FROM THE SEAT OF WAR.
General Atkinson and Black Hawk
The following account is from the Calentan and is verified by the passengers on board the boat.
AUGUST 6- Having just returned from the war, we have it in our power to report some cheering intelligence.
The whole army under Gen. Atkinson, embracing the brigades commanded by Gen'ls Henry, Posey, and Alexander; and squadron under command of General Dodge, all crossed over to the north side of the Ouisconsin at Helena on the 28th and 29th ult. They took up a line of march in a northerly direction, in order to intersect the Indian trail. At the distance of about five miles the great trail was discovered, leading in a direction N. of W. towards the Mississippi, and supposed to be about four days old.
Gen. Atkinson seeing the direction of the enemy, knew well that it would require all diligence and expedition to overtake them before they would cross the Mississippi, and hence commenced from that time a forced march; leaving all baggage wagons, and everything else which was calculated to retard the pursuit.
The country through which the enemy's trail led our army, between the Ouisconsin Bluffs and the Kickapoo River, was one continued series of mountains. No sooner had they reached the summit of one high and almost perpendicular hill than they had to descend on the other side equally steep to the base of another. Nothing but a deep ravine with muddy banks, separated these mountains. The woods, both upon the top of the highest mountains, and at the bottom of the deepest hollows, was of the heaviest growth. The under bushes were chiefly thorn, and prickly ash. This is a short description of the route, and shows the difficulties of the pursuit. Notwithstanding all this, our army gained on the enemy daily as appeared from their encampments. The tedious march thus continued was met by our brave troops without murmur; and as the Indian signs appeared more recent, the officers and men appeared more anxious to push on. On the fourth night of our march from Helena, and at an encampment of the enemy, was discovered an old Sac Indian by our spies, who informed them that the main body of the enemy had on that day gone to the Mississippi, and intended to cross on the next morning Aug. 2d. The horses being nearly broke down, and the men nearly exhausted from fatigue, Gen. Atkinson ordered a halt for a few hours (it being after 8 o'clock) with a determination to start at 2 o'clock for the Mississippi about ten miles distant. At the precise hour, the bugles sounded, and in a short time all were ready to march.
Gen. Dodge's squadron was honored with being placed in front, the infantry followed next, Gen. Henry's brigade next; Gen. Alexander's next, and Gen. Posey's formed the rear guard.
Gen. Dodge called for and soon received 20 volunteer spies to go ahead of the whole army.
In this order the march commenced. They had not, however gone more than 5 miles, before one of our spies came back announcing their having come in sight of the enemy's picket guard. He went back and the intelligence was quickly conveyed to Gen. Atkinson then to all commanders of the brigades and the celerity of the march was instantly increased. In a few minutes more the firing commenced at about 500 yards ahead of the front of the army, between our spies and the Indian picket guard.
The Indians were driven by our spies from hill to hill, and kept up a tolerably brisk firing from every situation commanding the ground over which our spies had to march, but being charged upon and routed from their hiding places, they sought safety by retreating to the main body on the bank of the river and joining in one general effort to defend themselves there or die on the ground.
Lest some might escape by retreating up or down the river, Gen. Atkinson very judiciously ordered Gen. Alexander and Gen. Posey to form the right wing of the army, and march down to the river above the Indian encampment on the bank, and then move down. Gen. Henry formed the left wing and marched into the trail of the enemy. The U. S. infantry and Gen. Dodge's squadron of the mining troops marched in the center.
With this order our whole force descended the almost perpendicular bluff, and came into a low valley heavily timbered, with a large growth of under brush, weeds and grass. Sloughs, deep ravines, old logs, 'c. were so plentiful as to afford every facility for the enemy to make a strong defence.
Gen. Henry first came upon them and commenced a heavy fire, which was returned by the enemy. The enemy being routed from their first hiding places, sought others. Gen. Dodge's squadron and the U. States troops soon came into action, and with Gen. Henry's men, rushed into the strong defiles of the enemy, and killed all in their way, except a few who succeeded in swimming a slough of the Mississippi, 150 yards wide. During this time, the brigades of Gen. Alexander and Posey were marching down the river, when they fell in with another part of the enemy's army and killed and routed all that opposed them.
The battle lasted upwards of 3 hours. About 50 of the enemy's women and children were taken prisoner and many by accident were killed in battle.
When the Indians were driven to the edge of the Mississippi, some hundreds of them, women and children, plunged into the river, and hoped by diving, 'c. to escape the bullets of our guns; very few, however, escaped our sharpshooters.
The loss on the side of the enemy never can be exactly ascertained, but according to the best computation, they must have lost in killed upwards of 160. Our loss in killed and wounded was 27.
Some had crossed the river before our arrival, and we learn by a prisoner, that Black Hawk, while the battle waxed warm, had stolen off, and gone up the river on this side. If he did, he took nothing with him, for his valuables, many of them, together with certificates of good character and of his having fought bravely against the United States during the last war, 'c. signed by British officers, were found on the battle ground.
It is the general impression in the army and at this place, that the Sacs would be glad to conclude a peace on almost any terms we might propose.
On the morning of the 4th inst, a party of Sioux came to our camp and begged permission to go on the back trail and have a fight with them. On the same day our whole army started to go down to Prairie du Chien (about 40 miles) and wait further orders.
Gen. Atkinson, accompanied by Gens. Dodge and Posey, with a U. States infantry arrived at the Prairie on the evening of the 4th on board the steamboat Warrior, and will remain until the mounted volunteers arrive.
The Winnebagoes of Prairie du Chien are daily bringing in Sac prisoners and scalps.
On the same day; a party of 15 men from Casville, under command of Capt. Price were reconnoitering the country between that place and the Wisconsin, and fell upon a fresh Sac trail making towards the Mississippi. They rushed with full speed of horses and soon came upon them, and killing and taking prisoners to the number of 12.
Gen. Scott and staff left here this morning for Prairie du Chien on the steamboat Warrior, to join Gen. Atkinson.