Fort Randall

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Fort Randall (1856-1892) - Established in 1856 by Captain Nelson H. Davis (Cullum 1320), 2nd U.S. Infantry, to replace Fort Pierre (1). Named after Ltc. Daniel Randall who was Deputy Paymaster General of the Army. Abandoned in 1892. Located along the Missouri River in Gregory County, South Dakota near preset day Pickstown.

Band and Four Companies of the 25th U.S. Infantry at Fort Randall.
Fort Randall Chapel circa 1905
Fort Randall Chapel remains under protective cover in 2020.

Fort Randall History

The site was selected in 1856 by General William S. Harney, Commander of the Sioux Expedition. The post was established 14 Aug 1856 by Captain Nelson H. Davis, (Cullum 1320), 2nd U.S. Infantry.

Original Post (1856-1871)

The original post was built as a series of one-story log cabins and by 1859 the post had 24 log structures that housed six companies or about 500 men. Lining the large central parade were the officer's quarters, barracks, commissary, and a quartermaster department. Other support buildings included the guardhouse, hospital, morgue, warehouse, and the sutler's store.

During the U.S. Civil War the post was General Alfred Sully's base of operations for his 1863-1865 campaigns against the Sioux Indians.

Final Post (1871-1892)

The old post was ordered renovated by Lt. Colonel Elwell S. Otis, 22nd U.S. Infantry, who commanded the post between October 1870 and June 1873. The deteriorating log cabins were replaced with two-story framed buildings and additional buildings were constructed for a guardhouse, hospital, bakery, magazine, and other support buildings.

In 1875, a stone chapel envisioned by the post commander, Lt. Colonel Pinkney Lugenbeel, (Cullum 1044), 1st U.S. Infantry, was built by volunteer labor at a cost of $20,000. The chapel was designed by the post carpenter, George Bush and most of the money for it was raised by the enlisted men of the post. Lt. Colonel Lugenbeel commanded the post between January 1874 and October 1879.

Twelve additional officers' quarters were built in 1877. White picket fences were built around all the buildings and the post became a showplace.

Fort Randall Plan

Sitting Bull

Sitting Bull and His Family at Fort Randall. Mounted on his horse is Captain Benton and his wife is next to Sitting Bull.

Sitting Bull (Tatanka Iyotake) of the Lakota Sioux, who participated in the defeat of Colonel George A. Custer at the Battle of Little Big Horn, and his band of 158 Hunkpapa Sioux camped south of the fort between July 1881 and November 1883 under a loose arrest. The band was moved to Fort Yates, in present-day North Dakota in November 1883.


The 21st U.S. Infantry left the post on 9 Nov 1892 and the post was officially abandoned on 7 Dec 1892.

Fort Randall Partial Commanders List (edit list)
Assumed Relieved Rank Name Cullum Notes
1856-08-10 1857-09-22 Colonel Lee, Francis N/A
1857-09-23 1858-07-02 Major Day, Hannibal 348
1859-07-16 1861-01-11 Lt. Colonel Munroe, John 94
1870-11 1873-06 Lt. Colonel Otis, Elwell S. N/A
1874-01 1879-11 Lt. Colonel Lugenbeel, Pinkney 1044
1880-06-30 1882-09-15 Colonel Andrews, George L. N/A
1882-11-19 1884-05-20 Lt. Colonel Swaine, Peter T. 1559
1891-11-07 1892-08-25 Lt. Colonel Lyster, William J. N/A
Dates are formatted in yyyy-mm-dd to sort correctly.
The Cullum Number is the graduation order from the United States Military Academy by year and class rank and links to a page for the officer on the website version of the Cullum Register. Listings without a Cullum Number indicate that the person was not a graduate of the United States Military Academy.

Current Status

Fort Randall Marker.

Fort Randall National Historic Site. The only remaining building is the remains of the Chapel. The parade is ringed with readerboards describing a part of the post or events.

Location: Fort Randall National Historic Site, Gregory County, South Dakota.

Maps & Images

Lat: 43.05028 Long: -98.56036

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

See Also:



Visited: 15 Jul 2020

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