In the summer of
1861, four forts were built around the strategic city of
on the orders of General John Frémont. Designed by German-American
engineers from St. Louis, the forts were built by soldiers of the 20th
Illinois Infantry, Bissell’s Engineers of the West, and local militia
under the direction of Illinois Lt. John Wesley Powell. Powell, who
would later gain fame as the explorer of the Grand
Canyon, was detached from his regiment by the new general,
Ulysses S. Grant, in order to raise a local company to man the forts.
This Powell did, and his new Battery F served the forts until leaving
for the Tennessee River
campaign and the Battle of Shiloh. Of the four earthen forts, only
Fort D still exists, an intact survivor thanks to civic action in the
1930’s and is now a city historic site.
Fort D is located 5 blocks south of the intersection of
Missouri Rte. 74 and Sprigg
in Cape Girardeau, just west of the Mississippi River bridge.