Since research pertaining to early Missouri Territorial forts are usually general and lacking in detail, their physical descriptions can be confusing and inaccurate. Each fort had its own characteristics and accommodations. Though many early historical writers described the forts as home-forts, this can be only said of a portion of the forts. There were four distinct types of forts.
The first type of forts were the converted, pre-existing homes. They may have portholes or gunslits cut out of their walls with little else done for protection. In some cases, upper story windows served as the gun ports. Stockades around these types of fortifications have little historical documentation. Settlers first constructed the main building but with the advent of the "Indian threat", Missouri and Illinois U.S. territorial rangers assisted in fortification conversions. Professional soldiers did not occupy these types of forts as a rule but the U.S. territorial rangers did on a regular basis. The local leaders of these forts were chosen as Captains and were responsible for the training and drilling of the local militia.
The second type of forts were the military outposts. These forts were occupied by U.S. regulars and U.S. territorial rangers at various times. These forts had blockhouses constructed and were built with military purposes in mind. Some had stockades while others were simply a blockhouse. Out-buildings have yet to be mentioned in historical documents. The forts were not only used for protection for the local settlers but were used for staging of attacks on Indian camps and observation, referred to as "spying", on Indian movements. These forts were built by the Missouri and Illinois U.S. territorial rangers with the help of U.S. regulars from Fort Bellefountaine.
The third type of forts were the factory forts. These forts or factories were constructed because of treaty agreements to supply goods and services to the "friendly" tribe. They served to suppress anti-American feelings by tribe. Built for trade, they usually contained a blockhouse, out-buildings for the storage of furs and trade goods. There is no historical evidence of stockades.
The fourth type of fort was the cantonment. The only fort to qualify for this designation was Fort Belle Fountaine in St. Louis. This fort became the military nerve-center of the war effort in the west. It was a regular U.S. military installation with officer quarters, barracks, blockhouses, guard houses and a stockade. Fortunately, this fort is well-documented.
Not all forts built along the Missouri and Mississippi rivers can be mentioned. Some have been lost over the passing of time. With the exception of Fort Belle Fountaine and Fort Osage, the Spanish fortifications at St. Louis and St. Charles were built before the ninetieth century. These fortifications had fallen to disrepair in both towns by the start of the War of 1812. St. Charles contained at least one stone three-story tower and St. Louis contained the remains of Fort San Carlos, composed of several stone towers and entrenchments.
Since I have conducted a more intense study of the Missouri Territorial forts, most of the information presented here deal with them though what Illinois forts I am familiar with are presented as well.
The forts are marked as follows: home-forts (HF), military outpost (MO), factories (FACTORY).
MISSOURI TERRITORIAL FORTS
THE MISSISSISPPI RIVER FORTS
TEMPORARY STOCKADE (HF) This temporary stockade was erected in the year of 1812 in the now present town of Clarksville, Missouri. Was soon abandoned when some settlers were killed near by.
GILBERTS FORT (HF)
In the spring of 1812, Samuel Gilbert settled near the Salt river in Ralls county. That same year, Gilbert and his neighbors erected a blockhouse on high ground north-east of Shepards or Matson Mill.
FORT INDEPENDENCE (CAP-AU-GRIS FORT) (MO)
Built in the summer of 1813, Fort Independence was erected by the Missouri Rangers under the advisement of the inhabitants of Fort Howard, to observe the Indian movements on the Mississippi river.
PORTAGE DE SIOUX BLOCKHOUSE AND FORT LOOKOUT (MO)
On April 8, 1813, General Daniel Bissell of Fort Bellefontaine and territorial governor Benjamin Howard chose Portage de Sioux, Missouri to build a military post. Captain Desha with a subaltern and fifty-one men were instructed to build a blockhouse at Portage de Sioux. To protect the builders, a large fortified gunboat was left in the river near the blockhouse. To further watch and protect St. Louis, it was decided to place a battery of artillery on a island in the middle of the river just south of the village of Portage de Sioux. This battery was called Fort Lookout.
On July 15, 1815, a treaty was signed with the Indians near the blockhouse thus more or less ending the Indian attacks on the settlements.
FORT MASON (MO)
Built in April-May of 1812, Fort Mason was named after Lieutenant John Mason of Colonel Kibbys Rangers of St. Charles. Directed by Major Nathan Boone and General Benjamin Howard, the Missouri Rangers erected this small fort near the present-day Saverton, Missouri.
