Saturday, October 31, 2020

Fort Lincoln near Fulton, Kansas. (1861-1865)

The original Fort Lincoln was established by Kansas Senator and Militia General, James H. Lane was named for President Abraham Lincoln. It was used primarily to house Confederate prisoners. Fort Lincoln was located at the confluence of Fish Creek and Little Osage rivers on the north side of the Little Osage River just a mile east of the present-day town of Fulton, Kansas. 
Fort Lincoln, Kansas.
The fort consisted of a number of buildings surrounded by a 5-foot-high earthwork embankment. It was primarily used to house Confederate prisoners, it also served as part of a border defense system of Fort Scott during the Civil War, protecting Kansas residents against attacks from Confederate forces. 

Lane was criticized for choosing such a low spot to build Fort Lincoln because it was difficult to see enemy troops coming and the area was prone to flooding during periods of heavy rains.

After the Battle of Dry Wood Creek (aka the Battle of the Mules) was fought on September 2, 1861, in Vernon County, Missouri, Lane believed that the Confederates would attack Fort Scott the next day. He ordered the town of Fulton evacuated and the citizens and troops to take refuge at Fort Lincoln. However, the attack never happened and the citizens soon returned to their homes. The town of Fort Lincoln was established by Lane outside Fort Lincoln in 1861.
Fort Scott was established in 1842 as a part of a group of frontier forts charged with keeping the peace between American Indians and white settlers. Since Fort Scott lies close to the border between Kansas and Missouri it remained a combat zone through the Civil War. Soldiers were repeatedly sent to Fort Scott to help restore order, but the violence escalated after the soldiers left. Fort Scott became a major supply depot and housed a general hospital during the Civil War, which made it a target for Confederate troops. Confederate General Sterling Price tried to take Fort Scott twice but failed on both attempts. The military made its last appearance at Fort Scott during the building of the railways in Kansas. Some opposed the building of the railroad, and soldiers were often dispatched to prevent any disruptions.
Once the threat to Fort Scott disappeared in September 1861, Lane took most of his troops from Fort Lincoln, leaving about 300 infantry and cavalry troops. In 1862, Lane's force was disbanded and the post was occupied by black Union soldiers, who guarded the post as a prisoner of war camp. Many Confederates were incarcerated there. In April 1863 the black troops were replaced by white troops. Between May and August 1863 the military abandoned the use of Fort Lincoln.

After its abandonment, George Walrod moved his family inside the fort. Walrod garrisoned the post as a one-man operation. Walrod died in October 1863 and in the winter a militia was formed in the area. 

Sometime in 1864 a large log blockhouse was removed from Fort Lincoln and was relocated to the town of Fort Scott. This blockhouse was placed at the intersection of Lowman and First streets. Probably a stockade, possibly also removed from Fort Lincoln, was erected around the blockhouse. This structure was moved to help guard the town and military post of Fort Scott and was under its jurisdiction. Fort Scott helped guard the area, along with Forts Blair, Henning, and Insley when Major General Sterling Price's forces skirted town in October 1864 during the Confederate retreat during Price's Missouri Raid. The militia probably made use of Fort Lincoln until its destruction by retreating Confederates under Price on October 25, 1864.

The Fort Lincoln blockhouse was torn down after Fort Scott's post was deactivated in 1865, as it was no longer needed when the threat of war had passed. It was never rebuilt and the town of Fort Lincoln eventually disappeared.


Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D.

The Story of Amling's Haunted House in Melrose Park, Illinois.

Amling's Haunted House opened at 8900 W. North Avenue, on the SW corner of 1st  and North Avenues in Melrose Park, Illinois, for Halloween in 1950 and is believed to be the first of its kind in the U.S., said Donna Amling, whose husband is a descendant of the family that founded Amling's Flowerland, the chain of flower shops. Houses of horror have never been the same since.
Amling's Haunted House in Melrose Park, Illinois, October 1957.
When it first opened in 1950, it actually was a haunted pirate ship, then later turned into a haunted house.

This may be hard to believe given the blood, guts, and gore in Hollywood today, but once upon a time gorillas were scary. A man in a giant ape costume would stand behind bars at the Amling's Haunted House and when timid visitors approached, the creature's sudden roar startled them in a way they would remember for decades.

"It was just the right impact at the right time," said Bob Paolicchi, whose parents took him to the well-known attraction at North and 1st Avenues in the 1950s and who returned there with his own children in the 1980s. "It was a rite of passage."

At the time, Halloween wasn't as commercialized as it is today, and families didn't have many options when it came to getting their children into the spooky spirit. 

So under the leadership of Otto Amling, son of the company's founder, employees at Amling's began a haunted house they hoped would bring extra customers to the greenhouse.

"There's a bunch of haunted houses nowadays, but in those days it was unheard of," said Tim Sandvoss, Otto Amling's grandson. "It was so successful that they just kept going and it got bigger and bigger." 

It started as a 25¢ tour of a darkened building with scary scenes and grew to use black lights and live witches, other ghoulish characters like Dracula. The gorilla was a perennial favorite. Some patrons remember getting the choice of doors to open, with monsters jumping out if you picked the right—or wrongone.

