Fort Atkinson

Date in History: 1832

The city of Fort Atkinson takes its name from the General who led the US forces during the 1832 Black Hawk War. Headquartered in St. Louis at the Jefferson Barracks, General Henry Atkinson was in charge of the Western Department of the Army.

In April 1832 when Black Hawk and his Sauk and Fox followers crossed back into Illinois in violation of a treaty, the 50-year-old Atkinson was ordered to pursue Black Hawk and force him back west of the Mississippi River. Atkinson would eventually follow Black Hawk into this region, but was stymied by the swampy conditions along the Bark River. On July 10th, short on supplies and not sure of Black Hawk’s location, Atkinson ordered a Fort built in what’s now downtown Fort Atkinson to hold supplies that were being brought in.

While it was in use, the Fort was called Fort Koshkonong, but in May of 1841 after time and early settles had dismantled it, an Act of Congress declared it would henceforth be called Fort Atkinson in honor of the General.

This historic document aired on the radio as an Historic Minute on 11/28/2005.

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