War of 1812 exhibit on display

A new exhibit at the Fort Crawford Museum, “Prairie du Chien in the War of 1812” is on display for visitors to view. It is filled with original objects, visuals and a great diorama. The museum is open daily from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

On June 18, 1812, the United States declared war on Great Britain. The conflict that ensued would come to be known as the War of 1812. The reasons for the declaration were many but very regional in nature. Though the land south of the western Great Lakes, including the upper Mississippi region, was part of the U.S., the British from Canada continued to trade with the tribes in the area. Many of the residents of Green Bay and Prairie du Chien were active in the British fur trade and related by trade and marriage to the many Native American tribes who lived in this region.

Prairie du Chien, situated on a prairie just north of the mouth of the Wisconsin River, was the key to the upper Mississippi. Whoever controlled the prairie commanded the immense territory inhabited in 1812 by a few thousand Native Americans. The U.S. desired to gain control of not only the fur trade but the vast expanse of land, which could be opened for settlement.

In 1812, about 300 people lived at Prairie du Chien. The French- and British-Canadian traders had their homes on the island. More French-speaking people lived on the mainland, where most engaged in the seasonal fur trade and farmed the prairie.

Several Prairie du Chien and Green Bay residents were part of the British Indian Department, including Robert Dickson, deputy superintendent; Thomas G. Anderson, captain; Francis Michael Dease, captain; Pierre Grignon, captain; Michel Brisbois, Jr., lieutenant; John Lawe, lieutenant; Joseph Roque, interpreter; Augustin Roque, interpreter; Antoine Brisbois, interpreter; and Louis Tesson Honore, interpreter.

With 2014 being the bicentennial anniversary of the 1814 Battle of Prairie du Chien, this exhibit further details that battle and gives viewers an opportunity to feel connected to what happened on local grounds 200 years ago, as part of the War of 1812.

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