The scares never required chain saws or even a drop of fake blood. "Blood didn't really have anything to do with it," Sandvoss said. "This was clean excitement." 
In the early years, the haunted house was operated mostly by nursery employees, but as it grew and became more popular, Amling's teamed up with local churches and charities to send volunteers to help raise money for their causes.
The haunted house expanded to include stagecoach and carnival rides, Sandvoss said. The haunted house would open in late September and people would line up every night through Halloween.

After making it through, visitors were rewarded with an "Amling's Brave Heart Award" button. Some celebrated by buying a cup of hot cider, Sandvoss said.
Over the years, Amling's garden stores changed ownership a few times, mostly between family and longtime friends. The haunted house remained open because owners always realized how treasured it was in the community.

Paolicchi, who grew up in Berwyn and later moved to Westmont, cherishes memories of visiting Amling's Haunted House with his parents, cousins, and younger sister. His sister would grab his hand for dear life. Afterward, they would pick out a pumpkin that his dad would carve at home. "That was the beginning of Halloween season for you," said Paolicchi. "It was what we did as a family." Paolicchi went on to become principal at several schools in the western suburbs, and he took his own children to Amling's at Halloween. He'd love to take his granddaughter, but the haunted house was no more.

Sandvoss said owners let it go in the late 1970s or early 1980s, plagued by the cost of insuring such a thrill-inducing experience.

About a decade later, Donna Amling was shopping with her daughter at a vintage shop and saw the tiny orange "Amling's Brave Heart Award" button for sale. She bought it for $1 and keeps it as a memento. "It's kind of fun to have things that have your name," she said.
by Vikki Ortiz
edited by Neil Gale, Ph.D.

Friday, October 30, 2020

Lincoln Forced to Walk Home from Wisconsin when his Horse was Stolen.

Lincoln's brief, but memorable, relationship with Wisconsin began in the summer of 1832, in a company of Army regulars and Illinois militiamen commanded by Gen. Henry Atkinson. The troops had been sent in early spring to reduce the threat of an India n war in the Illinois and Michigan Territories (Wisconsin then was a part of the Michigan Territory), and were pursuing the rebellious Chief Black Hawk—then in his early 60s—and his courageous band of Sauk and Fox. The federal government had moved the Sauk and Fox from Illinois to Iowa, but in the spring of 1832, Black Hawk led his band back across the Mississippi River to attempt to regain their croplands near Rock Island, Ill. His people were hungry, and he claimed the chiefs had been given mind-numbing firewater before agreeing to turn over to the U.S. all of their lands east of the Mississippi.

At the time, the lanky Lincoln was just 23 years old. Back home he had tested his luck as a shopkeeper's assistant, but the store failed. And he was waging a losing race for the Illinois legislature. Perhaps that was why the promise of $125 ($3,250 today) and 165 acres of land for a short tour of duty with the militia seemed appealing.

Here, he was part of a throng of soldiers, about four times the number of Black Hawk's 1,000 Indians, 500 of the warriors, relentlessly on their trail. The defeat of these Native Americans would signal the opening of this wilderness area to white settlement.

Lincoln saw no combat, but he and his fellow soldiers soon became weary as they struggled through the heat, rain, mosquitoes, and never-ending discomfort of what was then the wilds of what would be northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin—always seeing the outnumbered Indians slip away as troops closed in.
Lincoln's speech; Comment about being in the Black Hawk War.
The friends of General Lewis Cass, when that gentleman was a candidate for the presidency, (In the 1848 presidential campaign, Lewis Cass was the Democratic nominee but was defeated by the Whig candidate, Zachary Taylor.) endeavored to endow Lincoln with a military reputation. 
Mr. Lincoln, at that time a representative in Congress (1847-1849), delivered a speech before the House, which, in its allusions to General Cass, was exquisitely sarcastic and irresistibly humorous:

"By the way, Mr. Speaker," said Mr. Lincoln, "do you know I am a military hero? Yes, sir, in the days of the Black Hawk War, I fought, bled, and came away. Speaking of General Cass's career reminds me of my own. I was not at Stillman's Defeat, but I was about as near it as Cass to Hull's surrender, and like him, I saw the place very soon afterward. It is quite certain I did not break my sword, for I had none to break; but I bent my musket pretty badly on one occasion. If General Cass went in advance of me in picking whortleberries, I guess I surpassed him in charges upon the wild onions. If he saw any live, fighting Indians, it was more than I did, but I had a good many bloody struggles with the mosquitoes; and although I never fainted from loss of blood, I can truly say I was often very hungry."

Mr. Lincoln concluded by saying if he ever turned democrat and should run for the Presidency, he hoped they would not make fun of him by attempting to make him a military hero! 
As his stint of several months came to an end, he received his discharge. Official word came July 10, 1832, while he was camped with 3,000 soldiers in a place now called Burnt Village Park, near Cold Spring, midway between Jefferson and Whitewater.
Captain Abraham Lincoln
As many as 1,000 men got their orders at the same time. That's why it was no surprise that Lincoln's horse was stolen that night. But the iron-willed young man was not deterred and would walk and canoe his way back to his home in little New Salem, Illinois, where the next year he would become its postmaster.

The trek would be a long one—250 miles.

Two and a half decades later, in 1859, Lincoln would pass this way again, on a speaking tour that reached Beloit and Janesville. Remarkably, the next year he would be elected to the White House, the 16th president of the United States.

NEWSPAPER ARTICLE
February 12, 1934: Horse Stolen, Lincoln Forced to Walk Home from Wisconsin.

