The Map, the Map-maker Joseph E. Heckle, and the Map's Owner, Josiah H. Vose
The MapThe map is a topographical plan of Fort St. Anthony (later Fort Snelling) at the confluence of the Rivers Mississippi and St. Peters (later Minnesota River), drawn April 11, 1823 by Joseph E. Heckle.
It is hand-drawn in ink. Its dimensions are 49.5 cm by 39.5 cm on a sheet 67 cm by 47 cm. It is on watermarked paper from an East Coast mill that operated from 1808 until 1822, when it burned.
Joseph Heckle also drew this map. It details an area from the confluence of the Mississippi and St. Peters (now the Minnesota) rivers in the upper left corner, to Prairie du Chien in the lower right corner.
Joseph E. HeckleHeckle was a quartermaster sergeant posted at the fort, having enlisted in 1820. Men in his position had to be literate and proficient in mathematics. Quartermaster sergeants often served as foremen for soldier construction workers. Heckle's sketches show that he also was a skilled draftsman. The Minnesota Historical Society has five reproductions of Heckle's work, including an 1821 map that was used by the Society to plan the fort's restoration in the 1970s.
Josiah Howe VoseSurrounding the map, in fluid penmanship, are notes that indicate the type of buildings being constructed at the fort, the typical boats that navigated the Mississippi and the surrounding area, including "officers' gardens" and roads to the fort. Minnesota Historical Society map curator Jon Walstrom said handwriting comparisons show that the script is that of Josiah H. Vose, whose first encounter with the area where Fort Snelling would be built was as part of an expedition begun on Lake Huron in 1819 under Lt. Col. Henry Leavenworth.
Josiah Howe Vose
Leavenworth and his men passed through the Great Lakes, and the Fox and Ouisconsin (Wisconsin) rivers on their way toward the Mississippi. In August, a flotilla of 17 boats headed upriver, carrying 98 soldiers, their families and 20 boatmen. Indian Agent Thomas Forsyth accompanied them with $2,000 worth of trade goods to fulfill the bargain explorer Zebulon Pike had made for the land around the mouth of the Minnesota River.
The arduous journey left nearly half the men sick, and wondering with the hardships of heat, bad drinking water, and mosquitoes, why anyone would want to come to a place that Forsyth called "not fit for either man or beast to live in."
But being Army men, they pursued their orders. Major Josiah Vose was to be in charge of building the winter quarters. Vose oversaw the erection of a log stockade and quarters that included glass windows. Such amenities did nothing to enamor the men to weather that wrecked roofs, froze ink in their pens and prevented supply boats from bringing much-needed food. By spring of 1820, 30 soldiers had died.
Leavenworth tenuously began construction of the permanent post, commenting about the first winter at the site, "I can safely say that I never witnessed or experienced more severe duty." He repeatedly begged to be transferred to active service in the Florida Indian Wars. In August 1820, he was reassigned and the command went to Colonel Josiah Snelling. Snelling set about creating both a fort with strong military fortifications and a citadel that would offer relatively comfortable living for its officers.
Vose, undoubtedly, enjoyed the comfort of the fort after such a brutal introduction to what now needs no further explanation than the term "Minnesota winter." A native of Milton, Mass., Vose was born on Aug. 8, 1784, and married Charlotte Cushing in 1808. They had six children. Vose went to Augusta, Maine, where he "engaged in trade" until the War of 1812, after which he pursued his Army career from Canada to Florida, and from New Hampshire to the western forts including Snelling.
Commissioned a major on Dec. 31, 1820, Vose was posted at various posts in the region, including frequent duty at Fort Snelling. He served as commandant from the departure of Josiah Snelling in November 1827 until May 1828. He died in service in New Orleans on July 15, 1845, having become ill while drilling his regiment on parade. He turned over command to the next senior officers and headed for his quarters, where he fell dead upon entering the door.
Throughout his career, Vose had kept his commission papers and Heckle's map of "Fort St. Anthony" in a safe place. Barely yellowed and in near-perfect condition, the map will now be kept as carefully by the Minnesota Historical Society.
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