Robert C. Daniels

Author / Adjunct History Professor

Author of: 

- 1220 Days: the story of U.S. Marine Edmond Babler and his experiences in Japanese Prisoner of War Camps during World War II

- World War II in Mid-America:  Experiences from rural Mid-American during the Second World War 

- Several published military history articles at www.militaryhistoryonline.com.

 

Order Autographed copies of books directly from the author

(Bookstore owners, please email rdaniels26@cox.net for special pricing.)

 

                        

Home

About 1220 Days

About World War II in Mid-America

Read Interviews

Order autographed copies

About Touring the Black Hawk War

Exploring Norfolk Cemeteries Project

Ardin Biggerstaff's Black Hawk War Diary

Read Some of My Published Articles:

Ed Gein:  the Cannibal Myth Exposed

World War II Veteran Interview

Hell Ship - From the Philippines to Japan

Interview of a WWII Veteran

The Failures at Spion Kop

The Quality of the Combatants in the Black Hawk War

The Muslim Horde's Easy Invasion of Iberia

MacArthur's Failures in the Philippines

Failures of Democracy Led to the Rise of Communism during the Spanish Civil War

Hitler, Germany's Worst General

Captain Ardin Biggerstaff's Black Hawk War Diary

 

 

 

What follows is a transcription of Captain Ardin Biggerstaff’s 31 May to 25 August 1832 diary, which he kept during and detailing his service in the Black Hawk War as
a member of the Illinois militia.

Hand written in cursive using the Captain’s personal writing style (including no punctuation and somewhat creative, at least to today’s style, capitalizations), some of
the diary’s wording is spelled phonetically, therefore, in several cases rather difficult to decipher with absolute accuracy and certainty.  A photocopy of the original
diary came into my possession from Captain Biggerstaff’s great-great-great grandson, Mr. James Ford, who found the original bound copy in his mother’s house.  I
am greatly honored and appreciative to Mr. Ford for choosing to send this copy to me.  After reading the diary, I decided to take it upon myself to attempt to
transcribe the contents for prosperity.  With this said, I retain no copyrights of the following pages.  All copyrights fully remain with James Ford and/or his
designees.  My sole contributions are the transcriptions, the rather meager rough map of the basic area covered in Captain Biggerstaff’s journey, the short biography of
Captain Biggerstaff, and the formatting of this copy.

This copy is posted here on my web page with the permission of Mr. Ford.  For this, again, I am grateful to him.

I can only hope that I translated the contents of Captain Biggerstaff’s diary correctly and did justice to his writings and memory.  Any miss-readings or miss-
interpretations of these contents are solely my responsibility, for which I humbly apologize in advance.

Robert C. Daniels
 

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

                                A memberrandom of the

Camppaign in the Year 1832 To The Mishigan Tarritory

Against The Black Hawk:

A diary of Captain Ardin Biggerstaff during the Black Hawk War

 

 

Transcribed by

Robert C. Daniels

    

Introduction

What follows is a transcription of Captain Ardin Biggerstaff’s 31 May to 25 August 1832 diary, which he kept during and detailing his service in the Black Hawk War as a member of the Illinois militia.  The original diary consists of eight 2-sided approximately 7 ½” x 6” pages (totaling 16 pages), loosely bound together by a small thread.  The first 10 pages contain brief daily entries of his adventures.  At the end of the diary, after several blank pages, one of the final slips of paper lists birthdays of six apparent family members.  Hand written in cursive using the Captain’s personal writing style (including no punctuation and somewhat creative, at least to today’s style, capitalizations), some of the diary’s wording is spelled phonetically, therefore, in several cases rather difficult to decipher with absolute accuracy and certainty.

A photocopy of the original diary came into my possession from Captain Biggerstaff’s great-great-great grandson, Mr. James Ford, who found the original bound copy in his mother’s house.  I am greatly honored and appreciative to Mr. Ford for choosing to send this copy to me.  After reading the diary, I decided to take it upon myself to attempt to transcribe the contents for prosperity.  With this said, I retain no copyrights of the following pages.  All copyrights fully remain with James Ford and/or his designees.  My sole contributions are the transcriptions, the rather meager rough map of the basic area covered in Captain Biggerstaff’s journey, the short biography of Captain Biggerstaff, and the formatting of this copy.