At Baraboo lives Franklin Johnson, one of very few living Wisconsin citizens who ever saw and heard Abraham Lincoln.

Around this time of year, many Lincoln stories pop up. In many cases, the folks who tell about having seen Lincoln probably are mistaken, as reliable sources seem agreed that the great emancipator visitor [visited] Wisconsin only three times, one of these being his participation in the Black Hawk War which brought him into the Madison area.

He was mustered out on the shores of Lake Koshkonong, and before he could start back for his home in [New Salem] Illinois, his horse was stolen and he had to walk back.

He visited Beloit and Janesville once, stayed overnight in Janesville, it is said. At another time, the year before he was elected president, he was the speaker at Wisconsin's state fair in Milwaukee.

In July of 1832, 23-year old Abe Lincoln's horse was stolen in Wisconsin so he walked and canoed 250 miles back to New Salem, Illinois. The historical marker is located at Cold Spring Creamery Park, Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin.
Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D.

Thursday, October 29, 2020

Fort Lincoln (1895-1941), Fort Lincoln Internment Camp (1941-1946), Bismarck, North Dakota.

Fort Lincoln was first established as a military post in 1895 to replace Fort Yates, following the closure of the original Fort Abraham Lincoln on the west side of the Missouri River in 1891. During the interwar period, it was a training site for units of the 7th Corps Area.
Fort Lincoln Main Gate.
In 1941 the U.S. Justice Department turned Fort Lincoln into an Internment Camp for people the government deemed enemy aliens during the beginnings of WWII. The fort’s new purpose came as a shock when it was announced in April that the fort and several other military posts would be housing foreign seamen who were taken from their ships and detained as belligerents in World War II – even though the U.S. was still neutral at this point.
Fort Lincoln Buildings.
Despite protests, a detachment of Border Patrol officers and immigrant inspectors arrived in Bismarck to begin preparing the proposed detention camp. They did most of the work themselves, the local Work Projects Administration (WPA) administrator proving to be totally hostile to the establishment of a detention camp.

The detainment camp was to ultimately house 2,000 people, which would require more housing. So, 20 wood-frame buildings were purchased and shipped up from Alabama; each could house 42 people, but none had insulation. Cots, mattresses, and bedding came from federal agencies. Ten-foot high cyclone fence topped with barbed wire was used to enclose an area measuring 500' by 1300'. To discourage tunneling, 3' long steel rods were driven into the ground every 6 inches under the fence. Seven steel guard towers with weapons and floodlights ringed the fenced enclosure, and a control center was equipped with gas bombs, Remington automatic rifles, gas masks, 12-gauge riot guns, gas guns, four machine guns, and gas billies. Three German shepherds and three saddle horses were kept on the hand for chasing escapees.
North Fence Line in Fort Lincoln Internment Camp.
The first prisoners were to be Italian seamen. Despite the high population of local Germans and German Russians, many thought Italians would be preferable to German prisoners, because the news portrayed Hitler’s men as nastier and more violent. But the train cars loaded with Italians didn’t stop—they continued west to Fort Missoula. On May 28, 1941, the Bismarck Tribune announced the camp’s first prisoners would instead be Germans.
Fort Lincoln Internment Camp Housing.
Two hundred twenty-two German seamen got off the train at Bismarck’s Northern Pacific depot at about 7 PM that evening. When they arrived at the detention camp, the fence enclosure wasn’t finished and Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) inspectors had to guard the opening throughout the night.
Fort Lincoln Internment Camp Patrol Inspector.
The Border Patrolmen were pleased with how smoothly everybody settled in, but it wasn’t to last. Two weeks later, a young ships’ third officer, 23-year old Johann Marquenie, used a broken shovel to dig his way under the fence at a point where it crossed a shallow ditch. He disappeared across the Missouri River bottomlands, stole a boat, and headed south. The next day, the patrolmen acted on a tip and tracked him to the Huff neighborhood, where they found him resting in some brush. Marquenie said he simply wanted to be “out alone.”
North Fence Line in Fort Lincoln Internment Camp.
Soon, 37 more seamen arrived, and the camp’s population was about 280 until December 7, 1941, when Pearl Harbor plunged the U.S. into WWII. Fort Lincoln was turned over to the Department of Justice (DOJ), renamed Fort Lincoln Internment Camp, and expanded to make room for U.S. civilians of Japanese and German descent, mostly non-citizen residents who were arrested on suspicion of Fifth Column[1] activity, despite a lack of supporting evidence or access to due process.  
Northern Pacific Railroad Gang. These German alien internees were housed at Fort Lincoln Concentration Camp, Bismarck, ND. 1943
On February 14, 1942, 650 Japanese Americans were transferred to Fort Lincoln from the DOJ camp at Santa Fe, New Mexico, and the War Relocation Authority camp at Tule Lake, which had become a segregation center for "disloyal" inmates in 1943.
Example of Internment Camps Crowded Living.
These new arrivals were either Nisei who, fed up with the government's incarceration policy and, in some cases, coerced by camp authorities or groups of pro-Japan inmates, had renounced their U.S. citizenship, or non-citizen Issei who had, again under significant duress, requested repatriation to Japan. Another 100 "renunciants" arrived in July. Over half of these men were deported to Japan later in 1945. 

