The War Of 1812

The Louisiana Purchase in 1803 gave the United States control of both banks of the upper Mississippi River. Previous to this time, but little was known of our upper river by the Americans, and not until Lieutenant Zebulon M. Pike under orders from our government in 1805 came up the river from St. Louis, to discover its source, and to select locations for future United States posts, did our government have any definite knowledge concerning this country.

At the beginning of the year 1814 the war with England was still in progress and though the warfare was carried on mostly on the lakes, the Atlantic Ocean, and among the eastern states, the west, and especially the upper Mississippi River, were the scenes of important events, which owing to their distance from civilization, the lack of means and the length of time to transport news, were overlooked, and have failed to receive that recognition in American history that events of less importance, but happening in the east were accorded.

St. Louis, the American headquarters for the upper Mississippi River, Cap au Gris, a small French hamlet a few miles north of the mouth of the Illinois River, the deserted old post at Ft. Madison, the mines at Dubuque and the small French settlement and British post at Prairie du Chien were the only settlements on the upper river.

Colonel Robert Dickson, a British trader during the years 1811-1813 had been active in inciting the Indians of the northwest, his object being to secure their aid in an attack on the American settlements at St. Louis, Kaskaskia and Peoria.

On March 27th, 1813, Ninian Edwards, territorial governor of Illinois., wrote the secretary of war: "If the British erect a fort at the mouth of the Wisconsin, and should be able to retain it two years, this and Missouri territory will be totally deserted, in other words, conquered."

In the beginning of the year 1814 our government decided to build a fort on the upper river at Prairie du Chien (the mouth of the Wisconsin River), where the British had the preceding year fortified the house of the Macinac Fur Company and stationed a company of Michigan fencibles (militia).

Early Settlements of Rock County 

 

Source: Historic Rock Island County, pub. Kramer & Company, Rock Island, Illinois, 1908

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