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The Battle of Rock Island Rapids

In early July, 1814, an American expedition was mounted to relieve the garrison at Prairie du Chien. This force of approximately 120 regulars and rangers, under the command of Major John Campbell, travelled up the Mississippi River in six keelboats.

This force was trying to work their way through the Rock Island rapids when they were ambushed by Chief Black Hawk and four-hundred Saulk, Kickapoo and Fox warriors. The Americans were taking heavy casualties when the gunboat "Governor Clark", which was itself retreating down river from Fort Shelby appeared. The American force retired to St. Louis having lost thirty-five men killed or wounded.

A larger expedition was mounted against Prairie du Chien under the command of Major Zachary Taylor. This force consisted of 350 men and 8 gunboats.

After learning that a large American force was on it's way, the British assembled a force to meet them. Lieutenant Duncan Graham was in command of thirty men. He was assisted by Sergeant Keating of the Royal Artillery and one field piece. As the British moved down river they were joined by over 1,200 Saulk, Sioux, Winnebago and Kickapoo Indians.

On September 5th, 1814 this large British and native force ambushed the American flotilla anchored in the Rock River. The British field piece and the ferocity of the native warriors convinced the American commander to retreat down the Mississippi River. American losses were three killed and eight wounded.