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Fort Dearborn

first structure on the site of Chicago

Fort Dearborn was built at the mouth of the Chicago River in 1803 to control the territory between Lake Michigan and the Mississippi River. Shortly after the outbreak of the War of 1812, William Hull, convinced that the isolated fort could not be supplied or properly defended, ordered its evacuation. On August 15, the small garrison and several women and children left the fort. After traveling about two miles, they were ambushed by a band of 500 Potawatomi Indians, who killed or captured the entire garrison and then burned the fort.

The fort was rebuilt in 1816, and the small settlement grew up around it that eventually became the city of Chicago.

Fort Dearborn was torn down in 1856, after the Indian threat was ended.

Fort Dearborn in 1803
Fort Dearborn as it looked in 1803

Fort Dearborn as it looked just before being torn down
Fort Dearborn as it looked just before being torn down

SEE ALSO
War of 1812

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The Robinson Library >> American History >> United States: Local History and Description >> Old Northwest >> Illinois >> Chicago

This page was last updated on June 11, 2017.