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Chapter 8

This webpage reproduces a chapter of
Old Fort Crawford
and the Frontier

by
Bruce E. Mahan

The State Historical Society of Iowa
Iowa City, Iowa, 1926

The text is in the public domain.

This page has been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
If you find a mistake though,
please let me know!


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Chapter 10
This site is not affiliated with the US Military Academy.

p120 IX
A New Fort Crawford

Following the termination of the Winnebago outbreak Major General Gaines, then commander of the Western Department of the Army, made an inspection tour of the posts of the Upper Mississippi.330 He began the inspection of Fort Crawford on September 28, 1827, and completed it on October 4th. He reported that Fort Crawford was so much decayed as to be uninhabitable without extensive repairs, and even with repairs the barracks could not be rendered sufficiently comfortable to insure the health of the troops. The floors and timbers were decayed by the frequent floods of the river which had left the wood soaked and filled with damp sediment. Orders had been given to Major Fowle, the commandant, to repair the barracks in the best manner the means under his control would permit. Ten thousand feet of plank had been brought from Fort Snelling, and an additional supply had been ordered with the necessary tools to work it up. With these supplies it was thought that the mechanics at Fort Crawford would be able to render the troops "tolerably comfortable" until the next spring when it was feared that the usual freshets in the river would again overflow the place.331

Gaines declared that these spring freshets had often flooded the barracks to a depth of three or four feet for several days in succession. When this happened bilious diseases were sure to follow. The latter part of summer and early fall was another unhealthy period of the year p121at this place. Indeed, at the time of the inspection Gaines found one officer and forty-four enlisted men, more than one‑fourth of the garrison, in the hospital suffering with ague and fever. They appeared to be well attended by Assistant Surgeon R. M. Coleman, but the rooms used as a hospital were "indifferent and inconvenient in the extreme".332

The garrison at Fort Crawford consisted of Companies A, C, G, and K of the Fifth Infantry, and the police, tactics, and discipline of the troops both in quarters and under arms equalled that of the rest of the regiment at Fort Snelling, despite the fact that it was almost impossible to keep the clothing, bedding, arms, and the like in good order in the rough, dirty, and decaying barracks. Some defect in drill was noticeable due, it was thought, to the fact that the troops were more accustomed to the use of "the axe and spade, the trowel and hammer, the oar and setting pole" than to the practice of drill and tactics.333

Gaines included in his report a statement from Assistant Surgeon Coleman to the effect that the location of Fort Crawford was decidedly unhealthy and that a site on the opposite side of the river would be much more satisfactory. Major Fowle confirmed the report of Dr. Coleman about the unhealthfulness of the place. He, too, was of the opinion that the condition of the garrison would be much improved by its removal across the river, and recommended Pike's Hill as the best site for a new post. Accordingly General Gaines, fully convinced of the necessity of a new location for Fort Crawford not only because of the unhealthfulness of the place but also because of its nearness to "tippling shops" in the adjoining village, recommended the erection of a new fort p122on Pike's Hill on the Iowa side of the Mississippi "nearly opposite to the mouth of the Wisconsin, about four miles from Fort Crawford, and in full view of the fort and the neighboring village."334

The principal objections, he thought, to the military occupancy of Pike's Peak were that it did not afford immediate protection to the village of Prairie du Chien and that its height — some four hundred feet above the river — would add somewhat to the expenses of transportation beyond that incurred at Fort Crawford. This expense, however, would be more than counterbalanced by the increased healthfulness of the site and the supply of timber for building and fuel which the hill and adjoining highlands afforded. A good wagon road avoiding the precipitous face of the bluff and descending by easy grades in the rear could be made from the top of the hill to the landing about a mile below by ten men in the course of a week. The top of the site consisted of nearly five acres of almost level table-land which would afford sufficient space for the fort with room for company and battalion exercise. Back of the hilltop for half a mile stretched a field sufficiently level and well adapted to all purposes of cultivation as "should occupy the attention of the troops, viz. for gardening, grass lots, and pasteurage." A spring in the hollow of the hill, about one hundred and fifty yards from the proposed site of the fort, would furnish an ample supply of excellent water.335

