"All that is now left of the historic old fort near Steilacoom is soon to be sold by the government and there will be nothing left to mark the spot where for years the sturdy troops of Uncle Sam watched over the early settlers in this part of the state, unless the state takes steps to preserve some of the old landmarks.

United States Registrar of Lands Frank G. Deckebach is to sell the land at auction whenever he can find anyone willing to pay the appraised price. Once he has tried it, but no one responded to his call save the settler on the land who attended out of idle curiosity, being attracted by the rare spectacle of a stranger mounted on a stump and reading a paper in the wilderness. He had not seen the advertisement and Mr. Deckebach was faithfully carrying out the red tape of a government sale, though there were no bidders in sight. 

After that formality had been finished Mr. Deckebach met the settler and agreed to sell the land to him if a second sale was as devoid of results as the first. The time for the second sale is not far off, and it is probable that the government will not own the land much longer.

The old parade ground remains in a fair state of preservation for the officials in charge of the asylum have kept it green to beautify the premises. The row of cottages in which the officers' quarters were located are now occupied by asylum officials; the old barracks, once ringing with the shouts of gay troopers, is more of a storehouse than anything else. Laundry Row is gone and the old guardhouse is full of wood and odds and ends gathered from all parts of the ground. Once it served the purposes of the asylum, but it outgrew that use.

The quarters of the young subalterns where youngsters from the East spent so may homesick hours or wearily turned from the bleak prairies to home for excitement to relieve the strain, or perhaps fresh from West Point, went forth to their last battle, are now serving another use. Asylum attendants occupy them.

And meanwhile the old mill where some of the lumber used in the construction of the houses was turned out, shares the same fate. Its days of glory are gone and picnickers alone are attracted to the old and decaying wreck down by Chambers Creek. But to be historically correct there was little lumber from that mill used in the construction of the house, but its history is closely entwined with the old parade grounds now green with grasses kept by other hands.

Moss covers the water tank which soldier hands built. In the summer ivy grows in wild profusion over the decaying walls of the old tank. Budding blossoms make a pretty contrast to the ravages of the years since the work was done.

There is a pretty little story in connection with those old houses surrounding the parade ground. It is told to the visitors that General Grant, General McClellan and General M. Pickett of Confederate fame occupied the most imposing of the group, but it is a fact that history unblushingly dispels that illusion. General Grant occupied a log hut, for he was here in 1849, and the houses were not built until four years later.

In the corner of the asylum grounds is the old cemetery, where the dead of the old fort were buried. But one man lies there now who was buried in the cemetery during the days of the fort. That man is Colonel Wallace, a lawyer prominently identified with the early history of the territory and for a time its delegate in Congress. He served during the Indian wars with the territorial troops. The soldiers bodies were moved to an Eastern cemetery when the station was abandoned but the remains of Colonel Wallace were left buried in the soil of the state he loved so well.

Fort Steilacoom was never an actual fort. It was a station where two companies of United States troops were kept for several years, a welcome to the settlers arriving after a wearisome and dangerous troop across the plains. The soldiers at the fort were numerous enough to remain a menace to the Indians that they never cared to disturb. There was a visible force strong enough to make the place safe without a stockade and none was ever built.

Captain Hall commanded the first detachment of troops that came to Fort Steilacoom, arriving in 1849. They came around the Horn--the two companies--in the old ship Massachusetts, from New York to Vancouver. Of the original detachment, but two men are still living in this vicinity. Fred Myers, when he left the service took up a piece of land on Clover Creek where the settlement known as Custer now stands. He still lives there. 

Jacob Kershner, the other survivor, lives on the reservation. Mrs. Christopher Mahon, living on Clover Creek and David Huggins in charge of the Hudson Bay Fort at Nisqually, are perhaps the only other people who could tell the whole story of the fort. The father of William Rigney, an asylum attendant, was a member of the first company, and his wife owns the only picture ever taken of any part of the fort--a view of the guard house. It is a small one, and is treasured for its early memories.

It was not a pleasure trip that the troops to the station in the extreme Northwest took when they came to Fort Steilacoom, nor was their work here such as would inspire a great desire to remain. The Indians gave considerable trouble in the early days and there were intermediate altercations with the settlers to while away the time of the officers.

Several commanders of the post went away with the resentment of the people whom they had left strong against them. Sharp criticisms on the volunteers of the Indian wars brought several of them to grief, and in fact the wars were conducted largely by the settlers own organizations of troops, owing to the ill feeling that they bore to the troops. The capture and hanging of Leschi brought this out more fully.

