Fort Winnebago

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Fort Winnebago (1828-1853) - In 1827 the U.S. War Department ordered Major David E. Twiggs, 1st U.S. Infantry, to the portage between Fox and Wisconsin Rivers to establish Fort Winnebago. The fort was erected in 1828, on a hillside between the Fox and Wisconsin Rivers near modern day Portage, Columbia County, Wisconsin. In 1845 troops were withdrawn from the fort. The building and property were ordered sold in December 1853. Jefferson Davis, who had been a young lieutenant in the first garrison, was Secretary of War at the time. The fort was largely destroyed by a fire three years later.

Fort Winnebago 1831
Fort Winnebago Well
Fort Winnebago Original Surgeons Quarters

Fort Winnebago History

Established on 7 Oct 1828 by Maj Twiggs and 1st U.S. Infantry troops to protect an important river portage and local American traders. The post was not stockaded until 1832 during the Black Hawk War. The fort was abandoned 10 Sep 1845 and destroyed by fire in 1856.

Fort Winnebago Bookstore and Museum

The Surgeons Quarters, though not within the stockade area of Fort Winnebago, is its only remaining building. It was originally owned by Francois LeRoe, who operated a portaging business and probably built it before 1824. He sold it to the army in 1828. For six years it was a settlers' store and then in 1834 remodeled as a home for Post medical officers and their families. That same year a hospital was built near by. After the evacuation of the fort the Surgeons Quarters was sold and occupied for about eighty years by a succession of families who altered it to suit their respective needs, including using the hospital as a barn. In 1937 the Wisconsin Society, Daughters of the American Revolution bought the building and began its restoration. Surgeon's Quarters was opened to visitors in 1954.

Excavations conducted in 1967 by the Wisconsin Historical Society relocated portions of the fort, and demonstrated that portions of the buildings at the site remain remarkably intact. The site was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1979.


Location: East Highway 33, Portage, Columbia County, Wisconsin 53901, (608) 742-2949

Maps & Images

Lat: 43.55477 Long: -89.41219

Sources:

Links:

Books:

  • Kinzie, Mrs. John H. Wau-Bun, the "Early Day" in the Northwest. Chicago: D. B. Cooke & Co., Publishers, 1857

Visited: 22 Sep 2010

Fort Winnebago Picture Gallery

Click on the picture to see a larger version. Contribute additional pictures - the more the better!

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