Major Campbell’s Expedition

Major Campbell’s Expedition

When General Howard, commandant of the American forces in the west, learned of the return of the troops from Prairie du Chien, he immediately organized another expedition to be sent up the river to reinforce Fort Shelby. On July 4, 1814, the second expedition left Cap au Gris. It consisted of three fortified barges, or keel boats, each with a cabin and all having sails. There were thirty-three regular soldiers and sixty-five rangers (militia), some of the latter being Frenchmen from Cahokia. The expedition including the sutlers’ establishment, boatmen, and women and children, making one hundred and thirty-three persons. This expedition was commanded by Lieutenant (acting Brigade Major) John Campbell of the First Regulars (infantry), who with the regulars, contractors, sutlers, women and children, occupied one boat. The two other boats being occupied by the rangers and were commanded by Lieutenant Stephen Rector and Lieutenant Jonathan Riggs. The number of regulars in this expedition has been repeatedly given as forty-two; Major Campbell, however, reports that he had but thirty-three. On the thirteenth of the month, about eighty miles below the mouth of Rock River they met a party of Indians from Prairie du Chien. with a packet directed to Governor Clark. These Indians informed Campbell that everything was quiet, and that the garrison at the Prairie (Prairie du Chien) had been completed. The same day Lieutenant Rector, of the rangers found a canoe which had a considerable quantity of Indian property in it, and which had just been abandoned. On the 18th of July, about twenty miles below the mouth of Rock River, the expedition was met by a party of nine Indians in canoes, bearing a white flag, who informed Major Campbell that they had heard of the American’s approach and had come to conduct them to their own town, and to inform them that the Sacs and Foxes were friendly disposed. The Indians left the keel boats a few miles below the mouth of Rock River, at the mouth of which the boats were met by five other Indians in canoes, who informed the commander that the Indians at the village on Rock River, about a mile above its mouth, wished to hold a council with him. The keel boats proceeded up the river and landed on the Illinois shore opposite the lower end of the Island of Rock Island. In a short time, about one hundred and fifty warriors, besides women and children of the Sac and Fox nation appeared. Black Hawk was at the head of the party. He approached Major Campbell and asked if he had brought any presents for him from his father. Major Campbell told Black Hawk he had, provided he fulfilled the promises he had made his father in the spring, which was to go to war with the Peaus (Winnebagoes.) Black Hawk replied that he had made his father no such promises, and that his “father was drunk when he said so,” but that he was ready to go to war with the Peaus if the government would furnish him with the means. He further said: “The Mississippi is a broad and straight road and the people of the United States shall meet with no obstructions in traveling.” During the evening the Indians were very friendly, recognizing many old friends among the Frenchmen from Cahokia.

Early Settlements of Rock County 


Source: Historic Rock Island County, pub. Kramer & Company, Rock Island, Illinois, 1908

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