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Chapter 7

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!


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Chapter 9

This site is not affiliated with the US Military Academy.

p100 VIII
The Winnebago Outbreak

In the spring of 1826, another flood of the Mississippi occurred, and the water at Prairie du Chien, it is said, rose twenty‑six feet above low water mark. Again Fort Crawford was flooded and the soldiers were forced to abandon the post and encamp on higher ground east of the slough.289 In the Post Returns from Fort Crawford for May, 1826, Lieutenant Colonel Morgan, the commandant, wrote, "The river subsided so that the troops went into the Fort again on the 29th May after being encamped about a month. The quarters have been cleaned, and are tolerable."290

An inspection report of Fort Crawford early in August, 1826, revealed the condition of the post some two months before its abandonment.291 At that time the garrison consisted of Companies G and K of the Fifth Infantry commanded by Captains Robert McCabe and George Bender respectively. The books were neatly kept, but not in the same form. Those of Captain McCabe were perhaps more in conformity with regulations. In his desire to have the proper books this officer had had them sent to him from St. Louis at his own expense.

The appearance of the troops under arms was "pretty good but without that very minute attention to exterior" which the inspector had noted elsewhere. The clothing and accoutrements were clean, and the muskets although not brightly burnished were in every instance fit for immediate service in the field. Colonel Morgan, the commanding p101officer of the post, preferred rather to have his command "one of usefulness rather than of shew". The inspector took occasion at this point to suggest "either that the musket must be browned or that less value in the future be put upon its excessive burnish." The soldier fearing reprimand "if he go upon parade without having his musket like a mirror spares no pains & makes use of every means, however improper, for having it so. The piece is completely unstocked & when the business of polishing it is over, the ramrod is found bent, perhaps the barrel, too, & the trigger guard so sprung, as no longer to be brought to its proper place."292 Although the discipline of the troops appeared sufficiently rigid and correct their instruction left much room for improvement. Such improvement, however, could be confidently expected from the constant pains taken by the officers to inform themselves, as well as from the example and unwearied efforts of Colonel Morgan who seemed more devoted to his profession than any other officer with whom the inspector had recently conversed.

In the quarters for troops the bunks had been demolished and the soldiers slept on the floor which was as "uneven as may be, having been driven from place by the late freshet." The hospital was under good regulation and sufficiently supplied, but the building, like every other within the fort, was in a state of ruin. In the quartermaster's department the articles were "pretty well arranged, considering the size of the storeroom". They were in a better state of preservation, too, than could be expected from their exposed situation, since the roof leaked so badly that it was difficult to find a dry space sufficiently large to accommodate the perishable articles. The storeroom, however, was "too much lumbered p102up with damaged & useless stuff to allow of proper care being taken with the serviceable."

Supplies in the commissary's department were abundant and were as well arranged as possible under the existing conditions. Here, as in the quartermaster's department, the roof too freely admitted the rain for the safe keeping of perishable articles. A large proportion of the peas were already in such a state that nothing but the greatest care could prevent their becoming too much damaged for use. The inspector recommended that the whole supply be immediately overhauled, frequently sunned, and distributed among the different storerooms. Despite the condition of the commissary's storeroom the men's messes were good and abundant. Bread of the very best quality was baked by a soldier of the garrison.293

The arsenal was so small compared with the amount of ordnance piled up within that a minute and correct inspection could not be made. The arrangement of powder and ammunition, however, in the stone magazine was good. This was practically the only dry and secure place in the fort.

It appeared to the inspector that a much longer occupancy of Fort Crawford was doubtful. Indeed, orders for its abandonment had already been received but had been suspended temporarily due to the threatening attitude of the Winnebago who bitterly resented the increasing intrusion of the whites upon their lands. "Should a continuance of the Garrison be the result", said the report, "a new work must be erected for the present one is in ruins. Should however the garrison be withdrawn the most important Post on the Mississippi will then be abandoned."294

This part of the report was almost a prophecy. Within p103two months definite orders had been received for the abandonment of the post. In less than a year, however, the Winnebago outbreak necessitated the reoccupation of the fort, and within three years work was begun on a new and larger Fort Crawford located on a better site.

