Check out a selection of sites below to trace the path of the Black Hawk War for yourself. For more detailed information, including full travel itineraries, pick up one of the listed guidebooks from the Fort's gift shop or your favorite bookseller.
Black Hawk State Historic Site is a 208-acre park and museum managed by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. The site is adjacent to the original location of the principal Sauk village of Saukenuk.
A Black Hawk War Guide: Landmarks, Battlefields, Museums, & Firsthand Accounts
by Ben Strand
This guidebook, published in 2021, takes its followers on a complete adventure through the tri-state area (and as far as Washington D.C. for the enthusiastic travelers). Strand artfully combines history, images, and primary-source material along with location addresses and contact information.
In Black Hawk's Footsteps: A Trail Guide to Monuments, Museums, and Battlefields of the Black Hawk War of 1832
by Benjamin McLaughlin
Published in 2004, McLaughlin provides complete site descriptions that combine both historical accounts with modern site information. Detailed maps with turn-by-turn directions clearly guide readers to each stop. The entire guide also features images, biographical information, and direct quotes from war participants.
Along the Black Hawk Trail
by William F. Stark
An oldie but a goodie, this 1984 classic is densely packed with historical information and accounts of the Black Hawk War. Stark, with the help of photographer Don Davenport, recorded a number of monuments, signs, and scenery of dozens of Black Hawk War sites, many of which no longer remain. While town names are provided, no specific addresses or directions are provided.
Originally a popular summer retreat spot for the Sauk tribe, the U.S. Army took the island after the War of 1812. They built Fort Armstrong, which served as a major command post for the Black Hawk War.
Black Hawk attacked Kellogg's Grove twice during the war. After the second attack, a young Abraham Lincoln helped to bury American causalities. Today Blackhawk Battlefield Park features the graves and a monument to those lost, as well as a statue of young private Lincoln.
Natives and settlers alike took advantage of the chaos of war. At Indian Creek, a group of Potawatomi, who had an existing dispute with the Davis settlement, killed 15 settlers and kidnapped two teenaged sisters. Two monuments to this event stand in Shabbona County Park.
A group of Kickapoo warriors ambushed six dispatch riders near Buffalo Grove, killing William Durley. Though originally buried elsewhere, Durley was moved back to the site of the ambush in 1910. This historical marker is on a county road just west of Polo, IL.
Stillman's Run was the first battle of the Black Hawk War. Though outnumbered almost six to one, Black Hawk and his braves managed to scare the Illinois militia into a retreat. The site features the graves of those lost and a monument to the battle, as well as to Lincoln's connection to the site.
The Battle of Waddam's Grove was a musket turned knife fight between a small group of militiamen and Sauk warriors. Casualties are interred at Kellogg's Grove, but a marker stands at a crossroads just east of the unincorporated community of Waddam's Grove.
Fort Blue Mounds, a major supply center, was attacked twice during the war. First by Ho-Chunk and again by Sauk warriors. Though the hastily constructed fort no longer remains, a large memorial sign stands in a roadside park in the center of Blue Mounds, WI.
Though a small battle, the militia victory restored American confidence after their humiliating defeat at Stillman's Run. Today the battlefield is a county park and campground northwest of Woodford, WI. A marker erected in 1922 commemorates the site's history.
Originally a cabin turned blockhouse, Sinsinawa Mound now houses the Sinsinawa Mound Center of Dominican Sisters. Underneath the main entrance to the facility is part of an old stone building, likely remnants of the once-attacked Black Hawk War fort.
On their way to Spafford Farm, six men from Fort Hamilton were ambushed by Black Hawk allied Kickapoo. This attack spurred the local militia into action, leading to the Battle of Horseshoe Bend two days later. A memorial to the four killed stands in Hoffman Cemetery, north of South Wayne, WI.
The penultimate battle of the war; Black Hawk and his braves held off American forces long enough to escape across the Wisconsin River. the "battle field" is on top of a bluff within the 815-acre Blackhawk Unit of the Lower Wisconsin State Riverway. A historical marker sits along highway 78 on the north side of the park.
The Battle, or Massacre, of Bad Axe was the final, two-day altercation of the Black Hawk War. Nearly 1/3 of Black Hawk's people died at Bad Axe, though the man himself survived. A historical marker and park stand five miles south of the current confluence of the two rivers.
Black Hawk remained on the run for nearly a month until a group of Ho-Chunk persuaded him to surrender. He surrendered himself to Indian Agent Joseph M. Street at Prairie du Chien, bringing the war to an official end. A historical marker stands at the Fort Crawford Museum.
Though not a site directly related to the Black Hawk War, Lorado Taft's The Eternal Indian is often nicknamed the Black Hawk Statue. Towering 150 feet (48 feet of which are the statue itself) over the Rock River, this statue stands as a sentinel of unconquered Native American spirit.
A defeated Black Hawk spent roughly 8 months imprisoned at Jefferson Barracks. During this time, the Sauk warrior dictated his memoirs to Antoine LeClaire, a French-Canadian-Potawatomi translator. It was an instant best-seller and remains popular to this day.
Built in 1832 for the Ho-Chunk Indian Agent John H. Kinzie and his wife Juliette, this historic house sits at the portage site between the Fox and Wisconsin Rivers. Today the site tells the history of the Ho-Chunk, the Kinzies, and the frontier life in Jacksonian America.