The Ghost of the Blackhawk War – Chapter 2

By Dan Norvell

I had made it back to the skirmish site by our camp at Old Man’s Creek. The night was clear and the moon was shining brightly. I moved through swiftly, and I counted the bodies of my fallen friends as I made my way through. I found it odd that there were the same amount of bodies there as there was in the entire group I had fought the Indians with last night. Maybe one of the others had been killed in the battle, and I had not taken notice in the fighting.

I completed my count for Major Stillman and continued on toward Dixon’s Ferry. I knew it was important to let the Major know that Captain Adams was killed in the battle, and that the numbers of Indian warriors was much less than first thought. I traveled as fast as I could down the big river. I continued on southward through the wooded areas along the river so it would be easier to remain concealed. I met a group of Army Regulars traveling north toward the encampment at Old Man’s Creek.

I went toward one of the ranking officers that were walking along with his men in formation. I walked up by his side and said, “Captain, I have news of the Injun numbers up North. They are camping where the two rivers meet.” The Captain seemed to pay no attention to me at all and continued on with his band of soldiers. I found this very odd. I turned and kept heading toward Dixon’s Ferry. I knew that Major Stillman would listen to what I had to say.

I continued on, and within the day, I had arrived at Dixon’s Ferry. I walked through the encampment and each soldier I tried to talk to ignored me. I knew that the Regulars had a disregard for militia, but these guys really made a point of it. I tried to find Major Stillman and I could not. I was getting tired of being treated like a lower than a common militiaman, so I decided I would just head back home. I did not see any militia at the encampment at Dixon’s Ferry, so I figured they had all just passed by and continued on home as well. That is what I will do too.

If the Regulars didn’t want my help, then that was fine by me. I started back toward Old Man’s Creek, moving with purpose. I would grab my belongings and head for home. I lived not far from the battle site to the east. It would only take me a few hours to reach my cabin.

I reached the camp in a few hours. The group of Regulars that I had passed when I was traveling to Dixon’s Ferry was burying the dead militia in a mass grave on the hill that we had fought to protect. I didn’t even stop as I walked by them. I had gathered my things, and continued toward my home. As I passed, I heard one of the soldiers say to the Captain, “Captain Lincoln, we have completed the burial. Would you like to say a few words for the fallen militia?” The Captain indicated that he would, and he started to speak.

I stopped to listen to him. “Gentlemen, I am Captain Abraham Lincoln. I find it difficult to find these young men that served as volunteers for the militia of this great State, in the matter of which we did. I regret that we do not have time to give each one of them the proper burial that they deserve for their services to Governor Reynolds, and the State of Illinois. I only hope that the Lord blesses each of them, and that someday, a proper burial will be able to be given to them. Thank you for your service to the State of Illinois men, may God have mercy on your souls. Amen.”

The soldiers had left a makeshift cross with one of the fallen men’s hat draped over the top of it. Captain Lincoln told the men to gather up their gear and to continue on north. I started to walk away, but I could not let them march into an ambush. Even though Captain Lincoln’s Regulars had Army issued weapons, they would still not be able to stand up against six hundred Sauk and Fox warriors any better than our band of 275 militia did. I turned back, and I walked over to the grave first. “It was an honor to serve with you all.” I said as I walked by and caught up to the soldiers moving north. I had to move quickly to tell them that they may be walking into a trap.

I moved through the woods and to the river. I actually headed the soldiers off and I started to yell, “Captain, you may be walking into an ambush! They are at least six hundred strong where the rivers meet!” Nobody acknowledged me. I stood directly in front of the advancing soldiers, and as they moved closer, they passed right through me without even stopping. I stood my ground, and they didn’t even slow. What the hell was going on here? I loaded my rifle, and I fired a shot into the air. The soldiers kept on moving as if they didn’t hear a sound. I stood there on the riverbank completely dumbfounded.

I turned and looked at my reflection in the river. I did not have a reflection. I dropped to my knees and placed my face as close to the water as I could. There was no face staring back at me in the water. The reality sunk in all at once, I had been killed with the rest of the men, and was now lying in a mass grave in that hillside. I was nothing more than a restless spirit trying to find revenge. I did not know what I could do without a body to stop the movement of those soldiers, but I knew that I would try anything I could so they would not suffer the same fate as my friends and I did.


Dan Norvell is 40 years old and has a strong desire to help people in the paranormal field that comes from his time spent in the Fire Service. He is enjoying his time as a writer, and he hopes to continue to bring his readers stories from a ghost’s point of view.

Think you are ready to write for E-mail us your ideas at Stories about Illinois are preferred.


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