Before the city of Chicago, there was Fort Dearborn; and before Fort Dearborn, there were the Potawatomi. In a story that brings to life the founding of one of the world's great cities, Fort Dearborn takes us back to Chicago's early struggle of fire and blood. Through the eyes of two young boys and their fathers--one father a sergeant with the United States First Infantry, the other a Potawatomi warrior--we see the events that lead up to the Fort Dearborn Massacre. At the start of the War of 1812, more than sixty soldiers and civilians were killed when the Potawatomi and allied tribes attacked them as Fort Dearborn was evacuated. Some fifteen Indians were also killed in the battle.
Told from both the Indian and white perspectives, using scores of letters, historical documents and maps, and long-forgotten Indian speeches, Jerry Crimmins breathes life into the little known drama that took place in the vicinity of the fort that once occupied what is now downtown Chicago. Early in the nineteenth century, the Potawatomi attempted to co-exist with the settlers at the newly built Fort Dearborn, and even competed with soldiers in sports contests. But eventually, in an effort to preserve Indian lands and ways, there is a desperate turn to violence and fatal consequences. A suspenseful narrative, Fort Dearborn is also a remarkable historical account, minutely observed and meticulously documented, preserving a key moment in American history.