Over the next five years, the camp’s population expanded to a peak population of 1,518 in February 1942, some 3,600 prisoners passed through Fort Lincoln during the war, most of whom were U.S. citizens of Japanese and German descent, until the Fort Lincoln Internment Camp was closed in 1946 when WWII was over.
Guard Tower Fort Lincoln Internment Camp.
Today, the site of Fort Lincoln is owned by the five Indian tribes of North Dakota—the Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara Nation; the Spirit Lake Tribe; the Sisseton Wahpeton Sioux Tribe; the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe; and the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa. It is the home of the United Tribes Technical College. Many of the brick buildings of the fort, completed in the early 1900s, are still in use.


Compiled by Neil, Gale, Ph.D.


[1] A Fifth Column is any group of people who undermine a larger group from within, usually in favor of an enemy group or nation. Clandestine fifth column activities can involve acts of sabotage, disinformation, or espionage executed from within by secret sympathizers with an external force.

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Redoubt "Fort Lincoln," at Remount Camp and Cavalry Depot on De Vall's Bluff, Arkansas (1864-1865).

Fort Lincoln (aka De Valls Bluff Fortifications) was an earthen fortification constructed in 1864 as part of the extensive network of earthworks (redoubts[1]) that the Union forces built to protect the sprawling Federal base at De Vall's Bluff (or Du Val's) during the Civil War (1861-1865).
An example of a Civil War earthworks redoubt fort like Fort Lincoln was. Notice the abatis in front of the fortification. Abatis is an obstacle formed from tree branches laid in a row, with the sharpened ends directed outwards, towards the enemy. Its purpose is to slow down the attackers and break their formation.
Confederate forces had used De Vall's Bluff at various points early in the war because of its status as the eastern terminus of the Memphis and Little Rock Railroad, which ran from the White River to the north side of the Arkansas River opposite Little Rock (Pulaski County). The site had few improvements, though, and what buildings were there were destroyed by Union raiders in January 1863.

Major General Frederick Steele established a base at De Vall's Bluff in August 1863 during his advance on Little Rock, recognizing the value of the railroad as a means of supplying the capital. Steamboats brought supplies up the swift-flowing White River to the river port. Steele wrote that, with gunboats securing the riverside of the base, “an entrenchment can be thrown up in rear that will make the place tolerably secure against any force that will be likely to annoy us while we are pushing the enemy to the front.” Steele ordered rolling stock for the railroad to be delivered from Memphis, Tennessee and continued his move toward Little Rock, which Confederate forces abandoned on September 10, 1863.

A major supply station was soon established at De Vall's Bluff, and the railroad became the focus of attacks by Confederate troops and irregulars. The Federals tried to protect the Memphis and Little Rock Railroad with cavalry patrols, but De Vall's Bluff itself would not receive substantial fortifications until after Confederate general Joseph O. Shelby’s troops destroyed Union hay-gathering operations on August 24, 1864, action at Ashley’s Station. In this confrontation, five prairie fortifications were destroyed, the majority of the Fifty-fourth Illinois Infantry Regiment was captured, and miles of railroad track were destroyed just west of the base.

Captain Junius B. Wheeler, Steele’s chief engineer, drew up plans for a fairly elaborate system of earthworks anchored by three (A, B, and C on the map below) redoubts commanding a bend in the White River, at which the main Union riverport was located. Wheeler recommended a garrison of 1,000 infantrymen, twelve cannons, and 500-cavalry to protect the base. Wheeler wrote that “De Vall’s Bluff is badly located for defense in many respects. I have laid out, and there are now in process of construction, three inclosed redoubts, requiring for a firm defense the numbers before given.”
A Civil War Redoubt, 1864.
On October 4, 1864, Brigadier General Christopher C. Andrews reported that he “had 100 men at work on the earthworks, which are progressing as fast as my means allow.” A month later, he reported in a letter to President Abraham Lincoln that 500 troops were laboring on the forts, “all of which I hope to have finished in a few days. One of my regiments is the Fifty-seventh U.S. Infantry (colored), and it is at work on the last and heaviest earth-work. I told them the other day I thought if they made a good fort of it, we should call it Fort Lincoln, which greatly pleased the men and made them shovel faster.” Bad weather complicated the construction, leading Andrews to report on November 27 that “it looks very bad to see heavy works laid out and left unfinished.”
The Illinois 76th Infantry, Company H, at Du Val's Bluff, Arkansas, December 1864. Captain Jacob Ruger on horse Left to right, Sgt. Albert Chipman, Private John Wesley McKee, Private William Henry Griffin, Unidentified, Sergeant Edwin H Judd. The photograph was sent to me by Kathleen Bard Richmond whose great-great-grandfather is John Wesley McKee.
No other reports on the fortifications at De Vall's Bluff are known, and the base did not suffer a concentrated attack by Confederate forces before the war ended in 1865. Of the three redoubts planned, only one survives in the twenty-first century: the southernmost fort labeled "Fort A" on Wheeler’s map still stands on private property. This earthwork IS the one that Brigadier General Christopher C. Andrews optimistically christened Fort Lincoln.

Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D.


[1] A redoubt is a fort or fort system usually consisting of an enclosed defensive emplacement outside a larger fort with a palisade. Most redoubts were constructed as earthworks, although some were made of stones, bricks, and wood. It is meant to protect soldiers outside the main defensive line and can be a permanent structure or a hastily constructed temporary fortification. The word means "a place of retreat." The concept of redoubts has existed since medieval times. A redoubt differs from a redan in that the redan is open in the rear, whereas the redoubt was considered a fully enclosed fortification.

