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The Battle of Kellogg's Grove is either of two minor battles, or skirmishes, fought during the Black Hawk War in U.S. state of Illinoismarker, in present-day Stephenson County at and near Kellogg's Grovemarker. In the first skirmish, also known as the Battle of Burr Oak Grove, on June 16, 1832, Illinois militia forces fought against a band of at least 80 of Native Americans. During the battle three militia men under the command of Adam W. Snyder were killed in action. The second battle occurred nine days later when a larger Sauk and Fox band, under the command of Black Hawk, attacked Major John Dement's detachment and killed five militia men.

The second battle is known for playing a role in Abraham Lincoln's short career in the Illinois militia. He was part of a relief company sent to the grove on June 26 and he helped bury the dead. He made a statement about the incident years later which was recollected in Carl Sandburg's writing, among others. Sources conflict about who actually won the battle; it has been called a "rout" for both sides. The battle was the last on Illinois soil during the Black Hawk War.


As a consequence of an 1804 treaty between the Governor of Indiana Territory and a group of Sauk and Fox leaders regarding land settlement, the Sauk and Fox tribes vacated their lands in Illinoismarker and moved west of the Mississippimarker in 1828. However, Sauk Black Hawk and others disputed the treaty, claiming that the full tribal councils had not been consulted, nor did those representing the tribes have authorization to cede lands. Angered by the loss of his birthplace, from 1830 Black Hawk led a number of incursions across the Mississippi River, but was persuaded to return west each time without bloodshed. In April 1832, encouraged by promises of alliance with other tribes and the British, he again moved his so-called "British Band" of around 1000 warriors and non-combatants into Illinois. Finding no allies he attempted to return to Iowamarker, but events overtook him and led to the Battle of Stillman's Runmarker. A number of other engagements and massacres followed, and the militias of Michigan Territory and Illinois were mobilized to hunt down Black Hawk's band.


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In the days preceding the second Battle of Kellogg's Grove a raid occurred on Bureau Creek, between the Rock and Illinois Rivers. Major John Dement's battalion was ordered to the scene to protect settlers and ascertain the presence of Native Americans in the area, they were to report to Colonel Zachary Taylor at Dixon's Ferry. On June 22 Dement reached Dixon's Ferry where he reported to Taylor. Taylor then ordered him to cross the Rock River to take a position between Dixon's Ferry and Galenamarker. Additionally, Taylor ordered Dement to set up his headquarters at Kellogg's Grovemarker. With a command of 140 inexperienced men, Dement set out for the grove to replace a group of volunteers led by a Major Riley who had abandoned the fort on June 23. The troops that abandoned the fort had skirmished with the Native Americans two or three times and were defeated in all clashes, according to the soldiers stationed there. Major Dement's group crossed the Rock River on June 24 and reached the small fort at Kellogg's Grove where they camped for the night.

The day before the second Battle of Kellogg's Grove, June 24, Black Hawk was leading his band in an attack on Apple River Fortmarker. During the Battle of Apple River Fortmarker the Sauk besieged the small stockade for much of the day. Other warriors were dispatched to gather food, horses and other supplies, all of which were badly needed by the band. The following day the group would reach Kellogg's Grove where they would engage Dement's militia forces.


First Battle of Kellogg's Grove

The first Battle of Kellogg's Grove, or the Battle of Burr Oak Grove, occurred on June 16, 1832. Men from Captain Adam Wilson Snyder's company engaged part of a group of about 80 Kickapoo warriors resulting in three militia deaths and six Kickapoo deaths.