Fully convinced of the feasibility of his proposal Gaines drew up and incorporated in his report a plan for a fort on Pike's Hill. The work, he thought, should consist of two small stone towers or castles one hundred and twenty feet apart placed at two opposite corners of a square p123stone fortification. Stone quarters and barracks, kitchens, storehouses, and magazine were to be conveniently located within this space. The work was designed to accommodate five officers with one hundred and twenty non‑commissioned officers, artificers, and privates, together with storage for their supplies. A stone work of this sort, it was believed, would cost perhaps fifty per cent more than a wooden work for the same number of troops, but it would be ten times more durable, and much more secure than a wooden work could possibly be rendered.336

Although the recommendations in this report were not followed by the War Department it disclosed clearly the necessity of new quarters for the garrison at Prairie du Chien. Little progress in this direction was made, during the next year, although in June another great flood in the Mississippi made the site of the village an island over which steamboats could pass in any direction. Fences were swept away, the fort was for a time abandoned, and many inhabitants of the village were compelled to retreat across the slough to the higher part of the Prairie or to seek safety in boats, on rafts, or in the lofts of houses.

Major Fowle with four companies of the Fifth Infantry remained at the post until the late spring of 1828 when a general readjustment of troops in the Western Department took the Fifth Regiment to the Lake posts and brought the First Regiment to the forts of the Upper Mississippi. The Post Returns of Fort Crawford for May, 1828, disclosed the presence of Companies D, E, F, and G of the First Infantry with Colonel John McNeil in command — a total of eight officers and one hundred and seventy-three men. In August Brevet Major Stephen p124Watts Kearny of the Third Regiment assumed command of the post while Colonel McNeil departed on a furlough.337

Major Kearny continued in command of Fort Crawford until the following July,338 and during his sojourn at Prairie du Chien work on a new Fort Crawford was begun. The authorities at Washington had at length reached the conclusion that the old wooden barracks were no longer fit for occupancy. On March 25, 1829, Major John Garland, quartermaster at Fort Crawford, was informed that Major Kearny would receive orders from Washington to select a site for the contemplated barracks at Prairie du Chien.339 Writing under the date of April 2, 1829, Major General Alexander Macomb, the commanding general of the army, instructed Major Kearny to make an examination of the immediate country without delay and to select definitely a site for the contemplated barracks. Kearny was told to consider health, comfort, and convenience in making his choice with particular attention to accessibility to the river as all supplies had to come over this course. The letter stated that an appropriation had been obtained by the quartermaster general for the contemplated barracks, and a request was made that lots on which it was proposed to build the works should be marked on an enclosed map of private land claims at Prairie du Chien and returned to the quartermaster general. The commanding officer at Fort Crawford was instructed to take general direction of the work, assisted by the quartermaster and the necessary troops to effect the construction of the new barracks "with the greatest possible expedition."340

Major Kearny and Major Garland had already made a preliminary survey of the different places in the vicinity p125MAP p126that had been recommended as military sites and had tentatively selected as the best available location two lots some distance south of old Fort Crawford on an elevation of the Prairie many feet above the highest rise of the river. These lots comprising some two hundred acres extended from the Mississippi on the west to the bluffs in the rear of the Prairie. Upon receipt of the letter from General Macomb together with similar authorization from Major General T. S. Jesup, Quartermaster General of the Army, Kearny directed Garland to purchase lots 33 and 34 for the purpose designated. Garland completed negotiations for these lots on May 19, 1829, agreeing to pay $2000 for the entire purchase. A deed was likewise obtained without further expense for about five or six acres on the lower part of lot 35 which gave free and uninterrupted communication with the river to a "tolerably good landing for Boats." The place selected for the barracks was on lot 34 at a spot designated on Lyon's map as "Large Mound". On a corner of lot 34 was a house which would serve as quarters for those engaged in constructing the new fort.341

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Site of Prairie du Chien
and Fort Crawford

