Gateway to the Classics: Chief Black Hawk by Frank Lee beals
Chief Black Hawk by  Frank Lee beals


White Girls in Camp

T HE Governor of Illinois sent out a third call for volunteers. More men enlisted and were ordered to fight Black Hawk.

The Potawatomi, Winnebago, and Ottawa Indian tribes scattered far and wide. They attacked the white settlers whenever and wherever they could. They killed men, women, and children. And all the attacks were blamed on Black Hawk and his braves.

Many Indians believed that Black Hawk could not defeat the soldiers. "Let us join the soldiers. We can serve as scouts and spies," they said.

Shabbona went to the commanding officer of one of the camps. "I am Shabbona," he said, "some of my braves fight white people. I help you. My loyal braves fight with me."

This action by Shabbona was reported to Black Hawk by his scouts. Black Hawk called his braves to him. He said, "Shabbona and his warriors are with the soldiers. Go, but do not go too near their camp. Call to him: 'Shabbona, Black Hawk's squaws are waiting to fight your braves.' "

The Sauk braves laughed with Black Hawk. They left at once. "This is a good joke on Shabbona," said one of the braves. When they neared the camp of the white soldiers the braves found a hiding place. They called in loud voices, "Shabbona, send your braves! Black Hawk's squaws are waiting to fight them!"

"Black Hawk playing fine joke," Shabbona said. "Not funny joke!"

But Black Hawk could not continue to annoy Shabbona. "There are too many soldiers here," he said to his chiefs. "We must leave. When we cross the Great River we will be safe. My warriors are brave, but there are not enough of them to fight the soldiers."

The Sauks retreated a few miles every day. They could not make a quick flight to the Mississippi. "We must protect our people," said Black Hawk to his braves. "The old and crippled and the young children cannot travel fast. Keep close to them and protect them."

Late one night Black Hawk and Red Eagle walked about the quiet camp. The braves, squaws, and children had all gone to their teepees. Only the Indian guards were up and about the camp.

"Black Hawk," called one of the guards running toward the chiefs, "three of your scouts have just returned. They have two white squaws with them."

"Bring them to me at once!" commanded Black Hawk.

In a few minutes the three scouts stood before their chief. One of them was Red Eagle's son. With the scouts were Sylvia and Rachel Hall.

"Where did you get the white squaws?" demanded Black Hawk.

"When you left Shabbona's village a few weeks ago," answered Red Eagle's son, "we joined some of the Potawatomi Indians. They were raiding the white settlers."

"If you killed any white women and children, you are not a Sauk," said Red Eagle to his son.

"We did not kill any white people. We were with the Potawatomis at Indian Creek. They killed some of the people," answered his son. "They took these two squaws prisoners. They were about to kill them. We saved their lives."

"You should not have brought them to our camp," said Black Hawk. "The white people will blame us. We must send them back to their own people at once. My squaw will take care of them while they are in our camp."

Black Hawk motioned to the two girls. They followed him to his teepee.

"Singing Bird," he said as he entered, "white squaws! My scouts brought them here. You will take care of them," said Black Hawk.

"Yes! Yes!" she answered. She held out her hands to the girls and smiled. Sylvia and Rachel rushed to her.

Black Hawk sent a runner to the nearest Winnebago village. The Winnebagos were friendly to Black Hawk but they were also friendly to the white people.

"Tell them they must take the white squaws back to their own people," said Black Hawk to the runners. "I cannot let any of my braves take the white squaws back to their people. My braves would be killed."

The runners returned in a few days. Four Winnebago braves came with them.

"Do not let these strange Indians take us," cried Sylvia. She ran to Singing Bird.

"They are going to take you back to your people," said Singing Bird patting Sylvia's head. "No! No! They will kill us," she cried.

Red Eagle's son hurried to Singing Bird. "Let them stay with us. I like the palefaces. I will look after them."

"No," she answered. "They cannot stay."

"Let us stay with you," pleaded Rachel. "We are not afraid of your people. You are kind to us."

"I am trying to help you," said Black Hawk as he joined them. "My followers and I are trying to escape from the white soldiers. We have to go on. These Indians," he pointed to the waiting Winnebago braves, "are friends of the white people. They will take you back to your friends."

"Let us stay with you," pleaded the girls.

"You cannot—you must go."

"If they cannot stay, let me cut a lock of hair from this squaw's head," said Red Eagle's son looking at Rachel.

A short time later Sylvia, Rachel, and the Winnebago braves left Black Hawk's camp. They rode on horseback until they came to the Winnebago village. From there they returned to their own people.

As soon as Sylvia and Rachel Hall left the village Black Hawk sent for Red Eagle.

"We cannot stay here," said Black Hawk. "I must get my people to safety. Then we can live in peace. Neapope and twenty braves will remain in the rear. They will watch for the white soldiers."

In the early morning Black Hawk and his people left their camp. He and Red Eagle marched in front of the long line of fleeing people.

These were sad and unhappy days for Black Hawk. His people were starving.

"I have learned many things the past few months," said Black Hawk. "The white men are brave. They, too, are fighting to protect their women and children."

"Are you taking the white man's part?" questioned Red Eagle.

"No," Black Hawk answered. "They are my enemies, but I cannot lie about them."

"Black Hawk, we have been friends for many years. We were boys together. Now we are old. All these years I have followed you. Do you know why?"

"Because we both are Sauks?"

"No! Because you have always been a great chief. You are without fear. You are honest and you are kind."

"I am a patriot, Red Eagle. I fought only to protect my people. If I can save them now I will not fight again."

"You have not failed in your trust," said Red Eagle quietly.

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