On the night of June 15, 1832, Captain Snyder and his men were in Kellogg's Grove when Native Americans were discovered in the area, during the night a horse was stolen. The next day, June 16, Snyder and his men pursued the Native Americans to the southwest; they came upon four natives and killed them. During the ensuing skirmish, Private William B. Mecomson was fatally wounded. The militia men put the wounded man on a litter and began to carry him back to the Kellogg cabin, along the way Mecomson asked that the group stop to rest. The group stopped and some of the men went for water while the rest waited with Mecomson. As they waited, a large group of Native Americans came upon them; a short battle followed and two more militia members were killed. After the short skirmish, the natives left the area and the militia men returned to the Kellogg cabin and buried their dead the next day.

Second Battle of Kellogg's Grove

The Second Battle of Kellogg's Grove occurred on June 25, 1832, after Major John Dement and his men, while camped at Kellogg's Grove on Sunday June 24, learned of a large group of Native Americans nearby. The battle pitted a large band of Native American warriors led by Black Hawk and his warchiefs Neapope and Weesheet against Dement's spy company of militia men. Dement's company had been searching the area for bands of warriors sent out by Black Hawk and their trail had led to Kellogg's Grove.

During the night, three of the militia's horses wandered off; the next day, June 25, three men went in search of the animals while the rest stayed behind. At the cabin, seven Native American braves appeared in the distance. The troops immediately began pursuing the natives, who fled into the woods, instead of reporting the sighting to Dement. The Native American warriors, as had been done other times during the course of the war, set an ambush for the militia men in the forest. The militia pursued the natives into the woods and, as they entered the forest, the natives opened fire, the volley instantly killed two militia men and wounded another. The militia retreated and formed a battle line but the native forces would not relent. The rest of Dement's company attempted to rescue the outmatched militia men but were unable to beat back the native warriors. Black Hawk's band attacked the militia men, again forcing the beleaguered force to fall back to the Kellogg cabin and barn.

As the militia fell back, the three men who had set out in search of their horses returned and they too were killed by the Native American forces. The natives continued to assault the barn and cabin; their attacks did not cease and during the battle about 25 horses were killed. Finally, the native forces withdrew, leaving nine of their own dead behind. The June 25 battle was the last of the Black Hawk War on Illinoismarker soil. Dement's company lost five men with another three were wounded, many horses were killed as well.

That night American reinforcements arrived under the command of General Alexander Posey, who chose not to pursue the attackers and instead reported the situation to Colonel Zachary Taylor. Black Hawk asserted later that had Posey chose to attack him and his warriors that the blow dealt Black Hawk's band would have been decisive and war-ending. In fact, Dement's opinion was that there were more Native Americans at Kellogg's Grove than at any other engagement during the war. The next day more reinforcements arrived when Captain Jacob Early's detachment reached the grove.

Lincoln's role

Abraham Lincoln's service during the Black Hawk War has been a source of discrepancies and questioning, with two major battle sites being affiliated with Lincoln in the aftermath of combat. A number of sources assert that on June 26, 1832, the morning after the second battle, members of the company of Captain Jacob M. Early arrived at Kellogg's Grove to help bury the dead. One of the soldiers in the company was Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln assisted with the burial and later made a statement about the experience that has been connected with both the battle at Kellogg's Grove and the fight at Stillman's Run.

The Lincoln quote appeared both in William H. Herndon and Jesse W. Wiek's Life of Lincoln and Carl Sandburg's Lincoln biography, Abraham Lincoln The Prairie Years. Lincoln's presence at Stillman's Run was still under investigation as of 2003, but his presence at Kellogg's Grove has been corroborated by several sources.

Lincoln made a humorous remark during an 1848 speech before the U.S. Congress in which he referenced his Black Hawk War service, mentioning Stillman's Run by name.

The marble facade at the monument, erected in 1901, commemorating the battle in Stillman Valley, Illinois includes the reference to Lincoln's, "The presence of soldier, statesman, martyr, Abraham Lincoln assisting in the burial of these honored dead has made his spot more sacred."


