War of 1812people

Black Hawk

First Nations

Further Reading

Black Hawk's description of white warfare

Black Hawk, a Sauk chief, discusses the differences between white and native warfare after he returns home from service with the British army along the Detroit frontier in 1813.


On my arrival at the village, I was met by the chiefs and braves, and conducted to a lodge that had been prepared to receive me. After eating, I gave an account of what I had seen and done. I explained to them the manner in which the British and Americans fought. Instead of stealing upon each other, and taking every advantage to kill the enemy and save their own people, as we do...which with us is considered good policy in a war chief...they march out, in open daylight and fight, regardless of the number of warriors they may lose! After the battle is over, they retire to feast, and drink wine, as if nothing had happened; after which, they make a statement in writing,of what they have done - each party claiming the victory and neither give an account of half the number that have been killed on their own side. They all fought like braves, but would not do to lead a war party with us. Our maxim is, “to kill the enemy and save our own men.” Those chiefs would do to paddle a canoe, but not to steer it. The Americans shoot better than the British, but their soldiers are not so well clothed or provided for.