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 Black Hawk Black Hawk War Not Black Hawk, Lowden State Park Statue, often mistaken for Black Hawk

The Black Hawk War was one of numerous confrontations between pioneer settlers and the Native Americans.  This one took place in 1831-32 in northern Illinois and Wisconsin.  My ancestor, George Coppenbarger, as well as his brothers-in-law Elisha Butler, and William Hooper, took part in the action.  In the grand scheme of American history, not much attention seems to have been paid to this event.  So here is my contribution, an annotated list of all the information that I could gather across the web.  If you come across another link, or have a webpage that features a fellow veteran, please let me know.

Keep in mind, many people of the early 1800's were illiterate, and many surnames did not have a standard spelling.  You may need to search for a variety of spellings to find your ancestors.

Indicates my favorite sites

What was it?
Who was involved?
Where was it?
Listings of Soldiers

What was it?

Black Hawk and the Black Hawk War of 1832 A captivating, well-researched site on the entire war.  The articles are easy to read, and are accented with portraits and primary sources, a teacher's paradise!  It is one of the few sites to examine the natural and political atmosphere that set the stage for the conflict.

Lincoln/Net  The Abraham Lincoln Historical Digitization Project at Northern Illinois University has presented several searchable primary sources on the war.  Although inspired by Lincoln's involvement, the site gives a comprehensive coverage of the entire war, including some fantastic images.

Treaty of 1804  Included in an excerpt from the memoir of Juliette A. McGill Kinzie, wife of an Indian agent, the treaty preceded the war.  Also, Kinzie's book includes her impressions of the war itself.  Her description of the war begins in Chapter 32 and continues to Chapter 35.  This is a marvelous and exciting primary source.

Infoplease  A general encyclopedia article on the war.

On the Trail of Black Hawk  A full-length, scholarly but captivating article by Robert B. Smith, professor at the University of Oklahoma.

Moon Travel: Wisconsin Special Topics  A brief but vivid description of the events leading to, and following the war.

Governor Ford's Account of the Start of the Black Hawk War  From the online exhibits of the Illinois State Museum.

John McMurty's Journal  Aimed at students, this online exhibit of the Illinois State Museum is an interactive site with pictures and activities for all ages.  It concerns a pioneer family as the war begins.

History of Macon County, Illinois  From a Rootsweb site, this excerpt from an older history book details the war events in which the Macon County regiment was involved.

Illinois, The Story of the Prairie State  An excerpt from a 1917 book, this article includes several quotations and a description of Abraham Lincoln's participation.

Native Americans in the Kickapoo Valley  A brief description of the war's events in Wisconsin.

Black Hawk War on About.com  A simple, but authoritative description of the politics of the war.

The Black Hawk War: General Information A solid, student-created site with some interesting portraits and graphics.

Black Hawk's Surrender Speech, 1832 Located on the Mount Holyoke College website, this page shows the text of the speech but does not list the source.

Surrender Speech (1832) Black Hawk A documented version of the speech, including a bit of description of Black Hawk's defeat.

Where was it?

1829 Map of Illinois  From the collection of the University of Illinois, this marvelous image clearly shows the location of the Sauk and Fox people just prior to the war.

Lincoln in the Black Hawk War A map by Mapcraft shows the travels of Abraham Lincoln, and presumably other Illinois troops, through the war.

Black Hawk State Historic Site  Near Rock Island, Illinois.  This page describes both the history of the war and the modern-day park.

Apple River Fort  Near Elizabeth, Illinois.  Another page that  both describes the war and shows the recreation of the fort and park.

Pictures of Apple River Fort  Digital photos by Zelda of the fort.

History of the Rock River  Much of the history is really a description of the war's events along the Rock River in Illinois.  It also refers to the Lowden State Park statue (seen above) which is not Black Hawk.

Clayton County, Iowa  The Rootsweb site for Clayton County gives a brief description of Black Hawk's time in the area.

Blawk Hawk State Park  Near Lake View, Iowa.  While this site includes a brief description of the war, the park appears to have little to do with the actual events.

The History of Viroqua, Wisconsin  A romantic, unsubstantiated legend about a girl who may or may not have been the daughter of Black Hawk, and why the town was named for her after the war.  This one is just for curiosity, don't take it seriously.

Illinois State Historical Marker  A very brief description of a historical marker for a campsite of some of the troops.

American Forts:  Illinois  Very brief mention of Fort Johnson and Fort Wilborn

Madison, Wisconsin  A good description of the Wisconsin events of the war

Janesville, Wisconsin  A few lines about the founding of the town after the war

Quad-Cities Online  A quiz-format sampling about Black Hawk and his life. (The Quad Cities are Rock Island and Moline, Illinois in addition to Bettendorf and Davenport, Iowa.).  Another page on the site describes the Black Hawk Historical Site.  A third page shows a picture of the statue of Black Hawk (this statue is really him) and describes a bit of the park.

Lowden State Park, Illinois  Although not really a site of battle, the statue of an anonymous Native American, shown at the top of this page, has come to be associated (mistakenly) with Black Hawk.

Who was involved?

The Volunteer Mounted Militia of the Black Hawk War 1831 - 1832  A highly detailed site created by military reenactors, this focuses on the war from the perspective of the soldiers.  It includes many images and details of daily life for the militia.