Sources vary concerning exactly which side was victorious during the battle.The Battle of Kellogg's Grove, like many of the battles and skirmishes during the Black Hawk War, had no real order or strategy. Early sources indicated that the battle was a complete victory for the state militia, declaring the battle a rout and noting that the Sauk lost 15 while the militia only suffered 5 men killed. Conversely, according to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, the result, essentially, was that the band of approximately 50 Sauk warriors routed the 300 or so ill-disciplined white troops.

The battle site at Kellogg's Grove was listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places on June 23, 1978. The listing included a 1½ acre public park where a stone monument and memorial cemetery is located. The cemetery holds the interred remains of the militia who died during both battles at Kellogg's Grove. The men were initially buried in other spots around the grove but during the 1880s local farmers banded together to collect the remains of the Black Hawk War dead and inter them in one spot beneath a memorial.


  1. " May 14: Black Hawk's Victory at the Battle of Stillman's Run," Historic Diaries: The Black Hawk War, Wisconsin State Historical Society. Retrieved August 6, 2007.
  2. Autobiography of Ma-Ka-Tai-Me-She-Kia-Kiak, " Kellogg's Grove Fort." Retrieved August 1, 2007.
  3. Autobiography of Ma-Ka-Tai-Me-She-Kia-Kiak, " Major Dement's Battle with the Indians." Retrieved August 1, 2007.
  4. Lewis, James. " The Black Hawk War of 1832," Abraham Lincoln Digitization Project, Northern Illinois University, 2000, pg. 2B. Retrieved July 26, 2007.
  5. Armstrong, Perry A. The Sauks and the Black Hawk War, (Google Books)H.W. Rokker: 1887, p. 891. Retrieved August 6, 2007.
  6. Dameier, Evelyn. " Kellogg's Grove," (PDF), National Register of Historic Places Nomination Form, January 18, 1978, HAARGIS Database, Illinois Historic Preservation Agency. Retrieved July 26, 2007.
  7. Dement, John. " Report of the Battle at Kellogg's Grove," Historic Diaries: Black Hawk War, June 25: The Battle of Kellogg's Grove, Wisconsin Historical Society. Originally published in: Whitney, Ellen M., ed. The Black Hawk War, 1831-1832, Springfield: Illinois State Historical Society, 1970, p.680. Retrieved July 26, 2007.
  8. " Stillman's Run Memorial," Historic Places, Abraham Lincoln Online. Retrieved August 11, 2007.
  9. Braun, Robert A. " Abraham Lincoln's Military Service During the Black Hawk War: An Introduction, November 2002 and March 2003, Old Lead Historical Society. Retrieved August 11, 2007.
  10. Davis, William. Lincoln's Men (Google Books), Simon and Schuster: 1999, p. 12, (ISBN 0684823519). Retrieved August 11, 2007.
  11. Collections of the State Historical Society of Wisconsin, State Historical Society of Wisconsin, 1892. Retrieved July 27, 2007.
  12. " Blackhawk's Last Battle in Illinois," The Sugar-Pecatonica Rivers Basin: An Inventory of the Region's Resources, Illinois Department of Natural Resources, Office of Realty and Environmental Planning, 1999. Retrieved July 26, 2007.
  13. National Register Information System, National Register of Historic Places, National Park Service. Retrieved August 1, 2007.


  • Hawk, Black, LeClair, Antoine, interpreter; Patterson, J. B., ed., Autobiography of Ma-Ka-Tai-Me-She-Kia-Kiak, or Black Hawk, Embracing the Traditions of his Nation, Various Wars In Which He Has Been Engaged, and His Account of the Cause and General History of the Black Hawk War of 1832, His Surrender, and Travels Through the United States. Also Life, Death and Burial of the Old Chief, Together with a History of the Black Hawk War, Oquawka, IL: J. B. Patterson, 1882, "Kellogg's Grove Fort." Retrieved August 1, 2007.

Further reading

  • Eby, Cecil. That Disgraceful Affair, The Black Hawk War, W.W . Norton and Company: New York, 1973, (ISBN 0393054845).

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