In transcribing these pages I endeavored to copy the words Captain Biggerstaff wrote word for word, including all his “miss-“ or “creative-spellings,”
capitalizations, and colloquialisms as they appear in the original copy.  I did, however, take the liberty of adding correct spellings, at least the first time they appear, in brackets, as well as left spaces between each date’s entry.  In addition, I included a few footnotes.  All of these editions are simply meant to assist the reader in better understanding the Captain’s writings.  A photocopy of each original page will proceed my transcription of that page.  Please understand that these photocopies are photocopies of photocopies, so they are rather light and can be somewhat difficult to read on their own.  Luckily, I was working off a PDF copy, which I was able to enlarge using my computer screen to better view and interpret.  Nonetheless, some of the words were still rather difficult to decipher with full accuracy.  Whenever this occurred, I made an educated guess taking the sentence or phrase of the word placement in consideration as well as like words or even cursive letters elsewhere in the diary.  When this arose, I placed a [?] after the “transcribed” word.

I can only hope that I translated the contents of Captain Biggerstaff’s diary correctly and did justice to his writings and memory.  Any miss-readings or miss-interpretations of these contents are solely my responsibility, for which I humbly apologize in advance.

 

Robert C. Daniels

 

 

Ardin Biggerstaff’s Short Biography

  

Ardin Biggerstaff was 25 years old during the Black Hawk War, having been born on 5 April 1807, possibly in Muchlenberg, Kentucky.  During the war he commanded the 2nd Company, 2nd Battalion, 3rd Regiment of the 1st Brigade of the Illinois Mounted Volunteers from 16 June to 13 August 1832.  The 2nd Company originated around McLeansboro, Illinois, which, as much as can be ascertained, is also where Biggerstaff lived.  According to his will, Captain
Biggerstaff had farm land along with several farm animals when he died just before his 33rd birthday on 3 March 1840 in McLeansboro, Illinois.  So, it can be
“assumed” that, at least after the war, he was a farmer.  He is buried in Concord Cemetery in McLeansboro.

Soon after the Captain’s return home from the war, in 1833 he married Eliza Jane Lane Prince – Prince is the last name of Eliza’s second husband.  Ardin and Eliza would have four children:  Lewis, b. 1834; Mary Elizabeth (Mitchell), b. 1837; Lucy (Pierce), b. 1839; and Milo, b. unknown.  Interestingly, Eliza is the daughter of Lieutenant Lewis Lane, the 1st Lieutenant of Captain Biggerstaff’s volunteer company during the war.  Lewis Lane was 13 years older than Biggerstaff and reportedly fought in the War of 1812.[2]

One would ask why or how a young, 25 year-old farmer could become a captain over older volunteers, such as Lane.  This can be easily be explained by the custom of the times of state militias throughout the entire country electing their own officers (below the rank of colonel), sergeants, and corporals, each volunteer having a vote for each position.  Who they individually voted for would depend upon the personal charisma of each candidate for the respective position.  In addition, if one, once elected, proved to be too harsh on their charges or loss favor in other ways in the eyes of their men, they could just as easily and quickly be voted out.  Apparently, Ardin Biggerstaff had whatever his company wanted in their chosen company commander.

 

