The Soldiers of Fort Mackinac cover
The Soldiers of Fort Mackinac
An Illustrated History
Fort Mackinac was home to more than 4,500 British and U.S. soldiers between 1780 and 1895. These soldiers constructed buildings and walls, drilled on the parade ground, marched sentry beats, and performed myriad maintenance and administrative duties in support of the fort’s strategic military function. That function varied greatly over the fort’s 115-year history. During the first half-century of its occupation the island fort protected and controlled the upper Great Lakes fur trade and served as an administrative center for maintaining alliances with the region’s Native Americans. By the late 1830s the decline of the fur trade and acquisition of Native American lands that resulted in the creation of the state of Michigan diminished the fort’s strategic value. It was not until after the Civil War that Fort Mackinac regained a role of importance, when it became the headquarters for the country’s second national park. In this volume, Mackinac State Historic Parks’ director Phil Porter tells the story of Fort Mackinac through the lives and activities of its soldiers. This book is profusely illustrated with more than 150 historic oil portraits, maps, and photographs collected from libraries and museums across the United States and Great Britain. Military historians and readers interested in Mackinac’s rich military history will appreciate the interesting and visually compelling story of soldier life at Fort Mackinac in The Soldiers of Fort Mackinac: An Illustrated History.
Publication Date: April 1st, 2018
196 pages| 8.5 in x 11 in
PHIL PORTER was born and raised in Grosse Pointe Woods, Michigan, and spent summers living on Mackinac Island's West Bluff. He worked as a historic interpreter at Fort Mackinac while pursuing academic studies and joined the permanent staff of Mackinac State Historic Parks in 1976. He has served as curator of collections, curator of interpretation, chief curator, and director since 2003. 

Early Praise

“Phil Porter has assembled an amazing, nearly comprehensive gallery of portraits, drawn and photographic, of the officers, soldiers, and families who gave life to Fort Mackinac when it was an active military post. These images put faces to the featureless names of the people who occupied the fort over 115 years and give us the opportunity to look into the eyes of the men—and women—who experienced life at this historic place. Well-researched capsule biographies accompany each image and summarize the service of each soldier.”
Brian Leigh Dunnigan, Associate Director and Curator of Maps, William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan, and author of A Picturesque Situation: Mackinac before Photography, 1615–1860

“Literally a who’s who of those that served at the fort on Mackinac Island, The Soldiers of Fort Mackinac is an outstanding study of the military men who left an imprint on the island’s history. Phil Porter’s expertise and depth of knowledge about the history of the island and its landmark military fort is on full display in this volume.”
Larry J. Wagenaar, Executive Director of the Historical Society of Michigan

“Phil Porter places the history of Fort Mackinac into the context of American history through the lives of soldiers who served at the fort from 1780 until 1895. Skillfully written biographical sketches connect soldiers to such events as the American Revolution, the War of 1812, the Civil War, and the rise of tourism. Readers will gain a fresh understanding of the role Fort Mackinac played in the origins and development of the United States.”
Keith R. Widder, author of Beyond Pontiac’s Shadow: Michilimackinac and the Anglo-Indian War of 1763

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