Although no serious disturbance had occurred in the Upper Mississippi region since the establishment of Fort Edwards, Fort Armstrong, Fort Crawford, and Fort Snelling along the Mississippi River frontier the growing encroachments of the whites in the lead region about Galena aroused the hostility of the Winnebago. Reports of their threatening attitude in the summer of 1826 led Colonel Snelling to reënforce the garrison at Fort Crawford. Leaving Fort Snelling on August 18th, Captain D. Wilcox moved down the river with Companies A, B, and I of the Fifth Infantry. The August returns from Fort Crawford revealed the presence of one hundred and seventy‑six officers and men, the largest force that had been quartered at the Prairie in years.295

As the recent inspection indicated, however, the fort was unfit for occupancy without extensive repairs, and notwithstanding the fact that the Winnebago still appeared to be in a hostile state of mind it was decided to concentrate the Fifth Infantry at Fort Snelling. Upon the receipt of a definite order for the abandonment of Fort Crawford in October, 1826, the commandant proceeded at once with his troops up the Mississippi, taking with him two Winnebago prisoners who had been confined in the guardhouse. He left behind some provisions, a number of damaged arms, a brass swivel, and a few wall pieces in charge of John Marsh, sub‑agent at Prairie du Chien.296

Several times during the following winter some of the p104 older traders at Prairie du Chien expressed serious fears of Winnebago outrages in the spring. Others, however, felt that the Indians, surrounded as they were by troops at Fort Snelling, Fort Howard, and Fort Armstrong would not seriously entertain an idea of starting a war against the whites. But it was noticed that when the Winnebago returned to Prairie du Chien in the spring from their winter's hunt they paid their credits much worse than usual and were inclined to be surly.297

In March, 1827, one of the inhabitants of Prairie du Chien, Methode by name, accompanied by his wife and five children, went up Yellow or Painted Rock Creek, some twelve miles distant on the Iowa side of the Mississippi, to make maple sugar. When the sugar making season was over and Methode had not returned, a party of his friends went to look for him. His dog was first found riddled with bullets but holding in his jaws a piece of scarlet cloth, apparently torn from an Indian legging. The camp had been consumed by fire, and the bodies of the seven members of the Methode family were found horribly mangled and burned to a crisp. It was generally believed that a party of Winnebago Indians had murdered them and burned their bodies, although some thought it might have been the work of a wandering band of Sauk and Foxes.298

In the spring of 1827, too, a rumor circulated extensively among the Winnebago that the two prisoners of their tribe who had been taken from Fort Crawford to Fort Snelling had been killed.299 Although this rumor was false it increased the hostility of these Indians toward the whites and their leaders resolved to invoke the ancient tribal law of retaliation. Red Bird, a chief who was well known and admired by the whites, was chosen p105to go out and "take meat" as they phrased it. Not wishing to murder his friends, the whites, Red Bird resolved to make a circuit and return saying that he could find "no meat". This plan, however, miscarried for upon his return without any scalps he was upbraided and taunted as a coward. Thereupon Red Bird resolved to redeem his character and beckoning to WeKau and another Indian he set out for Prairie du Chien.300

When the three Indians arrived at the village they went first to the home of James H. Lockwood who had left only the day before on his way to New York to purchase goods for the next season's trade. His house and adjoining store had been left in charge of his wife, her brother, a young man of sixteen, and a servant girl. Red Bird and the two Indians entered the cellar kitchen, and loaded their guns in the presence of the servant girl. Then they slipped through a hallway into Mrs. Lockwood's bedroom where she was sitting alone. Certain that the Indians intended to kill her Mrs. Lockwood rushed out through the hallway into the store to her brother. Here she found Duncan Graham, a veteran trader, who it will be recalled had been an officer in the British force that occupied Fort McKay at Prairie du Chien and had figured prominently in the repulse of Zachary Taylor at Rock Island. Graham, who was regarded by the Winnebago as an Englishman and their friend, persuaded Red Bird and his companions to leave the house.301

