The Black Hawk War was the final conflict east of the Mississippi River between American Indian communities and the United States regular troops and militia. Exploring the museums, wayside markers and parks relating to that struggle is not just a journey of historic significance through beautiful natural scenery. It is also an amazing convergence of legendary personalities, from Abraham Lincoln to Jefferson Davis. Follow the fallout of the war from the Quad Cities on the Illinois/Iowa border, through the "Trembling Lands" along the Kettle Morraine and into the Driftless Area of southern Wisconsin. Pairing local insight with big-picture perspective, Ben Strand charts an overlooked quadrant of America's frontier heritage.

Black Hawk Mural by Mayosky in Fort Atkinson, WI

Ben Strand hails from the Uplands of southwestern Wisconsin. He received his education while serving as a busboy at the Thym's Supper Club in Dodgeville, Wisconsin, and the Old Mexico Grill in Santa Fe, New Mexico. With degrees from the University of Wisconsin and an MFA from Goddard College in Vermont.  Invitations and admonitions can be directed to

Landmarks, Battlefields, Museums and Firsthand Accounts 

This guide provides a local’s insight and tips in accessing sites researched and preserved in the old Northwest Territory. It builds on the work of generations of historians and archivists and, when possible, highlights the inspiration and strength the First Nations spread—and still advocate for.

Maps provide detailed addresses and/or GPS coordinates to key museums, murals, statues, historic markers, and areas of interest. 

Abraham Lincoln

The book provides a detailed account of Lincoln’s service in the Black Hawk War, including personal insights of those who served with him.

The letter below was written by George Harrison to his former militiaman, Abraham Lincoln. The letter was sent to congratulate Lincoln on his recent election as US President:

May 29, 1860

Respected Sir:

In view of the intimacy that at one time subsisted between yourself and me, I deem it my duty as well as privilege, now that the intensity of the excitement of recent transactions is a little passed from you and from me.   ….in the Black Hawk campaign while we messed together with Johnson, Fancher, and Wyatt, when we ground our coffee in the same tin cup with the hatchett handle—baked our bread on our ramrods around the same fire—ate our fried meat off the same piece of elm bark—slept in the same tent every night—traveled together by day and by night in search of the savage foe…

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