Friday, September 6, 2019

Invading Illinois

Invading the Land of Lincoln

Thoroughly enjoyed my recent visit to Illinois -- the Land of Lincoln.  This state is a historical treasure trove waiting to be explored.  Springfield was Lincoln's home and is his final resting place.  Ulysses S. Grant was a storekeeper in Galena, Illinois.  Galena was, in fact, the home of no less than nine Union generals in the US Civil War.

First Division Museum
Cantigny Park, IL
Chicago is the home of "Da Bears," the Cubs and the White Sox.  But it also the home of one of the nation's most prestigious military history institution -- the Pritzker Museum and Library (  Just out of Chicago in Cantigny Park visitors can also find a splendid museum dedicated to the First Division (

In America Invaded ( we explored fighting that took place in Illinois from the first arrival of Europeans to the present.  Here is the Illinois chapter...

"Illinois was home to Cahokia and the spectacular civilization that flourished there long before the arrival of Europeans. When they finally did arrive, they found a land populated by a number of Algonquian-speaking

And it would be the French who would first bring European influences 
into the area. In 1673, French explorers Jacques Marquette and Louis Jolliet entered the region; and in 1675, Marquette established a mission near present-day Utica. By 1680, Robert de La Salle and Henri de Tonti were building Fort Crèvecoeur near what is now Peoria.

It wasn’t, however, just the French who were on the move.  The Iroquois had been battling for some time to control the lucrative fur trade created by European expansion. Their westward drive brought them into conflict with tribes in the Illinois region; and that same year, 1680, they destroyed the Great Village of the Illinois. In the winter of 1682–3, de La Salle built Fort Saint Louis du Rocher opposite the Great Village of the Illinois. It too was attacked by the Iroquois, and Henri de Tonti had to abandon the fort in 1691.

Fighting with the Iroquois went on in the region until the Great Peace of Montreal brought a respite from hostilities.

The early eighteenth century saw significant expansion of French influence in the area. In 1717, Illinois was removed from Canadian control and instead incorporated into the French province of Louisiana. Work began on building Fort Chartres in 1718, and in 1730, it became the capital of the French Illinois Country. In 1721, they built a fort at Kaskaskia.

But the expansion of French control would not occur without conflict. The French, for instance, clashed repeatedly with the Fox/Meskwaki. The Second Fox War saw a massacre in 1730 in east-central Illinois of Fox/Meskwaki by the French and their Native American allies.

The future of Illinois was not going to be French, however. Another European power was exerting increasing influence in the region. Yes, Britain. Under the 1763 peace deal that ended the French and Indian War, the
territory that is now the state of Illinois became British.
Pontiac led a rebellion
that spread to Illinois
However, as the British took control of the region, resistance to the new authorities broke out almost immediately, caused by changes in trade policies and the arrival of fresh settlers. The focus of Pontiac’s War (1763–1766) was to the east, but it delayed British control of Illinois and sucked in local tribes, including the Illinois. Pontiac himself was killed in or near Cahokia by a member of the Peoria tribe.

And another war was coming, one that would dramatically change the future of Illinois. Even territory this far west was to see major action during the War of Independence.

George Rogers Clark
For instance, in July 1778, George Rogers Clark, leading a column of Virginian troops, marched into Illinois—which had been left lightly defended by Britain—and seized a number of settlements, including Kaskaskia and Cahokia. Many of the local French welcomed the American arrival and swore an oath of allegiance to Virginia and the United States. But this was not to be the last fighting in the region during the War of Independence. In 1780, a combined force of British and Native Americans commanded by Emanuel Hesse attacked St. Louis and Cahokia, but failed to achieve very much. Some of the British attempted to escape along the Illinois River. A force consisting of American, French, and Spanish troops went after them, but got involved in attacking a Sauk and Fox/Meskwaki settlement. In 1781, a Spanish expedition passed through the area, en route to attacking Fort St. Joseph.

When peace came in 1783, what is now the state of Illinois was confirmed as being under American control.
In 1784, Virginia gave up its claim to Illinois; and in 1787, under the Northwest Ordinance, it became part of the Northwest Territory. Soon the process of opening up the area to American settlements began. In 1803, the
Kaskaskia gave up almost all their land in Illinois to the United States. More settlers arrived. In 1804, in a disputed agreement in St. Louis, the United States thought it had bought the lands of the Sauk and Meswkaki east of the Mississippi.
Jean Baptist Point du Sable
Founder of Chicago
In 1799, African-American pioneer Jean-Baptist-Point Du Sable founded the first settlement on the site of what is now Chicago. In 1803, the US Army established Fort Dearborn. And the young United States was already beginning to look far to the west of Illinois. In 1804, William Clark (brother of George Rogers Clark, who had taken Kaskaskia and Cahokia in 1778) and his troops departed from Camp Dubois to join up with Meriwether Lewis and head west.