The Indians then proceeded to McNair's Coulee some two or three miles from the village at the lower end of the Prairie. Here lived Registre Gagnier, a French half-breed, with his wife and two children, a boy three years old and a daughter aged eleven months. With them was an old, discharged soldier named Solomon Lipcap. The p106entire family was present in the log cabin when the Indians arrived and entered. As visits of Indians were common no particular attention was paid to them. They were asked if they wanted something to eat, and when they replied in the affirmative, Mrs. Gagnier turned to get them some food. At this instant she heard the click of a rifle followed a second later by its discharge. She looked and saw that Red Bird had shot her husband killing him instantly. At this moment the third Indian shot old Lipcap. Mrs. Gagnier, seeing WeKau who had lingered at the doorway about to rush in, attacked him and wrested away his gun. She pursued him outside the cabin and tried to cock the rifle to shot the culprit, but for some reason could not pull the trigger feeling, as she expressed it, "like one in a dream, trying to call, or to run, but without the ability to do either."302 Finding that she was powerless to fire the gun she heard away to the village to give the alarm, taking along her oldest child, but forgetting in her fear and excitement the baby covered up in the bed. WeKau reëntered the cabin, and to secure a trophy of his part in the butchery scalped the helpless child, apparently performing the task with deliberation in order to get as much hair as possible. When a party of armed men from the village hurried to the Gagnier cabin they found that the murderers had fled, leaving behind the mangled bodies of their victims. The babe was found beneath the bed horribly scalped and with its neck cut to the bone. It was still alive, however, and strange to relate recovered and grew to womanhood.303

When the armed posse returned to Prairie du Chien with the bodies of the murdered men and the child great alarm was felt by the inhabitants who expected a general attack by the Indians to follow this outbreak. John Marsh, p107the sub‑agent, dispatched a note to Lockwood, by some friendly Menominee informing him of the murders, and imploring him "for God's sake" to return. At first it was decided not to occupy the old fort as the Winnebago had threatened, it is said, to burn it if the villagers took refuge there. During the next day the villagers occupied themselves in throwing up breastworks of timber about Jean Brunet's tavern, and in getting the swivel and wall pieces from the fort. Blacksmiths were set to work to repair the muskets left behind by the soldiers. All was confusion "each commanding, none obeying, but every one giving his opinion freely."304

On the day of the Gagnier murders two keel-boats which, under the command of Captain Allen Lindsay, had ascended the Mississippi a few days previously with provisions for Fort Snelling, were on their way back to St. Louis. On the upward trip a hostile demonstration had been made by the Sioux of Wabasha's village. A number of warriors painted black and with black streaks on their blankets crowded on board the keel-boat, O. H. Perry, but refused to shake hands. Apprehensive of danger on the return journey Captain Lindsay asked for and obtained from Colonel Snelling a quantity of arms and ammunition. The Sioux village was located on the west bank of the Mississippi, and the crew of the keel-boats were on their guard against an attack at this point, but they had no apprehension of any danger from the Winnebago on the east bank of the river. Having passed Wabasha's village in safety the two boats which thus far had kept together parted company, and by the time the O. H. Perry had reached the mouth of Bad Axe River it was several miles in advance of the General Ashley.305

As the boat approached an island where the Winnebago p108lay in ambush "the air suddenly resounded with the blood-chilling and ear‑piercing tones of the war‑whoop, and a volley of rifle balls rained across the deck."306 One of the sixteen men on board fell at the first fire, his leg so badly shattered that he afterwards died of his wounds. Taking refuge below the deck the crew prepared to defend themselves. The second volley from the ambushed Winnebago struck another member of the crew who had risen to return the first fire. The muzzle of his musket protruding through a loop-hole showed some Winnebago where to fire, and the ball striking the victim under the left arm passed directly through his heart killing him instantly.

The boat now grounded on a sand bar, and the Indians putting out in their canoes attempted to board the stranded vessel. A hot fire from the crew who had now recovered from their first panic killed two of the savages and wounded several others. All the Indians scurried back to the shelter of the island, except two who managed to board the keel-boat from the stern. In a short struggle both of these daring boarders were dispatched: one fell dead into the boat; the other, shot in the head, tumbled overboard. The exchange of shots continued until nightfall with little execution on either side. Realizing what their plight would be as soon as it was dark, Jack Mandeville, "Saucy Jack" as he was called, asked for assistance and sprang into the water to shove off the sand bar. Four others of the crew followed him. Musket balls rained around them, but they redoubled their efforts and the boat began to move. Seeing that their prey was escaping the Winnebago gave a shout of mingled rage and despair and poured upon the crew a farewell volley. This was returned, but before either side had time to p109reload, the boat was afloat and moving rapidly down stream carrying with it the dead Indian whose scalp had been taken by the man who killed him. Two members of the crew had been killed, two had been mortally wounded, and two slightly wounded. Several Indians had been killed outright and many more wounded. The boat made its way to Prairie du Chien where it arrived near sunset of the next day.307

