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In the summer of 1861, four forts were built around the strategic city of Cape Girardeau 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 Street in Cape Girardeau, just west of the Mississippi River bridge.

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