Fort Long, Lincoln's Fort, Fort Lincoln)
Variously called by several
names, Camp Lincoln was established on June 13, 1862, at the
Indian Agency near Crescent City, Del Norte County. On September
11, 1862, Major James F. Curtis moved the camp some six miles
to a clearing in a forest of redwoods in order to observe stricter
impartiality in the Army's attempts to effect a peaceful reconciliation
between the settlers and the Indians. The past was abandoned
on June 11, 1869. The structure that formerly housed the Commanding
Officers's quarters has been rebuilt on the site.
by Colonel Herbert
M. Hart, USMC (retired)
Council on America's Military Past
When the gold fever ran
high, off to the "get rich quick" fields went some
of the men of Northern California in 1862, creating a tempting
situation for the Indians. Farms and families were left unprotected
at the same time the Indians were being resettled in the Smith's
River Valley. This brewed a situation that bubbled and near-exploded
Petitions for troops to
protect the families, were not readily appreciated by the Army,
already stretched thin in keeping open the stage lines,
General Wright, commanding
the Department of the Pacific, considered "a very poor argument"
that the men "have gone to the mines and left the women
and children to the mercy of the Indians."
His feelings were definite,
"There is either no danger from Indians or the men who will
thus abandon their wives and little ones for the gold fields
deserve death," he concluded.
In the long run, though,
the settlers won out. Fort Terwaw, four miles from Klamath, California,
was wiped out by a flood in 1862, and its troops moved to a temporary
Camp Lincoln at the Agency headquarters near Crescent City.
Major James F. Curtis
arrived at Camp Lincoln on August 21st and almost immediately
announced that it was to be moved six miles north of Crescent
City at 1:00 p.m. on September 11, 1862.
This would put the troops
between the whites and Indians and "will prevent any molestation
on the part of the whites and yet be a good position from which
to act against these tribes should they commence hostilities,"
"The camp is upon
dry, sloping ground, an opening in a redwood forest, and upon
the main road between Crescent City and the Indian reservation."
Curtis reported. "Good water, wood, and grazing in abundance
. . . The name Camp Lincoln is retained and the post office address
While Curtis was in the
process of building a small post of two barracks and a like number
of officers' quarters, most of his attention was distracted by
the aggravations in white-Indian relations. Settlers felt the
government should either buy the Smith's River Valley, or get
the Indians out. With the government not indicating steps to
do the former, the civilians took the latter in hand. The fact
that many of the settlers had successionist leanings did not
Indian crops were burned
and stock run off. The Indians were told to get out or be killed.
The 400 to 500 members of Con Cow and Hat Creek bands decided
that the reservation existed no longer and left. The 1,500 who
stayed did so only because of Curtis' troops.
One of his two companies
pursued the Indians, but the redwood forests swallowed them up.
It took martial law and
companies of the militia to bring an unsettled peace across the
valley temporarily. Indians and whites persisted in mutual harassment,
and the Army had a continual task to keep the combatants separated.
June 11, 1869, Camp Lincoln
was deserted and in May 1870, it was officially closed. The final
peace had not yet come, but the postwar Army could not afford
the luxury of many small posts inadequately manned, and Lincoln
was one of those to feel the axe.
TO GET THERE: From Crescent
City, California, take U.S. 199 northeast about six miles. Turn
left at Smith's River Valley road (marked). This road almost
parallels the highway. Fort site is about two miles north, flanking
road. Marker is on right hand side. Former officers' duplex,
privately owned, is next to road, left side.
in 1862 was sketched by Private George B. Young. The guardhouse
is on a slight knoll in the foreground. Officers' quarters, still
existing, is at left, their mess hall and kitchen next door.
Barracks are at right. Sketch and patte agree basically, though
tents used temporarily show in the sketch.
families lived in this residence. It was a duplex, had four rooms,
two fireplaces. Now remodeled, it is a farm house but early location
and appearance have not changed. This building appears as right-hand
building, a middle row, of the drawing above. Photographed in
Officer's residence has been rebuilt, but stands on the original
site, resembles former self. The marker was placed in spring,
1962. Photographed in 1964
was built on a gentle slope and even parade ground was on a slight
grade. Because it was not flat, parade ground drilling involved
both uphill and downhill marching. The camp flagpole was in front
of the guardhouse. The diary of private at camp tells of Indian
maidens' being tied to the flagstaff by the sergeant of guard,
but doesn't say why.
This page was reprinted
with permission from Old Forts of the Northwest, published