Some might have thought that the process of establishing American domination of Illinois would from then on be a smooth one. If so, they would have been wrong.

Fort Dearborn
Early in the War of 1812, in August 1812, American troops were ordered to withdraw from Fort Dearborn in the belief it would be impossible to defend. During the ensuing Battle of Fort Dearborn, the American military withdrew, and military and civilians were attacked and captured by Potawatomis. In turn, American forces attacked Potawatomi and Kickapoo villages in the Peoria area; and in 1813, they built Fort Clark in Peoria. Other clashes occurred in what is now Illinois. For instance, in April 1813, American rangers were ambushed by Kickapoo warriors at the so-called Battle of Africa Point. Later in the war, in 1814, American troops suffered a defeat at the Battle of Rock Island Rapids on what is now Campbell Island.

The peace deal that ended the war, however, left the area under American control, and the following decades would see Native Americans squeezed out and even more settlers flowing in.

Already, for example, soon after the war, veterans settled in Illinois. In 1819, the year after Illinois became a state, most of the Kickapoo moved west of the Mississippi. In 1829, by an agreement at Prairie du Chien, Chippewa, Ottawa, and Potawatomi ceded territory in northern Illinois. However, some would resist the American government’s attempt to remove all Native Americans from Illinois. In the decades after the disputed St. Louis agreement of 1804, many Sauk and Meskwaki had moved west across the Mississippi, but not all were willing to stay there.

In 1830 and 1831, Black Hawk, a chief of the Sauk and Meskwaki who had fought alongside the British in the War of 1812, returned to his ancestral lands in Saukenuk, Illinois. He returned again in 1832, with hundreds of men, women, and children who formed what became known as the British Band, because of their habit of using the British flag to defy US sovereignty and to stress their British connections. Armed American militiamen met Black Hawk and his supporters, and when Black Hawk tried to negotiate a truce, fighting broke out. e result was a defeat for the American forces, known as the Battle of Stillman’s Run. What followed was a series of minor clashes and raids on settlers—some involving Black Hawk’s British Band, some involving other Native Americans who had been inspired by his actions—that stretched across large parts of Illinois and Wisconsin. e short war culminated in a massacre of Black Hawk’s followers in the Battle of Bad Axe River.

In 1833, an agreement at Chicago included provision for the ceding and settling of the last remaining Native American lands in Illinois.

In 1839, expelled Cherokee on the Trail of Tears trekked through southern Illinois.

Lincoln's Tomb
Springfield, IL
When the Civil War came, Illinois, a very important state in Abraham Lincoln’s life (he had even served as a captain in the Illinois militia in the war against Black Hawk), stayed with the Union, despite Confederate sympathies in some parts of southern Illinois, known as Little Egypt.

Ulysses S. Grant statue
Galena IL
The state played a major part in the successful Union river campaign. In 1861, Commodore John Rodgers, commanding the Union river flotilla, chose Cairo, located where the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers meet, as a major operations base. Confederate raiders did occasionally cross into Illinois. For instance, on August 19, 1864, a small number of Confederate raiders seized goods at Bay eld, near present-day Bay City. And in March 1864, the Charleston Riot saw Union troops clash with Copperheads (Democrats who opposed the war), and nine people died.
Herbert Haupt
That’s pretty much the end of combat in Illinois. Occasional violence would follow, like the Haymarket A air bombings of 1886; and during World War II, Herbert Haupt was arrested in Chicago for espionage. Haupt, born in Stettin in 1919 to German parents, had grown up in Chicago. In 1941, he left the United States on a world tour, winding up in Nazi Germany, where was recruited for a sabotage mission. A member of Operation Pastorius, he was dropped o by a German U-boat near Jacksonville, Florida, and made his way by train back to Chicago, where he was reunited with his parents. After being informed on by another German saboteur, he was arrested, tried, and executed in 1942 at the age of twenty-two.

Al Capone of Brooklyn, New York, “invaded” Chicago in the 1920s to lead the Chicago mob, but that is another story...."

If you enjoyed Invading Illinois you would also enjoy reading about the other 49 states in America Invaded (

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