Winnebago War of 1827

Chronology of Events


March 1826 - The Method family was murdered while gathering maple sugar on the Iowa side of the Mississippi River near Prairie du Chien. Six Winnebago Indians were given up and put in prison at Fort Crawford (at Prairie du Chien).

July 4, 1826 - Winnebago trial at Prairie du Chien for the murder of the Method family, 6 were arrested with 4 later released.

October 1826 - General Snelling at Fort Crawford had personal difficulties with some of the Indian traders and decided to leave them to shift for themselves. He moved his troops to Fort Snelling (now Minnesota). The two Winnebago warriors were also moved.

November 1826 - Important lead ore discoveries were made on Winnebago lands and some difficulty between the Winnebago and the white miners occurred. Indians were actively engaged in working their own mines and are jealous of intruders.

May 1827 - The Winnebago send for Sub-Indian Agent John Connelly stationed at Galena to come 20 miles to their lands, refusing to cross boundary line into Galena. Complained about the miners and threated to take revenge. Told Connelly he "see no more of them for a long time". At Fort Snelling the Sioux were running gauntlet of Chippewa.

June 26, 1827 - It is believed by the Sioux and Winnebagoes that the two Winnebago prisoners at Fort Snelling have been given up to the Chippewas and killed by them.

Red Bird and three other Winnebago killed two men and wounded and scalped a 12 month old child at the Gagnier house at Prairie du Chien.

June 27, 1827 - Red Bird et al arrived Prairie La Crosse and danced the Scalps and Red Bird said "there are my tropies, now you do the rest". They became maddened with anxiety, to follow an example so triumphant; when almost at the same time, two keel boats passed, and were, under that state of feeling, attacked by 35 to 40 warrors. 7 Indians were killed and 2 on boat killed.

Early July 1827 - Rock River band of Indians robbed and insulted travelers from Illinois to Fever River. At St. Louis a party robbed and fired upon a crossing. There was vandalism to miners huts. The Rock River Indians left their villages and hid their women and children going to Lake Koshkoning.

July 1, 1827 - Lt. Martin Thomas, superintendent of the Lead Mines, heard report while at Galena about the Prairie du Chien murders.

July 4, 1827 - Lt. Thomas reported that while on way to St. Louis he met the Keel Boats "General Ashby" and "O.H. Perry" at the mouth of the Fever River. The boats had been attacked 50 miles above Prairie du Chien by Indians. Two men were killed and 5 wounded on the Perry, the Ashby escaped unhurt. The Master of the Ashby thought it was a band of Winnebago living on the waters of Black River.

Lt. Thomas had trouble getting sufficient number of volunteers from Galena to occupy the vacate Fort Crawford at Prairie du Chien "from causes not necessary to enumerate". Was making arrangements to transport them when Lewis Cass, Governor of Michigan Territory, came and approved the plans. Cass was on his way to a council with the Winnebago.

July 5, 1827 - Governor Cass order Abner Field to assume command of Prairie du Chien confining efforts to defensive measures until Colonel Snelling or other U.S.Army officers arrive. He is to return when the danger is removed or when more efficient forces arrive there. Cass order Lt. Thomas to accompany Fieldís company to Prairie du Chien.

July 10, 1827 - Intelligence received from the Sioux that the Winnebago will attack Prairie du Chien and murder all Americans.

Colonel Snelling arrives at Prairie du Chien. Dismissess Fieldís company.

Governor Cass wrote to the Secretary of War: Messages were sent by the Winnebago to miners warning them to leave. A series of insults and aggressions such as mark the approach of Indian hostilities have been some time in progress. Travellers have been stopped, insulted, and plundered, houses have been entered, and inhabitants frightened.

Lt. Thomas arrived at Prairie du Chien with the volunteers

July 14, 1827 - General Henry Dodge (a lead miner) commanding a mounted party of 60 men left to range through the country on Rock River with the intention of visiting the small band at the Ford, the appearance of such a force will induce those Indians at the Ford to remain quiet.

July 15, 1827 - General Henry Atkinson leaves Jefferson Barracks at St. Louis with 500 men.

July 18, 1827 - General Atkinson arrived at Des Moines Rapids where he met Lt. Thomas Atkinson will discharge Fieldís Company when he reaches Fort Crawford (Prairie du Chien)

July 22, 1827 - The Galena Committee of Safety (William Henry, Chairman and James Craig, Secretary) wrote to General Atkinson: "sent expresses on lower roads to warn travelers, organized several companies to defend Galena and the most important points in the diggings, company of mounted party to act as patrols or scouts under the command of General Dodge, organized expedition to Prairie du Chien under Col. A. Field for relief of that place, building 4 blockhouses occujpying the most prominent points around Galena. There are also block houses to cover the principal points in the diggings.

