Civilian & Agriculture

It wasn't just soldiers at the fort, the army had to have civilians to support the expedition. There were a number of capacities that required the expertise of trained individuals in their work/craft.

  • Boatmen
  • Teamsters
  • Dairy Farmers
  • Pig Farmer
  • Cowboys (cattle herders)
  • Furtraders
  • Laundresses (Civilian Contractors $8 a month + food/liquor rashions)
  • Sutler (Military contractor)
  • Indian Agent (Civilian under Dept of Indian Affairs)


At Fort Atkinson, most of the day-to-day work was agricultural. There was livestock to be watered and fed and a multitude of crops to be attended to. Since the fort was hundreds of miles from any source of supplies and transportation was primitive and uncertain, it was important for the fort to be essentially self-sufficient. 

The soldiers not only raised their own food, but did all the carpentry, brick making, blacksmithing and stone quarrying. They ran the schools and gristmills, their wives and widows did the washing-much like the Roman legions, the American Army was very much involved in the spread of civilization and industry throughout the long frontier period. 

Additional History


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