ulators of the 1840’s. This was a perilous period in this region’snhistory. Immigration into the Rock River Valley had flourishednsince the end of the Black Hawk War in 1832, and the pioneersnand primitive frontier communities that blanketed the area werenvirtually defenseless against criminals. Even with these migrations,nthere were often no more than two or three individualsnper square mile. Jails were few and far between, with the facilitynnearest to Rockford being for years in Galena, some sixtynmiles away. Rapid transportation and communications werenas yet unknown, and the dense forests of the region providedngreat cover for criminals.nHorse thievery, robbery, counterfeiting, and even murder—nnone of these were uncommon occurrences for this time andnplace. “A strong and well-organized band of desperadoes heldnalmost undisputed and unobstructed dominion throughoutnthis region of the country,” states a 19th-century history of northemnIllinois. “Owners of fast or really good horses never presumednto leave them unguarded for a single night, unless the stablenwas doubly locked and baned, and a faithful dog either left withinnthe stable or at the stable door; and often times the ownersnwould sleep in the stable with their tmsty rifles by their side,nwhile no man ever thought of going to his stable or his woodnpile after nightfall without his gun.”nThese bandits of the I830’s were exceptionally well-organizednand waged a reign of terror that stretched from the Ohio Rivernin the east to the Mississippi River in the west, and fromnsouthem Illinois and Indiana to northem Wisconsin and Michigan.nThey moved along well-defined trails and were assistednand given cover at scores of stations along the way. Passing andnrepassing stolen horses and counterfeit bills throughout thenregion, these way-station attendants were the 19th-century equivalentnof modem-day front men who “launder” drug money andn”fence” stolen goods. “Horse after horse was stolen and spiritednaway,” reads one account, and “no one knew where or how;nrobbery after robbery occuned throughout the [area]; every oncenin a while a mangled corpse would be found in some uninhabitednwoods; counterfeit money flooded the [area], but nonclue to the authors of these crimes could be obtained.”nNothing the communities did would stem the tide of crime.nArresting the malefactors was clearly not enough, for theynseemed always able to pay any amount of bail, to escapenwhile en route to court or jail, to pack juries and marshall perjuredntestimonies, or to arrange for innumerable changes innvenue. A popular and revealing story of the times involved anRockford sheriff who had just delivered a prisoner to the jailnin Galena. Among the people gathered in Rockford to welcomenhome the sheriff ? The prisoner himself.nNorthem Illinois was not, however, unique in either its inadequatenlaw enforcement or its loss of faith in the criminal justicensystem. A lawyer in Montgomery, Alabama, told Alexis denTocqijeville in 1832 that a man charged with murder is “alwaysnbrought to trial, and always acquitted by the jury, unless therenare greatly aggravating circumstances…. Each juror feels thatnhe might, on leaving the court, find himself in the same position’asnthe accused, and he acquits.” The man then showednTocqueville the perquisites that came along with being an attorneynat this time. “Look at the scars that cover my head,” he said.nThese “are knife blows I have been given.” But then “you wentnto the law,” said Tocqueville in anticipation. “My God! No,”nthe man replied. “I tried to give as good in return.”nThe torching of the new courthouse in Oregon, Illinois, somenthirty miles south of Rockford in Ogle County, is a prime exam­n24/CHRONICLESnple of what the Rock River communities were up against.nAccording to Thomas Ford, an Ogle County judge who becamengovernor of Illinois in 1842, the bandits “assembled in the night,nand set the court-house on fire, in the hope that as the prisonersnwould have to be removed from the jail, they might innthe hurry and confusion of the people in attending to the fire,nmake their escape. [The town’s] newly-erected temple ofnjustice. . . was entirely consumed, but none of the prisonersnescaped.” None escaped that evening, that is. For after theirntrial and conviction and sentence to jail, all of the prisoners successfullynescaped.nThis burning of the county courthouse, the community’sn”temple of justice,” proved to be the final straw. On April 15,n1841, 15 representatives of Ogle County gathered to discussnwhat measures could be taken to regain control of their community.nAfter calmly reviewing the inadequacy of the criminalnjustice system and the many crimes to which they and neighboringncounties had been subjected, the citizens concluded thatnno option was left them but to take the law into their ownnhands. Regulator companies were organized across northernnIllinois, with the Ogle County company directing their activities.nT hennnregulators’ methods were simple and direct: theynvisited en masse every known and suspected criminal,nordered each to be out of the county within a certain lengthnof time, and summarily and severely whipped into submissionnall who refused to leave. Their first visit was to a horse thiefnnamed John Earle. Some one hundred regulators draggednhim from his house, stripped him of his shirt, tied his handsnbehind his back, and then whipped him with a rawhide 36 times,nsix times each by six consecutive regulators. In proof that thenvigilantes came from all walks of life, the regulator notednfor having administered the most “vigorous” strokes was thendeacon of an Ogle County church. Later that same day theynvisited a Baptist preacher who was widely known to be aidingnhorse thieves in Rockford. The regulators tied him to a tree andnadministered 96 lashes, during which the preacher confessednto his crime.nNot surprisingly, the resident outlaws did not take kindly tonregulator activity. Within days of these whippings some eightynof them gathered to plan their method of retaliation. Not wantingna direct encounter with the regulators, they opted for whatntoday would be called terrorism. They sent an anonymous letternto John Long, the Ogle County regulators’ first captain. Itnithreatened serious reprisals if he did not resign his position asncaptain, but Long refused. The bandits then burned down thenmill where Long worked and, as an example of what they werenprepared to do to him, broke the legs of his favorite horse. Thenbandits won; Long resigned. Nor was the next captain, C.W.nWellington, capable of sustaining such threats and tactics. Hentoo resigned.nWellington’s successor, John Campbell, received his firstndeath threat within two weeks of being elected captain. It camenin a letter from John Driscoll, one of the most notoriousnoutlaws of the Rock River Valley, and it too threatened seriousnreprisals if regulator actions did not cease. But being a mannof “sterling character,” Campbell refused to back down. Driscollnand his cohorts then decided that the captain “had to go,” andnon Sunday, June 27, 1841, Campbell was murdered by two ofnDriscoll’s sons, David and Taylor.nNews of the slaying spread quickly. One account says “then