Fort Colville

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Fort Colville (1859-1882) - A U.S. Army fort established in 1859 about 15 miles to the east of the 1826 Hudson's Bay Company Fort Colvile. The post was originally known as Harney's Depot and then Camp Colville before becoming Fort Colville.

Fort Colville drawing, 1867 (University of Washington Archive


The U.S. Army responded to the request for a post in the vicinity of HBCs Fort Colvile to monitor the border and help prevent trouble between settlers, miners, and Indians. At the orders of Brigadier General William S. Harney, Two companies of the 9th U.S. Infantry, under the command of Major Pinkney Lugenbeel, arrived in the spring of 1859 to begin construction of Fort Colville. The post was located about three miles east of the present town of Colville. Within four years, it had grown to some forty-five buildings.

A major activity of the garrison in the pre-civil war years was the support of the U. S. Northwest Boundary Survey team which was tasked with detailing the US-Canada land border in the Northwest. Survey team personnel arrived at the fort on 3 Dec 1859 but found their quarters not completed and they were forced to live in tents in −22 °F weather until their quarters were completed. The team spent two years (1860-1861) surveying and cutting the border along the 49th parallel to the Rocky Mountains. In addition to logistical support, the fort provided a detachment of troops to accompany the survey team for support and security.

By March of 1860, the post-returns show four companies of the 9th U.S. Infantry at the fort with some 288 enlisted men and 13 officers.

U.S. Civil War (1861-1865)

The election of President Lincoln in 1860 and his inauguration in early 1861 led to the session of some southern states and to the capture of Fort Sumter on 13 Apr 1861. Within the regular U.S. Army, commissioned officers were ultimately forced to choose sides. In June 1861 President Lincoln directed that all commissioned officers would have to renew their oath of office or resign or be thrown out. There were only 1,108 officers in the U.S. Army in December 1860 and in the end 313 of them resigned, 19 were dismissed and 7 were just dropped from the rolls. Some 270 of those who resigned went over to the south. At Fort Colville 4 of the 7 officers eventually resigned. By July the number of officers fell to 3 and in November the regular army troops were withdrawn to be replaced by the 2nd California Volunteer Infantry with 8 officers and 140 enlisted men. The entry in November 1861 Fort Colville Post Returns records the change from regular U.S. Army troops to Federalized Volunteer State troops.

"This Garrison which consisted of Companies "A" and "C" 9th Infantry under the command of Brevet Major Pinkney Lugenbeel and relieved on the 18 November inst by Companies "C" and "D" 2nd Inf C.V. under command of Major J. F. Curtis in accordance with special order US 44, Headquarters Dist of Oregon. signed John F. Curtis, Major 2nd Infty Cal Vol"

The California Volunteers were replaced with Washington Volunteers in July 1862 and they remained at the fort until December 1868 when they were replaced with regular federal infantry troops. The infantry troops remained at the post until May 1875 when they were replaced with 1st U.S. Cavalry troops under the command of Captain Moses Harris, a Congressional Medal of Honor recipient.


The post was abandoned on 1 Nov 1882 and transferred to the Interior Department on 26 Feb 1887, for disposition.

Fort Colville Partial Commanders List (edit list)
Assumed Relieved Rank Name Cullum Notes
1859-06-20 1861-11-18 Bvt. Major Lugenbeel, Pinkney 1044 9th U.S. Infantry
1861-11-18 1862-06 Major Curtis, James F. N/A 2nd California Volunteer Infantry
1862-07 1864-08 Major Rumsill, C. H. N/A 1st Washington Volunteer Infantry
1864-09 1865-03 Captain Glasure, J.A. N/A 1st Washington Volunteer Infantry
1868-12 1869-07 Captain Browning, George L. N/A 23rd U.S. Infantry
1869-11 1871-01 Captain Egan, John 1982 23rd U.S. Infantry
1871-04 1872-05 Captain Wheaton, Charles N/A 23rd U.S. Infantry
1872-06 1875-04 Captain Miles, Evan N/A 21st U.S. Infantry
1875-05 1877-04 Captain Harris, Moses N/A 1st U.S. Cavalry
Medal of Honor
1880-10-31 1882-08-12 Lt Colonel Merriam, Henry C. N/A 2nd U.S. Infantry
Medal of Honor
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

No visible remains. A Fort Colville Historical Monument at 297 Aladdin Rd, Colville, WA 99114(see coordinates)

Location: Located on Mill Creek a few miles north of
Colville, Stevens County, Washington.

Maps & Images

Lat: 48.57152 Long: -117.88389

  • Multi Maps from ACME
  • Maps from Bing
  • Maps from Google
  • Elevation: 1,940'

GPS Locations:

See Also:




  • Converse, George L., A Military History of the Columbia Valley: 1848-1865, Pioneer Press Books, Walla Walla, Washington, 1988, ISBN 0-936546-16-6

Fortification ID:

  • WA0117 - Fort Colville
  • WA0167 - Harney's Depot
  • WA0116 - Camp Colville

Visited: 14 May 2010

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