Life, Death, and Archaeology at Fort Blue Mounds: A Settlers' Fortification of the Black Hawk War

By Robert A. Birmingham

Paperback: $14.95

ISBN: 978-0-87020-492-0

152 pages, 50 color and b/w photos and illus., 6 x 9"; E-book now available


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"Life, Death, and Archaeology at Fort Blue Mounds" is an archaeological detective story illuminating the lives of white settlers in the lead-mining region during the tragic events of the historically important conflict known as the Black Hawk War.

Focusing on the strategically located Fort Blue Mounds in southwestern Wisconsin, Robert A. Birmingham summarizes the 1832 conflict and details the history of the fort, which played a major role not only in US military and militia operations but also in the lives of the white settlers who sought refuge there. Birmingham then transports us to the site decades later, when he and fellow Wisconsin Historical Society archaeologists and dedicated volunteers began their search for the fort. The artifacts they unearthed provide fascinating - and sometimes surprising - insights into the life, material culture, and even the food of the frontier.

Recommended for readers interested in the Black Hawk War, frontier life, Native American history, military history, and archaeology, "Life, Death, and Archaeology at Fort Blue Mounds" is grounded by a sense of place and the discovery of what a careful examination of our surroundings can tell us about the past.

Robert Birmingham is also the author of Skunk Hill: A Native Ceremonial Community and coauthor of Aztalan: Mysteries of an Ancient Indian Town.

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Robert A. Birmingham served for many years as Wisconsin State Archaeologist at the Wisconsin Historical Society. He now teaches at the University of Wisconsin–Waukesha and writes from his home in Madison. He is the recipient of the 2005 Steinberg Prize from the University of Wisconsin Press for "Indian Mounds of Wisconsin," written with Leslie E. Eisenberg; the 2005 Merit Award for history from the Midwest Independent Publishers Association for Aztalan: Mysteries of an Ancient Indian Town, co-written with Lynne G. Goldstein; the Increase A. Lapham Medal from the Wisconsin Archeological Society; and a 2007 Wisconsin State Park Hero award for his work promoting Aztalan State Park. He is also the author of Skunk Hill: A Native Ceremonial Community in Wisconsin.