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Forthwith, all the carpenters at old Fort Crawford — six in number but "most of them very indifferent mechanics" — were placed under the direction of Quartermaster Garland. Men were also selected for quarrying stone, burning lime, and cutting timber. Other workmen began to level the large mound that stood where the new fort was to be located, and in doing so took out cart-loads of bones from this ancient burial ground of the Indians. In a letter to General Jesup dated May 18, 1829, Kearny promised that he would do all in his power to forward the buildings, but as all the materials — stone, lime, and timber — were very remote from the building series, and p127as mechanics were deficient both in number and qualifications he did not think the barracks could possibly be ready for occupancy in less than twelve months. He doubted, too, if the $20,000 appropriated for these buildings would be sufficient. Although it would be impossible to complete the new barracks for several months, a small amount of money and a little labor in the fall would, Kearny thought, render the old quarters habitable for the ensuing winter.342 A letter from Major Garland to General Jesup, dated Fort Crawford, May 21, 1829, confirmed the news of the purchase, and stated that Major Kearny's coöperation in the erection of the new barracks could be confidently relied on. Indeed, Garland was fearful of not being able to keep pace with Kearny's anxiety for their completion. In an enclosed estimate of funds for the quartermaster's department at Fort Crawford for June, Garland designated the following items as necessary special appropriations occasioned by the new project at hand: for the purchase of a site for new barracks $2000; drafting and recording deeds $25.00; payment of mechanics and laborers $300.00; purchase of draft oxen $450.00.343

Major Kearny continued in command of Fort Crawford throughout May and June, 1829, during which time preliminary work on erection of the new post was prosecuted with commendable energy. In July Lieutenant Colonel Zachary Taylor took over the command of Fort Crawford and began a sojourn at Prairie du Chien which continued with the exception of absences on furloughs and special details until he was summoned in the late thirties to quell the Seminole uprising in Florida. The Post Returns of Fort Crawford for July, 1829, indicated the presence of Companies A, D, F, and G of p128the First Infantry — a total force of ten officers and one hundred and seventy-three men. William Beaumont was surgeon of the garrison, and Major Garland continued as quartermaster in charge of construction of the new post.344

One of the soldiers, John H. Fonda by name, who was stationed at Fort Crawford in the summer of 1829 when construction of the new fort began, has left a series of charming sketches of events at and near the post of that day. Taylor selected Fonda to pilot a detail of men up the Wisconsin River where they were to cut timber for the fort. He guided them as far as the present location of Helena where sufficient timber was found, and the men began cutting down the trees and preparing to raft the logs down stream. Fonda thereupon returned to old Fort Crawford and, having performed this duty to the satisfaction of the commanding officer, was often appointed to outside duty and frequently had a file of men under him.345

In an early stage of the fort's erection Taylor detailed Fonda to take some men and cross over to the Iowa side of the river to select a convenient location for a lime kiln. Fonda chose two stone masons to accompany him; one, by the name of Dunbar, was a lively, fearless fellow, the other, Baird by name, was a timid person afraid of Indians, of drowning, of anything in fact where there was an element of danger. The three men started across the Mississippi in a pirogue, a dug‑out made from the trunk of a mammoth pine. In the center of this log canoe was a mast with a large square sail, but as there was no wind the men had to propel the craft with paddles. On reaching the west side of the river below the site of the present town of McGregor they turned the prow of the pirogue p129down stream to a coulee where they soon found an abundance of limestone.

It was a warm sultry day and the men loitered in the cool shade conversing, lolling on the grass, and occasionally jerking a piece of rock out "on the mirror-like surface of the Mississippi until about four o'clock in the afternoon." Suddenly they heard a deep distant rumble, and Baird sprang up saying "what's that?" Winking at Dunbar Fonda suggested that it was the howling of wolves, and attempted to increase Baird's fright by accounting for the growing darkness and reverberations of thunder on some volcanic principle. Terror seized Baird and "casting a hasty glance up at the wild, rugged, precipitous bluffs", he implored them to hasten back and made off in double quick time for the pirogue. As the storm was fast approaching Dunbar and Fonda followed him to the river bank and reëmbarked in their craft. Trimming the sail they cast loose just as the storm burst upon them. The wind struck the sail and away went the pirogue "plowing through the waves, dashing the spray from its bows, and leaving a foamy wake astern." Fonda and Dunbar were in their element but poor Baird crouched in the bow of the canoe begging his companions to take down the sail. When they laughed at his fears he began to curse, pray, blaspheme, and threaten until Dunbar told him to stop his noise. This made him cower down, but when the pirogue struck the government landing he was standing in the bow, and the sudden jerk pitched him headlong on shore. He scrambled up and took to his heels, never stopping until he reached the fort. Fonda made his report to Quartermaster Garland and was later sent back with a detail to burn lime, but Baird could never be induced to cross the Mississippi again.346

