Historic California Posts, Camps,
Stations and Airfields
Founded in 1849 by settlers to guard an
important ferry crossing, the "post" was given the
name "Fort Defiance" to indicate their attitude to
the hostile Indians.
In 1850 Lieutenant George H. Derby on orders of Major General
P. F. Smith, made a reconnaissance of the Colorado River. His
map, dated December 1850 shows Fort Defiance on the California
side of the river, about half a mile above the Mexican boundary.
The remains of this non military installation are located four
miles below Fort Yuma.
According to John R. Bartlett's book,
Personal Narrative (1852) "'This is the spot where
we first encamped, and were unable to reach the water. It was
an old ferrying place, and the scene of a massacre by the Pumas
the year before our visit." According to the War Department,
a military post known as Fort Defiance, garrisoned by a lieutenant
and 10 men, was also established at Pilot Knob to the northeast.
The soldiers and ferrymen garrisoned the stockade that had been
erected by the Glanton party.
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