The second keel-boat, with Captain Lindsay in command, reached the scene of the encounter near midnight and was fired upon by the Winnebago. The crew promptly returned the fire. Only one ball struck the boat, the others passed over the deck harmless, and the vessel made its way to Prairie du Chien unscathed.308

The arrival of the keel-boats at Prairie du Chien with the story of the bloody encounter and with the dead and wounded on board added to the general alarm. Sentinels were posted, and a great variety of opinions expressed as to what was best to be done to insure the safety of the place. It was finally decided to occupy the dilapidated fort and to place the defense of the place in charge of a local militia company with Thomas McNair as captain, Joseph Brisbois as lieutenant, and Jean Brunet as ensign, all of whom had previously been commissioned as officers of the local militia by Governor Cass. William J. Snelling, who had arrived on the second keel-boat, and James H. Lockwood, who had hastened back to Prairie du Chien as soon as he received news of the murders from Marsh, acted as supernumeraries under Captain McNair. The fort and blockhouses were put in as good order as possible. Dirt was thrown up two or three feet high around the bottom logs which were rotten and dry and would easily ignite. The swivel and wall pieces were p110remounted in the blockhouse and a crew of picked men trained in firing them. Barrels were filled with water, and placed around the quarters to guard against fire. All the blacksmiths were put to work repairing muskets. Lockwood furnished an abundant supply of powder and lead from the stock in his store. Upon mustering the forces it was found that about ninety men and women were able to handle a musket in case of an attack.309

On the day after taking possession of the fort two men were engaged to cross the river and hasten on horseback to Fort Snelling for aid. As soon as he learned of the situation at Prairie du Chien Colonel Snelling set out down the Mississippi with four companies of the Fifth Regiment.310 When the keel-boat with the dead and wounded on board stopped at Galena on its way to St. Louis the receipt of the news about the attack on the keel-boats themselves and the murders on the Prairie created the utmost alarm and consternation. Men, women, and children flocked from the diggings thereabouts to Galena expecting any moment "to be overtaken, tomahawked and scalped by the Indians."311

During the month of the Winnebago outbreak on the Mississippi Governor Cass and Colonel Thomas L. McKenney were sent by the United States as commissioners to negotiate a treaty with the Winnebago and other tribes to adjust the boundaries as provided in the Great Council at Prairie du Chien in 1825. When the commissioners reached Butte des Morts on the Fox River, the place designated for the council, they found but a single band of Winnebago, and at the same time they learned of the hostility of these Indians and the outrages committed on the Mississippi.312

Cass with characteristic energy decided on a bold plan p111to quell the threatened uprising. Leaving Colonel McKenney in charge of the camp at Butte des Morts he set out in a large canoe with several boatmen for Prairie du Chien. His route up the Fox, across the Portage, and down the Wisconsin took him through the heart of the Winnebago country. Along the way he reached a Winnebago encampment. Despite evident signs of hostility on the part of the Indians Cass landed, harangued the savages, and persuaded them to smoke the calumet. As Cass was leaving a young brave tried to shoot him, but an old Indian struck the gun aside.313

Cass reached Prairie du Chien on the morning of July 4, 1827. Finding the terrified settlers gathered in Fort Crawford and expecting an attack at any moment, he enrolled the local militia company in the service of the United States and assured the villagers of reinforcements from below. Then Cass reëntered his canoe and hastened down the Mississippi to Galena where the miners were panic stricken over the Winnebago threat of reprisals for intrusions on their land. He quickly enrolled a rifle company under Abner Fields to whom he assigned the command of Fort Crawford. William Stephen Hamilton, son of Alexander Hamilton, joined this group of volunteers as a lieutenant. Captain Fields and his company proceeded at once in a keel-boat to Prairie du Chien, accompanied by Lieutenant Martin Thomas of the United States Army who happened to be at Galena. Upon their arrival at Fort Crawford Thomas mustered the volunteer troops into the service of the United States.314

Cass sped down the river to Jefferson Barracks to carry the news of the outbreak to Brigadier General Henry Atkinson, then in command at that post. He reached his destination in an incredibly short space of p112time, and Atkinson with over five hundred men was soon on board a steamboat and on his way to the seat of trouble.315

Instead of returning with the regulars Cass and his party ascended the Illinois River, the Des Plaines River, and crossed the portage to Chicago where he informed the inhabitants of the Winnebago outbreak on the Mississippi. As at Prairie du Chien and at Galena the settlers at Chicago were thrown into a panic at a possible alliance of the Winnebago and Pottawattamie, especially since Fort Dearborn like Fort Crawford had been abandoned. Measures were taken at once to protect the settlement.316

