California State Military Department
The California State Military Museum
Preserving California's Military Heritage
Historic California Posts:
Camp Lincoln
(Long's Camp, 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.
 
History
by Colonel Herbert M. Hart, USMC (retired)
Executive Director, 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 many times.
 
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," he said.
 
"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 not changed."
 
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 help matters.
 
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.
 
Camp Lincoln 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.
 
Two Officers' 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 1964.
 
Commanding 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
 
 B  Barracks
 CO Q  Commanding Officer's Quarters
 GH  Guardhouse
 H  Hospital
 K  Kitchen
 LAUN  Laundress Quarters
 MH  Mess Hall
 OMH  Officers' Mess Hall
 OQ  Officer's Quarters
 SH  Storehouse
 ST  Stable
 
The post 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 in 1965
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