Fort Russell (2)

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Fort Russell (2) (1812-1815) - A War of 1812 Fort established by the first Illinois Territorial Governor Ninian Edwards in 1812 near Edwardsville, Madison County, Illinois. Named Fort Russell after Colonel William Russell of Kentucky. Abandoned at the end of the war in 1815.

History of Fort Russell

In the early summer of 1812 during the War of 1812, Illinois Territorial Governor Ninian Edwards ordered the construction of a fort north of Edwardsville to counter the threat from hostile Indians allied with the British.

The post was described as a five-gun stockaded blockhouse. Edwards reportedly used it as his personal headquarters. It also served as the main supply depot for the territorial militia. The five cannons were taken from old Fort de Chartres and used to arm the new fort. One of the cannons exploded during use; the others were later sold for scrap.

Fort Russell was one of at least 94 forts and blockhouses in the southern part of the Illinois Territory. Most were small settler defenses used as a refuge when hostile Indians threatened. Fort Russell was the largest and best equipped fort in the Illinois Territory at that time.

U.S. Army regulars garrisoned the fort in the spring of 1812 for only a few months. On 18 Oct 1812, Governor Edwards and 400 mounted militia troops moved north out of the fort to burn two Kickapoo villages on the Saline Fork of the Sangamon River. In a 13-day campaign, they reached Peoria to attack villages of the Kickapoo, Miami and Pottawatomie. The next year, an army of nearly 1,400 repeated the journey. These offensive actions kept the hostile Indians off balance and prevented them from massing for an attack.

After the war ended in early 1815, the fort was abandoned. It deteriorated rapidly and was burned down in 1837.

Current Status

No remains and the exact site is unknown. The site is reportedly about one mile northwest of Edwardsville on Springfield Drive just west of IL 159 (Section 34, Twp 5-8) but nothing has been recovered in that area.


Location: Edwardsville, Madison County, Illinois. The map point is the site of a 1934 marker that no longer exists. See HMDB link below, the HMDB coordinates may be wrong but it does show what the marker looked like..

Maps & Images

Lat: 38.82763 Long: -89.97032

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