From Chicago Cass pushed on up the western shore of Lake Michigan to Green Bay, thence up the Fox River to the council place at Butte des Morts, making the circuit of more than sixteen hundred miles in four weeks.317

The result of this swing around the circle was a prompt convergence of troops from all directions into the land of the Winnebago. With the arrival of Colonel Snelling and his troops he assumed command of Fort Crawford, and directed the measures of defense. Finding it difficult to bring the company of Galena volunteers under satisfactory discipline he discharged them, but the Prairie du Chien company was retained in service until August. The old chief "De‑Kau‑ray" and some Winnebago braves were seized as hostages for the deliverance of those who had committed the murders at Prairie du Chien, as well as those guilty of the attack on the keel-boats. Meantime General Atkinson arrived at Galena on July 27th, and furnished the committee of safety at that place with 200 stand of arms, 700 cartridges, and 200 pounds of cannon powder. Two days later Atkinson and his command arrived at Fort Crawford.318

p113 Atkinson suspended further operations until he could inform Cass by express of his arrival at Prairie du Chien and receive a reply from the latter as to the outcome of the council at Butte des Morts. In the meantime Atkinson took measures to send needed supplies to Fort Snelling and to secure some light craft for the ascent of the Wisconsin. Accordingly Colonel Snelling was ordered back to Fort Snelling with the four companies of his regiment and a supply of flour for the upper post, and was directed to send down four other companies of his regiment under Major John Fowle with such light craft as could be obtained. Colonel Snelling arrived at his post on August 16th, and on the following day Major Fowle started down stream with his command in two keel-boats and nine Mackinaw boats, arriving at Fort Crawford on August 21st. Atkinson's messenger to Governor Cass had returned on the 19th with information from the latter that, although the treaty adjusting the boundaries between the tribes concerned had been concluded on August 11th, the difficulties with the Winnebago over the murders and the attack on the keel-boats had not been adjusted. Cass feared that an attack might yet be made on the inhabitants along the Galena River, and urged, therefore, the need of Atkinson's moving his troops to the Portage. Although the Winnebago had been parties to the treaty the United States had reserved the right to punish the perpetrators of the recent outrages and to demand from them promises of good conduct in the future. Atkinson called on the committee of safety at Galena to organize a company of mounted volunteers. Such a force was speedily enrolled under Henry Dodge and set out overland for the Portage. Atkinson left Fort Crawford on August 29th with his command in five keel-boats p114and ten Mackinaw boats and began the ascent of the Wisconsin River.319

As a part of the concerted movement against the Winnebago Major William Whistler set out with a detachment of regulars from Fort Howard, and ascended the Fox River to the Portage, accompanied by Colonel McKenney. This force arrived at the Portage during the afternoon of September 1st, and encamped on a high bluff overlooking the surrounding country. Before the troops had finished pitching camp seven Winnebago braves fully armed and equipped came along on their way to the Four Lakes. They were disarmed and retained much against their will. On the same afternoon an express arrived from General Atkinson directing Major Whistler to halt and fortify himself at the Portage, and there to await his arrival "as the capture of the enemy could be made with his additional force, with more ease and less sacrifice of life."320

On the day after the arrival of Major Whistler's command at the Portage three messengers came from the Winnebago camp at separate intervals, each in solemn ceremony assuring the white chief that by midafternoon of the next day the murderers would be surrendered, and begging the soldiers not to attack.

Toward noon of the following day a body of Indians, some mounted and some on foot, could be seen approaching the camp. Three flags were carried by them, two — the one in front and the one in the rear — were American, the one in the center was white. They carried no arms. Those who had committed the murders at Prairie du Chien in retaliation for wrongs committed upon their people by the whites were about to be sacrificed to prevent a road being "cut though their country with guns." As p115the Indians drew nearer the voice of Red Bird could be heard singing his death song.321

