Fort D

Fort D

The Civil War is Remembered in Cape Girardeau

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. The earthwork walls of the fort remain intact and signage throughout the fort’s grounds recount the history of Fort D.

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 old fort’s storied past comes back to life with Civil War encampments featuring living history demonstrations, food, live music and cannon fire every Memorial Day, Fourth of July and Labor Day. Step back in time at historic Fort D and experience anew the echoes of a now distant war that pitted brother against brother.

Other Civil War sites in Cape Girardeau include the site of the Battle of Cape Girardeau, Sites of Forts, A, B and C, the smallpox hospital at the Minton House, Confederate and Union Memorials, the Common Pleas Courthouse, Old Lorimier Cemetery, Port Cape Girardeau and more. Experience these sites as you follow the Driving Tour of the Civil Sites of Cape Girardeau, available for download or at the Convention and Visitors Bureau.