Visitors at the Fort today will notice two distinct types of uniforms worn by the volunteers who portray the soldiers here at Fort Atkinson. Historically, there were two full regiments of soldiers garrisoned here at Fort Atkinson. The first regiment was the Sixth Infantry. Earning the nickname ‘The Regulars” during the War of 1812, The Sixth was a battle tested regiment that was used to the rigor of campaign. The Sixth was the longest serving regiment here at the Fort, being here at its inception and serving until the post was abandoned in 1827.
The second regiment was the Rifle Regiment. Considered something like the Special Forces of its time, the Rifle Regiment was raised during the War for 1812 and was specifically fitted for duty in a far-flung frontier post like Fort Atkinson. Also a battle tested regiment, the “Rifles” were comprised of veteran soldiers who learned to master the rifle and were all sharpshooters able to hit specific targets at a distance far beyond that of a common Infantryman’s musket.
Today’s visitor can see both regiments recreated by volunteers who portray these soldiers based on countless hours of research into period documents. Every aspect of the soldier’s life, down to the uniform buttons, has been researched and meticulously reproduced for the benefit of the visitor who might be interested in our nation’s military heritage.
The following men served as commanding officers at Fort Atkinson:
1819Colonel Henry Atkinson
Troop Strength: 1,120
1820Lt. Colonel Willoughby Morgan
Troop Strength: 851
1821Lt. Colonel Talbot Chambers
Troop Strength: 548
1822Colonel Henry Leavenworth
Troop Strength: 447
1823Major William S. Foster
Troop Strength: 497
1824Colonel Henry Leavenworth
Troop Strength: 423
1825 - Oct.1826Lt. Colonel Abram R. Woolley
Troop Strength: 694 down to 472
Oct. 1826 - April 1827Major Daniel Ketchum
Troop Strength: 490
1827Lt. Colonel Abram R. Woolley
Troop Strength: 490
Served as interim commanding officer during several of the above transitions.
On the verge of the War of 1812, the US Infantry was strengthened and the 11th Infantry was created. Following the war, the Army was downsized and the 11th was consolidated with four other regiments. The resulting 6th Infantry was placed under Colonel Henry Atkinson (namesake of Fort Atkinson), the sixth-ranking commander at the time.
At Fort Atkinson, we portray the light and artillery companies, Companies A and G, respectively.
Light Infantry Weapon: .69 caliber smooth-bore , flintlock musket with a walnut stock, bright-finished metal parts, bayonet, and no front or rear sight.
Notable Uniform Component: Blue wool dress coatee.
Motto: "Celeritas et Audeo" (Speed and Daring)
Signature Uniform Component: Green linen frock with yellow fringe
Weapon: Model 1803 Harper's Ferry rifle
Primary Roles: Advanced scouts, snipers, and flank guards
Considered the first special forces unit in the United State military, akin to today's Green Berets.
Artillery at Fort Atkinson was not a distinct unit. Company G of the 6th US Infantry was the smallest company on post. There were soldiers that were trained in artillery that were assigned to the unit that manned the cannons that were brought up with the expedition.
These cannons were used for signaling, celebration, and warfare.
The fort was originally armed with artillery pieces that could fire parallel to the fort walls.