July 23, 1827 - General Atkinson reached Fort Armstrong (Rock Island) with 310 men. Major Ketchum following him with another 225 men. Col. Snelling at Prairie du Chien with 200 men.

Governor Ninan Edwards of Illinois calls out Illinois Militia.

July 27, 1827 - General Atkinson arrived at Fever River (Galena). Furnished Committee of Safety with 200 stand of arms, 7000 cartridges, and 200 lbs cannon powder.

July 29, 1827 - General Atkinson arrived at Prairie du Chien. Colonel Snelling already there with 4 companies. Waits results of Gov. Cass council with Winnebago at Green Bay. Sends express to Gov. Cass. Took measures to provision Fort Snelling and Fort Crawford. Snelling took supplies back to Fort Snelling and will send back Major Fowle with light craft to transport General Atkinson up the Wisconsin River.

August 16, 1827 - Col. Snelling returns to Prairie du Chien.

August 19, 1827 - General Atkinson hears from Governor Cass that he has made no progress with Winnebago. Fears they may attack Fever River (Galena). After a 2 week council with Winnebago Governor Cass has no settlement. Had asked chiefs to meet at Prairie du Chien but they said not till the Green Bay council was over.

August 21, 1827 - Major Fowle arrives at Fort Crawford with 4 companies in 2 keel and 9 mackinaw boats.

August 26, 1827 - Carawane, an old chief and 3 other Winnebago arrive at Prairie du Chien from a village 18 leagues (51 miles) up the Wisconsin. Wanted to learn news of council. General Atkinson sent him back with instructions to send runners to the different bands for their chiefs to come without delay.

Lead mine companies are enrolled.

August 27, 1827 - General Atkinson plans to go to Portage (on Wisconsin River). Waiting for light draught steam boat which is expected hourly. If she doesnít come must go in keels and other light craft. "It will be difficult to penetrate the Indian country for want of transportation."

August 29, 1827 - General Atkinson starts up Wisconsin River with 13 companies, two six pounders in 5 keel and 10 mackinaw boats. Called General Henry Dodge for mounted volunteers.

September 1, 1827 - General Atkinson and General Dodge meet on Wisconsin River. Dodge has 130 Galena volunteers of mounted men.

Major Whistler arrived at Portage from Green Bay with 2 companies, a company of militia, and body of New York and Menominee Indians.

September 2, 1827 - General Atkinson arrives at English Prairie 80 miles from Prairie du Chien

September 4, 1827 - Red Bird surrenders and gives confession: The Sioux instigated Red Bird to strike. Believed that the troops left Prairie du Chien from fear and Pottawatomies became insolent after the Chicago fort closed.

September 6, 1827 - Atkinson and Dodge reach Portage.

September 8, 1827 - Atkinson meets Winnebago in council. They deliver up 2 more men. Now in custody are Red Bird, the Sun (Red Birdís son), and Red Birdís brother-in-law. Winnebago promise to deliver 2 more men from the Prairie la Crosse band.

September 9, 1827 - Agreement between Atkinson and the Winnebago: Commission shall be appointed to adjust claims and run a line of demarcation between the United States land and Winnebago next spring or summer. Until that time licensed miners shall procure mineral in district heretofore used for that purpose free from encroachment of interruption.

September 13, 1827 - General Arkinson returns to Prairie du Chien.

Sepember 21, 1827 - Last two Winnebago surrendered, a young chief and a noted brave.

September 22, 1827 - General Atkinson issues proclamation granting peace to the Winnebago. Leaves Major Fowle at Fort Crawford in command of 4 companies provisioned for 12 months.

Date unknown - Red Bird dies while in custody before the trial.

March 21, 1828 - Act of Congress, Stat at Large, U.S., vol. 4 p. 258, Sec. 3 authorized $40,000 to pay militia called out on the Indian distrubances of 1827.

September 13, 1828 - Report in Minersí Journal at Galena of the trial held at Prairie du Chien.

The Sun and L:ittle Boeuff guilty of the murder of Registre Gagnier

The Little Boeuff guilty for murder of Solomon Lipcap.

The Sun guilty for scalping Louisa Gagnier, an infant, with intent to kill

November 28, 1893 - The Acting Judge Advocate General of the Army gave the opinion to the Record and Pension Office of the War Department that the following companies were in the military service of the United States. Thus, they were eligible for pensions.

For additional reading:

"The Sword of the Republic, the United States Army on the Frontier, 1783-1846", by Francis Paul Prucha, The Macmillan Company, 1969, pages 163-167

"General Henry Atkinson" by Nichols, pp. 119-136.