BUFFALO FORT (HF)
Erection of Buffalo Fort began in Decmber of 1811 and was finished during the early part of 1812. It was built on a high hill overlooking the Buffalo and Niox creeks, two miles southwest of the present town of Louisiana, Missouri. The fort enclosed a spring which still flows today.
FORT BELLE FOUNTAINE (CANTONMENT)
Fort Belle Fountaine was the first United States fort built west of the Mississippi river. Located on the Missouri river, north of the town of St. Louis. Fort Belle Fountaine became the military center for the area of the Missouri and Illinois territories. The fort was a stockade fort with barracks, blockhouses, powder magazine and dependent's quarters.
LOWER MISSOURI RIVER FORTS
FORT HOWARD (MO)
Upon the advisement of John Shaw, Fort Howard was erected. The fort took sixty or severty people to build over the period of two to three weeks. Two companies of Missouri Rangers were involved in its construction. The fort was a rectangle with its long sides running north and south. The stockade enclosed about half an acre. A well was dug inside the fort. Blockhouses were built on all corners except the southeast corner. The militia cut the pickets and the regulars put them up.35 The fort was located in the Mississippi river flood plain, below some bluffs. When the fort was complete, it was named after Governor Benjamin Howard. The fort became involved in one of the most active battles during the 1812 conflict, on May 24, 1815, the Battle of the Sinkhole.
CLARKS FORT (HF)
The date of the erection of Clarks Fort is not really known though it was probably around 1812. Major Christopher Clark was responsible for the forts erection.
LESTERS FORT (HF)
This fort was discovered by me on U.S. surveyors notes and map drawings of 1816. No other description has been made of the fort.
KENNEDYS FORT (HF)
Built in 1811, the fort was built for the defense of the Kennedy family. Thomas Kennedy was responsible for settling the area. The fort was built in a square with two blockhouses angling in the square.
JOURNEYS FORT (HF)
The Journey Fort was built by the three Journey brothers, Peter, Jospeh and James in the year of 1812. The fort was located fifteen miles west of the Pond Fort.
POND FORT (MO)
The Pond Fort was built by a company of Missouri Rangers in 1812, under the command of Captain James Callaway. It was named the Pond Fort because of a large pond north of the fort.
WOODS FORT (IM)
Though it is not really known who built Woods Fort, it became the center of military activity in the area. The fort was named after Zadock Woods who had a large dog-trot log house iside the fort which was used as a tavern. The fort was a rectangular stockade.
STOUTS FORT (HF)
Stouts Fort was a small stockade located on top of a small hill. It was located about one mile south of the town of Auburn, Missouri which has long since disappeared.
ZUMWALTS FORT (HF)
Jacob Zumwalt built the main saddle-bag log house in 1798. A spring was located at the bottom of the hill, below the house. There were as many as ten families that lived at the fort during the War of 1812. Before the war, Black Hawk was a frequent visitor of the Zumwalt family. It is said that Black Hawk was in love with one of Jacob Zumwalts daughters.
WHITES FORT (HF)
Named after Captain White, the fort is located roughly two miles from Fort Howard and built on Dog or Big Prairie. The settlers in the area helped build the fort. The fort was rectangular in shape, the long dimensions running east and west. The fort embraced one and a half acres.
COONTZS FORT (HF)
Not much is known about the fort. It was built on the Booneslick road, one and a half miles east of present-day Cottleville, Missouri. It was built by John and Nick Coontz in 1800.
HOWELLS FORT (HF)
Francis Howell built this fort in 1811. It was lcoated near a spring which is now part of the Busch Wildlife area, ten miles south-west of St. Charles, Missouri. Militia musters and drills were held there frequently.
CASTLIOS FORT (HF)
Located in the Busch Wildlife area, only one and a half miles from Howells Fort, Castlios Fort was not as large as Howells. John Caslito built the fort on Howells prairie near the Dardenne creek.
CALLAWAYS FORT (HF)
Little is known about the fort. Flaunders Callaway built a log house near Charette, a French settlement that has long been washed away by the Missouri river. Some historians believe that this two-story log house was part of Callaways Fort.
BOONES FORT (HF)
The fort was built by Daniel Morgan Boone with the help of his neighbors. It is said that the fort was the largest and strongest in the district. The fort seems to have had two or three blockhouses and picketing. Daniel Morgan Boones house was located within the fort.
McCOYS FORT (HF)
This fort is only mentioned once in records. There is no other reference to it.
LOUTRE ISLAND FORTS
Loutre Island is located northeast of the present town of Hermann, Missouri. The island is located in the Missouri river basin.
