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Some Notes on the Black Hawk War

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Notchy Bob

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The Muzzleloading Forum has been up and running for a number of years now, and it sees a lot of traffic. Sometimes it's fun to just dive into the "back pages" of old posts and see what comes up. I found this short but interesting thread in the section labeled "The Plains": 1832 Black Hawk War Weapons

I dug into this a little more and discovered there were actually two Black Hawk Wars; one involving the Sac & Fox people versus frontier militiamen in April-August, 1832, in Illinois and Wisconsin, and the other in 1865-1872 in the Four Corners area, between native people of various tribes and white residents of Utah. This thread deals with the first, and best known of these conflicts.

Anyway, here is a little collection of artifacts from the first Black Hawk War, with a quote from Elijah Herring, who was a member of one of the militias:

Black Hawk War Relics.png


This was from McClure's Magazine, Vol. VI No.2 (January 1896). You can read the whole issue HERE

Elijah Herring lived to a ripe old age. Here is his obituary, from the Salem Republican, 28 January 1897:

Elijah Herring - Salem Republican 28 Jan 1897.jpg


I thought his comments about the flintlock firearms were interesting. The militiamen who had been recruited must have been pretty green, if they didn't have sense enough to protect their guns from the dampness, and it sounds as if the camp armorer had his hands full clearing guns that would not fire, due to damp powder. This would have been in 1832, and Mr. Herring seems proud of the fact that he had a better weapon. His must have been percussion, with a "Cramer" lock and double-set triggers. These innovations, according to him, "...had just been put on the market." I am pretty sure the gunsmith from whom he acquired his rifle, named "Cramer," would have been Phillip Creamer (1775-1845), who operated out of southern Illinois and St. Louis. Creamer was renowned for his skill, and there is a very elegant rifle in the collections of the Missouri Historical Society which Creamer made for William Clark. He also made plainer rifles for fur companies, government agencies, and the Indian trade. Here is an example:

Creamer-Bridger Rifle 2.1.jpg


... and a close-up of the same rifle, but from a different source:

Creamer-Bridger Rifle 2.2.jpg


Creamer also famously made a brace of pistols for Andrew Jackson, and he is known to have employed a teenaged apprentice named James Bridger, between 1817 and 1822.

Interesting stuff, to me.

Best regards,

Notchy Bob
 

tenngun

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You can watch a movie from the 1990s that won’t seem all that old, but bound to make you smile when you see the ‘primitive’ cell phones folks had.
Percussion caps took over so fast, and breech loaders also so fast, it’s funny to think of people who lived so close to flint lock times having to have flintlocks explained to them.
A man who worked on Americas First frigates could well be alive when steam powered ironclads were built.
How quickly a new world comes by.
Guys who grew up with flintlocks could have died with a 30-06 in his stable, and a 1911 on his hip
 

Jim Wag

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Good one BOB
I'm interested in the 2nd Blackhawk War
Do you have more?
Any reads about it?

Tenngun
I had the same thoughts about the rapid progression from flint, to percussion, to breechloaders.
Technology travelled fast in the 19th century!
Maybe thats why so many mysteries remain about the era we study.

Dang, I love these guns!

Jim in La Luz
😎
 

Notchy Bob

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Thanks for your comments and observations, gentlemen!

Jim, I remembered hearing that Abraham Lincoln was a veteran of the first Black Hawk War, and I read a book about modern-day Mesquakie ("Fox") people in Iowa just a few months ago, which included an overview of the Black Hawk War, so I had just a little prior knowledge of that conflict. I had also just recently read something about the awful Battle of the Bad Axe River, although I don't recall why. Anyway, I wanted to do some fact-checking after I found the thread that started all of this, and looked it up online yesterday only to discover, accidentally, that this second Black Hawk War, also named for a tribal leader in the Indian resistance, took place thirty some years later in the Four Corners area. Wikipedia has a good synopsis of it. I would put in a link but I'm using my wife's little touch-screen device and I don't know how to make it copy and paste.

Anyway, the western Black Hawk War involved primarily Mormons in Utah and one or two bands of Ute people. There was a misunderstanding about a land-use agreement, with one side evidently wanting more land than was agreed upon, and the other making off with some cattle as compensation. I need to look it up and try to learn more about it, but I understand, at this point, that there were numerous skirmishes with casualties on both sides over the course of several years. I was surprised to learn that Ute, Paiute, and Navajo people put their differences aside to form alliances against their common enemy. I believe most of the action was in Utah, but the fighting also spilled over into Arizona, Colorado, and New Mexico.

This second Black Hawk War took place at a time when printed media, such as Harper's Weekly, were in wide circulation. There must have been some coverage, and primary documentation is sure to exist. I just need to find it! I would like to learn more about it, as that part of the world has a strong appeal for me. However, I've probably said too much already... The 1865-1872 time period puts the Second Black Hawk War outside the scope of this forum, and Zonie is probably going to rap my knuckles with a ramrod.

Best regards,

Notchy Bob
 

Peter Stines

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Thanks for your comments and observations, gentlemen!

Jim, I remembered hearing that Abraham Lincoln was a veteran of the first Black Hawk War, and I read a book about modern-day Mesquakie ("Fox") people in Iowa just a few months ago, which included an overview of the Black Hawk War, so I had just a little prior knowledge of that conflict. I had also just recently read something about the awful Battle of the Bad Axe River, although I don't recall why. Anyway, I wanted to do some fact-checking after I found the thread that started all of this, and looked it up online yesterday only to discover, accidentally, that this second Black Hawk War, also named for a tribal leader in the Indian resistance, took place thirty some years later in the Four Corners area. Wikipedia has a good synopsis of it. I would put in a link but I'm using my wife's little touch-screen device and I don't know how to make it copy and paste.

Anyway, the western Black Hawk War involved primarily Mormons in Utah and one or two bands of Ute people. There was a misunderstanding about a land-use agreement, with one side evidently wanting more land than was agreed upon, and the other making off with some cattle as compensation. I need to look it up and try to learn more about it, but I understand, at this point, that there were numerous skirmishes with casualties on both sides over the course of several years. I was surprised to learn that Ute, Paiute, and Navajo people put their differences aside to form alliances against their common enemy. I believe most of the action was in Utah, but the fighting also spilled over into Arizona, Colorado, and New Mexico.

This second Black Hawk War took place at a time when printed media, such as Harper's Weekly, were in wide circulation. There must have been some coverage, and primary documentation is sure to exist. I just need to find it! I would like to learn more about it, as that part of the world has a strong appeal for me. However, I've probably said too much already... The 1865-1872 time period puts the Second Black Hawk War outside the scope of this forum, and Zonie is probably going to rap my knuckles with a ramrod.

Best regards,

Notchy Bob
Find the book THAT DISGRACEFUL AFFAIR. I can't recall the author and I'm feeling too lazy to look it up. Covers the 1832 Blackhawk War. Not kind when it comes to Lincoln's service. I read it last year. Not bad. Some think the author had a "Vietnam War" mentality when it to that book. I didn't see it that way. Still give it a look. I remember Sandburg's bio of Lincoln mentioned his service and had a map and a few anecdotes.
 

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