Marker 33: Battle of Bad Axe

© Photographed July 24, 2013 and April 7, 2017
Erected 1955 by Wisconsin Historical Society
De Soto, Vernon County, Wisconsin
43° 27.415′ N, 91° 12.812′ W
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After holding off his pursuers at the Battle of Wisconsin Heights (about 1½ miles south of present Sauk City) Black Hawk led his people over unfamiliar country toward the Mississippi. In the meantime, the Army alerted Fort Crawford at Prairie du Chien. When the Indians reached the Mississippi, they found an armed steamboat blocking escape. The Battle of Bad Axe fought near here August 1-2, 1832 ended the Black Hawk War. Driven into the water by their pursuers, the Indians – warriors, old people, women and children – were shot down or drowned as they tried to escape. Black Hawk succeeded in getting away, but was soon taken prisoner. Later, when asked about his ill-fated venture, he said simply: "Rock River was a beautiful country; I loved my towns, my cornfields, and the home of my people. I fought for it."
The marker is located on northbound Great River Road / Highway 35, just south of Battle Hollow Road, near De Soto, Wisconsin 54624.

Tragic and disturbing. I had no idea, until I reached this marker, how the Black Hawk War ended. "Rock River was a beautiful country, I loved my towns, my cornfields, and the home of my people. I fought for it." Black Hawk -- haunting, devastating . . . One reason I have always more often than not been on the side of native peoples.

Education for Liberation: Black Hawk: Chief of the Sauk Nation

To Brigadier General H. Atkinson:
SIR—The changes of fortune and vicissitudes of war made you my conqueror. When my last resources were exhausted, my warriors worn down with long and toilsome marches, we yielded, and I became your prisoner.
The story of my life is told in the following pages: it is intimately connected, and in some measure, identified, with a part of the history of your own: I have, therefore, dedicated it to you.
The changes of many summers have brought old age upon me, and I can not expect to survive many moons. Before I set out on my journey to the land of my fathers, I have determined to give my motives and reasons for my former hostilities to the whites, and to vindicate my character from misrepresentation. The kindness I received from you whilst a prisoner of war assures me that you will vouch for the facts contained in my narrative, so far as they came under your observation.
I am now an obscure member of a nation that formerly honored and respected my opinions. The pathway to glory is rough, and many gloomy hours obscure it. May the Great Spirit shed light on yours, and that you may never experience the humility that the power of the American government has reduced me to, is the wish of him, who, in his native forests, was once as proud and bold as yourself.
10th Moon, 1833.
Black Hawk State Historic Site, Rock Island, Illinois

This marker is included in the Wisconsin's Maritime Trails: Historical Markers series.

Use the "black hawk war" label, below, to locate all markers in this series included on the Wisconsin Historical Markers website.

These markers are also at this location:

An illustration of Sauk Chief Makataimeshekiakiah, or Black Hawk, 1837,
This media file is in the public domain;

At the Battle (Massacre) of Bad Axe, the end of the journey.
First visited July 24, 2013.

The marker is located on northbound Great River Road Wisconsin.

 Follow the signage to the marker location.
The marker is located just north of De Soto, Wisconsin.

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