Fort Madison (3)

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Fort Madison (3) (1809-1813) - A U.S. Army post and Indian Factory established in 1809 by 1st Lt. Alpha Kingsley, 1st U.S. Infantry, on the banks of the Mississippi River in the present day town of Fort Madison, Lee County, Iowa. Named for James Madison, then U.S. Secretary of State and later President. Besieged by hostile Sauk Indians and abandoned in 1813 during the War of 1812. Also known as Fort Bellevue.

Fort Madison 1903 Illustration

Fort Madison (3) History

Built as a temporary post in September 1808 with construction on the permanent post begun on 1 Apr 1809. The permanent post was completed on 14 Apr 1809 and initially had three blockhouses defending a log stockade. Another blockhouse was built in 1810 on a ridge that overlooked the fort, this blockhouse was connected to the main compound by a covert way. Two more blockhouses were added along the river bank in 1813.

With the start of the War of 1812 and the alignment of the Sac and Fox Indians with the British, attacks on Fort Madison began in early 1813. The fort was reinforced but the poor initial siting of the fort made the made defense difficult. The attacks intensified and a number of the defenders were killed and mutilated. The garrison was forced to set fire to the Indian factory to prevent its use by the attackers and a considerable loss of government property resulted.

In November 1813 the post was evacuated by keel boat to Belle Fontaine and the defenders burned the post down as they left. The evacuation was done at night via a tunnel (or trench) constructed from one of the riverside blockhouses to where keel boats were anchored along the Mississippi. The fire diverted attention away from the evacuating troops and the garrison was successfully evacuated, arriving at Fort Belle Fontaine on 25 Nov 1813.

Current Status

Reconstructed fort at Riverview Park near the actual site. Actual site is now a parking lot. The site and reconstruction are located in the Town of Fort Madison, Lee County, Iowa.


USGS Geographic Names Information System (GNIS) Database Entry:

  • Name: Fort Madison (3) Type: Historical Class: Military ID: 1981116
  • Location: Lee County, Iowa, US, FIPS Code: 19111
  • Latitude: 40.63, Longitude: -91.3041667, Elevation: 538 Map: Fort Madison
  • As Of: 16 Jan 2003
Source: U.S. Board on Geographic Names

Location: Fort Madison, Lee County, Iowa.

Maps & Images

Lat: 40.63 Long: -91.3041667

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Fort Madison (3) Picture Gallery

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