Riverton in Cherokee County, Kansas — The American Midwest (Upper Plains)
Repelling Quantrill's Raiders
The fort stood roughly 100 by 200 feet, consisting of logs and an earth embankment about four feet high surrounding a wooden blockhouse. The garrison was manned by the 2nd Kansas Colored Volunteer Infantry, and was later reinforced by Lieutenant James B. Pond and his command, who brought with them a 12-pound howitzer cannon. The post had over 150 men, including nearly 50 African American soldiers. Upon arrival, Pond set out to enlarge the fort and ordered the removal of the west wall for expansion. This would ultimately be a fateful
Quantrill's Raiders were an unofficial guerrilla military unit led by William Quantrill. Formed in 1861 when Quantrill entered the Civil War against the Union, his force began terrorizing Union soldiers and civilian sympathizers alike along the Kansas-Missouri border. Declared an outlaw by the Union, the Confederacy made him a captain. In August 1863, Quantrill raided Lawrence, Kansas with more than 400 men. A union stronghold, the violent raid led to the deaths of over 150 men and boys, some of whom were murdered in front of their families. As the raiders left, they burnt much of the city. In retribution, Union troops forced the residents of four Missouri border counties out of their homes, burning everything left behind in the hopes of breaking guerrilla supply lines. In early October, as Pond was enlarging Fort Blair, Quantrill was moving south to Texas; the two would soon collide.
Battle of Baxter Springs
On October 6, 1863, Fort Blair's cavalry left to forage in Missouri, leaving the 2nd Kansas Colored Infantry behind to guard the fort, along with some sick soldiers. Meanwhile, Quantrill's Raiders traveled south, unaware they were heading directly for Fort Blair. Crossing from Missouri to the Military Road, they learned of the fort and sent scouts. Quantrill's men discovered Lieutenant Ralph Cook, commander of the 2nd Kansas Colored Volunteer Infantry, and a civilian practicing at a firing range outside the fort. Recognizing Cook, they executed both men. Quantrill then sent about 100 men to attack the fort from the southeast while he took the remaining 300 men north.
The reduced garrison was eating lunch below the fort, their rifles in the fortification. Suddenly, the rebels charged. The startled soldiers fled to the fort amidst gunfire, but once there, the African American soldiers outmatched Quantrill's attackers. Black and white soldiers fought beside each other, different from many battles in the East. Lieutenant Pond rushed to the scene and using his howitzer, helped scare away the guerrillas. The fort was saved with few casualties. Pond commended the bravery of the 2nd Kansas Colored Volunteer Infantry, many of whom fought through injuries to defend the fort. A marker at the fort site commemorates the battle. A replica fort also tells the story of the fort's defense.
Erected by Frontier Military Historic Byway and Kansas Byways.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: African Americans • Forts and Castles • War, US Civil. A significant historical month for this entry is August 1863.
Location. 37° 4.538′ N, 94° 43.053′ W. Marker is in Riverton, Kansas, in Cherokee County. Marker is at the intersection of U.S. 400 and State Highway 66, on the right when traveling south on U.S. 400. Marker kiosk is about 300 feet west of the roundabout. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 6494 US Rte 66, Riverton KS 66770, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Baxter Springs Massacre and Today (here, next to this marker); Where Two Roads Converge (here, next to this marker); Land's Legacy (a few steps from this marker); Bridging the American Divide (a few steps from this marker); Boom Towns (a few steps from this marker); Cosmopolitan Corner (a few steps from this marker); Crossroads of Kansas (a few steps from this marker); Baxter Springs Massacre (approx. 0.8 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Riverton.
Credits. This page was last revised on April 11, 2021. It was originally submitted on April 11, 2021, by Jason Voigt of Glen Carbon, Illinois. This page has been viewed 36 times since then. Photos: 1, 2. submitted on April 11, 2021, by Jason Voigt of Glen Carbon, Illinois.