p130 In the fall of 1829 Colonel Taylor ordered a body of men to proceed to the pineries on Menominee River "to cut logs, hew square timber, make plank and shingles" to be used in the construction of the new fort.347 Seventy men were selected for this task and placed under the command of Lieutenant Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Levin Gale who was assisted by Lieutenant Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.J. R. B. Gardenier, Sergeant Melvin, and Corporal Fonda as pilot. They left Prairie du Chien late in the season in seven Mackinaw boats, ten men in each boat. Fonda was in command of the first boat, Gale of the third, Melvin of the fifth, and Gardenier in the last with orders to keep the boats well up and to see that they reached shore together at night. The boats made good headway against the current, and the men felt vigorous in the fine fall weather. Nights were cold and the mornings clear and frosty. As the flotilla entered Lake Pepin ice was encountered and the cold became intense. Oftentimes during the day Lieutenant Gale and a couple of men would get ashore and kill geese and ducks for the evening mess.348

Shortly after the fleet entered the crooked channel of the Chippewa River the boats became separated, and at sundown when Fonda decided to encamp only three of the leading boats were in company. Lieutenant Gale sent Fonda back in a skiff to find the other boats and hurry them along. A short distance below he came upon Melvin with two of the boats who said that Gardenier had run aground on a sand‑bar. When Fonda reached the sand‑bar he found the remaining boats and their crews "tight enough — in more respects than one". It was bitter cold and to keep the blood in circulation the men had tapped the whisky casks which contained the soldiers' liquor rations. As it was too late to extricate p131the boats from the quicksand that night the men with blankets and provisions were taken ashore in a skiff where a second camp was made. Next morning a council was held to fix the blame for the stranding of the boats and Lieutenant Gardenier was ordered back to Fort Crawford. All the following day was spent in fruitless efforts to get the boats off the sand‑bar. On the third night after the accident the Chippewa River closed, and while the ice was getting stronger the men built sleds to draw the stores on the ice some some fifteen miles to the place on the Menominee River where they were to cut timber. By the time the sleds were finished the ice was strong enough to bear their weight, and they were loaded with whisky, blankets, and provisions to be drawn to the logging camp. When this site was reached Gale and his two men remained to watch the stores, while Fonda and the rest of the party returned for another load.349

In their absence Lieutenant Gale descried a war party of Chippewa looking for Sioux, and to save his scalp, as he supposed, made off through the wooded bottom land at top speed. The Chippewa chief sent two of his swiftest runners to bring Gale back but they could not overtake him. The warriors seeing the liquor and provisions lying about without a guard took some of the goods and helped themselves to a plentiful supply of liquor before they departed. Two days later Fonda and his men returned with a second load of supplies and learned from his two companions that Gale had been missing for more than sixty hours. Men were sent in the direction he had taken and they discharged guns at regular intervals, a lookout was stationed on high ground that commanded an extensive view of the Chippewa flats; but the day passed without finding Gale. On the third day the Chippewa p132chief paid the camp a second visit returning everything that had been taken except the whisky. While the Indians were still at the camp the lookout reported that he could see an object moving in the marsh some three miles distant. Two soldiers were sent out who succeeded in creeping up on Gale and bringing him back to camp. He had been wandering for three days and nights and exposure had temporarily deranged his mind. It was found that his feet and legs were frozen up to his knees. First aid was applied, and Fonda with three men started back for Fort Crawford with Gale on a sled. The lieutenant endured great pain for every motion was torture, but when they came in sight of Wabasha's village he begged them not to stop. As this would have been a difficult thing to do they marched into the village and told Wabasha of the lieutenant's condition. The chief had Gale carried into his lodge and treated his injuries with an Indian concoction of white oak bark and root poultice. The party arrived safely at Prairie du Chien and Gale was placed under the care of the post surgeon, Dr. Beaumont.350 To the prompt first aid, the Indian remedies, and his subsequent care Lieutenant Gale owed his perfect recovery.351

