Kinzie. From 1803 until 1812, life at the fort and the nearby
settlement was fairly quiet. Things changed in August 1812. The
British captured a nearby fort, and that frightened the settlers at
Fort Dearborn. The soldiers stationed there were ordered to
leave the strongly built fort and take the settlers to Fort Wayne,
in Indiana. By then, the fort was surrounded by hundreds of
Potawatomie and other Indians. On August 15 the departing
soldiers and settlers were attacked less than two miles from the
fort in the sand hills that separated the
prairie from the shore of Lake Michigan.
Many of the men, women and children
were killed or taken captive. Some, like
John Kinzie and his family, escaped. The
next day the fort was burned to the
ground. Many years passed before
settlers returned to the area where the
horrible event happened.
War of 1812
The attack at Fort Dearborn was part of the War of 1812,
between the British and the Americans. The war between the
British and the Americans started because of complicated issues.
Some were issues that had not been settled during the
Revolutionary War. Some had to do with trade, and still others
with who owned the land. Many Native Americans in the area
around the Great Lakes, on the border between Canada and the
United States, took the side of the British in the war. This was
very bad for the settlers in Illinois. What happened at Fort
Dearborn is an example of just how bad it was. The British still
hoped to end American independence, and the Native Americans
hoped that a British victory would force the settlers off their
homeland. The war ended in 1815, and neither side really won.
They had tried to fight in too many places with too few men.
LIfe worsened for the Native Americans.
Fort Dearborn. Courtesy Abraham Lincoln
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