Fort Kalispells’ primary purpose and mission is the protection and defense of the Kalispell region of the Territory of Montana. The fort was converted for military use in 1860 in response to the increase in white settlement and continuing conflict with the region’s indigenous peoples.
- Colonel Henry Prestwick
- 9th Infantry
- 2nd Cavalry
- 4th Artillery
Total: 450 to 550
- The total number varies as men are transferred and personnel needs increase or decrease.
Command and HQ: 50
Cavalry: 2 troops (approx. 200 men)
Artillery: 2 batteries (approx. 50 men)
Infantry: 4 companies (approx. 200 men)
Contracted Civilians: 50 (teamsters, etc.)
Army Peacemaker (7.5″ barrel)
Infantry: Trapdoor Rifle
Artillery: M1875 Mountain Gun
Fort Kalispell was established by the French in the 1700s as a stockade protected trading settlement. The Seven Years War, 1756-1763, fought between the French and British over land disputes, was won by England. France gave up all French territory east of the Mississippi River, except for New Orleans. Although no longer a French territory, traders and fur trappers from Canada continued to work and settle in the area.
In 1803, the United States bought the Louisiana Territory from France. The U.S. Secretary of State, James Madison paid 15 million dollars for the land. The marked the beginning of major changes for the region. Concessions by the Choctaw, Chickasaw and Cherokee Indians started opening land to white settlers. There was more expansion into the territory following the Lewis and Clark Expedition of 1804-1806.
While the American Civil War did not have a major impact on the region, the influx of white settlers and the Indian Conflicts meant that people needed protection.
In 1860, it was determined that there was a need for a military installation at the fork of the Chogun River and Flathead Lake. Unfortunately, land surveys found that building a substantial installation would be cost prohibitive. Instead, the decision was made to split the settlement from the fort and relocate it five miles to the north. This allowed for the establishment of a military installation and conversion of the facilities at minimal expense.