Illinois Bicentennial Rock Island Area Site of Revolutionary War and War of 1812 Battles

Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), July 18, 2018 | Go to article overview

Illinois Bicentennial Rock Island Area Site of Revolutionary War and War of 1812 Battles


Byline: Roger Ruthhart

Editor's note: The weekly Illinois Bicentennial series is brought to you by the Illinois Associated Press Media Editors and Illinois Press Association. More than 20 newspapers are creating stories about the state's history, places and key moments in advance of the Bicentennial on Dec. 3, 2018. Stories published up to this date can be found at 200illinois.com.

The Quad-Cities region has provided a footnote to history for virtually every war fought on American soil, including the Battle of Campbell's Island -- the western-most battle of the War of 1812.

According to the records of Indian historian John Hauberg, as the French and Indian War ended, the last of the French soldiers of the northwest spent the winter of 1760-61 near present-day Rock Island, ice bound, on their retreat from Michilimacinac to Fort Chartress, Ill., following the British conquest of Canada.

All Indian villages in the upper Mississippi and Great Lakes were canvassed by British agents to enlist Indians for fighting in the frontier during the Revolutionary War.

The Americans, even before General George Rogers Clark conquered the Illinois country in July 1778, had agents who had succeeded in keeping the Sauk and Meskwaki from joining the British ranks. With the arrival of Gen. Clark, messengers were sent to all of the tribes inviting them to come to Kahokia to join in treaties of peace.

According to the writings of Hauberg, the Sauk held to the middle ground u trading with the British but also with the Spanish at St. Louis and with the Americans in Illinois.

In 1780 the British hatched a plan to retake the entire Mississippi Valley. Representatives of all tribes were forced to serve. The first attack was at St. Louis, but according to some accounts the Sauk and Meskwaki held back. Other Indians, fearing a rear attack from them, held back too and the grand scheme of conquest failed.

American Gen. Clark wanted to punish those who had aided the British. In 1780, Lt. Col. John Montgomery and 350 men came up the Illinois River to Peoria, then to the Sauk village of Saukenuk u the modern day site of Rock Island u on the Rock River.

One report said 700 Sauk warriors withdrew without resistance and watched as the Americans burned their village. According to reports by Hauberg, the Sauk, who had been America's friend, had been mistaken for the enemy. While history is uncertain on this point, this may have been the western-most battle of the Revolutionary War.

In July 1814, during the war with Britain, an expedition led by Lt. John Campbell was heading north in five keel boats to reinforce and resupply the U. …

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