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.

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