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

The History of Fort Abraham Lincoln near Mandan, North Dakota (1872-1891).

Constructed in June 1872 by Companies B and C of the 6th U.S. Infantry to protect the construction of the Northern Pacific Railroad. The initial post was located on a high bluff overlooking the confluence of the Missouri River and the Heart River and was known as Fort McKeen. Fort McKeen, named for Colonel H. Boyd McKeen, who was a Pennsylvanian officer and brigade commander killed at the Battle of Cold Harbor during the Civil War, was built as an infantry post with three blockhouses and a partial palisade, unsuited for cavalry operations. It was soon realized that the mission required mounted cavalry and that the new post was unsuited for those troops. 
A second post, Fort Abraham Lincoln, was constructed just south of Fort McKeen. The new post was begun in late 1872 as a six-company cavalry post and on March 3, 1873, Fort Abraham Lincoln was authorized by act of Congress. The newly created fort encompassed both the infantry post and the cavalry post.

Fort Abraham Lincoln was built to protect the Northern Pacific Railroad[1] and to contain the local Indian tribes, including the Sioux. A post office also operated at the fort.
Fort Abraham Lincoln Cavalry Post Blockhouse.
The first commander of the combined post was Lieutenant Colonel (brevetted Major General[2]) George Armstrong Custer. Custer had fought in the Civil War in the 1860s and had been given the temporary rank of “General” at that time. The commander’s house at Fort Abraham Lincoln was very large and fancy. It had a bathroom, expensive carpets, drapes, and fine furniture.
Fort Abraham Lincoln Cavalry Post Custer House.
Fort Abraham Lincoln Cavalry Post Custer House Interior.
By 1874 the fort housed nine companies with about 650 men, three companies of the 6th Infantry, and 17th Infantry, and six companies of the 7th Cavalry. The fort was among the largest and most important on the Northern Plains.
Hunting camp party of Custer (standing in center) and guests at Fort Abraham Lincoln on the Heart River, Dakota. Territory, 1875. Note Custer's fringed leather coat.
The Lakota were made up of several bands that were related to the Dakota nation. In 1876, Lakota leaders Sitting Bull, Crazy Horse, Rain-in-the-Face, and Gall led a large band of Lakota to Montana to hunt bison and celebrate a summer feast. The U.S. government ordered the Indians to return to their reservations, but they ignored this order. The Lakota were angry about treaties being broken and their lands being taken over by settlers and gold seekers. The Indians were forced to live on reservations. Provisions promised to them were often not available.
Fort Abraham Lincoln, Dakota Territory, 7th Cavalry Band.
The Army ordered troops to Montana to move the Lakota back to their reservations. On May 17, 1876, Custer and his troops prepared to leave Fort Lincoln. Giovanni Martino (John Martin), Custer’s Bugler, details the brigade’s make-up and disposition. "The troops for this expedition consisted of twelve troops of the Seventh Cavalry, four companies of infantry, ten of fifteen Indian scouts, and twenty-five or thirty civilians. We took the field at 6:30 AM 'Boots and Saddles' was sounded, and at 7 AM, stand, horse, and mount was called. Then we passed in review and bade farewell to our friends and though the band was playing "The Girl I Left Behind Me," it seemed like a funeral procession.
American Marching Song:
"The Girl I Left Behind Me."

Then they started off for Montana. Libby Custer and other officers’ wives rode with the troops part of the first day. Then they stopped to say their goodbyes. Later they played Custer’s favorite tune, “Garyowen” [Garry Owen].” 

"Garyowen" - Song of the 7th Cavalry

Martin continues, “After leaving the post, the march was taken up in columns of fours, route step, General Terry and staff in the front, followed by General Custer and staff (Mrs. Custer rode on the left of the General). That day we made Little Heart River and camped for the night. After pitching camp assembly was sounded (I was a bugler) and we fell in for payment. It was a pretty sober crowd, everybody felt the position we were in. Some made deposits for their money, and I, for one, put $50 with the Paymaster. The next morning general call was sounded at 6:30, boots and saddles at 7, and we took up the march again. The paymaster went back to Fort Abraham Lincoln.”
Group portrait of officers in uniform, from the 7th Cavalry and 6th Infantry, and ladies, standing and seated in front of building at Fort Abraham Lincoln, North Dakota, circa 1874. Lt. Colonel Custer is the third person from the left.

Identified persons by number are: 1) Lt. Bronson, 6th Infantry; 2) Lt. George D. Wallace, 7th Cavalry; 3) General George Armstrong Custer, 7th Cavalry; 4) Lt. Benjamin H. Hodgson, 7th Cavalry; 5) Mrs. Elizabeth B. Custer (wife of General Custer); 6) Mrs. Thomas McDougall, 7th Cavalry; 7) Capt. Thomas; McDougall, 7th Cavalry;  8) Capt. Badger, 6th Infantry; 9) Mrs. George W. Yates; 10) Capt. George W. Yates, 7th Cavalry; 11) Charles Thompson (civilian clothing); 12) Mrs. James Calhoun, wife of Lt. Calhoun (and sister of General Custer); 13) Miss  Annie Bates; 14) Col. Poland, 6th Infantry; 15) Lt. Charles A. Varnum, 7th  Cavalry; 16) General Carlin, 6th Infantry; 17) Mrs. Myles Moylan; 18) Capt. Thomas W. Custer, 7th Cavalry; 19) Col. William Thompson; 20) Lt. James.
The Indian tribes had come together at the Little Bighorn River at the behest of Chief Sitting Bull to discuss what to do about the white man.