The fort was abandoned in 1868, just 19 years after it was founded. The troops in the meantime had assisted the settlers in reducing the country to a safe condition. Puget Sound had been rapidly settled and in that short time the Indians had become so nearly thoroughly civilized that no further trouble was anticipated."

TACOMA LEDGER. MARCH 27, 1898. Page 6.

Editorial Comments:

The Mill discussed in paragraph five of the preceding newspaper article was the mill of Thomas M. Chambers. A grist and flour mill also occupied the site.

It is not certain that U. S. Grant visited the area of Fort Steilacoom. He was assigned to Fort Vancouver while a junior officer but there is no proof that he was ever in the Puget Sound Country. George McClellan was in the area in 1853 in connection with the survey of the Cascade range for a possible pass for a railroad. General Pickett served at the Fort during the so called Pig War.

The commanding officer of the detachment assigned to establish what was to become Fort Steilacoom was Bennett Hoskin Hill. He had been a cadet at the United States Military Academy and was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in the First Artillery on July 1, 1837. He was a Captain on January 12, 1848 and rose to the rank of Brevet Brig. General on January 31, 1865. He retired from the Army on December 15, 1870 and died March 24, 1886.

Heitman, Francis B. Historical Register and Dictionary of the United States Army 1903, Volume I page 529.

Captain Hill was accompanied by his commanding officer to select a site for the Fort. This officer is referred to as Major Hatheway. The officer in the United States Army who was a major at the time was John Samuel Hatheway who was a cadet at the United States Military Academy graduating on July 1, 1832. He became a Brevet Major for gallantry in the battles of Contreras and Churubusco in the Mexican War on August 20, 1847. He died March 31, 1853. (Heitman, Volume I page 511.).

The statement that the photograph owned by the Rigney family is the only one of Fort Steilacoom is incorrect. The United States National Archives has several photographs which have been copied and are in the collections of several libraries and historical societies in the area.


There are several versions for the origin of the name Steilacoom. A number of them are included in the following:

1. "...derived from Chief Tail- a koom"(Dictionary of Indian Geographic Names.).

2. Henry Sicade wrote that it was for the " flowers plentiful in that locality." (Tacoma Times, June 19, 1920).

3. Herbert Hunt in his history of Tacoma records that "...Steilacoom was named after Steilacoom Creek by Lafayette Balch who is said to have spelled it "Chielcoom." Balch got the name either from the Indians themselves or from the diary of John Wark, the Hudson's Bay Company explorer who, in 1824, had visited the place and he called it "Chilacoom." "Steilacoom," or "Tsla-lakum" or "Tsa-cal-a-coom, or "Sch-tal-acop" ...was the name of a tribe of Indians of Whidbey Island. Their chief, Steilacoom, was a wealthy and intelligent man ...

"Within recent years (i.e. circa 1916) there died south of Steilacoom an Indian called "Chief Steilacoom," who real name seems to have been "Tailcoom. He was about one hundred years of age. It too often has been taken for granted that Lake Steilacoom, Fort Steilacoom, the town of Steilacoom, and Steilacoom River were named in his honor....His name appears many times in the books of the Hudson's Bay Company ... The Indian was called the "last of the Steilacoom." Several intelligent Indians lately interviewed refused to give this Indian the distinctions which the whites have paid him. It is denied that he was a chief and it is said that he allowed himself to be clothed with honors to which he was not entitled." (Hunt, I, p. 36-39.).


"Soon after returned to West Point I was ordered to relieve Lt. Robert at Fort Steilacoom in Washington Territory with the detachment of our company. With my wife I sailed on the steamer Northern Light for Aspinwall on Aug. 10, by the John L. Stephens from Panama on the 19th, and by the Cortes from San Francisco on Sept. 8, landing at Steilacoom City on Sept 20. All steamers of those days were side wheelers.

The Dost was commanded by Col. Silas Casey of the 9th Infantry, and garrisoned by two companies of the 9th and our detachment of 36 Engineer troops under Lt. Thomas L. Casey. There were no duties but those of company routine. The post was a very pleasant one, the woods and waters abounded in game and fish, the climate was mild and open, and the fall and winter passed rapidly. But it was a period of great anxiety to Southern officers whose native states, after debating the question of secession, began one after another to take the step.

There was generally little active interest taken by army officers in political questions, but with few exceptions, the creed was held that, as a matter of course, in case war should result from secession, each officer would go with his state .... In March came orders for the return of our detachment to West Point.

No vessel was then running to any port in Puget Sound, and we had to wait until special arrangements for our transportation could be made. Our Quartermaster Department, however, maintained an armed vessel, the Massachusetts, upon the Sound to keep off invasions of the Stikane Indians, who made raids from Alaska in their immense war canoes. This vessel was directed to take us to Port Townsend, and there the Cortes, which ran between San Francisco and Vancouver's Island, would call and get us.

