More Kansas Forts


Lane's Fort on Mount Oread, Near Lawrence, Kansas Territory.

Lane’s Fort on Mount Oread, Near Lawrence, Kansas Territory.

Camp Ewing (1864-65?) – When William Quantrill and his men attacked Lawrence, Kansas on August 21, 1863, the town was not properly defended, leaving 180 men and boys dead. By the following year, soldiers were permanently encamped on the top and slopes of Mount Oread (then to Lawrence’s  southwest.) When a battery of cannon was placed at the top of the hill, the post was renamed Camp Lookout. In August, construction of a fort was begun, which was called Fort Ulysses. By the end of the year, it was not complete but contained several government storehouses. It is not known whether the fort was ever completed, but the troops were removed, probably at the end of the Civil War. Later the University of Kansas was built on the hill.

Cloud County, Kansas

Cloud County, Kansas

Fort Brooks (1864) – In 1864, Indians were regularly attacking Cloud County, Kansas and soon the locals organized the 17th Kansas State Militia with Colonel J.M. Scholley leading the group. When the appearance of Indians forced many homesteaders to flee their land in August 1864, the militia determined to build a fort. Situated on Ensign G.D. Brooks land, the post was named for the soldier. A blockhouse was built, the militia began to patrol the area, and many homesteaders returned to their claims. The temporary fortress was located in northeastern Cloud County on the left bank of the Republican River near the present-day town of Clyde, Kansas.

Fort Clifton (1862-1863) – The settlement of Clifton was laid out in 1859 and named for the surveyor. The settlement was deluged with the threat of Indian attacks and in 1862, Fort Clifton was built about three miles west of the original townsite. By the following year, the fort was abandoned. Later the settlement of Clifton was moved in 1870, now sitting in both Washington and Clay Counties. The exact location of Fort Clifton has since been lost but is thought to have been near Fort Brooks.

Indian Attack by Frederic Remington, 1907

Indian Attack by Frederic Remington, 1907

Fort Downer (1867-68) – Situated on the Smoky Hill route to the Colorado gold fields, the location was first utilized as Downer’s Station, a Butterfield stage stop established in 1865. The post was named for James P. Downer, a Civil War veteran and a member of the party that originally surveyed the Smoky Hill Trail. In 1866, Indians massacred many of the area residents and the following year, in May 1867, the location was fortified and became a military post called Fort Downer.  That same year, the post was used by George A. Custer as a base for Indian Operations. It was also burned in an Indian attack that year. It was abandoned in May 1868. The fort was located south of WaKeeney, Kansas in Trego County on Downer’s Creek about 50 miles west of Fort Hays.

Fort Hamilton (1858) – Not an official military fort, this site was a stronghold of Charles A. Hamelton, the leader of the mob that perpetrated the Marais des Cygnes Massacre. The “fort” was a substantial log cabin situated near an elevation known as Sugar Mound in Linn County. Later, it was taken by free-state men and was occupied by Captain Weaver’s company of some 30 men who named it Fort Hamilton.

Fort Henning (1861-18??) – Shortly after President Lincoln’s second call for volunteers in the spring of 1861, three blockhouses were erected at Fort Scott for the purpose of guarding quartermaster’s, hospital and ordnance stores. Fort Henning, one of these blockhouses, stood at the corner of Scott Avenue and First Street, on the site afterward occupied by the post office building. It was built under the supervision of Captain William Holcke, an engineer of the United States Army, who also superintended the erection of the other two blockhouses. Some years after the war Fort Henning was purchased by Dr. W.S. McDonald and removed to the lot immediately south of his residence, in order that it might be preserved as a historic relic of the war. On December 3, 1904, a flag was raised over old Fort Henning in its new location with appropriate ceremonies. While the fort was used for military purposes it was garrisoned by troops belonging to the Sixth Kansas, under command of Lieutenant C.H. Haynes.

Fort Insley (1861-18??) –  The largest of three blockhouses erected at Fort Scott in the spring of 1861, under the supervision of Captain William Holcke, it was located on the point of the mound, where the Plaza school building was afterward erected. It was garrisoned by a detachment of the Sixth Kansas and was used for storing ammunition.

Fort Jewell (1870) – The post was built in May 1870 following the killing of white settlers by Indians at the mill dam on the Solomon River. It was named in honor of Lieutenant-Colonel Lewis R. Jewell of the Sixth Kansas Cavalry, who died during the Civil War of wounds received in the battle of Cane Hill, Arkansas. Built and defended by 28 local settlers, who organized themselves as the “Buffalo Militia,” the fortress was built of four feet thick sod walls, stood seven feet high, and enclosed a space of 50 square yards. The local volunteers were relieved in June, 1870 by a Company of U.S. soldiers who remained until Fall.

Though the fort is gone today, it stood in present-day Jewell which is now bounded on the south by Delaware Street and on the west by Belle Street.  A bronze plaque and monument stand in a city park four blocks west of the old fort site. Jewell is located on state highway K-14 southeast of Mankato in Jewell County, Kansas.

Fort Kanses (early 1700’s) – Not a military post, Fort Kanses was a French trading post constructed at the Kansa Indian village, a little below Isle au Vache, or Cow Island, in what is now Atchison County. It was probably the first place in Kansas where white men lived as permanent settlers. In 1757 it was described as storing more than 100 bundles of furs. The ruins of the trading post were still visible when Lewis and Clark came through in the beginning of the 19th century.

Fort Lane (1856-1857) – Named for James H. Lane, this unofficial fort was established in 1856 and was a stronghold for the free-state men of Kansas during the Kansas-Missouri Border War. It was abandoned in 1857 and destroyed during Quantrill’s Raid of Lawrence in August 1863. It was located on the east side of Mt. Oread, which is now occupied by Kansas University, about where Spooner Hall is on the northeast corner at 14th and Jayhawk Boulevard in west Lawrence, Kansas.

Fort Wakarusa (1856?) – During the territorial days of Kansas, while the opposing parties gathered were referred to as “forts.” Fort Wakarusa was a Free-State fortification at the crossing of the Wakarusa River, near the old town of Sebastian, about five miles southeast of Lawrence. Though a description of the fort is not available, it was most likely similar to that of other “forts” of that day —  log cabin surrounded by a line of earthworks, or perhaps a line of palisades.


By Kathy Weiser-Alexander, updated January 2019.

Also See:

Kansas Forts

Forts of the American West

Haunted Forts & Battle Grounds

List of Old West Forts

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