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As there is no record of a second fort having been built here, or removed elsewhere, the only rational solution for the discrepancies that can be found is in the change in names, as suggested, and no new fort was erected at that time. If Major Hamtranek actually built a fort in Vincennes in 1788, as some historians assert, where was that fort in 1796, only eight years later, when Count Volney, a distinguished French traveler, visited and remained some days here, and described the town? Mention was made by him of but one fort, and to suppose that this one was the new alleged fort built by Major Hamtranck is to suppose an unreasonable thing. At the time of the alleged building of a second fort for defense the necessity for forts was passing away, and dismantling them was the order of the day, if the condition of Fort Knox was truly represented by Count Volney when he wrote of it in 1796. At that time the Red Man was turning his face toward the West, to return no more, and Great Britain had been whipped into good behavior. Thus it will be seen that Vincennes never had but one real fort, although during the passing years subsequent to its erection and the successive officials controlling it it received many names, viz.: Fort Vincennes, in honor of Morgan de Vincennes, the founder of the village, a French officer sent here to build the fort and be its commander; St. Auge, in honor of his successor; Fort Sackville, in honor of Lord Sackville, an English General and nobleman; Fort Patrick Henry, in honor of the then Governor of Virginia, and, finally, Fort Knox, in honor of General Henry Knox, Secretary of War in 1788, when one officer sought to compliment his superior, as other officers stationed here had done before, by calling it Fort Knox.
Another statement has been made that the alleged fort was built by Hamtranek early in July, 1788, and that it was moved to a site three miles up the river on the east bank of the same. The fact is, Vajor Hamtranek did not arrive at Vincennes until July 25 of that year to be commandant of the post. And no evidence exists to show that he built a fort here, except the mere suggestion of General Harmar, October 13, 1788, "Let your fort be called Fort Knox”; nor is there any evidence to show that Fort Knox, or any other fort, was removed from Vincennes to any place outside of town.
There is a tradition existing that the French citizens living in the vicinity of the fort complained to Governor Harrison that the soldiers at the garrison gave then great annoyance and petitioned him to remove them; that he gave heed to their prayer, and that in 1803 the garrison was removed to the high ground facing Buntin street, west of Water street, about the place where the Baltimore & Ohio Southwestern Railway freight depot stands, and that the palisades of the old fort were used in making the new one. The late A. B. McKee told the writer some years ago that one of his aunts, a Mrs. Buntin, “Alice of Old Vincennes," who lived just above the Broadway mill site, told him that by looking out at her window north she could see a fort. And tradition says that the palisades of the old fort were used to build it. My investigations in relation to these traditions corroborate the contentions. After Governor Harrison came here the United States troops were mostly withdrawn from this post, and militia troops took their place. This being the case, he would have jurisdiction over the defenses and management of the garrison, hence we can readily see that the Governor might wish to please the people and grant their prayer for the removal of the soldiers. Another consideration might have influenced him to take this step, and that is, that the garrison moved up to the position named would be nearer his residence, and could the more readily protect him in case of an Indian attack. As no record exists on file at the War Department in Washington City of the removal of the fort, the foregoing explanation given may account for the existence of the second one, called Fort Knox. No published record exists, to the author's knowledge, of this second fort, but from facts recently developed* he is constrained to accept the traditions as facts, for the following reasons: First, Through his friend, Honorable Charles G. McCord, Abstractor of Land Titles, an old deed was discovered which General W. H. Harrison made to one George Wallace in 1804. In the description of the property mentioned in this deed the instrument recites: "Beginning at a place situate about 210 yards above Fort Knox, at Vincennes aforesaid, called the Stone landing place,” etc. This description indicates that the fort occupied the ground covered now in part by the Baltimore & Ohio Southwestern Railway freight depot, on the west side of Water street. Second, The writer has a map in his possession which is a certified copy of one of the Vincennes Land Districts, made in 1803, by Thomas Freeman, the original being in the archives of the War Department, on which a fort is indicated, and it was doubtless the one mentioned in describing the property in the deed from Harrison to Wallace.
* Hist. Knox County, p. 239. (This is an error, as to date, as fort was standing there in 1803; see accompanying map.)- Author.
The tradition that a fort was built here in 1788 by Major Hamtranck, and afterwards removed to a site three miles above the city, on the east bank of the Wabash river, about the year 1812, is not substantiated by facts. What could have been the object of removing the fort from town to an isolated place up the river about three miles! The fort was for the protection of the citizens of the town. Upon the map above alluded to, and here given, such a fort is not designated, although the mouth of Mill creek (now called Kelso's creek) is plainly discernable, and the mouth of Maria creek, ten miles above the city, is also to be seen. If a fort had been there it would have been plainly marked on this map. That a United States garrison was at the point now called “Fort Knox” is not questioned, but that it contained a United States fort and removed there from the town is not presumable, for the further reasons that no record of it exists in the War Department, and from the following additional fact that I now give:
Through Mr. C. G. McCord the writer has seen an instrument of writing wherein eighty-five acres of land was secured from Jeremiah Buckley for the use of a garrison in 1803 by the United States Government, and for which his heirs were paid the sum of “two hundred and eighty dollars in full compensation for the use made of the timber and land while the troops of the United States occupied the said land."* It makes no mention of a fort being there, but distinctly states the land was for garrison purposes.
This land embraces what is called "Fort Knox."
* See Act of Congress, July, 1832—Record R, p. 48.