We sailed from Steilacoom City in the afternoon of April 9, 1861. Four years later, to an hour, I saw Gen. Lee ride back to his lines from Appomattox Court House, where he had just surrendered his army ...

(Alexander, General E. P. The American Civil War, A critical narrative, by General E. P. Alexander, Chief of Artillery, Longstreet's corps with sketch maps by the author. London: Siegle, Hill and Company, 1908, pp. 4-5.


One of the most moving things about this tragic Civil War was the fact that so many of the ranking officers on both sides were close personal friends of the officers they had to fight. Before the war the regular army had been comparatively small, and everybody knew everybody else, bound together in a closed professional circle whose intimacy went back to the parade ground and classrooms at West Point and continued through service at isolated little army posts all up and down the west and along the coasts.

When the nation broke in half and went to war over it, some of these army officers remained in Federal service and others took service with the Confederacy, and the war flung them cruelly against each other, so that a general going into battle might very well find himself confronting his closest friend ...

Back in the spring of 1861, when the Union seemed to be dissolving and the officers of the old Army were choosing their sides, there was a farewell party one evening in the officer's quarters of a little army post outside of what was then the little California town of Los Angeles. The man who gave the party was Captain Winfield Scott Hancock, and the guests of honor were fellow officers who were resigning their commissions in order to enter the army of the Southern Confederacy; among these was another captain, Lewis Armistead, who was one of Hancock's intimates. Late in the evening one of the officers wives sang "Kathleen Mavourneen," that haunted song of a long parting- "It may be for years and it may be forever"- and then the party broke up and Armistead came over to shake hands with Hancock.

Tears were in his eyes, and as he shook Hancock's hand Armistead said: "Goodbye-you never can know what this has cost me". Then he went away. Now Armistead was leading the spearhead of Pickett's charge up Cemetery ridge, and waiting for him at the crest was his old friend Hancock, with the shotted guns all around him ...

... it was Armistead who had led the contingent that broke the Federal Line. He was still waving his sword, his black felt hat that had been on the point of the sword had slipped all the way down to the hilt, he laid his hand on one of dead Cushing's guns, urged his men on ... and then he fell with a mortal wound.

An hour later, when Federal stretcher bearers were combing the littered field, he was still alive-- enough so that he could stammer out a last message to his old friend Hancock. Then he died, while the wounded Hancock was being carried from the field. The paths of these two men, which had parted in California more than two years earlier, had crossed again, for the last two years earlier.

Catton, Bruce, Gettysburg: The final fury. Garden City, New York: Doubleday and Company, 1974. pp. 80-93.


Nugen, John....letter to Acting Governor Mason .... Fort Steilacoom, Washington Territory, October 23,1855.

"My dear Mason:

I am happy to inform you that Fort Steilacoom is once more a quiet place - as for the past seven days it was much like a combination of military and horse market, etc.

I have left at this post one howitzer with plenty of ammunition and about 400 rounds of musket cartridges. However, we are lookinq for 10,000 rounds from Benicia daily.

Mason, If you go away, send Mrs. Stevens down with her family. My quarters are at her service , and I would be glad to have her come. Mrs. Slaughter tells me to say that her quarters are also ready and she would be very glad to have Mrs S. come. The other ladies would also like to have her come.

Fort Steilacoom, W. T. John Nugen, 2nd Lieut. Comdg."

Maloney, Maurice...letter to Headquarters at Fort Vancouver,...
October 29, 1855.

"I have also got information that there are from two thousand to three thousand Indians well armed, and determined to fight in my front, and after considering the matter over, have concluded that it is my duty to return to Steilacoom.

Maurice Maloney...

Nugen, John.... letter to James Tilton, Adjutant General, Washington Territorial Volunteers, November 1, 1855.

"I have nearly all the women in the country at the post..."

Fort Steilacoom, W. T., John Nugen, 2nd Lieut.

Hays, Gilmore .... letter to Isaac I. Stevens..... Camp Connell, March 10, 1856.

" hundred and fifty warriors attack my command of one hundred ten men, all told..... the Indians were routed, put to flight, and pursued for a mile or more along the trail..."

Camp Connell, Washington Territory, Gilmore Hays.

On January 10, 1861 Lieutenant Colonel Silas Casey advised General Johnston, the General Commanding the Pacific of continued activity by the Indians killing settlers and that his command at Fort Steilacoom consisted of two companies and that it should be increased for operations against the hostiles in the vicinity of the Muckleshoot River. (Field, II, 180)

As of December 31, 1862 troops were stationed in the District of Oregon as follows: "...Fort Steilacoom, - companies G and K, First Washington Territorial Infantry under the command of Lt. Col. T. C. English, 1st Washington Territorial Infantry." (Field, II, 209).

