"Fort Mann, Kansas"
on the
Santa Fe Trail

GPS: 37-45-10N/100-04-36W

Fort Mann Ford County Kansas
Fort Mann
Ford County, Kansas

     Fort Mann was established in 1846. It was located on the north bank of the Arkansas River about 8 miles west of the present Dodge City and 25 miles below the Cimarron Crossing of the Santa Fe Trail. The fort was near the Fort Atkinson site and the old Caches.

     Established because the government needed a post about equidistant from Fort Leavenworth and Santa Fe for the repair of wagons and replacement of animals. Built by Captain Daniel P. Mann, master teamster, for whom the post was named, and a corps of forty teamsters, by order of Captain William D. McKissack, assistant quartermaster.

     Although this was not a regular military post, it was defensible and was occupied from time to time. The ten soldiers there could scarcely defend themselves, let alone passing caravans. During the year, Commander Lieutenant Gilpin counted 3,000 wagons, 12,000 people, and 150,000 head of stock that passed the Fort. The Comanches and Kiowa Indians killed forty-seven of these Americans and stole 6,500 head of stock.

     Fort Mann was repaired and enlarged in 1848. Fort Mann was abandoned in 1850 when Fort Atkinson was established.

     In 1847 a small post was built next to the Arkansas River between the lower and the middle crossings. This was the first military installation on the Santa Fe Trail in Indian country. It was mainly a repair station for wagons.

     The Fort was 60 ft. square, with walls 20 ft. high. It was built with four houses on the inside walls, the houses were built of logs. The walls of the fort were logs stood on end. This fort was abandoned in September of 1848. In September of 1850 the First Dragoons established a new post about three-quarters of a mile above the ruins of the old Fort Mann. This Fort was first called Fort Mackey. Named for a Col. A. Mackay, Q. M. D.

     The lack of adequate protection for the military supply trains traveling the Santa Fe Trail, and the serious losses to the government resulting from increasing attacks by Plains Indians, finally caused the military authorities to search for more effective means of providing security. The site selected for a new Fort or Repair Station was about 25 miles below the Middle Crossing of the Arkansas River, in present day Ford County. The site was within sight of the place called Caches on the River and also the landmark known as the lower Point of Rocks.

     The station the teamsters built in the spring of 1847, was of rude construction, with adobe bricks and cotton wood logs cut on the Arkansas River and the Saw Log Creek to the north of the location. The station originally consisted of four log buildings and later was expanded to include eight buildings. It was built in a square and was connected by log palisades or walls at angles to the corners of the buildings. Loopholes for cannons and small arms were cut in the connecting walls. The cabins had chimneys and fireplaces and flat roofs made of small poles, laid parallel, with "six inches of mud piles on," the roofs were probably adobe, sod, or both. Two large gates a foot thick were installed. The inner plaza or space in the middle was about sixty feet in diameter and the outer walls were somewhere between ten and twenty feet in height. The cabins within the enclosure provided storage rooms, a blacksmith shop, a wheelwright shop and accommodations for the inhabitants and guests.

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