Fort Defiance (19)

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Fort Defiance (19) (1862-1863) - A U.S. Civil War era Fort established in 1862 by the State of Iowa in response to the 1862 Sioux uprising. The fort was located at Estherville, Emmet County, Iowa. Originally named Fort Ingham for its commander Captain William H. Ingham and later renamed Fort Defiance. Also known as Estherville Stockade. Abandoned in 1863.

Estherville Stockade.jpeg


Fort Defiance/Fort Ingham Plan.

Fort Defiance was located on the west fork of the Des Moines River at Estherville in Emmet County. Iowa. This fort and five others were established in Iowa as a result of the 1862 Sioux Indian uprising and the slaughter of some 800 settlers by raiding Sioux warriors in August 1862. This line of forts provided large stockades to hold local settlers during times of Indian alarm. Each of the forts was manned by a detachment of troops of the Northern Iowa Border Brigade (militia), who were organized by the Iowa governor to deal with the crisis. Captain William Ingham was commissioned as Commander of Company A, about 30 men, who were posted to Estherville to build Fort Defiance.

The Fort Defiance stockade enclosed an area 120' by 132' with a thick sod wall on the south side protecting the huge barn/stable and a thick plank stockade on the other three sides. A 12' wide gate provided access on the east side. On the north side were the three barracks, the office, and the commissary. The flagstaff was centered at the back of the north wall and a well was located near the center of the stockade. The 120' by 132' barn/stable occupied the whole south wall with room for 54 horses and a privy. A guardhouse was later built but never used.

Construction of the fort was completed in June 1863 some 8 months after the uprising had been put down. The full brigade was mustered out of service in late December 1863 and replaced with elements of the 6th U.S. Iowa Volunteer Cavalry during the spring of 1864. With their departure, the fort was abandoned.

Current Status

1911 D.A.R. Monument at Emmet County Courthouse.
Original Site Plaque.
Public Bldg at Fort Defiance State Park.

A barracks has been reconstructed within Fort Defiance State Park as a public use building. The original site at South 6th St. and 1st Ave South has a plaque on the Fort Defiance Professional Building. A 1911 D.A.R. monument is located in front of the Emmet County courthouse.

Location: Estherville, Emmet County, Iowa.

Maps & Images

Lat: 43.40102 Long: -94.83663

  • Multi Maps from ACME
  • Maps from Bing
  • Maps from Google
  • Elevation: 1,296'

GPS Locations:

See Also:



Visited: 29 Jul 2020

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