During the slow and solemn approach of the Indians the soldiers had been drawn up in line. On their left flank Indian allies who had accompanied the white troops were lying about carelessly on the ground, while on the right and slightly in advance were a band of musicians. The approaching Winnebago halted some paces in front of the soldiers and formed a semi-circle. In the center and slightly in advance of the others were the murderers. Red Bird, a magnificent specimen of his race, six feet tall, straight, and well proportioned, stood erect, a look of nobility on his face. He was dressed in a suit of elk or deer skin, white in color, and ornamented with fringe of the same material. Over his breast and back was a fold of scarlet cloth, and around his neck he wore a collar of blue wampum. Both shoulders were decorated with colored feathers, dyed horsehair, and porcupine quills. His war pipe, at least three feet long and brightly ornamented with dyed horsehair and the feathers and bills of birds, hung across his breast in a diagonal position. He had made no attempt to ornament his hair but wore it cut after the fashion of the white man. In one hand he held the white flag, in the other the calumet, or pipe of peace. In contrast to the noble appearance of Red Bird, who impressed Colonel McKenney as a prince "born to command, and worthy to be obeyed", the miserable WeKau looked "as if he had been born to be hanged. Meagre — cold — dirty in his person and dress — crooked in form — like the starved wolf, gaunt, hungry, and bloodthirsty" his entire appearance indicated a wary, cruel, and treacherous spirit. His hands, crooked and miserable looking, were the sort that could scalp an innocent babe.322

p116 Red Bird stood erect, and not a muscle moved — he seemed prepared to receive, as he supposed, the blow that would send him to the land of his fathers. He and WeKau were told to sit down. The band struck up a hymn. Everything was still. When the music ceased he took some kinnikinic and tobacco from his pouch, filled the bowl of his calumet, lighted it with his flint and steel, and smoked.

Then the head men of the Winnebago began their orations. They told how they had brought in the two murderers — the third had gone away. They hoped that their white brothers would accept some twenty horses in commutation for the lives of their two friends. They asked for kind treatment for the prisoners, and begged that they might not be put in irons. In conclusion they asked for a little tobacco and something to eat.

They were answered by a spokesman for the whites who told them they had done well thus to come in. By so doing they had turned away the guns of the white soldiers, and saved their people. They were admonished to warn their people not to kill the whites, but when they had grievances to go to their agent who would tell the Great Father about their complaints. They were told that their two friends would not be put in irons for the present, that they would be treated kindly, and tried by the same laws by which the Great Father's white children were tried.

Red Bird and WeKau then stood up. The former looked at Major Whistler and said "I am ready". Pausing a moment he add, "I do not wish to be put in irons. Let me be free. I have given away my life — it is gone — (stooping and taking some dust between his finger and thumb, and blowing it away) — like that". Then he p117added "I would not take it back". Having thus spoken he threw his hands behind his back and marched up to Major Whistler breast to breast. A platoon was wheeled backward from the center of the line as Major Whistler stepped aside, and the two prisoners marched through to a tent in the rear. Then the friends of the two captives left the ground by the way they had come taking along presents of flour and meat and tobacco.323

General Atkinson with his command and the mounted troops under Dodge, who had joined forces with the former on September 1st, reached the Portage on September 6th, three days after the surrender of Red Bird and WeKau. Two days later two other prisoners were delivered to Atkinson, and on the 9th he drew up articles of agreement with the Winnebago chiefs stipulating that the miners should be allowed to secure mineral unmolested in the country between the Galena River and the Wisconsin until the government appointed a commission to settle all conflicting claims to that region. The four captives were brought back to Prairie du Chien and put in prison. Later in the month two other Winnebago leaders implicated in the attack on the keel-boats were delivered to General Atkinson, and on September 22nd he issued a proclamation granting the Indians peace. Leaving Fort Crawford garrisoned by the four companies under Major Fowle with provisions for twelve months Atkinson returned to Jefferson Barracks, leaving the frontier as he thought in a "state of tranquility" which would "not be shortly interrupted."324

Although the Winnebago outbreak was thus speedily crushed the cause of the trouble had not been removed — aggressions of the whites in the lead mining region south of the Wisconsin continued, and Winnebago resentment p118flared up anew over the confinement of Red Bird and his companions. Major General Edmund P. Gaines, who visited Fort Crawford late in September, 1827, wrote that "the Indian prisoners confined at Fort Crawford appeared more miserable and despondent at the prospect of being in prison than of being hanged", and their friends were reported to be extremely impatient at their confinement. He urged either a speedy trial and execution of the captives or their liberation for he said, the "wound inflicted on their tribes by confining them will not be healed, but will probably grow deeper and deeper until they are tried and punished or liberated".325 Toward the end of the year Joseph M. Street, the new Indian agent at Prairie du Chien, reported to his friend, Governor Ninian Edwards of Illinois, that the Winnebago were greatly dissatisfied and likely to resist the execution of Red Bird if such should be his fate.326 Indeed, the imprisonment of the Winnebago was regarded by them as worse punishment than death. Red Bird soon sickened and died, while WeKau and another of his companions were finally brought to trial in September, 1828. They were found guilty and sentenced to be hanged, but before the sentence could be carried out both were pardoned by President Adams. The rest of the prisoners were discharged for lack of evidence of their actual participation in the outrages of the previous year.327

