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Montana Forts of the Old West - Page 2

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Trading with the American Fur Company in 1841Fort Browning (1868-1873) - This military post, located at the junction of Peoples Creek and the Milk River, was located two miles southwest of Dodson, Montana. Named for O.H. Browning, Secretary of the Interior, the fort served as the Indian Agency for the Assiniboine and Upper Sioux. It was abandoned in 1873 when the Assiniboine were moved to Fort Belknap and the Sioux to Fort Peck.



Fort Campbell (1847-1860) - Established  by the Missouri Fur Company, it was the first adobe fort in the area. Located just one mile from its rival, Fort Benton, it was established in direct competition with the American Fur Company. The fort was it was operated by Alexander Harvey, the most infamous of Indian traders on the Upper Missouri River, known to have been fearless, bold, vindictive and quarrelsome. Harvey died on July 20, 1854 while traveling on a trip down river to Fort William in a mackinaw boat and was buried at the fort. The Fort was sold to Chouteau and Company in 1860 and then later  was occupied as a Jesuit monastery. The site is located in Fort Benton, Montana's Historic District.



Fort Carroll (1874-1882) - This post was established 1874 by the Diamond R Transportation Company, of which Matthew Carroll was a founder, to move freight and passengers from the docks on the Missouri River to Helena, Montana. Freight destined for the gold fields in Helena left St. Paul, Minnesota on the newly constructed Northern Pacific Railroad for Bismark, North Dakota where the rails ended. It then came by steamboat up the Missouri River to the newly built Fort Carroll, and then overland by wagon to Helena. Supplies and materials for Fort Maginnis followed the same route in 1880-81, and then "overland" to Fort Maginnis on the Carroll Trail.  At some point the site was renamed Rocky Point. It was situated in a stand of cottonwoods whose banks were about a foot above water. Joseph Kipp had a trading post here 1880 - 1882 consisting of trade store, store house and a residence. It was located about 30 miles above the mouth of the Mussleshell River on the Missouri River in present-day Fergus County.



Fort Cass (1832-1835) - Also known as Tullochs Fort, the sub-post of Fort Union, North Dakotawas established  by Samuel Tulloch for the American Fur Company to trade with the Crow Indians. Named for Lewis Cass of Michigan, it was located three miles below the mouth of the Big Horn River on the east bank of the Yellowstone River. The fort was surrounded by cottonwood pickets with 2 bastions in the corners. In 1835 it was abandoned and replaced by Fort Van Buren. The site is located in Treasure County, Montana, but there are no remains.



Fort Chardon (1844-1845) - This short lived trading post situated opposite the mouth of the Judith River on the Missouri River, was established by Francis A. Chardon after the abandonment of Fort McKenzie. It was abandoned in 1845 when Fort Lewis was established. A year later, it burned to the ground.


Fort Clagget (1866-1870) - Established on July 11, 1866, the post, first called Camp Cooke, was located just upstream from the mouth of the Judith River. Built by the 13th regiment of Infantry under Major William Clinton, its purpose was to control the Blackfoot Indians. After being reinforced by 100 soldiers in 1867, the post had a strength of approximately 400 men. The post also served as a supply point for steamboat traffic, but this only occurred for three months out of the year. With little to do, the troops were moved to Fort Benton in 1869 and the post was abandoned in 1870. The fort, located at Judith landing in Chouteau County, Montana, has long since returned to the landscape



Fort Connah, MontanaFort Connah (1846-1872) - The southernmost post of the Hudson's Bay Company, it was established in 1846 and named after the Scottish river, Connen. It was built by Angus McDonald and Neil McArthur, it consisted of three buildings. Angus McDonald ran the fort until 1864, when it was taken over by his son, Duncan. By 1871, the fur trade era had ended and the trading post closed the following year. Today, there is one remaining original building that continues to stand. Believed to be the oldest standing building in Montana, it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Fort Connah Historic Site is located between St. Ignatius and Charlo, Montana on US Highway 93.



Fort Conrad (1875-1878) - Built by Charles Conrad in 1875, it was located on the south bank of the Marias River above the mouth of the Dry Fork River about 80 miles Northwest of Fort Benton. Connecting log cabins formed three sides of a 150' x 150' square. The fort was bought by Joseph Kipp in 1878.




Fort Copelin (1865) - This stockade was built in 1865 to protect freight left at Milk River by by steamboats. It was divided into three sections to house goods  of freight owners.

