Fort Mann (1846-1848) – Located on the Santa Fe Trail just a few miles west of present-day Dodge City, Fort Mann was established in 1846 by a master teamster, Daniel P. Mann, as a halfway station between Fort Leavenworth and Santa Fe. Though not an “official” military post, it was ordered to be built by Captain William M. D. McKissack, assistant quartermaster to the Army of the West, who was stationed in Santa Fe.
Daniel Mann, along with 40 teamsters began the construction of the post in April 1846 on the north bank of the Arkansas River. Consisting of four flat-roofed buildings connected by a high stockade, the could only be entered through to 12” thick gates. In the center was a 6-pounder cannon, mounted on light wagon wheels for mobility.
The fortress was strategically positioned at a site on the route that all supply trains, regardless of the route they were taking to Santa Fe, would have to pass by. The wagon trains that passed by and the fort itself was often the target of hostile Indians. In June 1847, the post was attacked by some 400 warriors and though the untrained men were able to repel the attack, the fort was soon abandoned. That summer, bands of Kiowas, Apaches, Pawnee, and Comanches became more aggressive, killing 47 travelers, destroying 330 wagons and stealing some 6,500 head of stock and horses.
The post quickly fell into disrepair and supply trains were afraid for the lives. Finally, in October, regular military troops were sent to the post to rebuild and enlarge the post, as well as once again, providing protection along the trail. However, conditions at the post were deplorable with insufficient supplies and poor leadership. By the following year, the ineptness proved futile, officers were forced to resign and the troops returned to Fort Leavenworth. Two years later, Fort Atkinson was established to provide protection along the Santa Fe Trail. Fort Mann was located about three miles west of Dodge City.
By Kathy Weiser-Alexander, updated September 2019.