The Winnebago outbreak itself, if measured in terms of bloodshed was not of much significance in the annals of Indian affairs in the Upper Mississippi region, but the fact that it did not develop into a general Indian uprising was due to the bold course adopted by Governor Cass and by the prompt response both of regulars and volunteers. There is ample evidence that the Winnebago had p119persuaded the Pottawattamie to join them in an attempt to drive out the white intruders, but the quickly assembled military force was large enough to awe the Indians into submission.328 The outbreak, however, opened the eyes of the government to the fact that the garrisons at Fort Armstrong, Fort Snelling, and Fort Howard were inadequate to control the Indians in the vast extent of the country west of Lake Michigan and north of St. Louis. Accordingly it was determined to maintain the garrison at Fort Crawford, to regarrison Fort Dearborn, and to build a new post at the Wisconsin Portage in the heart of the Winnebago country. The garrison at this post could keep a watchful eye on the movements of the Indians and would serve as a connecting link between the garrisons on the Mississippi and those on Lake Michigan. In September, 1828, Major David E. Twiggs led three companies of troops from Green Bay to the Portage, and there began the erection of temporary quarters. To this new post was given the appropriate name of Fort Winnebago.329


The Author's Notes:

289 Durrie's The Early Outposts of Wisconsin, Annals of Prairie du Chien, p8; Niles' Weekly Register, Vol. XXX, p313.

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290 Post Returns, Fort Crawford, 1817‑1831, May, 1826, in the Adjutant General's Office, War Department, Washington, D. C.

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291 This description of Fort Crawford in August, 1826, is based on Inspection Reports, Vol. III (1825‑1828), pp73‑76, in the War Department, Washington, D. C. Photostat copies are in the library of the State Historical Society of Wisconsin at Madison.

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292 Inspection Reports, Vol. III (1825‑1828), pp73, 74, in the War Department, Washington, D. C.

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293 Inspection Reports, Vol. III (1825‑1828), pp73, 75, 76, in the War Department, Washington, D. C.

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294 Inspection Reports, Vol. III (1825‑1828), p76, in the War Department, Washington, D. C.

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295 Langham to Taliaferro, June 26, 1827. — Taliaferro Letters, Vol. I, No. 76; Post Returns, Fort Crawford, 1817‑1831, August, 1826, September, 1827, in the Adjutant General's Office, War Department, Washington, D. C. Companies of the Fifth Infantry at Fort Crawford in August were: A, Captain John Fowle; B, Captain Thomas Hamilton; G, Captain R. A. McCabe; H, Captain George Bender; I, Captain D. Wilcox.

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296 Wisconsin Historical Collections, Vol. II, pp153, 154. Abundant material on the Winnebago outbreak is found in James H. Lockwood's Early Times and Events in Wisconsin in the Wisconsin Historical Collections, Vol. II, pp156‑158; Thomas L. McKinney's The Winnebago War in the Wisconsin Historical Collections, Vol. V, pp178‑204; W. J. Snelling's Early Days at Prairie du Chien, and Winnebago Outbreak of 1827, in the same volume, pp143‑153, as well as in numerous short sketches in these volumes. Quaife's Chicago and the Old Northwest, pp310‑321, has an interesting account of the affair.

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297 Wisconsin Historical Collections, Vol. II, pp154, 155.

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298 Wisconsin Historical Collections, Vol. II, pp155, 156, Vol. V, pp126, 127, Vol. VIII, p253.

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299 Street to Edwards, Prairie du Chien, November, 1827, in the Wisconsin Historical Collections, Vol. XI, pp360, 361.

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300 Wisconsin Historical Collections, Vol. V, p201, Vol. IX, pp219‑228.

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301 Wisconsin Historical Collections, Vol. II, p161.

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302 Wisconsin Historical Collections, Vol. V, pp199, 200.