Scouts who were sent ahead came back and reported to Custer that there were huge numbers of Indians camped beside the Little Bighorn River (the Lakotas called this river the Greasy Grass). Custer did not believe that there could be so many. He decided to go ahead and attack without waiting for the two other units.
Custer's command came upon this large encampment, he split his forces into three battalions and attacked. A series of missteps and an underestimation of Indian strength caused the initial attack by Major Marcus Reno to falter then fail. Thousands of Indians then attacked the remaining men who were forced to ground by the overwhelming force. Custer and all his men were killed in the final stand. Other units also failed to defeat the Lakotas and their Cheyenne Indian allies.

Wounded soldiers from the other units were quickly taken to the Yellowstone River where the steamboat "Far West" was waiting with supplies. The boat’s pilot, Captain Grant Marsh, steamed as fast as he could back to Bismarck. Ten days after the battle, the Far West reached Bismarck, and word quickly spread that over 250 men had lost their lives.

Though the Lakota had defeated the U.S. Army in battle, they knew more soldiers would come after them. They left the Greasy Grass River. Several bands traveled all the way to Canada where they were safe from the U.S. Army.

It seemed like everybody criticized Custer for being reckless and leading his troops to death. Libby Custer wanted people to believe that her husband was a brave hero. She spent the next 57 years, until her death at age 91, writing books, articles, and letters defending her husband’s memory.

Fort Abraham Lincoln remained the headquarters of the 7th Cavalry until June of 1882 when the 7th and its headquarters were transferred to Fort Meade in South Dakota. After the railroad to Montana was complete the fort gradually declined in importance and was finally abandoned in 1891.

After the fort was abandoned, settlers took apart the buildings and used the lumber to build houses and farm buildings. They also made good use of other items they found, like the fancy bathtubs in the officers’ quarters made good feeding troughs for the farmers’ pigs.

At its height, Fort Abraham Lincoln had 78 separate buildings. Many of those original buildings were dismantled by settlers and used in the construction of homes and farms. 

Today, several of the buildings at Fort Abraham Lincoln, including Custer’s house, have been reconstructed. The site is located in Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park near Mandan, North Dakota.


Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D. 


[1] The Northern Pacific Railway, founded in 1864, was a transcontinental railroad that operated across the northern tier of the western United States, from Minnesota to the Pacific Northwest.

[2] A brevet was a warrant giving a commissioned officer a higher rank title as a reward for gallantry or meritorious conduct but may not confer the authority, precedence, or pay of real rank. An officer so promoted was referred to as being brevetted.

Fort Lincoln in NE Washington DC and its Ring of Civil War Union Forts. (1861-1865)

Fort Lincoln was established to protect the B&O Railroad and the Baltimore Turnpike on the eastern edge of the District of Columbia in Colmar Manor, Maryland. Fort Lincoln was situated between Fort Thayer and Battery Jameson in the defensive ring around Washington D.C.[1]. 
Fort Lincoln Interior
A Union Civil War earthworks fort was established in 1861 in Northeast Washington D.C. and named after President Abraham Lincoln.

By 1865 the Defenses of Washington DC were said to include some 68 named fortifications, 93 detached batteries, 20 miles of rifle pits, blockhouses at three key points, and 32 miles of military roads. At the beginning of the civil war, there was only a single fort, Fort Washington, protecting the city.
Fort Lincoln Gun Emplacements 5 & 6. A 100-pounder Parrott Gun is on the right.
Fort Lincoln was a bastioned fort with four faces that mounted one 100 pounder Parrott and four 20 pounder Parrott guns as well as a number of other major pieces of artillery. 
Battery Jameson earthworks, Fort Lincoln.
Fort Lincoln HQ and Officers Quarters.
A May 17, 1864 report from the Union Inspector of Artillery noted the following:
"Fort Lincoln and Battery Jameson, Captain A.W. Bradbury commanding. Garrison, withdrawn; works guarded by First Maine Battery from Camp Barry, 1 ordnance-sergeant. Armament, eight 6-pounder field guns (bronze), four 12-pounder field guns, five 24-pounder barbettes, one 24-pounder siege, six 32-pounder sea-coast howitzers, two 24-pounder howitzers, two 8-inch howitzers, two Coehorn mortars, one 10-inch mortar, four 30-pounder Parrotts, one 100-pounder Parrott. Two magazines, dry and in good order, one magazine has never had a lock. Ammunition, full supply, and serviceable. Implements, complete, and serviceable."
Fort Lincoln was abandoned in 1865 at the end of the Civil War.

A brief summary of Washington D.C. during the Civil War.
When the Civil War began, newly elected President Abraham Lincoln was only 40 days into his term as President. After the Confederate firing on Fort Sumter and Lincoln’s call for 75,000 volunteers to quell the growing rebellion, Virginia seceded from the Union. Lincoln took great measures to ensure that Maryland, a slave state, did not secede from the Union lest Washington be surrounded by Confederate states. Lincoln imprisoned secessionists in Maryland to prevent Maryland’s secession, and Lincoln’s bold strategy worked.

