Stop 11: Battle of Bad Axe
(Hwy. 35, 2 mi S of Victory)
Continue west on UU. County Hwy UU ends
in Victory at Hwy 35. Turn left traveling south on Hwy 35 for
two miles. Vernon County Marker. Historical Marker #033.
August 1-2, 1832
One of Atkinson's soldiers reports:
During the battle, a Sac mother took her infant child and fastening it to a large piece of cottonwood bark, consigned it to the treacherous waves rather that to captivity. The current carried the child near the bank, when [ a soldier named] House cooly loaded his rifle, and taking deliberate aim, shot the babe dead. Being reproached for his hardened cruelty, he grimly replied, 'Kill the nits, and you'll have no lice.'16
|Atkinson had finally found Black Hawk and his remaining people. Trapped, the Sauk and the Fox Indians had the option of being shot by 'The Warrior' or by Atkinson's, Dodge's, and Henry's men. Those that begged for their lives were shot. Those that dared to swim the Mississippi were shot or drowned.||
Some scenes of the massacre were heart-wrenching:
A young squaw of about 19 years, stood in the grass at a short distance from our line, holding her little girl in her arms, about 4 years old...A ball struck the right arm of the child above the elbow & shattering the bone, passes into the breast of its young mother which instantly felled her to the ground. She fell upon the child and confined it to the ground also. During the whole battle this babe was heard to groan and call for relief, but none had time to afford it.20
Atkinson lost 17 men. Black Hawk lost 300. Only 50 Sauk were taken prisoner. Of the approximately 300 Sauk that did cross the river to Iowa, most were slaughtered by Sioux Indians who were working with Atkinson. Of the thousand Sauk and Fox who followed Black Hawk to Illinois in April of 1832, only about 100 lived to tell the tale of the Black Hawk War to their families back in Iowa. The rest of the 900 starved, drowned, killed, captured, or died of sickness and fatigue.
To this day, a town named Victory stands near the Bad Axe Massacre site as a reminder of this infamous ending of the Black Hawk War. The state of Wisconsin would officially apologize to the Sauk people for these attrocities over 150 years later in 1990.
Right: View of Battle Bluff. The Battle of Bad Axe occured on top of this bluff and in the nearby hollow.
Below Right: One of Dr. C. V. Porter's stone markers.