Fonda was ordered up the river with three men and two yoke of oxen. When they arrived at the camp on Menominee River the crew had a log cabin almost finished and were storing the provisions in it. Shortly afterwards, one of the men in drawing a sled slipped down and broke his lower jaw. The men at the camp were divided into three gangs, two of thirty each commanded by Melvin and Fonda, and a third of ten to do the work in camp. Logging operations progressed steadily throughout the winter and the next spring. Trees were p133felled, timber hewn, and material for a flat-boat was being hewed into proper shape when one of the workmen laid his thigh open to the bone with a broad‑axe. As it was necessary for the man to have medical aid, Melvin made out a report of the work done, and sent Fonda with the two wounded men in a dug‑out to Fort Crawford. The trip down the river was made without mishap and the party reached the fort one evening after dusk. Placing the wounded men in the hospital Fonda reported to Colonel Taylor and Major Garland all that had happened at the logging camp since the detail arrived there the previous fall.352

Lieutenant Gardenier, Fonda, a man named Boiseley, and seven others were sent back to the pineries to bring down the rafts. Upon their arrival at the logging camp they found that the force had made good progress — they had a large quantity of squared timber ready, a large amount of shingles, and the flat-boat was nearly finished. Two rafts were formed of the timber with Fonda in charge of one and Lieutenant Gardenier of the other. As Fonda's raft, although the largest, drew less water all the provisions except a barrel of whisky were put on it. Melvin was left behind with some of the men to bring down the shingles on the flat-boat. The rafts were run out of the Menominee into the Chippewa River without difficulty, and proceeded without mishap to the entrance of "Boeuf Slough". Fonda had made his raft fast to the shore for the night when the second raft appeared floating "fence-rail fashion, first against one shore and then against the other, bumping along as though it was intoxicated". Fonda called out to Gardenier to make fast above him or to pull for the point opposite the slough. Gardenier heard him and attempted the latter, but owing p134to the strong current or some mismanagement the raft was sucked into the slough and struck on a small island. Thinking that the slough which at this point resembled a river would lead to the Mississippi Gardenier gave orders to swing the raft off the island and was swept down stream. Fonda and his party proceeded down the Chippewa thence down the Mississippi. As Fonda predicted Gardenier's raft floated into a marsh from which it was impossible to extricate it, and the timber was a total loss. Meantime Fonda and Boiseley in attempting to locate Gardenier's party became lost in the marsh and losing their provisions when their canoe overturned were nearly starved before they again caught up with their raft. Without adequate supplies Lieutenant Gardenier and his party wandered on the Mississippi where half-starved they were picked up in due time by the crew of the other raft. Sending the weakest of the party on in a Mackinaw boat which he had picked up Fonda brought the larger raft safely to its destination.353

A sawmill had already been erected on Yellow River, a stream some twelve miles above Prairie du Chien on the Iowa side of the Mississippi, where pine logs from the Chippewa River and oak logs from timber in the vicinity were sawed into lumber for the new fort.354 In July, 1830, Colonel Taylor left Fort Crawford on a furlough and Colonel Willoughby Morgan returned as commandant after an absence of several years. The Post Returns for July, 1830, indicate with what activity work on the new barracks was being pushed. Captain T. F. Smith was absent on extra duty superintending the sawmill, Captain R. B. Mason was superintending construction work on the barracks, Lieutenant Gale was on extra duty getting out shingles, Lieutenant Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Thomas A. Davies p135had charge of the brick-yard, while Lieutenant James H. Rawling was absent directing the task of quarrying stone.355 The north quarter of the new fort was completed in the summer of 1830, and the powder magazine at the southeast corner was built the same year. It took four men ten months to construct the magazine as the walls were three feet thick and each rock matched into another like flooring.356 In a report from Quartermaster General Jesup to Secretary of War John H. Eaton dated November 23, 1830, he wrote "of the works under the direction of the department, the barracks at Fort Crawford, authorized by appropriations at the two last sessions of Congress, are in such a state of forwardness as to leave no doubt of comfortable accommodations being prepared for four companies during the present year; and it is believed that the appropriation will be sufficient, or nearly so, to complete the works contemplated."357