Throughout the war, Washington saw an exponential increase in population, like its Confederate counterpart, Richmond, Virginia. At the start of the war, 75,080 people lived in Washington, but that number boomed to 200,000 at its peak. By 1862, Lincoln began enacting policies to increase the power of the Federal government in Washington such as military police, prohibition laws, and anti-vagrancy laws. With an expanding population, however, public health often took a back seat to dedicate resources to wounded Union soldiers arriving from the frontlines. The Federal capital saw waves of smallpox run through the city. Generals trained their armies and crafted strategy in and around Washington. Lincoln would often check in on the military to personally oversee the war effort.
Company E, 4th U.S. Colored Infantry, at Fort Lincoln, Washington DC. Nov. 1865
The well-defended city did not experience much combat. When General George B. McClellan took command of the principal Union Army of the Potomac, he built fortifications that stretched 33 miles. By the time McClellan was finished with constructing fortifications, Washington was one of the most fortified cities in the world. The city defenses were nearly impenetrable. Confederate forces did not want to attack Washington directly due to the mountainous defenses. The Confederates made false advances towards Washington to spook Lincoln the high command. One advance was Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson’s campaign in the Shenandoah Valley in Spring of 1862, forcing the Union to dedicate forces away from Richmond and towards the Shenandoah Valley. The Union was focused on keeping the war in the South, and the capital in Union hands. Confederates hardly ventured north of the Mason-Dixon Line. Among the few times that the South did venture north, was at Antietam, which was fought before mid-term elections in the Union, and Gettysburg, which was fought one year before Presidential elections.  In July of 1864, Lt. Gen. Jubal Early assaulted Fort Stevens, on the north side of Washington. During the battle, Lincoln came under enemy fire and was nearly shot. Jubal Early’s intent with this raid was not to capture and hold Washington, but to divert Union forces from Petersburg to relieve the Confederates from the siege at Petersburg.

While Washington was not much of a military battleground, it was a political battleground. Throughout the war, there was a massive debate about whether to free the enslaved population and perpetually grant enslaved people freedoms. So-called “radical” Republicans and Democrats faced off in the House and Senate chambers debating the soon to be freed people’s rightful freedoms. Lincoln’s original stated war aim was to preserve the Union. Lincoln explained to newspaper editor Horace Greely in August of 1862 that he wanted reunification no matter the cost and wanted to take caution in emancipating slaves in the country. His position on slavery dramatically changed, however, after the Battle of Antietam. Lincoln issued the preliminary Emancipation Proclamation just after the battle which would on January 1, 1863, effectively free all slaves in areas that were in rebellion, but not in the border states of Maryland, Delaware, and Kentucky. Congress passed the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, abolishing slavery in all states present and future in January of 1865, ending the institution of slavery that plagued the United States since its inception.

Towards the end of the war, the city’s water supply ran low due to massive overpopulation. The Army Corps of Engineers constructed an aqueduct to accommodate the city’s need for water. Washington’s police and fire departments were revitalized to provide efficient service to the newly settled residents in Washington. Washington was in the throes of becoming the modern city that L’Enfant and the Founding Fathers had hoped it would become.

At the end of the war, Washington was a sprawling city that became a major city on the eastern coast of the United States. With the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments passed and inscribed in the Constitution, formerly enslaved people were now free under the law.  Washington became a new hub for many of these formerly enslaved individuals, including Frederick Douglass. On April 14th, 1865, just mere days after the surrender of Robert E. Lee’s forces at Appomattox Court House, Virginia, 

Abraham Lincoln was shot in Ford’s Theater by the assassin John Wilkes Booth, a Confederate sympathizer. Lincoln died in the Peterson Boarding House in Washington the next morning. After Lincoln’s death. Andrew Johnson, a southern Democrat, assumed the Presidency. On May 23rd to 25th, 1865, Johnson organized a military precession throughout Washington called the Grand Review of the Armies. This celebration was the precursor to Memorial Day. In 1865, however, the Grand Review of the Armies signaled the end of the Civil War that had ravaged the country.


Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D.


[1] In the District of Columbia, the Union Army built the following forts in areas which had remained relatively rural on the limits of the city. Most of the land was privately owned and taken over by the military at the beginning of the Civil War. Most of these owners lost possession of their land for the duration of the war and were unable to receive income from it. Only a few received compensation or rent from the land during the war.
A ring of Union Civil War Forts scattered around the capital city's perimeter was erected early in the war to protect Washington, D.C. from the threat of Confederate assault. This ring included fortifications in Virginia and Maryland as well as Washington DC. By 1865 the Defenses of Washington DC were said to include some 68 named forts, 93 detached batteries, 20 miles of rifle pits, blockhouses at three key points, and 32 miles of military roads. At the beginning of the Civil War, there was only a single fort, Fort Washington, protecting the city.

These numbers are difficult to reconcile because of name changes, consolidations, and upgrading of batteries to named forts. There is also confusion about what fortifications are included especially the permanent fortifications and the outlying fortifications at Baileys Crossroads and Seven Corners. What can be said is that the city was ringed with connected fortifications and that the Virginia side defenses were especially dense with many fortifications within close range of each other. The 37-mile circle of fortifications had platforms for some 1,500 field and siege guns with some 807 guns and 98 mortars in place.

