When our cruise ship was near Davenport, Iowa, I learned about the Rock Island Arsenal. I had heard about the Black Hawk War but had no idea that disputes over ownership of this place sparked that conflict.
Located on an island in the Mississippi, it was established as a government site in 1816 first as a defensive fort and then, in the 1880s, a government-owned weapons manufacturing arsenal in the U.S. Still in use, and even as being designated as a National Historic Landmark, the arsenal still produces ordinance (bullets), artillery, gun mounts, small arms, aircraft weapons sub-systems, grenade launchers and a host of associated components. Some 250 military personnel work there along with 6000 civilian workers.
Back to the Black Hawk war. In his autobiography, Black Hawk wrote: “When we arrived (to our tribal summer camp) we found that the troops had come to build a fort on Rock Island…We did not object, however, to their building their fort on the island, but were very sorry, as this was the best one on the Mississippi, and had long been the resort of our young people during the summer. It was our garden, like the white people have near their big villages, which supplied us with strawberries, blackberries, gooseberries, plums, apples and nuts of different kinds.”
Did you know that Abraham Lincoln served in the Illinois Militia in 1832 in this conflict…..”he never saw action.”
Last but not least, Rock Island holds a Confederate cemetery; nearly 2000 prisoners, including Union Colored Troops who served as guards, are buried there.
AND, last of all, the Rock Island Arsenal Museum was established on July 4, 1905. It is the second oldest US Army Museum after the West Point Museum.
Think of all the Jeopardy trivia you just learned! 🙂