Although this report was more hopeful than actual conditions warranted, work on the fort continued unabated throughout the winner and spring of 1830‑1831 until the refusal of Black Hawk and his band to leave the vicinity of Rock Island for a new home in the Iowa country brought General Gaines with a force of regulars from St. Louis and Colonel Morgan and part of the garrison from Fort Crawford to force the Sauk across the Mississippi. The Post Returns from Fort Crawford for June, 1831, show the garrison reduced to four officers and eighty-nine men under the temporary command of Captain Thomas Barker. The Returns for the next month, however, indicate a strenuous renewal of construction activities. Morgan himself was absent on furlough and Captain Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Gustavus Loomis had been assigned command of the post with a garrison of eleven officers and two hundred p136and twenty-five men.358 Lieutenant Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Jefferson Davis, who had been stationed at Fort Winnebago before the campaign at Rock Island, had recently been transferred to Fort Crawford and was now engaged in superintending the sawmill on Yellow River.359 Lieutenant Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.George Wilson, later a prominent citizen in the Territory of Iowa, was absent in the pursuit of deserters, Lieutenant Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.W. L. Harris had charge of the brick-yard, Lieutenant Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.G. W. Garey directed a detail quarrying stone, and Lieutenant Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Joseph H. La Motte was in charge of the lime party. Throughout the rest of the summer and fall of 1831 work on the new fort was pushed steadily. Morgan resumed command of the post in October, and during this season the completed portions of the new fort were occupied by part of the garrison. On November 2, 1831, Quartermaster General Jesup reported to Secretary of War Lewis Cass as follows: the barracks "at Fort Crawford and Fort Winnebago, which were in progress at the date of my last annual report, have been advanced as far as available funds would permit, but further appropriations will be required to complete them on the enlarged plan necessary to accommodate the increased garrisons which have been assigned to these posts."360

Colonel Morgan again relinquished command of Fort Crawford to Captain Loomis in April, 1832, and Loomis in turn gave place to Colonel Zachary Taylor in August following the conclusion of the Black Hawk War. This month found fifteen officers and one hundred and ninety‑one men at the fort. Although the barracks were not completed the new Fort Crawford was occupied by all of the garrison during this season, and old Fort Crawford which had represented the authority of the United States at this point for sixteen years passed into the p137limbo of obsolete frontier fortifications.361 Throughout 1832 and 1833 details of construction were completed from time to time, but the Black Hawk War and cholera which raged severely at that post following that campaign interrupted the work to a considerable extent. In November, 1833, Quartermaster General Jesup reported to Secretary of War Cass: "The barracks at Fort Crawford, owing to the interruption of operations by the presence of cholera, and causes connected with our Indian relations in that vicinity, have not yet been completed. They are, however, in progress, and the work will be prosecuted as steadily as circumstances will permit." A year later Jesup reported: "The new barracks at Fort Crawford were, at the date of the last report, in such a state of forwardness as to leave no doubt of their being soon completed."362

An inspection report of the new Fort Crawford made on August 21, 1834, revealed conditions at the post shortly before it was finally completed. The inspector declared that the fare at Fort Crawford was as good as one could desire, and the arrangement, neatness, and order of the kitchen and mess rooms were highly creditable to all concerned. Muskets were serviceable and clean, cartridge boxes were in good order and neatly kept, and the bayonet scabbards were better than the inspector was accustomed to see. The appearance of the men under arms was "pretty good" and would doubtless improve when the recruits had become better informed on drill regulations. Hospital supplies were sufficient unless the autumn should prove sickly, but the arrangement of the new hospital received the inspector's condemnation. In the quartermaster's department were sufficient tools and supplies to complete the barracks, and the commissary's department p138had an abundance of all rations except beans. The soap and candles, however, were of inferior quality. Now that the stone magazine was finished the ordnance and stores, of which there was enough for the time, would be properly secured in the future. As to the instruction of the troops which then consisted of five companies of the First Infantry, the inspector declared that this command was better instructed in the infantry and light infantry maneuvers than any other he had seen on the present tour, a fact creditable to Colonel Taylor and his officers "as will appear to anyone who takes into consideration the very severe duties of fatigue that until lately it has been subjected to."363

