Kansas Forts of the Old West

Fort Larned, Kansas Flag Retreat courtesy National Park Service.

Fort Larned, Kansas Flag Retreat courtesy National Park Service.

Camp Ewing

Camp Pliley

Cantonment Martin

Fort Atkinson (Ford County)

Fort Atkinson (Barton County)

Kansas Cavalry Unit

Kansas Cavalry Unit

Fort Aubrey

Fort Bain

Fort Belmont

Fort Blair (Cherokee County)

Fort Blair (Bourbon County)

Fort Brooks

Fort Cavagnial

Fort Clifton

Fort Dodge

Fort Downer

Leavenworth City grew up around Fort Leavenworth, which had been established years earlier in 1827.

Fort Leavenworth was established in 1827.

Fort Hamilton

Fort Harker

Fort Hays

Fort Henning

Fort Insley

Fort Jewell

Fort Kanses

Fort Lane

Fort Larned

Fort Leavenworth

Fort Lincoln

Fort Mann

Fort Montgomery (Greenwood County)

Fort Montgomery (Linn County)

Fort Monument

Fort Riley

Fort Saunders

Fort Scott

Fort Titus

Fort Wakarusa

Fort Wallace

Fort Zarah

During the Civil War, a number of permanent military camps, forts, and blockhouses existed in Kansas. In all, at least 27 were located in various areas of the state. These camps and forts had some similarities, but many differences existed among them.

The forts in Civil War-era Kansas had at least one similarity. All were maintained by the Union; no Confederate forts existed in the state. The differences among the forts were striking. Some forts were established by the regular Army to protect travelers and settlers against Indians. Forts Aubrey, Harker, Larned, Riley, and Dodge were among these.

Some forts established by the Army served as administrative headquarters in the chain of forts stretching across the west. Forts in this category in Kansas included the Camp Ewing complex outside Lawrence and Forts Leavenworth, Riley, and Scott.

A few forts established by the Army existed partly to protect Kansas residents against attacks from Confederate regular and guerrilla forces. Such forts included the relocated Fort Lincoln and Fort Blair.

Most of the forts established by the Army were manned at times totally by volunteer or militia forces raised to fight the Confederates.

Some forts operated by the Army had other functions. The original Fort Lincoln, established by Kansas Senator/militia General James H. Lane, was used primarily to house Confederate prisoners. Fort Zarah, at one point, was unique among the Army forts as, for a time, a large part of its garrison consisted of former Confederates. These men were freed from prison camps on the condition they joined the Union forces and were sent west to fight Indians. Many forts served as post offices and as Indian agencies.

To make the history of these historic sites even more interesting, several of these old posts are said to be haunted, including Forts Blair, Dodge, Hays, Leavenworth, Riley, and Scott.


©Kathy Alexander/Legends of America, updated July 2023.

Also See:

Forts of the American West

Haunted Forts & Battle Grounds

Kansas Forts

List of Old West Forts