1812 in Wisconsin

My wife and I don't spend too many weekends at home while the ground is still free of snow. Our lastest kid-friendly weekend away had us visiting Prarie du Chien about 3hrs away and then across the river from Marquette. There were plenty of attractions for the kids at the long standing Ft. Crawford, fur trade museum and the native effigy mounds back over on the Iowa side.
There had long been European and native contact here as part of the fur trade and I believe this is dated back to the late 1600's. In 1805 Zebulon Pike was sent to explore the Mississippi River Valley. The picture above is from "Pike's Peak" (one of two peaks bearing his name in the U.S.). It is here that he recommended the building of a fort. The government however opted for a site down in the valley along the river. It is there that this area saw its only battle during the war of 1812.

The wargamer in me was hoping for, at least, some small scale action to be recreated in a skirmish game. As I understand it, 650 British approached and engaged Ft. Shelby with 60 Americans inside. After initial surrender terms were turned down, the British managed to run off the gunboat supporting the fort with some accurate cannon fire. After a day or so they were close enough to toss heated shells at the wooden walls. This was enough for the Americans, as surrender terms were then accepted. A fairly unspectacular affair without any loss of life. The British renamed it Ft. McKay before destroying it upon their departure.

Later on, Ft. Crawford was built to replace it and today the second military hospital still stands. This weekend the fort hosted a smalll group of reenactors (mostly from the civil war era)which the kids enjoyed immensely, especially the cannon and musket firing and the interaction enthusiastically offered by the reenactors.

As my daughter's history class continues to study Iowa history, we'll probably head here next.
Below are a few photos taken around rhe area.

On the miniature painting front Mirbach's regiment is 99 percent done with Rall's at about 30 percent .


  1. It looks like a fun day with the family! I love historical sites like these. Did you get to visit Ft. Snelling when you were up in the Twin Cities?

  2. We've yet to make it there as a family. My wife is from St. Paul so any trips up there get diverted to relatives. I will be on a mission to break trend and make it there next time.

    Many years ago a friend and I took part in an AWI game at small con inside the fort. Good times.

  3. Mixing family + Wargaming = best of both worlds!