The "Battle of Bloody Lake," or Horse Shoe Bend, or Pecatonica, occured in the late morning of June 16 1832. After ambushing and killing several men at Spafford's Field on June 14, and murdering Henry Apfel (Apple) during the early morning hours of June 16, a seventeen man Kickapoo war-party sought to evade pursuit by heading east from the vicinity of Hamilton's Diggings (present day Wiota, Wisconsin.)
On the morning of June 16, Col. Henry Dodge led a party of mounted militia volunteers from Forts Jackson, Defiance and Hamilton in pursuit of the war-party. The militiamen finally tracked the Kickapoo to a spot near a large bend in the Pecatonica River. There, the warriors used the embankment of a pond as a makeshift breastwork (the position labeled with the "C"s on the map at right.)
Leaving several mounted men as lookouts and horseholders, Dodge charged the Kickapoo with twenty soldiers. The Kickapoo fired a single volley, which mortally wounded two men and seriously wounded a third. Dodge's volunteers immediately rushed the Kickapoo before they could reload. Using rifles, pistols, clubbed muskets, and bayonets in a stand-up hand-to-hand fight, the militiamen killed the entire war-party. A fourth volunteer fell wounded in this final segment of the action.
The fight-- from the initial Kickapoo volley to the last militia pistol shots-- lasted only a few minutes at most, but emerged as the first real American success against Black Hawk's band. The already sizable reputation of Henry Dodge soared. Dodge and his militia volunteers would play a pivotal role in General Henry Atkinson's continuing campaign to bring Black Hawk and his band to bay.
The battle site at Bloody Lake is now preserved as part of Black Hawk Memorial Park, located north of the hamlet of Woodford, in Lafayette County, Wisconsin. Originally part of the Lafayette County parks system, the site is now maintained by the Lafayette County Sportsmen Alliance, along with the Yellowstone Flint and Cap Club and a support group, the "Friends of Woodford Park." Visitors to the park may view the commemorative concrete marker dedicated in 1922 by the Shullsburg Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution and the people of the town of Wiota.
In recent years the "Lafayette County Sportsman's Alliance" has done a very good job of restoring roads, upgrading sites and facilities, and adding signage. The "Friends of Woodford Park" have developed a nice brochure covering the park's history and facilities. Be sure to pick up your copy at the park's entry station!
Black Hawk Memorial Park is maintained soley from revenue from camping fees and donations. Please consider an overnight camping trip to the park, or make a generous donation at the conclusion of your visit. Your dollars will help preserve this historic site for future generations to study and enjoy!
Read one of the earliest communications describing this battle!
Order the NEW book on the "Bloody Lake" fight by clicking here!