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


Stillman's Run

L ATE in the morning the Potawatomi chiefs rode into camp. Their braves followed in single file. Black Hawk greeted the chiefs kindly.

"I asked you to meet me," said Black Hawk.

"We cannot help you," broke in a Potawatomi chief.

Black Hawk raised his hand. "I have made other plans," he said. "We are going back to our new lands on the other side of the Mississippi. We will make peace with the white man."

"It is best to return, and in peace," answered the Potawatomi chief.

Black Hawk nodded his head but did not speak.

Late in the afternoon a Sauk scout raced into camp. "Black Hawk!" he called. "The white soldiers! The white soldiers!"

The scout reined in his pony. He dismounted and ran to Black Hawk.

"How many soldiers?" asked Black Hawk.

"Many, many soldiers," answered the scout.

"They are in camp about eight miles from here."

"Find Nasomsee and Loud Thunder," he commanded. "Bring them to my teepee."

The scout left to carry out Black Hawk's order. In a few minutes Nasomsee, Loud Thunder, and the scout hurried to Black Hawk's teepee. The braves followed them.

Black Hawk pushed back the flap of his teepee. In one hand he held a long pole. Fastened to the pole was a large square of white cloth. He handed the pole to Nasornsee.

"This is our flag of truce," Black Hawk said. "Take it to the white war chief. Carry it high so that all may see. Tell the white war chief that as war chief of my people I ask for peace."

The three flag-bearers rode out of camp. The white flag fluttered in the breeze. Black Hawk and the braves watched them.

"Five braves follow them," Black Hawk ordered. "See how they are treated by the white soldiers. Report to me as soon as you return!

"Red Eagle," he called. "Ride out and call in the braves who left for a hunt this morning."

The Potawatomi Indians hurriedly left camp. Black Hawk waited for word from the white war chief. In the west the sun was going down.

Suddenly a Sauk brave dashed into the quiet camp. "The white soldiers fired at our flag of truce!" he shouted.

For a minute Black Hawk could not speak. "They could not have fired at our flag of truce," he cried at last.

"They did fire at our white flag," the brave replied. "But the flag-bearers did not turn back. They rode on toward the soldiers' camp. Then some of the soldiers saw us and started after us. We tried to escape. They killed two of your braves."

"Warriors!" shouted Black Hawk, "the white soldiers fired at our flag of truce. Two of our braves have been killed. We will avenge their death."

Only fifty braves were in camp but they rushed for their guns and bows and arrows. In a few minutes Black Hawk and his braves marched out to meet Major Stillman's soldiers.

"Make for the trees over there," called Black Hawk. "The soldiers will come that way."

The soldiers were coming. The sound of their galloping horses came nearer and nearer.

"Do not attack until I give the signal," warned Black Hawk. "When I give the signal, rush the enemy."

Closer and closer came the soldiers. Black Hawk waited. Just as the soldiers reached the trees Black Hawk gave the Sauk war whoop. The braves sprang to their feet. They rushed toward the soldiers.

The soldiers, taken completely by surprise, stopped. They turned their horses about. Without firing a shot they raced back to their camp. Black Hawk and his braves followed them firing their guns and arrows as they ran. But the soldiers were soon out of sight.

The first retreating soldier raced into camp. He cried, "Black Hawk and a thousand Indians are on their way. Run to save your lives!"

Major Stillman called to the men, "Get your guns, the Indians are coming."

The soldiers did not obey. They ran for their horses. In spite of orders from the commanding officer, they fled from camp.

Panic followed. Major Stillman tried many times to control the soldiers. He could not. They rushed past him.

One of the fleeing soldiers stopped in front of the three flag-bearers. "This is your fault," he cried. "Take this!" He fired at one of the braves. The young Sauk brave fell dead at the feet of Loud Thunder and Nasomsee.


Black Hawk and his braves marched into Major Stillman's deserted camp. In the moonlight stood the flag-bearers with the dead brave at their feet.

"My sons!" called Black Hawk. "Are you all right?"

"We are not harmed," answered Nasomsee. "But a soldier killed your trusted scout."

"Bury him with Sauk honors," said Black Hawk quietly. "Then join the other braves."

"Search the camp," Black Hawk ordered. "Gather all the supplies you find. We will spend the night here. The soldiers will not return."

The supplies were piled high in the center of the camp. The braves found many guns and a big supply of ammunition. They found food and clothing. The Sauks needed all the supplies.

A Sauk signal came from the darkness. Black Hawk gave the return signal. Ten braves came into camp. With them were two white soldiers. The white men were tied as prisoners. One of the white soldiers was Kilbourn.

"Osaukee!" said Black Hawk to himself. "My white son!"

Black Hawk called to a young brave. "Take the prisoners," he commanded. "Tie them to a tree. Guard them, but do not harm them."

Black Hawk watched Kilbourn walk away. "I had hoped," he said to himself, "to find Osaukee some day and to thank him for helping Loud Thunder bring Nasomsee back to our village when Nasomsee had been shot by the Iowa brave. But I did not think that when I found Osaukee he would be fighting my people."

1. Describe the life of the Sauks in their new village.

2. Why did Black Hawk go to Canada?

3. Who was Joe Smart and why was he in Keokuk's village?

4. What warning did Nasomsee bring to his father?

5. How did Neapope and White Cloud explain their lies?

6. What is a flag of truce?

7. What happened to the Sauk flag-bearers?

8. What was "Stillman's Run?"

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