Cover: Uncommon Defense: Indian Allies in the Black Hawk War, from Harvard University PressCover: Uncommon Defense in HARDCOVER

Uncommon Defense

Indian Allies in the Black Hawk War

The Black Hawk War of 1832 was a three-month conflict that resulted in the expulsion of the Sauk nation from Illinois. The war has often been viewed as a decisive victory by U.S. military forces, resulting in the seizure of Native American lands for white settlers. Hall revises that view by examining the military’s native allies in the conflict, namely, the Dakota, Ho Chunk, Menominee, and Potawatomi, who saw the conflict as an opportunity to inflict harm on their traditional enemy, the Sauk. Thus, they allied themselves to the United States, using diplomatic protocols that dated to the arrival of the French and English in the Great Lakes region of North America. While the native warriors were looking to the past for established methods of accommodation to shape their relationship with the U.S. military, they unwittingly aided the United States in securing a future for Illinois that excluded all native peoples… [A] highly recommended work.—John Burch, Library Journal

This exceptionally well-researched and elegantly written book is a must-read for those who want to understand better the history of the American frontier and the complexity of wars fought amongst indigenous peoples… John Hall’s compelling analysis of the U.S.–Indian diplomacy during the Black Hawk War is instructive as the United States and its allies confront tribal societies in places like Afghanistan and Pakistan while endeavoring to defeat transnational enemies and shape the course of local conflicts that predated our involvement there and are almost certain to continue long after we are gone.—Brigadier General H. R. McMaster, U.S. Army

Uncommon Defense shows that the conflict between Black Hawk and the United States was also an ‘Indian war’ in which Menominees, Dakotas, Ho Chunks, and Potawatomis sided with the Americans against the Sauks, and different tribes had their own agendas, strategies, and experiences. A refreshing look at a story we thought we knew well.—Colin G. Calloway, Dartmouth College

John Hall’s splendid book is a balanced and comprehensive account of the complex interrelations of the Indian tribes, Army, and settlers in the era of the Black Hawk War. Particularly significant is Hall’s analysis of the reasons why the other tribes allied with the Army rather than Black Hawk.—Edward M. Coffman, Emeritus Professor, University of Wisconsin–Madison

Far from the standard account, this sophisticated analysis of the Black Hawk War illustrates that the conflict was a many-sided affair with tribal people pursuing their own agendas. Well researched—engagingly written.—R. David Edmunds, Watson Professor of American History, University of Texas at Dallas

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