Fort Buford (1866-1895) - A U.S. Army post established in 1866 by soldiers under the command of Bvt. Lieutenant Colonel William G. Rankin in the Dakota Territory near present day Williston, Williams County, North Dakota. The Fort was named after Major General John F. Buford, hero of Gettysburg, who died from typhoid fever in 1863 during the U.S. Civil War. Abandoned in 1895.
Fort Buford History
Construction began on Fort Buford on 15 Jun 1866 by soldiers under the command of Bvt. Lieutenant Colonel William G. Rankin in the Dakota Territory. Initially the fort consisted of a 360-foot-square stockade, with log and adobe buildings. It was constructed as a single company garrison to protect immigrant travel routes.
The fort was expanded in 1867 to house a total of 5 companies. The expanded fort was 999 feet by 600 feet and was enclosed on three sides by a twelve-foot stockade. Faulty construction necessitated a third construction phase and the fort was expanded to house 6 companies.
The Sioux Wars of 1876-1879 resulted in Custer's defeat at the Little Bighorn and Sitting Bull's flight into Canada. Sitting Bull return to Dakota Territory in 1881 and traveled to Fort Buford where he surrendered on 20 Jul 1881 to Major David H. Brotherton, Fort Buford's commander.
After Sitting Bull's surrender, Fort Buford protected survey and construction crews of the Great Northern Railway and policed the area against outlaws and wayward indians. It was abandoned on 1 Oct 1895.
The North Dakota State Historical Society runs Fort Buford State Historical Site. Three restored original buildings still stand at the site: the stone powder magazine, wood-frame officers' quarters, and a wood-frame officer of the guard building. An enlisted barracks and mess have been reconstructed. The post guardhouse is represented by a metal outline building on the site. The foundation of one of the officer's quarters is expose. A single field mounted cannon is displayed in front of the Field Grade Officers quarters. The post cemetery is located just south of the fort site.
The nearby Missouri-Yellowstone Confluence Interpretive Center has some information on the post. Contrary to what your GPS may tell you the only way into the post on a paved road is on 39th Ln. NW, that road comes from the Interpretive center. Plenty of room to turn an RV around.
Location: 15349 39th Ln. NW, Williston, Williams County, North Dakota 58801
Maps & Images
Lat: 47.987294 Long: -104.000123
- Field, Ron, Forts of the American Frontier 1820-91: Central and Northern Plains, Osprey Publishing, Elms Court, Chapel Way, Botley, Oxford OX2 9LP, United Kingdom, 2005, ISBN: 1 84176 775 1
- Frazer, Robert W., Forts of the West, University of Oklahoma Press, Norman OK, 1965, ISBN 0-8061-1250-6, page 110
- Hart, Herbert M., Tour Guide to Old Western Forts, Pruett Publishing Co., Boulder CO, 1980, ISBN 0-87108-568-2, page 112
- Roberts, Robert B., Encyclopedia of Historic Forts: The Military, Pioneer, and Trading Posts of the United States, Macmillan, New York, 1988, 10th printing, ISBN 0-02-926880-X, page 629
- North American Forts - Fort Buford
- Wikipedia - Fort Buford
- Fort Buford State Historical Site
- Library of Congress - Fort Buford HABS Photos and Plans
Visited: 22 Sep 2013
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