The forts in the District of Columbia were temporary structures. They were in most part built of earthen embankments, timber with limited masonry, and were surrounded by trenches and flanked with abatis. They were not designed to serve beyond the Civil War as the land was intended to be returned to their owner at that time.
Fort Lincoln and Associated Batteries including Battery Jameson.
The list below attempts to include all of the named fortifications that surrounded Washington DC during the U.S. Civil War. It does not include camps, barracks, unnamed batteries, and other administrative facilities. I've compiled a list of 93 fortifications and batteries.

Click the Latitude (North/South) and Longitude (East/West) coordinates to see the exact location on digital maps.

Northwest Quadrant
Battery Alexander (MD)
Battery Bailey (MD)  38.95261, -77.11028
Battery Benson (MD)
Battery Cameron (aka Battery Georgetown)  38°54′56.3″N 77°05′19.7″W 
Battery Gaines  38.93917, -77.08889
Battery Jameson (MD)  38.92796, -76.95219
Battery Kingsbury  38.96333, -77.04417
Battery Rossell  38.95457, -77.06956
Battery Sill  38.96111, -77.03833 
Battery Simmons  38.95182, -77.09927
Battery Smead  38.96139, -77.06056
Battery Terrill  38.95694, -77.06111
Fort Cross (MD)
Fort Davis (MD)  38.86639, -76.95056
Fort Gaines  38.93611, -77.0875
Fort Kearny  38.94833, -77.05833
Fort Kirby (MD)
Fort Mansfield (MD)  38.95297, -77.10164
Fort Reno (aka Fort Pennsylvania)   38°57′10.2″N 77°04′41.9″W
Fort Simmons (MD)  38.95209, -77.09834
Fort Stevens (aka Fort Massachusetts)  38°57′50.2″N 77°01′46″W
Fort Sumner (MD)  38.95669, -77.12247

Northeast Quadrant
Battery Mahan  N 38.89500 W 76.94444
Battery Morris  38.92889, -76.97694
Battery Totten  38.95070, -77.00552
Fort Lincoln  38° 55.687′ N 76° 57.151′ W - Fort Lincoln Cemetery
Fort Scaggs (Not Armed aka Fort Craven & Fort of Circular Form)  38.89112, -76.94855

Eastern Branch
Battery Carroll  38.83709, -77.00403
Fort Baker  38.86222, -76.96417
Fort Meigs  38.87351, -76.92941
Fort Ricketts (aka Battery Ricketts)  38°51′24.5″N 76°58′32.8″W
Fort Sedgwick (aka Kennedy's Hill Fort)  38.88417, -76.93639
Fort Snyder  38.84694, -76.9825
Fort Wagner (aka Fort Good Hope)  38.86, -76.96972

Potomac Approaches
Fort Washington, MD  38°42′39″N 77°01′59″W

Arlington Line – Virginia
Battery Bayard  38.84919, -77.09195
Battery Garesche  38.83843, -77.09698
Fort Albany  38.86509, -77.06569
Fort Barnard  38.84919, -77.09195
Fort Bennett  38.90025, -77.07863
Fort Berry  38.85559, -77.09161
Fort Buffalo  38.87201, -77.15587
Fort C.F. Smith  38.90083, -77.09056
Fort Cass  (later within Fort Myer)  38.88519, -77.08203
Fort Corcoran  38.89626, -77.07592
Fort Craig  38.87041, -77.08165
Fort Ellsworth  38.806, -77.06867
Fort Ethan Allen  38.92444, -77.12361
Fort Farnsworth  38.78861, -77.07361
Fort Haggerty  38.89611, -77.06863
Fort Jackson  38.87129, -77.04141
Fort Lyon  38.79389, -77.07778
Fort Mc Pherson  38.87273, -77.07381
Fort Morton  38.89192, -77.0871
Fort Munson  38.86026, -77.14507
Fort O'Rourke  38.78704, -77.07319
Fort Ramsay (aka Fort Upton)  38.87284, -77.14623
Fort Reynolds  38.83824, -77.09436
Fort Richardson  38.85773, -77.07783
Fort Runyon  38.86985, -77.04508
Fort Scott  38.8475, -77.05898
Fort Strong (formerly Fort DeKalb)  38.89694, -77.08806
Fort Taylor  38.87476, -77.15898
Fort Tillinghast  38.8785, -77.08383
Fort Ward  38.83026, -77.10264
Fort Weed  38.78929, -77.07832
Fort Whipple (later within Fort Myer)  38.88424, -77.07835
Fort Willard  38.78274, -77.06617
Fort Williams  38.8118, -77.09
Fort Woodbury  38.88966, -77.08281
Fort Worth  38.81472, -77.09889 

Fort Lincoln Historical Marker is in Fort Lincoln Cemetery in Colmar Manor, Maryland.
Inscription. These earthworks are a portion of the original fortifications which made up Fort Lincoln. This fort was built during the summer of 1861 to serve as an outer defense of the city of Washington. It was named in honor of President Lincoln by General Order No. 18, A.G.O., Sept. 30, 1861. The brigade of Major General Joseph Hooker was the first to occupy this area. In immediate command of the fort was Captain T.S. Paddock. The Civil War cannons have been placed here through the courtesy of the Department of Defense to commemorate this auspicious occasion.