Fort Crawford was one of a chain of forts constructed along the Upper Mississippi River and Fox-Wisconsin waterway in Wisconsin. ¬†The forts were to project a United States presence on the frontier. ¬†The garrisons were engaged mainly in keeping peace between white settlers and the Native Americans.
In 1829, Fort Crawford was relocated from an island to the mainland of Prairie du Chien, with construction directed by Colonel Zachary Taylor. ¬†Lieutenant Jefferson Davis assisted him. ¬†At this time, Dr. William Beaumont was post surgeon at Fort Crawford. ¬†While in Prairie du Chien, Beaumont conducted fifty-six of his experiments on the human digestive system.
The second Fort Crawford was fully occupied in 1832. ¬†That year the Black Hawk War broke out, and troops from Fort Crawford participated. ¬†After the Battle of Bad Axe, Black Hawk surrendered to Col. Taylor, and Lt. Davis escorted Black Hawk to imprisonment in St. Louis, Missouri.
During the 1840s the Fort Crawford garrison assisted in the construction of the Military Road linking Fort Crawford to Fort Winnebago at the portage.
After the Mexican War, there was little need for Fort Crawford, and the post was abandoned in 1856. ¬†During the Civil War, the post was used as a recruiting center. ¬†The hospital became part of the Swift United States Army General Hospital. ¬†In September 1865, the buildings became empty, and the barracks were demolished in the 1870s.
The Hospital remained and has been restored. ¬†It is the only Fort Crawford building still standing.
The Second Fort Crawford was designated a Registered National Historic Landmark on August 21, 1935. ¬†