Illinois National Guard

First Muster
War of 1812
Civil War
War of 1812
Illnois National Guard Heritage

This 'second war of independence,' fought 200 years ago, established U.S. sea power as a force in the world, and our continuing presence in the great blue and beyond," he said. "As we commemorate Old Glory and the War of 1812, we ought to remember the delicate weaving of history that has brought America to this place of great influence and greater responsibility."
Ray Mabus, Navy Secretary

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In the words of Illinoisans.....

“If the Americans should commence war with us, we would have to fight in our own defense. The chiefs are of opinion that it is best to remain at peace. I have finished, my friends. Perhaps you take us for little children. We whip our children, but men will defend themselves. For myself I am indifferent. It would be the same with me to raise or bury the tomahawk. I can but die at last.”

Little Chief, spokesperson for the Potawatomi,
at a meeting with several tribes at the insistence of Ninian Edwards, territorial Governor , August 1811

“No troops of any kind have yet arrived in this Territory, and I think you may count on a bloody stroke upon us very soon; I have been extremely reluctant to send my family away, but, unless I hear shortly of more assistance than a few rangers, I shall buy my papers in the ground, send my family off, and stand my ground as long as possible.”

Ninian Edwards,
Territorial Governor of Illinois to William Eustis Secretary of War, August 4, 1811

“When we arrived at the bank and looked down on the sand beach I was struck with horror at the sight of men, women, and children lying naked with principally all their heads off.”

Lieutenant Linai Helm,
As a prisoner of the Native Americans after the Fort Dearborne Massacre, August 15, 1812

“What happened to the Indians was tragic, to be sure, but it was also inevitable, and the heroism of the generation of pioneers that subdued them must not be overshadowed by the darker aspects of the story. Where the hard-handed men and women of 1812 had destroyed, they also planted and built. It is all too easy, two hundred years later, for those who enjoy the wealth and security of the state they made, to condemn them for doing what they had to do to make it. It is also unbecoming. Were they able to speak, they might reply in the words of Edgar Lee Masters:
We cut the buffalo grass,
We felled the forests,
We built the school houses, built the bridges,
Leveled the roads and tilled the fields
Alone with poverty, scourges, death.”

Gillum Ferguson,
author of Illinois in the War of 1812