Blackhawk Ridge Dane, Co., Wisconsin – Investigation of the Old Battleground from the Military Point of View

Blackhawk Ridge Dane, Co., Wisconsin – Investigation of the Old Battleground from the Military Point of View

By: James P. Scherz



This paper is a brief summary of events relating to a visit to Blackhawk Ridge, near Sauk City, Wisconsin on 13 June, 1995 by Col. Burrows of the Illinois State Militia, William Wenzel (surveyor), Larry Johns (with Native American associations), representatives of the Wisconsin DNR, and myself. The meeting was at the request of the DNR. Personnel from the DNR who were present at the visit to the site were James March, David Gjestson, and Wayne Schutte. Col. Burrows came as an official representative of the Illinois Militia, in uniform, emphasizing the support by the state of Illinois in this project. (See Annex A.)

The objective of the visit was to better ascertain the positions of the white troops in the Battle of Wisconsin Heights (on Blackhawk Ridge) on 21 July, 1832. At this battle, the Illinois Militia and other volunteer soldiers defeated Blackhawk and his band of Sauks and some people from other tribes. DNR personnel are preparing the area for visitors, and desire at the onset to determine (as well as possible) how the battle was fought as plans are made for parking areas, trails, signs, and interpretation programs.

According to the copy of the Adjutant General’s Report that Col. Burrows brought from the Illinois State Archives, the Indians lost 168 people at this battle and the Whites lost one man. (Annex B contains part of the Adjutant General’s Report.) Local history near Sauk City maintains that this white man’s name was Short and that he was buried at the battle site several hundred yards southeast of a DAR historical monument along highway 78, denoting the battleground. The Whites have left no permanent marker on Short’s grave, and its exact location is lost from memory. Annex C relates to Short’s grave.

The work done in June, 1995 correlates to previous reconnaissance efforts by Col. Burrows and myself in July, 1992. It also builds on work by Wenzel and others relating to surveys and search of historical data. It relates to several visits by myself to the site since 1992 during which time I focused on some man-made pits and some deformed trees (likely Indian marker trees) which should also be included in the analysis of this old battleground. All of this work is addressed in this report. Part I briefly summarizes some of the main results from our reconnaissance analysis of the site in June, 1992. Part II relates to other work at the site which should be considered in the full analysis. Part III relates to the results from our re-evaluation of the site in June, 1995. Conclusions and recommendations are also given, along with supporting annexes.