History Nebraska Blog

Fort Atkinson Two Bits and Two Insignias


Making change at Fort Atkinson, Nebraska was a lot harder in the 1820s than it is today. Common practice at the time was to cut dollar coins into eight “bits,” two bits being the equivalent of a quarter. Here are some examples of bits that were excavated at Fort Atkinson by the Nebraska State Historical Society, now History Nebraska. Both are from Spanish silver coins. The piece on the left is 1/8 of a coin or 1 bit and the section on the right is 1/4 of a coin or 2 bits.

Spanish Silver Coin Bits
"Bits" of a Spanish Silver Coin

Fort Atkinson was the first U.S. Military post west of the Missouri River. The fort was occupied between 1820 and 1827. It is now a Nebraska State Historical Park. The fort has seen extensive excavations over the years conducted by the Nebraska State Historical Society, now History Nebraska. Tens of thousands of artifacts have been collected. Unsurprisingly many relate to the soldiers who were stationed there. Here are two of our favorites. These are rifle regiment hat insignias and are made of brass. The top insignia is the 1817 pattern and the bottom is the 1814 pattern.

1800s Rifle Regiment Insignias
1800s Rifle Regiment Insignias

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