Located at the confluence of the Mississippi and Minnesota Rivers, Fort Snelling was established in 1819 on a bluff 100 feet above the river line. The stone buildings and walls shown in Eastman's rendering were constructed in 1830. The formidable bastion, named for Col. Josiah Snelling, commander of the 5th Infantry, which built the first defenses on the site, was never attacked of even seriously threatened.
The fort was a frequent frontier assignment for Seth Eastman. He served here with the 1st Infantry as a lieutenant and a captain and commanded the post a number of times during his career. In 1857 Eastman surveyed the reservation around the fort in preparation for its sale to land developers. The land was platted as a townsite, but with the onset of the Civil War the state of Minnesota stepped in and used the post as a training center for volunteers who joined the Union Army.
After the Civil War the U.S. Army returned and headquartered the Department of Dakota at the fort. Troops stationed at Fort Snelling participated in a number of the Indian campaigns and the Spanish-American War. During the two World Wars it served as a recruiting and training center. It remained an active Army post until 1946, when it was turned over to the Veterans Administration. In 1960 Fort Snelling became Minnesota's first National Historic Landmark.