Genealogy & Historical Indexes for Illinois  This site contains indexes to Illinois residents involved in the Revolutionary War, the Black Hawk War, the Mexican War, and the Donner Party.

Black Hawk War  A more comprehensive description of the 1831 war between the settlers of Illinois and the followers of Black Hawk.  It includes an explanation of the war and a listing of the militia members.

Wisconsin Stories: The Black Hawk War A companion for a PBS television series, this site is aimed at school use and features primary documents from Black Hawk, Henry Dodge, and General Atkinson.

What Blackhawk Did  A marvelous site featuring an excerpt from The Making of Iowa by Henry Sabin and Edwin L. Sabin, written in 1916.  The site features pictures.

Modern History Sourcebook: Chief Black Hawk Autobiography   A brief excerpt from Blackhawk's autobiography as dictated to a government interpreter. Part of Fordham University's site, the excerpt is well-documented.

MA-CA-TAI-ME-SHE-KIA-KIAK  A solid biography of Black Hawk

The Fate of Black Hawk  A short article from Military History magazine

Biography of Black Hawk  Written for middle school students, this is an easy intro.

White Cloud and Black Hawk  Another middle-school page, from Prophetstown, Illinois.  This is a comprehensive look at both the leaders of the war and the life of the Sauk and Fox people.

Hutchinson Encyclopedia  A brief, but well-linked biography of Black Hawk.  Another easy intro.

Life of Ma-ka-tai-me-she-kia-kiak or Black Hawk  Quick-loading images of a few pages from Black Hawk's autobiography.  Located at the University of Pennsylvania.

Black Hawk entry from Hodge's Handbook  Concise but comprehensive biography of Black Hawk,  including the war, from a 1910 publication of the Smithsonian Institution

McKenney & Hall  The most well-known image of Black Hawk.

National Portrait Gallery  A short biography that includes a different image of Black Hawk

Indian Country Wisconsin The same image as the National Portrait Gallery, but larger and in color.

Information on Chief Black Hawk A local history site based around the Mississippi River, this page provides some personal information on Black Hawk.

Augustana College  Another short biography of Black Hawk.  Some links on this page don't appear to be working.  I had better luck searching the site itself.

Fanny Nadeau  Another page from Augustana, this is an interesting interview with the daughter of a Sauk woman involved in the war.  The interview is from 1918.

Sauk and Fox History  A scholarly article from the First Nations website which includes a good-sized description of the war.

The Sauk and Fox Nation  A general history of the people which includes the war

Glacier Creek Middle School's "Black Hawk War" A fun and easy-to-read page created by students on the traditions of the Sauk & Fox and on the war itself.

Carlins in the Black Hawk War  A family genealogy website with a textual description of ancestors' involvement and a little bit about the war in general.

Black Hawk War Echoes  A newspaper article presented on a family genealogy site.  The story is told by a ninety year old woman recalling her husband's involvement in the war.

Abraham Lincoln  The official biography from the White House has a very brief mention that Lincoln was involved.

Encyclopedia Americana:  Abraham Lincoln  A more detailed biography of Lincoln

Dixon, Lincoln, and the Black Hawk Indian War  The most comprehensive description of Lincoln's participation, including a photo of the Dixon, IL statue depicting Lincoln in the war.

Zachary Taylor  Another president involved in the war.  This is just a short mention in Grolier's Encyclopedia.

Listings of Soldiers

Illinois State Archives Black Hawk War Database  From this gateway, you can search the first volume of Ellen M. Whitney's The Black Hawk War 1831-1832, a record that appears to be more accurate than the state's actual records.  The source information is in the possession of the Illinois State Historical Library.  An advantage to this site is that you can search by first name, if you can't find that pesky "alternate" spelling of your surname.
The State of Illinois "revamped" their website and eliminated the first name search.  Be sure to express your opinion to them if you miss this handy feature.

Rock Island County Rootsweb Site  A listing of soldiers from Rock Island County, Illinois, as well as a brief description of the war.

Pope County, Illinois Genweb Site  A listing of the Pope County soldiers.

Franklin County, Illinois Genweb Site  A listing of the Franklin County soldiers by company.

Hamilton County, Illinois Genweb Site  A textual listing of Hamilton County soldiers.

Military Records  Another listing of Hamilton County soldiers

Coles County Soldiers Serving in the Black Hawk War of 1832 Muster roll of Coles County, Illinois soldiers in the Second Brigade Illinois Mounted Volunteers.

Schuyler County, Illinois A textual listing of soldiers from Schuyler County, including a desciption of the call for volunteers.

Union County in the Black Hawk War A table listing of Union County, Illinois soldiers.

3rd Regiment, 3rd Brigade of Illinois Mounted Volunteers A table listing soldiers from Randolph and Jackson counties in Illinois.

History of Macon County, Illinois  In the middle of the war description is a listing of the soldiers enlisted in Macon County, including George Coppenbarger.

Did you know?

The state of Utah also had a "Black Hawk War" in 1865-68.  The Ute Black Hawk was a completely different person than the Black Hawk of Illinois.  The causes and conditions of the wars were very similar, however.  If you reached this page looking for the Utah conflict, try this instead.  Here's a second brief description of the Utah conflict.

Are you a teacher or a student?  Has this page been helpful for your classes?  Please let me know if it is or how it can be improved!

Got a question or comment?   Drop me a line!  or


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This page was last updated in July 2001.


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