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 In 1845 troops were withdrawn from the fort.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


Historic 1832 Indian Agent House

Established on 7 Oct 1828 by Major David E. 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.

The Surgeons Quarters, though not within the stockade area of Fort Winnebago, was a part of the cantonment. It was originally owned by François 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.

Current Status

Fort Winnebago Bookstore and Museum

In 1937 the Wisconsin Society, Daughters of the American Revolution bought the Surgeon's Quarters building and began its restoration. The 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 fort site was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1979.

Nearby, across the portage canal, is the 1832 Indian Agency House used to house the Indian Agent and his family. The National Society of the Colonial Dames of America in the State of Wisconsin purchased the Indian Agency House in October 1931 restored it and opened to the public in 1932. The Agency House was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1972.

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

Maps & Images

Lat: 43.55489 Long: -89.43709

  • Multi Maps from ACME
  • Maps from Bing
  • Maps from Google
  • Elevation: 805'

See Also:




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

Visited: 22 Sep 2010

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