SUMMIT CITY HISTORY NOTES
Drawing of original Fort Wayne found
By RICHARD BATTIN
A drawing of what may be the original Fort Wayne has been found among
papers donated to the United States Military Academy at West Point.
Before this discovery there were no known drawings of the 1794 fort General
Anthony Wayne built here.
Fort Wayne historian Michael Hawfield said the diagram is "especially
important for adding to the very scanty information on how Anthony Wayne's
first fort was built."
The drawing, penned on parchment, was found among the papers of Brigadier General Henry Burbeck, who as a major, was the chief engineer for the first
American fort built here in 1794.
Burbeck's papers were donated to West Point in 1986 by Cyril Gray Cogswell,
an amateur historian who rescued them from the trash of a descendant of
Burbeck's. Burbeck was one of the founders of West Point.
The diagram is about 13 inches by 16 inches, according to Judith Sibley,
manuscript librarian at West Point.
The words "Plan of Fort Wayne" are written on it, as well as the name James
Wilkinson. General James Wilkinson was given command of Anthony Wayne's troops
in 1794 when General Wayne returned to the East.
Wayne appointed Burbeck, his artillery officer, chief engineer for the
construction of the fort here. It was built in the area of what is now Berry
and Clay streets. Burbeck also was commandant of the the fort for a short time
in the spring of 1803 until he was sent to command the Detroit outpost in May
of that year.
In his 1977 book "The Forts of Anthony Wayne," Ohio historian David Simmons
said the fort's final design "was apparently a square of 250 feet with a
bastion at each of the southern angles."
The drawing shows a fort 272 square with bastions on all four corners.
Forts with bastions on each corner were common among those built by General
Wayne during his western campaign. Among those built that way were Fort
Washington (now Cincinnati), Fort St. Clair in west central Ohio and Fort
Defiance (now Defiance, Ohio).
Simmons research on the first Fort Wayne suggested "earthworks around the
exterior barrack walls," and a ditch, "dug around at least part of the fort."
Written on the Burbeck drawing are the notations: "Ditch 16 feet wide," "Berm
6 feet," and "Gate 11 feet in the clear & Nine feet High."
Other interesting notations dot the drawing, including the name "Jonathan"
scrawled amid what look like someone practicing elaborate capital "Js."
It also appears the document was used as scratch paper for someone adding
up numbers, perhaps in figuring the measurements for the fort.
--March 1, 1993