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Battle of Pecatonica

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On the 14th of June, a mall scouting party of Sacs killed five men at the Spafford farm, and on reception of the news next day, Gen. Atkinson ordered Col. Henry Dodge to take command of Posey’s brigade, then stationed near Fort Hamilton, and while on his way from Fort Union, where his regiment was in camp, to visit the brigade, he heard the sharp crack of a rifle, and instantly looking in the direction of the sound, saw a man fall from his horse, who had been shot by Indians nearby. Instead of going forward as he set out to do, he hastily returned to his command, mustered a portion of his cavalry and went in pursuit of the Indians, and soon got on the trail of twenty-five warriors, who had commenced their retreat soon after shooting, and espying him, hastened back to the front. The Indians crossed and recrossed the Pecatonica river several times, being closely pushed by Col. Dodge and his men, and finding escape hopeless, made a stand. The colonel immediately dismounted his men and picked his way cautiously, with the intention of firing and then charging upon them. But the Indians, being on the lookout, watched their opportunity and got the first fire, by which a brave soldier named Apple was killed, and another by the name of Jenkins was wounded. The fight continued vigorously until the last Indian was killed, several of them having been shot while trying to escape by swimming. At the commencement of the fight, the forces on each side were nearly equal, but the Indians, in swimming the river, had got their powder wet, and although they made desperate efforts to close in on our men with knives, they were shot down in their endeavors.

Col. Dodge, in speaking of this engagement, at Galena, after the close of the war, said he was amazed at the desperation displayed by a big, burly brave, who came towards him with gun at his shoulder and halted quickly when only a few paces from him, drew the trigger, and was sorely disappointed in his gun not going off. Quick as thought the colonel brought his rifle in position, pulled the trigger, but, owing to the dampness of the powder, it failed to go off. In the meantime the brave was coming towards him, knife in hand and desperation in his eye, and when only a few feet from him the colonel shot him down with his revolver. At the same time one of his brave boys, by the name of Beach, was engaged in a desperate encounter with the last remaining savage, in which both used knives; the Indian was killed and Beach very badly wounded.

Thus ended one of the most sanguinary engagements of the war.


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