The year 1814 was prolific with horrible deeds of savage butcher. The Indians were incited by British agents and were active all along the line of the advancing frontier. Illinois with her large line of explored settlements suffered severely. We will mention only a few of the most aggravated of their outrages. Compiled from Reynolds Times, and Stuve’s History of Illinois.
In July, Mrs. REAGAN, living in the Wood River settlement six miles east of the present city of Alton, with her six children, were murdered by the Indians, who were pursued by Capt. Samuel WHITESIDE and his company of rangers, to the Sangamon river, where all escaped except the leader, who was shot out of a tree top by Capt. WHITESIDE, with the scalp of Mrs. REAGAN fastened to his belt.
In August, Capt. SHORT’S rangers, who were encamped at the Lively cabins in Washington county, discovered the trail of 7 Indians with 14 stolen horses. Capt. SHORT with 30 men followed them overtaking them on a fork of the little Wabash, near the east line of Fayette county, and killed them all. The whites lost but one man, William O’NEAL, who was killed by an adversary quicker than himself.
The military expeditions in which Illinois participated in this year were by water on the Mississippi. The first was that of Governor CLARK (in the absence of General HOWARD) which left St. Louis on the 1st of May, composed of 200 men, in five barges destined for Prairie de Chien.
DICKSON, a British agent, had recruited at that place a short time previously, a force of 300 Indians for the British army, which he had conducted to Canada, leaving a small garrison of "Macinoc Fencibles" under the command of a British officer to had the post until his return. These Governor CLARK had no difficulty in putting to flight, and quartering his troops in the house of the Mackaw Fur Company, erected a fort which he called Ft. Shelby, and returned in June to St. Louis. But in July a large force of British and Indians under Col. MACKEY, coming by water from Mackinaw, via Green Bay, and the Wisconsin river, after a short siege captured the entire garrison, which they paroled, thus leaving the British the gainers of all the material advantages of the expedition.
General HOWARD having returned to his post in St. Louis in the meantime, and believing it desirable to strengthen the fort at Prairie du Chien, to this end sent 108 men in charge of Lieutenant CAMPBELL of the regular army, in three keel boats up the river as reinforcements. Of this force, 66 men were Illinois rangers under the command of Capt. Stephen RECTOR and Capt. RIGGS, who occupied two of the boats. The remainder of the force with Campbell occupied the other boat. The passed as far as Rock Island, where they laid up for a night without molestation. At the rapids great numbers of the Sac and Fox Indians visited the boats with professions of friendship, yet gave hints to some of the French boatmen, who accompanied the expedition, that all was not right. Lieut. CAMPBELL, however, disregarded these hints, and allowed his force to become scattered, when a gale blew his boat which was two miles in the rear, over towards the Illinois shore to a small island, when it was attacked by a large force of the Indians from the shore, under the command of Black Hawk.
The strong gale prevented the return of the boats, which had gone ahead, and the force on CAMPBELL’S boat had been mostly killed and wounded. When RECTOR, throwing overboard all provisions, with a gallantry deserving of commemoration, came to the rescue of the imperiled men and rescued the survivors, and removed the dying and all to their vessel, leaving CAMPBELL’S barge to the enemy, the contents of which furnished them material for a feast as unusual as it was enjoyable.
RIGGS’ boat was for a time surrounded by the enemy, but toward evening the wind having become somewhat allayed, the boat, under cover of the approaching darkness, and the crew made good their escape without the loss of a single man.
After the two foregoing disasters, still another expedition was projected this season for the Upper Mississippi. This latter was fitted up at Cape au Gris, and old French hamlet on the bank of the Mississippi, a few miles above the mouth of the Illinois. It consisted of 334 men (forty of whom were regulars) in command of Major Zachary TAYLOR. Nelson RECTOR and Samuel WHITESIDES and Captain HEMPSTEAD being in command of a boat. Their principal instruction was to penetrate well up in the Indian country and returning to destroy the corn growing within reach on both banks of the river down to Rock Island, where they intended to establish a fort and leave a permanent garrison.
The expedition passed up as far as Rock Island unmolested, although the country swarmed with the enemy who were aided by the English, who were then in command, with a detachment of regulars and artillery. On the 23rd of August, 1814, the boats were attacked by the combined force of the Indians and English, and turning about began to descend the rapids, fighting with great gallantry, the enemy pouring in a hot fire into their flanks from both sides of the river. A little way above the mouth of the Rock river, near some willow islands, Major TAYLOR anchored his fleet out in the river out of reach of the rifles, but during the night the English planted a battery of six pieces of artillery at the water’s edge and landed a considerable force of red skins on the island, to supplement the attack they expected to make. But early in the morning Major TAYLOR, with all his force except 20 men left in charge of the boats, with great gallantry charged on the savages and drove them with considerable loss from the upper island to the lower one. The fire of the artillery had become to be a serious matter with the boats and they dropped out of range down the stream. After an ineffectual, though partially successful attempt on the part of Capt. RECTOR to clear the other island of savages, the expedition, with a total loss of 11 men wounded—of whom 3 afterwards died—continued its retreat down the river. On the site of the present town of Warsaw, in Hancock county, they erected a fort, which consisted of a rough stockade, and blockhouse of unhewn logs, which they named for Governor EDWARDS. This fort, like Ft. Madison on the opposite bank of the river a little higher up was a few weeks after (in October) considered untenable—the troops being out of provisions—and was evacuated and burnt, and the expedition continued its retreat to Cape au Gris.
Thus ended the third and last of these Ill-fated expeditions, like its predecessors, in defeat and disaster. The rangers and volunteers were discharged October 18, 1814.
With the approach of winter the Indian depredations became fewer and finally ceased altogether with the peace of Ghent, which closed the war December 24, 1814.
We subjoin a muster roll of a company of mounted rangers, called into service in September, 1814, and which is remarkable as the last body of men enlisted in this State for the war of 1812.
Muster roll of Captain Daniel BOULTINGHOUSE’S company of mounted volunteers, called into service of the United States by order of his Excellency, Governor EDWARDS, Commander-in-Chief of the Illinois militia, to repel the invasions of the hostile Indians. From Sept. 8, to Dec. 8, 1814, inclusive.
|First Lieutenant||GRAVES, John|
|Second Lieutenant||TAVERY, Robert|
|Third Lieutenant||MORRIS, John|
|CATES, Robert D.|
|OULTINGHOUSE, James B|