Fort Cotton (1842) - Also called Fort Honore, this post was established by the Fox, Livingston & Company on the site which would later become Fort Lewis. It was named for a partner in the company. Located about 18 miles above Fort Benton, the post was short lived.



Fort Custer, MontanaFort Custer (1877-1898) - Established 1877 by U.S. Army to control the Crow Indians, the post was located on the high point between the Big Horn and Little Big Horn Rivers south of present-day Hardin, Montana. The post was named for George A. Custer who died at the Battle of the Little Bighorn. By the time the fort was established, most of the hostile in the vicinity had been confined to reservations, but the post supplied troops for some of the Plains campaigns, including the Bannock War in 1878 and an uprising at the Crow Agency in 1886. With the Indian threat subdued, the post closed on April 17, 1898 and the buildings were sold. Today nothing remains of the fort but a monument. It is located in Big Horn County, on an unimproved road, about 1 mile west of I-90 and 2 miles southeast of Hardin, Montana.



Fort Dauphin (1860-1865) - A trading post established at the mouth of Milk River by Louis Dauphin, a Creole trapper. He was killed by Sioux near here in 1865.



Fort Ellis (1867-1886) - Fort Ellis was tasked with watching over the miners and settlers in the Gallatin River Valley of western Montana and the nearby Bozeman, Bridger, and Flathead Passes. Figuring in the 1876-81 Sioux campaigns, it was the base at which Colonel John Gibbon, operating out of Fort Shaw, Montana, acquired additional troops in 1876 before proceeding eastward in the ill-fated operation that ended in the Custer disaster. Gibbon also led Fort Ellis troops in the Battle of the Big Hole, Montana. Today, the Montana State University's Fort Ellis Experiment Station occupies the site, but no buildings remain. A commemorative monument is located just off I-90 in Gallatin County, about 3 1/2 miles east of Bozeman.



Fort Fizzle (1877) - A temporary barricade about five miles above the mouth of Lolo Canyon. It was erected on July 25, 1877 by Captain C.C. Rawn in an attempt to halt the flight of the Nez Perce. It was nicknamed Fort Fizzle after the failure to stop the Indians.



Fort Fox & Livingston (1842-1844) - A trading post established in 1842 to compete with the American Fur Company by Fox, Livingston & Company. It was located approximately 11 miles below Fort Benton on the east bank at or near Shonkin Creek. It was moved in 1844 to the site of the first Fort Lewis. It was bought out by the American Fur Company in May, 1845.

Fort Galpin (1862) - A trading post established in 1862 by Charles Larpentuer for the  LaBarge, Harkness & Company. It was named for William and Charles Galpin who were partners in the company. It was located 12 miles above the mouth of the Milk River.



Fort Gilbert (1864-1867) - A trading post established at the edge of the Fort Buford, North Dakota Military Reservation, it was named for Colonel Charles Gilbert, a one time commanding officer at Fort Buford. Located at the southern boundary of the military reservation on the west bank of the Yellowstone River, the post served the Yellowstone Valley. Though there is nothing left of the post today, a marker designates the site about five miles north of Sidney, Montana on state highway 200.



Fort William Henry HarrisonFort William Henry Harrison (1892-Present) - Authorized by Congress in May, 1892, this military post was established as part of a greater consolidation program to close a number of smaller installations which would be replaced by just a few larger posts where troops would be concentrated. It was first called Fort Harrison after the sitting President Benjamin Harrison. It was garrisoned with troops from Fort Assinniboine in September, 1895. Some years later in 1906, the name was changed to Fort William Henry Harrison because it was discovered that there had already been an Army fort named for Benjamin Harrison in Indianapolis, Indiana. The second name honored William Henry Harrison who was a soldier, governor, and Congressman who served just one month as President of the United States in 1841 before succumbing to pneumonia.


The U.S. Army troops were withdrawn in 1913, the government retained the land. Subsequent history included being used as mustering site for Montana troops bound for France in 1917, Veteran's Administration facilities beginning in 1922, as a training site for National Guardsmen between the two world wars. It is probably best known as the home base of the First Special Service Force, known as the "Devil's Brigade," in 1942 and 1943.


Today the site continues to house the Montana National Guard, U.S. Army Reserve, and U.S. Navy Reserve, as well as a growing Veterans Administration facility. Some of the fort's original buildings including Officer's Quarters, barracks and the parade ground are located toward the back o the compound. There is a museum on the site, but is only open 1-2 days per week. The post is located on the west side of Helena, Montana off of Hwy 12.



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