__________________________

[1] James Ford, “Re: 1832 Black Hawk War diary,” email, 2018; “Will of Arden Biggerstaff,” “The Yesterdays of Hamilton County, Illinois,” accessed, 10 July 2018, http://www.carolyar.com/Illinois/
Wills/BiggerstaffArden.htm; Find a Grave, accessed, 7 July 2018, https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/27230738/ardin-biggerstaff;  Ancestry.Com, accessed, 7 July 2018, https://search.ancestry.com/
cgi-bin/sse.dll?rank=1&new=1&MSAV=1&msT=1&gss=angs-g&gsfn=Arden&gsln=Biggerstaff&msbdy=1858&msbpn__ftp=Muhlenberg%2c+Kentucky%2c+USA&msddy=1840&msdpn__ftp=
Hamilton%2c+Illinois%2c+USA&cpxt=0&catBucket=p&uidh=000&cp=0&gl=ROOT_CATEGORY&gst=&MSV=1; Isaac H. Elliott, Illinois Soldiers in the Black Hawk War 1831-32 and in the
Mexican War 1846-48
, (Springfield, Il:  Journal Company, Printers and Binders, 1902), accessed, 7 July 2018, https://books.google.com/books?id=p-hOAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA16&lpg=PA16&dq=Ardin+Biggerstaff&source=bl&ots=odZRctfS6A&sig=WeC_W901dKt3Uqw1uFJk4cQspp4&hl=en&sa=X&ved=
0ahUKEwiGmMatno7cAhXi0FQKHcgQDMkQ6AEIOjAE#v=onepage&q=Ardin%20Biggerstaff&f=false, 16-17.

[2] Ibid.

 

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

 Map

   

 

                                                                     Rough route of Captain Biggerstaff’s journey


 

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

Captain Ardin Biggerstaff’s Diary

 

 

A memberrandom

of the

Camppaign

in the Year 1832

To

The Mishigan

Tarritory

Against

The Black Hawk

 

 

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

 

 

                

                                                      May the 31st 1832

Marched from McLainsborough [McLeansboro, Illinois] to Judge atdkinson [3] & campt [camped] ___________________

                                                                                                                                   June the 1st 1832

1st) Marcht [marched] through Mount Vernom & campt in 6 miles of Salem Vandalia Faett [Fayette] County

3rd [?] Marcht past through Vandalia a bout 10 oclock & campt one mile the other side

4th  Marcht through Hillsborough [Hillsboro] Moungumery [Montgomery] County

5th  Marcht to the magoupin point [Macoupin River(?)] & campt

6th Marcht in 6 miles of Springfield Sangamon County & campt

7th  Marcht through Springfield and campt on the Bank of Sangamon River

 

__________________________

[3] No village or town relating to “Judge atdkinson” can be located.  Could this possibly be a reference to a farm owned by a Judge Atkinson?

 

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

 

 

 

 

8th  Marcht a crofs [across][4] Sagamon & sault river [Salt Creek]  & Campt on the Bank of Sugar Creek

9th  Marcht a crofs Mcanow river [Mackinaw River] in Taswell [Tazewell] County & Campt

10  Marcht & campt in 8 miles from Crow Creek in Fulton County

11 Marcht & Campt in 5 miles of Henapen [Hennepin]

12th  Marcht to Henapen and took Breakfast on the Bank of Illinois river about 180 miles from the Mouth   Continued our marcht within one Mile of Fort Wilburn [Wilbourn] & Campt

13th  Continued at Campt

14th  Took up line of Marcht swimed our horses a crofs the Ilinois river at Fort Wilburn  Continued the Marcht about one Mile & a half & Campt

15th  Lay at Camp

16th  Continued at Camp & Elected our Field officers to wit Dr. Posey Brigadier General   Samual Leach Col Joseph Nutten [?] Major

 

__________________________

[4] The “fs” in the term “a crofs” was especially challenging in the deciphering process.  It was easily understood from the surrounding words that the phrase meant across or crossed, but the “f” simply made little sense, and in some instances the “s” was left off.  Yet it became apparent in such other words as loss (lofs) and pressed (prefsed) that his “fs” meant “ss”.

