reid Manuscript.

[decorative delimiter]

559 Morgan to William Medill, Commissioner of Indian Affairs, June 3, 1848, in the Indian Office Files, 1848, No. 170.

[decorative delimiter]

560 Morgan to Medill, July 6, August 10, 1848, in the Indian Office Files, 1848, Nos. 169, 168; The Palimpsest, Vol. III, pp38‑42. See also "Narrative of the March of Morgan's Mounted Volunteers" and "Captain James M. Morgan's Company of Iowa Mounted Volunteers" in the Harvey Reid Manuscript.

[decorative delimiter]

561 "Narrative of the March of Morgan's Mounted Volunteers" and "Captain James M. Morgan's Company of Iowa Mounted Volunteers" in the Harvey Reid Manuscript; The Palimpsest, Vol. III, p51; Roster and Record of Iowa Soldiers, Vol. VI, p802.

[decorative delimiter]

562 The Prairie du Chien Patriot, September 6, 1848.

[decorative delimiter]

563 Annals of Iowa (Third Series), Vol. IV, p451; Post Returns, Fort Crawford, 1831‑1856, September, 1848, to March, 1849, in the Adjutant General's Office, War Department, Washington, D. C.; The Palimpsest, Vol. II, pp348, 349.

In 1853 the barracks, gunhouses, and powder house of Fort Atkinson were sold at public auction. — The Iowa Journal of History and Politics, Vol. XII, p187. To‑day the site of old Fort Atkinson is a State Park. The picture of Fort Atkinson in this volume was drawn by Chas. Phil. Hexom after an original drawing by Lieutenant Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.A. W. Reynolds.

[decorative delimiter]

564 The Prairie du Chien Patriot, May 2, 1849.

[decorative delimiter]

565 The Prairie du Chien Patriot, May 30, 1849. For the story of the Winnebago in their new home see Folwell's A History of Minnesota, Vol. I, pp311‑320.


[image ALT: Valid HTML 4.01.]

Page updated: 6 Jul 13