McDERMITS FORT (HF)
McDermits Fort was probably located several miles up the Loutre river from the other Loutre Island forts. No location for the fort is known at this time.
QUICKS FORT (HF)
Little is known about this fort. It was located on the west side of the Loutre river, not far from its mouth, near Loutre Island. It was built on the east end of Bests Bottom.
FORT CLEMSON (IM)
Built by the Missouri Rangers in 1812, the fort was named in honor of Colonel Eli Brady Clemson. It was located on the Loutre Island, next to the Missouri River. Captain James Callaway spent a considerable amount of time at the fort during the war, referred to it as Camp Clemson in letters to his wife. The only description of Fort Clemson calls it a small, crude fort with barracks.
BESTS FORT (HF)
Located in Bests Bottom at its western end, Isaac Best had built a blockhouse for his family. Quicks Fort was not far away. In 1814, Best and his family abandoned the fort and retired to Fort Clemson.
TALBOTS FORT (HF)
As with the other forts near the Island, little is known about it. It was located on the bluffs above Loutre island, not far from Fort Clemson.
GROOMS FORT (HF)
Located eight miles up the Loutre river, Jacob Grooms built a fort before or during the year of 1814. This fort may have been located along the same common road near McDermits Fort.
COTE SANS DESSEIN
Cote Sans Dessein was a small French settlement located east of present-day Jefferson City, Missouri, about twelve miles. The name means shoreline without design, because of the unusual mound formation it was located on. The hill rises up in the middle of the Missouri river valley, next to the river. The formation is approximately forty or fifty yards wide, thirty or forty yards high (varying from end to end) and one quarter of a mile long. The settlement consisted of several dozen log homes with about 200 inhabitants. Two forts were erected for the villages protection.
TIBEAUS FORT (HF)
Sometimes spelled Thibault, this fort was possible built by, or at least part of it, the Missouri Rangers. It was named after Joseph Tibeau. This fort was the main fort of the settlement. The fort was a two-story blockhouse with portholes on both floors.
ROYS FORT (HF)
Roys Fort was named for the Roy (sometimes spelled Roi because of its French origins) family that occupied it. It was located thirty or forty yards from the Missouri rivers edge and roughly 400 yards east of Tibeaus Fort. It sat on the flat river basin. The fort consisted of a blockhouse only. Roys Fort was much smaller than Tibeaus Fort. A log powder magazine stood about halfway between the forts but closer to the river than the forts. The Battle of Cote Sans Dessein occurred on April 4, 1815. The forts were attacked by the Sac and Fox Indians.
The Booneslick settlement was the last American settlement on the frontier. This settlement represented the most exposed American citizentry in the newly established territory. Several dozen families lived on both sides of the Missouri river.
STEPHEN COLES FORT (HF)
Stephen Cole settled the area in February of 1810. He settled in an area one and a half miles east of the present-day Boonville, Missouri. Where he put his fort is now called the Old Fort Field. In the summer of 1812, Stephen Cole and his neighbors built the fort. Little is known as to what it looked like other than it did have a stockade.
HANNAH COLES FORT (HF)
Hannah Cole moved into the area with Stephen Cole in 1810. After the killing of Samuel McMahan in 1811, it was decided to build a stronger fort around Hannah Coles cabin which was located on a bluff overlooking the Missouri river. The fort was a stockade of heavy picketing.
COOPERS FORT (HF)
Named after the Cooper family who lived there, the fort was a large stockade with log cabins built together to form an enclosure. The fort enclosed about one acre of land and had only one gate out of the enclosure.
COXS FORT (HF)
Sometimes called Andersons Fort, the fort was built in the Missouri river basin directly east of what later became Saline City, Missouri. The fort was built in 1814 and consisted of a blockhouse (possibly just a large log cabin) and a stockade. The fort was named after Jesse Cox who had moved there with his son-in-law, William Gregg and Coxs two sons.
HEADS FORT (HF)
The fort was located at a large spring and named after Captain William Head. The for was a small stockade. The fort was located several miles north of present-day Rochport, Missouri.
REEDS BLOCKHOUSE (HF)
Little is known about this blockhouse except for what I recently discovered in the legal records records. Located on William Reed's property which is now in the Missouri river.
FORT HEMPSTEAD (HF)
The fort was orginally named after Rev. David McClain (sometimes spelled McLain) and called McClains Fort. It was later renamed after Captain Stephen Hempstead. The fort consisted of probably two blockhouses and a stockade that surrounded about two acres of land.
KINKEADS FORT (HF)
Named in honor of David Kinkead, the fort was built similar to Coopers Fort and Fort Hempstead. It was a series of log cabins to form an enclosure.
