Fort D Historic Civil War Site
Constructed during the beginning of the Civil War in the summer of 1861, Fort D is the only remaining fort, out of four Civil War forts, that once protected the city of Cape Girardeau from Confederate attack.
Work on Fort D began on August 6, 1861, under the direction of Lieutenant John Wesley Powell of Illinois. Later, Powell recruited a company of loyal Cape Girardeau men to serve in the Union army. Since Powell was from Illinois, these men were mustered in as Battery F, 2nd Illinois Light Artillery. After training for several months, the battery was sent up the Tennessee River to Pittsburgh Landing, near a small chapel known as Shiloh. During the battle of Shiloh, on April 6, 1862, Powell gave a command to fire by raising his hand. A bullet shattered his wrist, and the arm was later amputated to stop infection. In 1869, one-armed John Wesley Powell led the first successful navigation of the Colorado River through what Powell named “The Grand Canyon.”
The earthwork walls remain intact and signage throughout the fort's grounds bring its storied past to life. The story of John Wesley Powell overcoming and persevering despite life’s challenges is just one of the stories that you’ll discover in Cape Girardeau: Where the River Turns a Thousand Tales. For more information, see website: fortdhistoricsite.com.
Grounds are open for self-guided tours daily from dawn to dusk. Call the Cape Girardeau Convention & Visitors Bureau at 1-800-777-0068 for guided group tours. Fort D is located at 920 Fort Street in Cape Girardeau. Parking is available on the street.
Mark your calendar for these upcoming living history demonstrations!
Fort D Days
Memorial Day Weekend Timeline
Memorial Day Weekend
First observed after the end of the Civil War, Memorial Day honors the memory of U. S. soldiers who have died in military service. Join the Turner Brigade, U. S. Volunteers, for the 5th celebration of Fort D Days. Other re-enactors will portray troops and Native Americans from various time periods.
Fourth at the Fort!
The soldiers of Fort D were very patriotic. At the national holiday, they would celebrate by firing their rifles and cannon, eating a special meal with friends and civilians, and flying their flags proudly. Come join with us at this special time.
Labor Day at Fort D
Labor Day is typically a day of rest, but the soldiers and civilians at Fort D will be busy preparing for fall. Join local re-enactors as they demonstrate rifle and cannon fire and dutch oven cooking.
During certain prime weeks of the month, additional living history demonstrations may be set up inside the blockhouse at the fort; the CVB will have a list of dates available. Call 1-800-777-0068 or 573-335-1631 for more information.
Teachers and homeschoolers, check out the Fort D teaching guides!
Complete the reading and comprehension activity and put the Fort D timeline in chronological order.
Need more information? Refer to this handy FAQ to answer questions and stimulate discussion.