Fort Kalispell, Montana Territory

Fort Kalispell

Overview

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 xxxx in response to the increase in white settlement and continuing conflict with the region’s indigenous peoples.

Commanding Officer

  • Colonel Henry Prestwick

Personnel

  • 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.)

Armament

  • Trapdoor Carbine
  • Army Peacemaker (7.5″ barrel)
  • Infantry: Trapdoor Rifle
  • Artillery: M1875 Mountain Gun

History

1700s

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. Fort Kalispell was established in the late 1700s as a seasonal stockade protected trading post, no permanent settlement existed until the 1800s.

1800s

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.

1845

St. Francis Catholic Church (and school) established at the now-thriving Fort Kalispell settlement.

1860

April: Rumors of gold found along the Chogun River bring an influx of miners, prospectors, and settlers to the area around Kalispell. Indian conflicts increase. Fort Kalispell officially established as a permanent fortified settlement.

1872

June – September: Fort Kalispell converted to a military garrison. The civilian town of Kalispell established five miles north.

In 1872, 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.

See Kalispell, Montana Territory