McMAHANS FORT (HF)
Named for William McMahan who settled in the area. Located to the west of Boonville and four miles south of Arrow Rock, Missouri. This blockhouse was burned by Indians.
BUCKHART'S FORT (HF)
This fort is only mentioned once in a document but could be aa odd phonetic spelling for one of the above mentioned forts.
SIBLEYS FORT (FACTORY)
When Fort Osage was abandoned in 1812, George Sibley established a trading post or factory near present-day Arrow Rock, Missouri. The exact for the fort is unknown. The fort was built in 1813 and abandoned in 1814 when Indian raids around the area worsened.
JOHNSONS FORT (FACTORY)
Because of the agreement between General William Clark and the Sac and Fox Indians of the Missouri river, a trading post was established on the Little Moniteau creek, located upriver from present-day Jefferson City, Missouri. The fort was a two-story blockhouse.
FORT OSAGE (FACTORY)
Fort Osage was built in 1808 because of a treaty agreement with the United States and the Osage Indians. The fort was abandoned in 1812 when hostile Indian attacks increased on the Missouri river. The fort consisted of five blockhouses, barracks, a hospital, officer quarters, factory and traders area. The fort was reoccupied after the war.
ILLINOIS TERRITORIAL FORTS
These forts are under investigation. Fort Russell was considered the most important for the Illinois territory since most military excursions germinated from this fort. The forts are divided up for each county they were located in. Some research comments are included in the text. Though many of these forts were home-forts, I will not make designations till the research is finished.
HILL'S FORT - Eight miles southwest of the present site of Greenville.
JONE'S FORT - On the east side of Shoal Creek.
NAT HILL'S FORT - On (Goshen) Doza Creek, a few miles above its mouth, directly east of Pierron, on east side of river.
CAMPBELL'S BLOCKHOUSE - A small blockhouse on the west bank of the Illinois River (Prairie Marcot), nineteen miles above the mouth, erected by Lt. John Campbell, U.S.A.. Located near Hardin, across the Mississippi river from the Cap au Gris Fort (Fort Independence).
JOURNEY'S FORT - Located a short distance above the town of Aviston.
FORT __________ - Located on the site of the town of Carlyle.
HILL'S FORT - Near Hill's Ferry on the Kaskaskia River??? Could be the same one in Bond County??? Probably!
FORT LA MOTTE - Located near Palestine. Built in 1812 by local inhabitants. Plaque on Il33 in east Palestine marks the site.
FORT FOOT - Built by the William Easton family and other settlers considered Fort LaMotte too crowded and constructed a new stockade on a site just north of Il 33 west of town. A family trait of the Eatons of large feet led to the name.
FORT DEARBORN - Located where Chicago is at present..
TOM JORDON'S FORT - Built in the Jordan (Jourdan) settlement in 1811 by Thomas and Francis Jordan, with the assistance of the militia from the U.S. Saline, on the road to the salt works and the town of Equality, in the eastern part of Franklin County, eight or nine miles east from old Frankfort.
FRANCIS JORDON BLOCKHOUSE - Built in the Jordan (Jourdan) settlement in 1810 by Thomas and Francis Jordan, with the assistance of the militia from the U.S. Saline, on the road to the salt works and the town of Equality, in the eastern part of Franklin County, eight or nine miles east from old Frankfort.
FRANK FORT - Built 1812. Located on river near Orient. Could this be related to old Frankfort?
FORT ___________- Located northeast of Havana.
FORT JOHNSON - Located on the site of the town of Warsaw. 1814.
FORT EDWARDS - Built in 1816. Near Warsaw, Illinois. Post-war fort, built as a direct result of the war.
ILLINOIS RIVER BLOCKHOUSE - Built at the mouth of the Illinois River. Fort located near Grafton, across the Mississippi river from Portage de Sioux, Missouri.
LA SALLE COUNTY
FORT ___________? - Located at Starved Rock, near La Salle.
FORT ___________- Built in 1812, located between Birds and Russellville.
FORT ___________- Built on the Mississippi River, opposite the mouth of the Missouri River.
FORT ___________ - Built on Silver Creek, northeast of Troy. See Butler's Fort.
FORT RUSSELL - Sometimes called 'Camp Russell'. Named in honor of Col. William Russell, U.S. Regulars. Very important fort. Established one and a half miles northwest of Edwardsville.
FORT BUTLER - Near the village of St. Jacob. Mentioned in the Wood River Massacre.
