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255. William Miller? (statement for William H. Herndon).

[September 1866?]

In the Spring of 1832 Soldiers Beng called for in the Black Hawk war a company was organized in what was then Sangamon County But out of which Menard is since formed and among the privates was Abraham Lincoln they went as far as Beardstown and for some Reason was Dismissed or not Recd a New call was then made and at Rushville Schuyler Co Ills a company was organzed and abraham Lincoln was Unanimously elected Captain without even presenting himself as a candidate for the office upon his Beng elected he in a very plain unassuming manner thanked the Company for the Confidence they had expressed in Electing him to Command and promised very plainly that he would do the Best he could to prove himself worthy of that confidence so expressed, after the organization of the Company it remained at Rushville one day and two Nights Company Attached itself to the Reg Commanded by Col Samuel Thompson from Rushville the Reg went by land entire to a fort in what is now warren County this fort was Distant about 45 Miles and was made out of Posts set in the ground and 8 feet above ground we there Remained one Night feeling perfectly secure in the fort with But few guards on duty and enemies close at hand from this fort We went to Henderson River in what is now Henderson County this River is a small Stream some 50 yds wide and Perhaps the water is 8 or 10 feet Deep to cross this River we cut Down trees and pack and fill in with Brush so as to make a Bridge to get over on our Baggage train was Drawn by cattle and Horses we took the waggons across by hand and the cattle and horses had to swim the stream we was one entire day and Night Building and filling in to Bridge so we could get over in getting down the steep Banks to the river the Horses was compelled to slide down


in so doing several was killed from this place we went to the Yellow Banks on the Mississippi River in what is now Henderson County we here remained one day and Night while at this place a considerable Body of Indians of the cherokee tribe came across the River from the Iowa side with the white flag Hoisted this was the first Indians we saw they was verry friendly and gave us a general war Dance we in return gave them a sucker Ho down all enjoyed the sport and It is safe to say no man enjoyed it better than Capt Lincoln from this point we went to dixons ferry on Rock River where the City of Dixon Now stands and Remained two days and Nights waiting for Provisions whitch was to come up the river to this point our supplies all came by water after two days waiting our supplies came and we drew a Bountiful supply of Beef and Beans with a small quantity of flour to mix with it. while we was here Stillman passed us refusing for some reason to Join the Main army after he left taking the Direction of Rock isand Proceeded about twenty Miles that night found himself cut off by the Indians and Attacked he failed to hold his handful of men about 75 in number they fled in all directions about 12 oclock that Night they commenced coming into our camp, and kept coming in all the remainder of that Night and Next day untill about twenty came in some on foot and some on horse back Leaving the killed and Missing about Sixty in number on the second day after the Battle the army under Gen Whitesides was camped on the Battle ground gathering up the Dead and wounded the dead was all scalped some with the heads cut off Many with their throats cut and otherwise Barbourously Mutilated of the wounded we founded few in number and they hid in the Brush as well as they could among the wounded Joseph Young and Jessy Dickey I Rember that was Badly wounded and Recovered after caring for the wounded and Burying the Dead the main army Struck for a Bend or outlet in Rock river where Black Hawks vessels called Perogues was said to be This was thought to be a dangerous undertaking as we knew Indians was plenty and close at hand To provide as well as might be against danger one man was started at a time in the direction of the point when he would get a certain distance Keeping in sight a second would Start and so on until a String of men extending five miles from the main army was made each to Look out for Indians and give the sign to Right Left or front by hanging a hat on the Bayonet erect for the front and Right or Left for enemies as the case might be. to raise men to go ahead was with difficulty done and some tried hard to Drop Back But we got through safe and found the place deserted leaving plenty of Indian sign a Dead Dog and several Scalps taken in Stillmans Defeat as we supposed they Beng fresh taken finding no enemy to fight we returned to the Battle ground and remained one day & night and Started for Rock Island and then Joined the main army under Gen Atkins here we Drew Rations again from this point we was sent to the Mouth of Fox River at this place our time was up and we was Discharged from service after going to Peru and getting supplies for our men and horses which came up the River by Boat in Charge of Thomas Wilbourn of Beardstown During


