In 2008, the Alaska State Office of History and Archaeology recovered a mountain howitzer within Lower Cook Inlet. This howitzer was a portable cannon, popular during the Civil War. It came from the Torrent, the US Army vessel that was sent to establish Fort Kenay (sic) in 1868 at the former Russian-American Company trading post called Nicholas Redoubt. The soldiers and their families wrecked before arriving that first summer, but succeeded in building the military post the following year.
Alaska was just barely American, and while Congress was consumed with Reconstruction, it was determined that Alaska would be managed as a military district. In this episode, I speak with anthropologist Alan Boraas and maritime archaeologist Dave McMahan. Together, we determine why Battery F of the Second Artillery was sent to Dena'ina country, what transpired while the unit was there, and discover transitions in trade, notions of time and ethnicity that are evident within the historic record. Fort Kenay was short lived, and its immediate impacts on the Dena'ina quite small, but it becomes a good case study for learning about this moment of transition, when Alaska was becoming American.
If you would like to learn about the post established in Kodiak at the same time, please listen to "Fort Kodiak" here.
Special thanks to Alan Boraas, Dave McMahan, the Office of History and Archaeology, the Alaska State Museum, the Alaska Historical Commission, Alaska Historical Collections, and Kodiak Public Broadcasting for making this episode possible.