Fort Yankton (1862-1862) - A U.S. Civil War era settlers Fort (Stockade) established in 1862 in Yankton, Yankton County, South Dakota. The fort was built to protect settlers from marauding hostile Sioux Indian raiders. Abandoned as a fortification later in 1862. Also known as Yankton Stockade.
On 18 Sep 1862, the Santee Sioux in Minnesota under Chief Little Crow began an uprising. Estimates of the number of settlers killed ran as high as 800. Military authorities intervened, and more than 2,000 Sioux were taken prisoner. President Lincoln pardoned some 300 who were sentenced to death and thirty-eight others convicted of rape and murder were hung from a single scaffold in Mankato on 26 Dec 1862.
During the uprising, the Territorial Governor issued a proclamation that every male citizen in the territory between the ages of 18 and 50 should enroll in a company for home defense. In Yankton, the men gathered in the Episcopal chapel on the evening of 30 Aug 1862 to form Company A, Dakota Militia, and to plan for the construction of a defense. Frank M. Ziebach was elected captain.
Fort Yankton was built as a stockade which included a quarter of each block surrounding the center at present-day Third Street and Broadway. The work was square, with each face about 450 feet long, with flanking blockhouses at the northeastern and southeastern corners. There were several buildings within the stockade including the Ash Hotel and a saloon.
The north wall was built first as an ordinary breastwork with earth from an exterior ditch about six feet wide and six feet deep. The east and west walls were constructed with two rows of lumber with the space between filled with earth. The south wall was nearest the river and was completed last. It was just a double row of five-foot fence posts. The gate was in the middle of the south wall, defended by a bronze field gun.
For several weeks almost 300 people lived in and around the stockade under cramped and uncomfortable conditions. Water was available from the Ash Hotel well, and enough food had been brought in and assigned to Captain Ziebach to keep the occupants adequately fed. Almost everyone slept within the walls, with women and children given priority within the buildings.
The Hostile Sioux did not attack Fort Yankton in force but small groups of hostiles did roam the area and were involved in at least two incidents at the Jim River east of the capital during the summer of 1862.
No remains of the stockade but a number of markers identify the north, east, and west wall locations. The Yankton County Government Center at Broadway Ave and Third St. has a plaque mounted on a boulder identifying the location of the stockade and a second plaque lists all the members of the defenders in Company A of the Dakota Militia.
Visited: 11 Jul 2020