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303 Wisconsin Historical Collections, Vol. II, pp161, 162, Vol. V, p200, Vol. VIII, p255; Quaife's Chicago and the Old Northwest, p311.

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304 Wisconsin Historical Collections, Vol. II, pp160, 162.

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305 Neil's The History of Minnesota (Fourth Edition), p901; Wisconsin Historical Collections, Vol. V, pp144, 145, 147.

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306 Wisconsin Historical Collections, Vol. V, p148, Vol. VIII, p256.

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307 Wisconsin Historical Collections, Vol. V, pp149‑151, Vol. VIII, pp256, 257.

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308 Wisconsin Historical Collections, Vol. V, p152, Vol. VIII, pp257, 258.

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309 Wisconsin Historical Collections, Vol. II, pp163‑165.

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310 Wisconsin Historical Collections, Vol. II, pp165, 166. For the movement of troops to quell the Winnebago outbreak see State Papers, 20th Congress, 1st Session, Vol. I, Document No. I, pp150‑163.

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311 Wisconsin Historical Collections, Vol. II, p329.

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312 Quaife's Chicago and the Old Northwest, p312.

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313 For Cass's trip see Schoolcraft's Personal Memoirs of a Residence of Thirty Years with the Indian Tribes on the American Frontier, p266; Smith's Life and Times of Lewis Cass, pp93‑96; Wisconsin Historical Collections, Vol. II, pp166, 330, Vol. V, pp156, 157; Quaife's Chicago and the Old Northwest, pp312‑317.

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314 Wisconsin Historical Collections, Vol. II, pp166, 330.

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315 As to the rapidity of Cass's descent of the Mississippi see Young's Sketch of the Life and Public Services of General Lewis Cass, p96, and Smith's Life and Times of Lewis Cass, pp189, 190. For Atkinson's account of his part in the Winnebago affair see his report to Major General Edmund P. Gaines in State Papers, 20th Congress, 1st Session, Vol. I, Document No. 1, pp160‑163; Heitman's Historical Register and Dictionary of the United States Army, Vol. I, p174; Wisconsin Historical Collections, Vol. II, p414, Vol. V, pp155‑158, Vol. VII, p362.

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316 Quaife's Chicago and the Old Northwest, p313‑317.

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317 Wisconsin Historical Collections, Vol. V, p200.

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318 Wisconsin Historical Collections, Vol. II, p167, 330, 331, Vol. V, pp153, 154, 155; State Papers, 20th Congress, 1st Session, Vol. I, Document No. 1, p161.

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319 State Papers, 20th Congress, 1st Session, Vol. I, Document No. 1, pp159, 161, 162; Hansen's Old Fort Snelling, p34. For the treaty concluded at Butte des Morts on August 11, 1827, see United States Statutes at Large, Vol. VII (Indian Treaties, 1778‑1842), pp303‑305.

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320 Wisconsin Historical Collections, Vol. V, p178.

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321 Wisconsin Historical Collections, Vol. V, pp179, 180.

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322 Wisconsin Historical Collections, Vol. V, pp182, 183, 186.

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323 The foregoing account of the surrender of Red Bird and WeKau is based on the narrative of Colonel McKenney in the Wisconsin Historical Collections, Vol. V, pp183‑186. See also Quaife's Chicago and the Old Northwest, pp318, 319.

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324 State Papers, 20th Congress, 1st Session, Vol. I, Document No. 1, pp162, 163.

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325 American State Papers, Military Affairs, Vol. IV, p126.

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326 Street to Edwards, Prairie du Chien, December 28, 1827, in the Wisconsin Historical Collections, Vol. XI, pp366‑368.

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327 Wisconsin Historical Collections, Vol. VIII, pp264, 265, Vol. XI, pp366‑368.

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328 Quaife's Chicago and the Old Northwest, p320; Wisconsin Historical Collections, Vol. VIII, p264.

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329 Wisconsin Historical Collections, Vol. XIV, pp70, 71; Senate Documents, 20th Congress, 2nd Session, Vol. I, Document No. 1, pp17, 18, 26; Quaife's Chicago and the Old Northwest, pp320, 321. An interesting account of Fort Winnebago by Andrew Jackson Turner appears in the Wisconsin Historical Collections, Vol. XIV, pp65‑102. Kinzie's Wau‑Bun the Early Day in the Northwest affords charming pictures of life at Fort Winnebago in the early thirties.


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