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Historic Diaries: Black Hawk War

May 10, Blue Mounds: Forts of the Black Hawk War

Editor's Note:

In 1854, Mineral Point resident Edward Beouchard described the construction of Fort Blue Mounds, located on the western edge of present-day Dane County, 25 minutes west of Madison. For the story of how this fort was recently located by archaeologists, see "Uncovering the Story of Fort Blue Mounds" in the Wisconsin Magazine of History.

Fear and panic spread like wildfire through northwestern Illinois and Michigan Territory as soon as the Black Hawk War broke out. Settlers, afraid of a widespread Indian uprising throughout the region, hastily abandoned their farms and built more than a dozen forts in Illinois and Michigan Territory (which included present day Wisconsin).

Several Forts from the Black Hawk War have been reconstructed and are open to the public.

The Apple River Fort State Historic Website

A website about Illinois forts of the Black Hawk War

Edward Beouchard's Narrative:

On the 10th of May, 1832, the settlers in the vicinity of the Blue Mounds commenced building the Mound Fort; they were about two weeks at work on it, at intervals, before it was completed. The buildings consisted of two block-houses, each about twenty feet square, and a log-building in the centre, about thirty feet by twenty feet large for a store-house and barrack. The whole was inclosed by a picket-fence, of about one hundred and fifty feet on each of the four sides; the pickets of stout oak, about sixteen or seventeen feet high, planted about three feet in the ground. The fort was situate on the highest part of the open prairie, about a mile south of the Eastern Mound, commanding an extensive view of the open country for many miles, in front, rear, and to the south; the mound bounded the view to the north.

James Aubrey had the first command of the men who had assembled at the fort; Edward Beouchard was his first lieutenant, and after Aubrey's death he succeeded to the command, which he held until he received the appointment of sub-agent, under Colonel Hentry Gratiot, which was on the 14th of June, when he resigned, and Captain John Sherman succeeded him. Aubrey was killed by Indians, 6th of June.

At this time, there were in the fort families of all the settler in the neighborhood; no one knew how long they would be free from an attack; when Force and Green were afterward killed, it was well known that three Winnebagoes [Ho-Chunk] piloted the Sauks to the Mound Fort.

[Source: William R. Smith, The History of Wisconsin: In three parts, historical, documentary, and descriptive (Madison: Comp. by direction of the Wisconsin State Legislature, 1854) p.209.]

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