 

 

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

 

 

 

 

17th  Continued at Camp

18th  Mustered in o Service & mooved near Fort Wilburn  Sentinels placed out the first time

19th  Our spie Battalion Marcht the Balance of our Brigade lay at Camp

20th  Frederick Mayberry Discharged  March about 8 Miles & Campt on Little vermillion [River]

21st  Marcht & Campt on Baro Creek and Camp on Baro creek [Bureau Creek]

22nd  Marcht a crofs the winebago creek & Big Elk Horn & Campt in a large prairie with out wood to Burn

23rd  Marcht a crofs Rock river at fort Dixon and Campt one Mile of the river

24th  Lay at Campt

25th  Marcht to Buffellow grove [Buffalo Grove] fort left our Bagage prefsed [pressed] forward on a force March to Carlgue grove [Kellogg’s Grove] where Major J. Demint [Dement] with

 

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

 

 

 

his spie Battalion was this day defeated by the Indians five of his men killed dead on the ground & two wounded

Indian Lofs [loss] three left on the ground supposed several more killed that was taken off  we arrived at Carlgues or Battle ground a bout 2 hours by Sun
[before sundown(?)]  The Indians having fled we pitch our camps

26th  We made Serch after the Indians found none  Returned near the Battle ground & Campt

27th   Remain at Camp wating for Capt Hall & a detacht company of our Brigade that was sent Back to the Buffellow grove after our Bagage which return this
day at night 

28th  Marcht & campt near the Michigan Territory line

29th  Marcht a crofs Picalallica [Pecatonica] river & Campt at fort Hamilton having for the first time Since we started hard rains and thunder

 

 

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

 

 

 

30th  Lay at Campt

July the first  Lay at Campt

2nd  Marcht a crofs the east fork of Picatallica swimed our horses and campt on the Bank

3rd  Marcht and Swimed tow [two(?)] creeks & Campt in 4 Miles of Sugar Creek at Dewees Diggins

4th  Marcht a crofs Sugar river & Campt near the fore [four] lakes [5]

5th  Marcht and Campt on the mud lake

6th  Marcht on a force Marcht a crofs Rock river thense up s.d [said(?)] river on which Marcht Several horses give out & was left

Campt on mouth of White river where we hand our more wounded by the Indians  Capt Dun [Dunn] Wounded by one of our Sentinals

7th  Marcht about 12 Miles up white river and campt where all three Brigades lay together

 

__________________________

[5] Modern-day Madison, Wisconsin, area.

 

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

 

8th  Marcht Back and Campt at the Same place at Mouth of white river

9th  Remain at Campt

10th  Marcht to wards fort Hamilton about 12 Miles & Campt

11th  Marcht a crofs catfish at the Mouth and a crofs sugar Creek & camp at Dewees diggings

12th  Marcht to fort Hamilton &  Campt

13th  Remain at Campt

14th  Remain at Campt

15th  Remain 

16th  Remain

17th  Marcht 1 Mile & Campt

18th  My Company Marcht in serch of Indians that had the night before attacked Wm Baker & run him some distance & Campt at fort defiance

19th  Marcht east direction in serch of Indians finding none return to the fort & Campt

20th  Marcht Back to fort Hamilton & Campt

 

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

 

 

21st  Continued at Campt

22nd  Marcht to Dodgeville within & Campt

23rd  Marcht about 8 Miles east of Dodgeville & Campt

24th  Marcht to Hellenia [Helena] & Campt

25th  Remain at Campt

26th  Remain a detacht part of our Brigade the Balance a crofs the wisconsin river in serch of the Indians

27th  Remain

28th  Remain

29th  I having Command of the troops left & in pursuance to orders Marcht on my way to fort Hamilton 18 Miles & Campt at Dodgeville

30th  Marcht 25 Miles to fort Hamilton &  Campt

31st  Remain

August the

 

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

 

 

August the first Remain

2nd  Remain

3rd  Marcht one Mile towards Hamilton & Campt

4th  Remained at Campt

5th  Remain

6th  Remain

7th  Remain

8th  Remain

9th  The foot men [6] Marcht with Major Thellan to Galenia [Galena, Illinois] on  their way home  The Mounted men left under my Command Marcht one Mile
on there way to fort Dixon & Campt Where Capt Hall came up with us with the news that on the 2nd day of this mot [month(?)] they had Defeated the Indians the
lofs of our men was 6 killed dead on the ground & 20 wounded the lofs of the Indians were between 2 & 4 hundred the Exeact number could not be ascertained on
a c count of them being killed in the river

 

__________________________

[6] Most likely unmounted infantry.  Although most of the Illinois militia, which Captain Biggerstaff was a member of, were mounted, some were not and were used to man various forts.