MOORE'S BLOCKHOUSE - Built by George Moore in 1808? On the farm owned by William Gill, then Klopmeyer. Madison County. Wood River Massacre narrative. At the residence of George Moore, a blockhouse had been built, on the east branch of Wood River.
CHILTON'S FORT - Possible located in Morine township. Major Isaac Ferguson was in command during 1812-14. Located on the east side of Silver Creek. Built no earlier than 1810. Named after Chilton family.
WOOD RIVER FORT - Located in section 10, township 5, range 9.
BARTLETT'S BLOCKHOUSE - Built by Joseph Bartlett in 1812. Located in the Wood River settlement.
BECK'S BLOCKHOUSE - Built by Paul Beck and located three miles east of Edwardsville. Used during the War of 1812.
THOMAS KIRKPATRICK'S FORT - Edwardsville. It stood to the north of the old courthouse about three hundred yards from the banks of the Cahokia Creek. Believed to be built by a military company of which John G. Lofton was captain.
STOCKADE FORT - Built in section one, township 4, range 9.
JONE'S BLOCKHOUSE - Located on southeast quarter of section 18, township 5, range 8.
JAMES KIRKPATRICK'S FORT - Located a couple of miles southwest of Edwardsville.
FRANK KIRKPATRICK'S FORT - Located a couple of miles southeast of Edwardsville.
LOFTON'S BLOCKHOUSE - Located in the American bottom, in the Nameoki township.
HAYE'S BLOCKHOUSE - Located in the American Bottom, in the Nameoki township.
_______________ FORT - Located one mile south of the old town of Milton.
BLOCKHOUSE - Located on section 1, near Alton, Illinois.
PREUITT'S BLOCKHOUSE- Built on the north half of section 18, on the land of Martin Preuitt, father of Solomon Preuitt. In the spring of 1817, the fort was taken down and removed to William Jones' land and was used as the residence of the Jones family.
FORT MASSAC - Metropolis. 1759. This fort passed through the hands of several nationalities before the Americans. Became an important part of the War of 1812.
PIGGOTT'S FORT - Located west about a mile north of Columbia. Located along the Kaskaskia Trail. Stood at the foot of the bluffs. Built in 1783 by James Piggott.
NEW DESIGN SET FORT - Northwest of Waterloo.
WHITESIDE'S STATION - Built by William Whiteside in 1793. Located on road between Cahokia and Kaskaskia. Halfway between Columbia and Waterloo (1882).
FORT CLARK - Located at present-day Peoria.
POST WILKINS - Built 1800. Between Olmstead and Grand Chain, on the Ohio River.
FORT GAGE - Located north of Chester on the Kaskaskia River.
FORT CHARTRES - Located on Mississippi River, near Prairie du Roche.
ST. CLAIR COUNTY
CHAMBER'S FORT - Few miles southeast of Lebanon, on the west side of Looking Glass Prairie.
McHENRY'S FORT - On Tanguary land, built by Captain William McHenry in the summer of 1812, and from which Captain McHenry's Company ranged.
COUNCIL'S FORT - On the Starkey place, built by Hardy Council in 1813.
WILLIAM'S FORT - East side of Big Prairie, built by Aaron Williams in 1813.
HANNA'S FORT - Built by John Hanna, a little south of George Hanna's house, on the site where a Methodist church stands.
LAND'S FORT - Built by Robert Land, who lived in it during the war, about a half a mile south of the Hanna Fort.
SLOCUMB'S FORT - Built by John Slocumb, east of Thomas Logan's farm.
BOULTINGHOUSE'S FORT - Built by Daniel Boultinghouse in the northern part of White County, near the prairie named after him. He was killed by the Indians near the house in 1813.
SKILLET FORT - Located between Skillet Creek and Little Wabash River.
BLOCKHOUSE - 1809. Near Hurst.
BLOCKHOUSE - 1811. East of Crainville.
OLD STONE FORT - Near or south of Carrier Mills in Saline County or in the town of Stonefort of Williamson County.
MIDDLETON'S FORT - On the Kaskaskia River.
GOING'S FORT - On the Kaskaskia River.
The war in Missouri officially ended with the treaty signed in 1815 at the blockhouse near the village of Portage de Sioux. Most of the forts were dismantled and the logs used to build barns, corn cribs and other log structures. A few of the forts survived till the last thirty years but fell to modern progress. Except for a few of the fort sites that have been marked by the Daughters of the American Revolution, most of the sites have been lost or forgotten. The search continues. Only through archaeological excavations and revealing historical research can most of the fort sites be found.