Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Site of Battle of Fort Dearborn

Site of Battle of Fort Dearborn ..
Address: Northeast corner of 18th street and Prairie Avenue ..
Battle occurred: August 15, 1812 ..

The site was marked for over a century by a large cottonwood tree, dating to the time of the battle ... After the tree died, it as replaced by a bronze statue commissioned by George Pullman in 1893 .. the monument was removed in 1931 ... Now this plaque marks the site of this pivotal event in Chicago's early history ...

On Saturday August 15, 2009, the Chicago Park District dedicated the site as a park named .. "Battle of Fort Dearborn Park" ..

The site had long been called as the "Site of Fort Dearborn Massacre" ... When the park was dedicated, the word massacre was removed and replaced by the word battle .. so now it's known as "Site of Battle of Fort Dearborn" ...

The plaque reads ...
"Battle of Fort Dearborn ..
August 15, 1812 ..
From roughly 1620 to 1820 the territory of the Potawatomi extended from what is now Green Bay, Wisconsin, to Detroit, Michigan and included the Chicago area. In 1803, the United States Government built Fort Dearborn at what is today Michigan Avenue and Wacker Drive, as a part of lucrative trading in the area from the British. During the War of 1812, between the United States and Great Britain, some Indian tribes allied with the British to stop the westward expansion of the United States and to regain lost Indian lands. On August 15, 1812, more than 50 US soldiers and 41 civilians, including 9 women and 18 children were ordered to evacuate Fort Dearborn. This group, almost the entire population of U.S. citizens in the Chicago area, marched south from Fort Dearborn, along Lake Michigan until they reached this approximate site, where they were attacked by about 500 Potawatomi. In the battle and aftermath, more than 60 of the evacuees and 15 native Americans were killed. The dead included Army Captain William Wells, who has come from Fort Wayne, with Miami Indians to assist in the evacuation, and Naunongee, Chief of the Village of Potawatomi, Ojibwe and Ottawa Indians known as the Three Fires Confederacy. In the 1830's the Potawatomi of Illinois were forcibly removed to lands west of Mississippi. Potawatomi Indian Nations continue to thrive in Michigan, Indiana, Wisconsin, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Canada, and more than 36,000 American Indians, from a variety of tribes live in Chicago today ..

A sculpture, titled "Defense" on Michigan Ave. Bridge commemorates the Fort Dearborn Massacre..

"Defense" by Henry Hering
Unveiled: 1928..

Below the sculptural bas relief is inscribed ...
"Defense - Fort Dearborn stood almost on this spot. After an heroic defense in eighteen hundred and twelve, the garrison together with women and children was forced to evacuate the fort. Led forth by Captain Wells, they were brutally massacred by the Indians. They will be cherished as martyrs in our early history."

Note the difference in the language of this relief inscription [unveiled 1928] .. and the plaque [unvelied 2009] ...

The site of Fort Dearborn is designated as a Chicago Landmark ..
For more on the ..
# site of Fort Dearborn .. click here ..
# For more on relief sculpture "Defense, Regeneration, The Pioneers, and The Discoverers" .. click here ..

For more on ..
The Prairie Avenue Historic District .. click here ...


ppaul said...

Ironically, there never WAS a battle at Fort Dearborn in the fort's existence. The only major violence in the area that has any connection to the fort is the Fort Dearborn Massacre. Ahh...the silly re-writes of the Politically Correct.
As one historian commented; "to rename the Fort Dearborn Massacre as the "Battle of Fort Dearborn" is the same as calling the Bergen-Belson concentration camp "the Battle of Bergen-Belson." It would be interesting to see where that memorial statue, the one that had to be hidden away, finally ended up.

Anonymous said...

I think massacre is what it was, when you consider the numbers. As for the name of Fort Dearborn massacre makes alot of sense when you consider the time when it took place. When you say Fort Dearborn Massacre you think Fort Dearborn and when you hear the story you understand that Fort Dearborn and the people were the target and when they left the people became the target. I think when news spread it made sense to say Fort Dearborn.

Jyoti said...

Why dont you put your name behind your comment? I dont want to address to someone who is not even prepared to attach his/her name behind their views.

Urban Woodswalker said...

According to Potawatomi historians, there is the other side of the story as to why the Potawatomi attacked. They had been promised certain goods at the Fort, and were not given them according to pre agreed upon arrangements. This along with the political manipulations between the British, Americans to have Tribes fight for either side against other tribes, continual loss of lands, the plying of alcohol to coerce signings of treaties that have never been kept, and the ongoing pressures to hunt and trap every animal for the large powerful fur companies put tribes on edge. Not to mention, wherever colonizers went, they spread new diseases to the indigenous.

Wouldn’t you fight to defend what you thought was rightfully yours? Wouldn’t you grow tired of a few hundred years of being manipulated, cheated, treated like animals, and losing your homelands? Perhaps the “Massacre” should be replaced with “Defense of Tribal lands”