 

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 


 

 

10  Marcht 26 Miles & Campt at Crlague [Kellogg’s Grove (?)]

11th  Marcht 18 Miles & Campt at the Burnt house

12th  Marcht 20 miles to fort Dixon & Campt

13th  Mustered out of Services my Company Started for home all But Dr. Riley & Erg [?] Milton [?] & my Self we remain on account of Dr. Rileys health not
being sufficient to ride a horse Back we procured a carriage

14th Remain

15th  Crofs Rock river & Campt

16th  Moove on our Journey home with much Joy Mr. Riley health being so that he could ride in the Carriage we travel 32 Miles to Buffellow Creek

17th  Travel 31 Miles in [?]eare [Bureau (?)] County

18th  Crofs the Illinois river at fort Clark 28 Miles to Taswell Co

 

 

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

 

 

19th  Thence a crofs the Mcanaw [Mackinaw] river 26 Miles

20th  Thence a crofs Sugar Creek & Sault River & sangamon River in sangamon County 31 Miles

21st  Thence to the Magoupin point [Macoupin River(?)] 33 Ms [miles]

22nd  Thence through Hills Borough [Hillsboro] 29 Ms

23rd  Thence through Vandalia 36 Ms

24th  Thence to Maxcells [?] 33 Ms

25th Thence to McLainsborough [McLeansboro] 32 Ms

February  A Biggerstaff Capt

                       17 [?]

Par husband i Seat mi Self to let you know that i am Well atprSent [at present] trust and hope [?] these few lines ma found you Well [7]


 

__________________________

 [7] This last paragraph was particularly difficult to decipher.  I can only hope I translated it correctly, or at least within the gist of what Captain Biggerstaff meant.

 

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

 

 

 

Samuel Biggerstaff was born 17th day of December 1821

Joshua Biggerstaff was born 18th day of October 1823

Jane Biggerstaff was 1st day of November 1825

Ceiley Biggerstaff was born 13th day of November 1827

Wm H Biggerstaff was born 30th day of January 1830

James A Biggerstaff was born 30th day of October 1832

 

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

Works Cited

  

Ancestry.Com.  Accessed, 7 July 2018, https://search.ancestry.com/cgi-

bin/sse.dll?rank=1&new=1&MSAV=1&msT=1&gss=angs-g&gsfn=Arden&gsln=Biggerstaff&msbdy=1858&msbpn__ftp=Muhlenberg%2c+Kentucky%2c+
USA&msddy=1840&msdpn__ftp=Hamilton%2c+Illinois%2c+USA&cpxt=0&catBucket=p&uidh=000&cp=0&gl=ROOT_CATEGORY&gst=&MSV=1.  

Biggerstaff, Arden.  “A memberrandom of the Camppaign in the Year 1832 To The Mishigan Tarritory Against The Black Hawk.”   1832.

Elliott, Isaac H.  Illinois Soldiers in the Black Hawk War 1831-32 and in the Mexican War 1846-48.  Springfield, Il:  Journal Company, Printers and Binders, 

1902.  Accessed, 7 July 2018,  https://books.google.com/booksid=phOAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA16&lpg=PA16&dq=Ardin+Biggerstaff&source=bl&ots=         odZRctfS6A&sig=WeC_W901dKt3Uqw1uFJk4cQspp4&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiGmMatno7cAhXi0FQKHcgQDMkQ6AEIOjAE#v=onepage&q=Ardin%20Biggerstaff&f=false.

Find a Grave.  Accessed, 7 July 2018, https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/27230738/ardin-biggerstaff.   

Ford, James.  “Re: 1832 Black Hawk War diary,” email, 2018.

“Will of Arden Biggerstaff.”  “The Yesterdays of Hamilton County, Illinois.”  Accessed, 10 July 2018, http://www.carolyar.com/Illinois/Wills/BiggerstaffArden.htm.

 


 

 

 

Last updated on 17 Jul 2018 .   

This page's Webmaster can be contacted at rdaniels26@cox.net.