The new Fort Crawford was an imposing work. It consisted of an enclosure, rectangular in shape, the north and south sides of which consisted of a stockade of pine logs each one foot square and sixteen feet high. The east and west walls of the fort were each formed by two barracks thirty-five feet wide and one hundred and seventy-five feet long, separated by a sally-port twenty‑six feet wide. These barracks were constructed of stone and consisted of an elevated basement and one story. Inside the stockade and forming the north and south limits of the enclosed parade ground stood the buildings used for officers' quarters and store-rooms, each thirty-five feet wide and two hundred and forty‑two feet long. These likewise were constructed of stone and consisted of an elevated basement and one story. A shingled gable roof covered each of these buildings, and these roofs projecting inside the fort formed the roof of a paved porch ten feet wide facing the parade ground. This parade ground was intersected in the center at right angles by a paved walk running north and south and by a wide paved sally-port p139which extended east and west through the fort, thence westward to the river. The west wall of Fort Crawford rested on a ridge some fifty feet above the river and distant several hundred feet. In the southeast corner of the parade ground stood a tall flag staff where the Stars and Stripes were raised daily at guard mounting and lowered at retreat. In the northeast corner of the fort was a huge well six feet in diameter and sixty feet deep. The stone powder magazine occupied the southeast corner of the fort proper, and in the south end of the west barracks was a room fitted up as a theatre. The windows in the basement of the fort were two feet wide by four feet long and were cross barred with wrought iron slats. Both the hospital and the commandant's home were outside the fort, the former a large stone structure to the south, the latter a frame building to the north. North of the commandant's home was the new cemetery for officers and east of the fort was a similar plot for enlisted men. A large level drill ground extended from the fort to the bluffs on the east of the Prairie. The new Fort Crawford as finally completed on its high and commanding site was, indeed, a worthy representative of the military authority of the government in the Upper Mississippi Valley.364

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Courtesy of the State Historical Society of Wisconsin

The New Fort Crawford


The Author's Notes:

330 American State Papers, Military Affairs, Vol. IV, pp122‑141.

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331 American State Papers, Military Affairs, Vol. IV, pp123, 124.

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332 American State Papers, Military Affairs, Vol. IV, pp124, 126.

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333 Post Returns, Fort Crawford, 1817‑1830, October, 1827, in the Adjutant General's Office, War Department, Washington, D. C.; American State Papers, Military Affairs, Vol. IV, pp125, 126.

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334 American State Papers, Military Affairs, Vol. IV, p124.

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335 American State Papers, Military Affairs, Vol. IV, p124.

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336 American State Papers, Military Affairs, Vol. IV, p125.

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337 For an account of the flood in 1828 see Items from Lyon's Field Notes 1828 in the History of Crawford and Richland Counties, Wisconsin (1884), pp278, 279; also Wisconsin Historical Collections, Vol. V, p237. For the troops at Fort Crawford in 1828 see American State Papers, Military Affairs, Vol. IV, p9, and Post Returns, Fort Crawford, 1817‑1830, January to December, 1828, in the Adjutant General's Office, War Department, Washington, D. C.

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338 Post Returns, Fort Crawford, 1817‑1830, June and July, 1829, in the Adjutant General's Office, War Department, Washington, D. C.

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339 File Record, Fort Crawford, Bundle A, p17, in the Judge Advocate General's Office, War Department, Washington, D. C.

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340 File Record, Fort Crawford, Bundle A, p15, in the Judge Advocate General's Office, War Department, Washington, D. C. The report concerning the private land claims at Prairie du Chien made by the secretary of Michigan Territory, the register, and the receiver of the Detroit land office, together with the testimony collected by Isaac Lee in 1820, and a map showing these claims may be found in American State Papers, Public Lands, Vol. V, pp303‑328. The site of old Fort Crawford on lots 9, 10, and 11 of the so‑called island is clearly indicated.

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341 File Record, Fort Crawford, Bundle A, pp9, 12, 13, in the Judge Advocate General's Office, War Department, Washington, D. C.

