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Near Ellis Grove in Randolph County, Illinois — The American Midwest (Great Lakes)
 

Site of Fort Kaskaskia

 
 
Site of Fort Kaskaskia Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Jason Voigt, November 30, 2020
1. Site of Fort Kaskaskia Marker
Inscription.  These mounds are the timeworn remains of a fort designed to protect the village of Kaskaskia. The town, founded in 1703, was the southern anchor of France's colony in the Illinois Country. During the 1730s, French officials planned to replace the ruined Fort de Chartres near Prairie du Rocher with a stone fortification at this site, but construction ceased when it was determined to be too expensive. By the 1750s, fear of invasion by the British led French officials to again plan for a major post on the Mississippi. They constructed a new, massive, Fort de Chartres and planned a smaller post for this site. Construction of an earthen fort began here about 1759, but it was never completed.

This unfinished fort played no role in the French and Indian War (1754-1763), which ended with the transfer of the Illinois Country from France to Great Britain.

A British officer visiting here in 1766 wrote of two "dilapidated buildings and collapsed wooden gun platforms," and reported "the Ditch, Parapet, and Ramparts entirely overgrown with Bushes." The British ignored within the village of Kaskaskia.

Kaskaskia passed to
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the new United States with the Treaty of Paris of 1783, which ended the Revolutionary War. In the 1780s, local bandit John Dodge made headquarters in the old fort. The U.S. Army reoccupied the post about 1803 and stationed troops here until 1807. The old fort was last used by local residents fearing attack by Britain's Indian allies during the War of 1812.

(photo caption:)

We are not certain of Fort Kaskaskia's appearance. This artist's conception showing the fort under construction is based upon archeology and descriptions written in 1766.
 
Erected by Illinois Historic Preservation Agency's Historic Sites Division.
 
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Forts and CastlesWar of 1812War, French and Indian. A significant historical year for this entry is 1703.
 
Location. 37° 57.865′ N, 89° 54.394′ W. Marker is near Ellis Grove, Illinois, in Randolph County. Marker is on Park Road west of Shawneetown Trail (County Route 3), on the right when traveling east. Located at Fort Kaskaskia State Historic Site. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 4372 Park Rd, Ellis Grove IL 62241, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Looking For a Few Good Men (within shouting distance of this marker); The Home of Pierre Menard (approx. 0.2 miles away);
Site of Fort Kaskaskia Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Jason Voigt, November 30, 2020
2. Site of Fort Kaskaskia Marker
Marker is located outside the first parking lot upon entering Fort Kaskaskia State Historic Site.
a different marker also named Home of Pierre Menard (approx. ¼ mile away); Garrison Hill Cemetery (approx. ¼ mile away); Dedicated in Memory of George Rogers Clark (approx. 0.4 miles away); Kaskaskia Village (approx. 0.4 miles away); Fort Kaskaskia Shelter (approx. 0.4 miles away); Kaskaskia Island (approx. 0.4 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Ellis Grove.
 
Additional commentary.
1. Captain Amos Stoddard’s Artillery Company Encamped at Fort Kaskaskia, July 1803 to March 1804
On July 19, 1803, Secretary of War Henry Dearborn wrote to Captain Amos Stoddard the following information and orders:

“Sir: In consiguence of the recent cession of Louisiana to the United States, It will probably become necessary in the course of a few months to place an American Garrison in the Military Post on the Western Bank of the Mississippi now occupied by Spanish Troops - Your Company will probably be ordered to that Post, you will therefore discontinue any arrangements for establishing a post on the Eastern side of the River,
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and will unite yourself & Company with Capt. Bissell at Kaskaskias...If there is not sufficient accommodations for a Company, it may be prudent to provide temporary accommodations at Kaskaskias for such part at least of your Company as cannot be accommodated on the other side. You will give me the earliest information on the subject of this letter generally...”


Captains Stoddard and Bissell must have quickly responded. On July 27th, Secretary of War Dearborn responded to the communication from Captains Stoddard and Bissell as follows:

“Your joint letter in relation to the most suitable site or sites for a Military Post in that quarter has been duly recd, by which it appears that you have been particularly attentive to the object: Your description of the several proposed sites, together with the adjacent Country on both sides of the Mississippi is highly interesting and pleasing...[but] it will be advisable at present to possess the site described near Kaskaskia Village. You will endeavor to obtain a lease of from fifty to one hundred acres of land for that purpose, and commence a post on the plans proposed to Capt Stoddard, of which he has a Sketch, the lease should be of two to three years — In the months of November or December at farthest I presume we shall have possession of Louisiana, and Capt Stoddards Company will of course take post at St. Louis. In the mean time the proposed post for Capt Bissells Company should be establishe’d with the necessary buildings, in order that Capt Stoddards Company can occupy the huts now occupied by Capt. Bs Company when the cold weather commences until his Company shall be removed to St. Louis.”

A lease agreement between Secretary of War Dearborn and John Edgar, written by Capt. Amos Stoddard (who was a also a lawyer), was completed and dated September 4, 1803. Captains Stoddard and Bissell signed as witnesses to the agreement with John Edgar. Thus was the arrangement for establishing Fort Kaskaskia on the east bank of the Mississippi River in the fall of 1803.

Captain Meriwether Lewis and William Clark rendezvoused with Captains Stoddard and Bissell at Fort Kaskaskia on November 28, 1803. They then recruited men from Captains Stoddard and Bissell’s companies to complete the Corps of Discovery.

Captain Amos Stoddard was ordered and commissioned the first civil commandant (interim governor) of Upper Louisiana in orders from Secretary Dearborn dated November 7, 1803 and in a formal commission from Governor William C.C. Claiborne in New Orleans dated January 24, 1804.

First Civil Commandant Amos Stoddard and 1st Lt. Stephan Worrall, in command of Stoddard’s Company of the U.S. Regiment of Artillerists, ascended the Mississippi to Cahokia on March 8th to encamp overnight with Capt. Meriwether Lewis. They then crossed the Mississippi River on March 9, 1804 and marched into St. Louis. The transfer ceremony then took place at Government House. The Spanish flag was lowered and the French flag raised (to first formalize the transfer of the territory from Spain to France). The French flag then flew over St. Louis for 24 hours. The French flag was then lowered and the American flag raised on March 10, 1804, thereby completing the transfer of the Upper Louisiana from France to the United States of America.

Sources:
“The Autobiography Manuscript of Major Stoddard,” 2016; “Territorial Papers of the United States, Vol. VII, The Territory of Indiana, 1800-1810,” Indenture between the Secretary of War and John Edgars, September 4, 1804, p 154-5
    — Submitted March 19, 2021, by Robert Stoddard of Idyllwild, California.
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on March 20, 2021. It was originally submitted on December 31, 2020, by Jason Voigt of Glen Carbon, Illinois. This page has been viewed 312 times since then and 44 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on December 31, 2020, by Jason Voigt of Glen Carbon, Illinois.

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Apr. 23, 2024