this short Indian campaign we had some hard times often hungry but we had a great deal of Sport Especially of Nights foot Racing some horse Racing Jumping telling anecdotes in which Lincoln Beat all Keeping up a constant Laughter and good humor among the soldiers some card playing and wrestling in which Lincoln took a prominent part I think it safe to say he was never thrown in a wrestle While in the army he Kept a handkerchif tied round him very near all the time for wrestling purposes and Loved the sport as well as any man could he was seldom ever Beat Jumping during the campaign Lincoln himself was always ready for any emergency he endured hardships Like a good Soldier he never complained nor did he fear Danger when fighting was expected or danger apprehended Lincoln was first to say less go he had the Confidence of every man in his company and they Strictly obeyed his orders at a word. his company was all young men and full of Sport while at Dixon some Six or Eight friendly Indians with white flags hoisted came to us from Paw Paw Grove and urged protection against other Indians some of our men suspected them for Spies and they had to be put under guard to Keep the soldiers from Killing them whtch was with some difficulty done and at their urgent request guards was sent to protect them clear to Chicago they was Doubtless what they Professed to be friendly disposed. in all this campaign clear through from Rushville to the Mouth of Fox River, we had with us two to us Rather Strange characters James Wilson & Thomas Bristo from Morgan County they was old man full Sixty or Sixty five years old they went on their own hook furnished their own Blankets and guns and would have no pay they marched with Capt Smiths Company of Morgan County Both Intelligent men every night they would go outside of our lines to camp and our officers for their safety had to go out and Bring them inside the lines they could not be Induced to Join a company or have any pay they would Draw Rations with our men and they was as anxious for a fight as any men I ever saw and they was grit Bristo Died about 1846 and wilson about 1851 Both Died at Arcada in Cass Co Ills while on our march from Dixon to Fox River one night while in camp whitch was formed in a Square enclosing about 40 Acres our horses outside grazing about Nine Oclock got Scared and a general stampede took place they Ran Right through our lines in Spite of us and ran over many of us no Man Knows what noise a thousand horses Make running unless he had Been there it beats a young earthquake especially among Scared men and certain they was then we expected the Indians to be on us that Night fire was threw Drums Beat fifes played whitch added additional fright to the horses we saw no real enemy that night A Line of Battle was formed there was no eyes for sleep that night we stood to our post in line and what frightened the horses is yet unknown But certain many of them we never saw though we spent two days in hunting them our time of service was about forty days from the time we rendezvoused at Rushville to the Return I neglected in the proper place another Singular and odd Soldier in the army Uriah Wolverton, about 45 years old from Sangamon County that took it a foot and kept up with the army on horseback he Like Wilson & Bristo went on his own hook and would not Join the army or have


pay for his services he was an old Bachelor and by the way a good soldier and a clever man generally if there was no wimen about while at camp one night in warren County a white hog a young sow came into our lines which showed more good sense to my mind than any hog I ever saw This hog swam creeks and rivers and went with the us clear through to I think the Mouth of Fox River and there the Boys killed it or it would Doubtless have come home with us If it got Behind in Day light as we was marching whitch it did sometimes It would follow on the track and come to us at night It was naturally the cleverest friendly Disposed hog any man ever saw and its untimely Death was by many of us greatly Deplored for we all Liked the hog for its friendly Disposition and good manners for it never Molested any thing and Kept In its proper place

this is all

Library of Congress: Herndon-Weik Collection. Manuscript Division. Library of Congress. Washington, D.C. 3928 — 34; Huntington Library: LN 2408, 1:448 — 55



1. WHH has written Menard Co. and B. F. Irwin in the top margin. The document is in Irwin's hand, but Irwin himself was only ten years old in 1832 and could not have given this firsthand account. It may represent the results of an interview with William Miller, whom he names in his letter to WHH of December 22, 1866, as an informant about Lincoln in the Black Hawk War. Unlike Robert Plunkett, Irwin's other Black Hawk War informant, Miller did not serve in AL's company, and while the interview suggests close observation of AL at several points, other details suggest less familiarity with the activities of AL's company.

2. Maj. Isaiah Stillman, the officer in charge at the debacle described in what follows.