The map of the Private Land Claims at Prairie du Chien is a copy of the original, filed in the office of the Surveyor General, General Land Office, Washington, D. C., on November 13, 1828. The map is based on the survey made by Lucius Lyon in July and August, 1828.

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342 File Record, Fort Crawford, Bundle A, pp 4, 7, 12, 13, in the Judge Advocate General's Office, War Department, Washington, D. C.; Wisconsin Historical Collections, Vol. V, p254.

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343 File Record, Fort Crawford, Bundle A, pp4‑6, in the Judge Advocate General's Office, War Department, Washington, D. C.

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344 Post Returns, Fort Crawford, 1817‑1830, May to July, 1829, in the Adjutant General's Office, War Department, Washington, D. C.

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345 Fonda's Early Wisconsin in the Wisconsin Historical Collections, Vol. V, pp240, 242. The series of historical papers in the article Early Wisconsin were written by the editor of the Prairie du Chien Courier as dictated by John H. Fonda. They were first published in this papers between February 15, 1858, and the following May.

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346 Wisconsin Historical Collections, Vol. V, pp242‑244.

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347 The following account of the logging operations is based on Fonda's narrative in the Wisconsin Historical Collections, Vol. V, pp244‑254.

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348 Wisconsin Historical Collections, Vol. V, pp244, 245.

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349 Wisconsin Historical Collections, Vol. V, pp246, 247.

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p312 350 Dr. William Beaumont entered the army in 1812 as surgeon's mate. He was promoted to surgeon, later resigned, and retired from the service in 1839. He was the author of an interesting work on the stomach and action of the gastric juice based on experiments with a wounded soldier, Alexis St. Martin, who had a gunshot wound in his stomach, through which the digestive process could be observed. — Wisconsin Historical Collections, Vol. V, p248, Vol. XIV, p397.

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351 Wisconsin Historical Collections, Vol. V, pp247, 248.

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352 Wisconsin Historical Collections, Vol. V, pp249, 250.

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353 Wisconsin Historical Collections, Vol. V, pp250, 254.

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354 See Two Local Questions, by C. E. Freeman, in The Dunn County News (Wisconsin), October 14, 1909.

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355 Post Returns, Fort Crawford, 1817‑1830, July, 1830, in the Adjutant General's Office, War Department, Washington, D. C.

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356 Wisconsin Historical Collections, Vol. V, p254.

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357 American State Papers, Military Affairs, Vol. IV, p610.

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358 Post Returns, Fort Crawford, 1831‑1856, June-July, 1831, in the Adjutant General's Office, War Department, Washington, D. C.

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359 An interesting account of Jefferson Davis as a young lieutenant at Fort Winnebago and Fort Crawford is Quaife's The Northwestern Career of Jefferson Davis in the Transactions of the Illinois State Historical Society, 1923 (No. 30), pp58‑71. That the Yellow River where Davis superintended the saw mill was in Iowa is clearly demonstrated by C. E. Freeman in Two Local Questions in The Dunn County News (Wisconsin), October 14, 1909.

Thayer's Note: The linked paper is the one, presumably identical, by the same title in the Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society, XVI.1‑19, also 1923.
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360 Post Returns, Fort Crawford, 1831‑1856, July, 1831, in the Adjutant General's Office, War Department, Washington, D. C.; Wisconsin Historical Collections, Vol. II, p172; American State Papers, Military Affairs, Vol. IV, p748; Annals of Iowa (Third Series), Vol. IV, pp563‑576.

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361 Post Returns, Fort Crawford, 1831‑1856, April, August, 1832, in the Adjutant General's Office, War Department, Washington, D. C.; Wisconsin Historical Collections, Vol. II, p172.

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362 American State Papers, Military Affairs, Vol. V, pp184, 384.

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363 Inspection Reports, Vol. V (1830‑1836), pp69‑71, War Department, Washington, D. C.

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364 History of Crawford and Richland Counties, Wisconsin (1884), p348; Viele's Prairie du Chien Annals (Manuscript), pp1, 2. This is a collection of memoranda about Prairie du Chien and Fort Crawford collected by Major L. F. S. Viele of Prairie du Chien. The manuscript is in the library of the State Historical Society of Wisconsin at Madison.


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