The Women of Fort Dearborn

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Heald was dissatisfied with his new posting and immediately applied for and received a leave of absence to spend the winter in Massachusetts. As the United States and Britain moved towards war, antipathy between the settlers and Native Americans in the Fort Dearborn area increased. Cardin, a French Canadian, at a farm called Hardscrabble that was located on the south branch of the Chicago River, in the area now called Bridgeport.

News of the murder was carried to Fort Dearborn by a soldier of the garrison named John Kelso and a small boy who had managed to escape from the farm. Fifteen men from the civilian population were organized into a militia by Captain Heald, and armed with guns and ammunition from the fort.

Wells, Corporal Walter K. Jordan, and the Miamis traveled to Fort Dearborn to provide an escort for the evacuees. Wells arrived at Fort Dearborn on August 12 or 13 sources differ , [21] [22] and on August 14, Heald held a council with the Potawatomi leaders to inform them of his intention to evacuate the fort. However, Heald ordered all the surplus arms, ammunition and liquor destroyed "fearing that [the Native Americans] would make bad use of it if put in their possession.

At am on August 15, the garrison—comprising, according to Heald's report, 54 U. Heald reported that, upon discovering that the Indians were preparing to ambush from behind a dune, the company marched to the top of the dune, fired off a round and charged at the Native Americans.


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This maneuver separated the cavalry from the wagons, allowing the overwhelming Native American force to charge into the gap, divide, and surround both groups. During the ensuing battle, some of the Native Americans charged at the wagon train that contained the women and children and the provisions. The wagons were defended by the militia, as well as Ensign Ronan and the fort physician Van Voorhis.

The officers and militia were killed, along with two of the women and most of the children. They surrendered to the Native Americans who took them as prisoners to their camp near Fort Dearborn. Some said they fought for the Americans, while others said they did not fight at all. The recollections of a number of the survivors of the battle have been published. Heald's story was recorded on September 22, , by Charles Askin in his diary, [30] Heald also wrote brief accounts of events in his journal [11] and in an official report of the battle.

These accounts of details of the conflict are discrepant, particularly in their attribution of blame for the battle.

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Juliette Magill Kinzie's Wau-Bun: The Early Day in the Northwest , which was first published in , provides the traditional account of the conflict. However it is based on family stories and is regarded as historically inaccurate. Nonetheless, its popular acceptance was surprisingly strong. The battle has been claimed a massacre due to the large number of Americans killed including women and children, as opposed to the relatively smaller Potawatami losses incurred.

The conflict has also been argued to have been a measure of self-defense on the part of the Potawatami. Following the battle, the Native Americans took their prisoners to their camp near Fort Dearborn and the fort was burned to the ground. The fort, however, was rebuilt in General William Henry Harrison , who was not present at the battle, later claimed the Miami had fought against the Americans, and used the Battle of Fort Dearborn as a pretext to attack Miami villages.

Miami Chief, Pacanne , and his nephew, Jean Baptiste Richardville , accordingly ended their neutrality in the War of , and allied with the British. Seen from the perspective of the War of , and the larger conflict between Britain and France which precipitated it, this was a very small and brief battle, but it ultimately had larger consequences in the territory.

Fort Dearborn

Arguably, for the Native Americans, it was an example of "winning the battle but losing the war": the U. Thereafter, the Potowatomie and other tribes were moved further west. Eye-witness accounts place the battle on the lake shore somewhere between 1 and 2 miles 1.


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  • The tree was blown down in a storm on May 16, and a portion of its trunk was preserved at the Chicago Historical Society. Musham points out that the testimony relating to this tree is all second hand and came from people who settled in Chicago more than 20 years after the battle.

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    Moreover, based on the diameter of the preserved section of trunk about 3 feet 0. In , George Pullman had a sculpture he had commissioned from Carl Rohl-Smith erected near his house. Linai Taliaferro Helm, [42] by Potawatomi chief Black Partridge , who led her and some others to Lake Michigan and helped her escape by boat. In the s, however, Native American groups protested the display of the monument, and it was removed. In the s, the statue was reinstalled near 18th Street and Prairie Avenue, close to its original site, at the time of the revival of the Prairie Avenue Historic District.

    The battle is also memorialized with a sculpture by Henry Hering called Defense that is located on the south western tender's house of the Michigan Avenue Bridge which partially covers the site of Fort Dearborn. There are also memorials in Chicago to individuals who fought in the battle.

    William Wells is commemorated in the naming of Wells Street, [45] a north-south street and part of the original block plat of Chicago, while Nathan Heald is commemorated in the naming of Heald Square. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Old Northwest. See also: Origins of the War of Further information: Peoria War. William Wells. Map, reproduced from Andreas , p.

    Chicago: A Biography. University of Chicago Press. Chicago Tribune. Kappler Government treaties with Native Americans. Oklahoma State University Library. Retrieved The Electronic Encyclopedia of Chicago. Chicago History Society.

    Battle of Fort Dearborn Park

    Mackay The Incredible War of Toronto: University of Toronto Press. Chicago Magazine. Harper's Magazine. Journal of the Senate of the United States of America, — Library of Congress. Published in Quaife , pp. September Indiana Magazine of History. History of Fort Wayne. Fort Wayne, Indiana: D. Reproduced in Brannan, John Encyclopedia of Chicago. Chicago Historical Society. June Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society. On 4 July , troops reoccupied Chicago and built a second Fort Dearborn.

    From until , the fort was alternately abandoned and then garrisoned when new Indian trouble flared. Occupied periods included to support the government's campaign against the Winnebago Indians, and at the outbreak of the Black Hawk War.

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    The development of modern Chicago began in By , the original Native American occupants of Chicago had been defeated, relocated, or killed, and Fort Dearborn was again, and finally, evacuated. Its military reservation was transformed into Grant Park, the front door to the Chicago Loop. Cronon, William.

    Massacre at Fort Dearborn, Chicago – Military History of the Upper Great Lakes

    Nature's Metropolis: Chicago and the Great West. New York : Norton, Quaife, Milo M. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, Cite this article Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography. July 5, Retrieved July 05, from Encyclopedia. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list. Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia. Fort Dearborn, U.