Maury, R. F .... letter to Colonel R. C. Drum, Asst. Adjutant General, San Francisco, April 7, 1865.

"For Fort Steilacoom.... two companies of infantry. The large number of Indians in this vicinity makes this force necessary to hold in check lawlessness generally, or to punish any aggression on the part of the Indians."

R. F. Maury, Colonel. First Oregon Cavalry, Commanding District to Colonel R. C. Drum, Asst. Adj. General, San Francisco. (Field, II, 234-35.).

Washington (State). Adjutant General. Washington National Guard Pamphlet. The Official history of the Washington National Guard ... 7 volumes. Camp Murray, Tacoma, Washington: Headquarters, Military Department of Washington. 1961-1965.

Note: The history of the Washington National Guard was written by Virgil Field and is referred to by his name.


The troops at first occupied a number of old log houses built there by the Hudson's Bay Company. They at once threw entrenchments to protect the spring and pool from which the hospital now takes water. The earthworks were well constructed. Lieut. A. V. Kautz was given authority to erect more substantial and commodious buildings. The concrete water tank now standing in front of the hospital was built.

Before that time water was brought from the great spring in the gulch by a man with a mule and cart. It was that wonderful spring that caused the fort to be established there. Lieutenant Kautz placed below it a ram which for fifty years dutifully chugged away, its chugging filling the deep, fern-lined gulch with strange echoes. Though Lieutenant Kautz spent about $200,000, he completed his task at a cost less than the estimates, and the excellence of his work rewarded him with the thanks of the War Department.

The sills for the buildings were hewn by hand. Many of them were too long to be cut by Byrd's sawmill at Custer. They were a foot square. The studding was fastened to them by the now obsolete mortice and tenon method. For the chimneys Stephen Judson made the brick, hauling clay from the hillsides a considerable distance away. His brother, John Paul, served as a teamster and hauled lumber to the fort, and for some time after that he carried the United States express to and from the fort.

Several of the buildings have been torn away but enough remain to have the hospital grounds a remarkable historical value. Especial pains should be taken to preserve these interesting structures.  The "Headquarters Building" at the fort was constructed with brick between the studding as a protection against the bullets of Indians.

A description of the fort is given in a letter now in the possession of J. T. Steeb, written April 22, 1856, by George Tennant Steeb, then chief engineer of the United States steamer John Hancock.

"The other day," the letter says, "we went up to Fort Steilacoom after a couple of companies of soldiers. We arrived at the town about sunset and as soon as I was off watch, 8 P. M. I went ashore and in company with the captain's clerk, walked up to the fort about a mile and a half ... We found Doctor Turner, a young man who is from Philadelphia and fifteen or twenty fine fellows, lieutenants, surgeons,, and captains in the army.

The fort is built of logs. In fact it is no fort at all but a collection of buildings built in the shape of a square, the men's barracks on one side, the officers' on the other, storehouses on another and a row of army wagons on the last side. The houses are only one story and doors connect them all ... A short distance from the fort is a burial place of those who died here. One grave is quiet recent, that of Lieutenant Slaughter, killed while on a scout against the Indians."

Another interesting document concerning Steilacoom is the diary of Lieut. William P. Trowbridge, U.S.A. who came to the northwest via Panama in 1853. He wrote and sketched, and his old books are now owned by his son, Wm. P. of the Tacoma Land Company. Among other notations in the diary is one to the effect that Major Larnard was going to look up a site for a new army post as Fort Steilacoom was not considered a healthful spot!

(Hunt, Herbert. Tacoma. Its history and its builders, a half century of activity, by Herbert Hunt. illustrated. Chicago, S. J. Clark Publishing Company, 1916. I, pp.35-36.


"...the soldiers ... by this time had arrived and fixed their camp at Fort Steilacoom, a few miles east of the village. Only a few days before, on August 23d, Major Hathaway, Captain Bennett H. Hill and other officers arrived in the Massachusetts at' Vancouver,  had visited Fort Nisqually, and on the following day selected the ground on which they were to make their camp. Major Hathaway seems, by the record made at the fort, to have come overland, accompanied by Mr. Latta, formerly in the Hudson's Bay Company marine service, while Captain Hill and his officers and soldiers came by "the chartered barque Harpooner," whose captain was accused of smuggling goods and selling liquor to the Indians along the Columbia ...

Besides fixing upon a location for the camp of Captain Hill's company, Major Hathaway wished to explore "...some of the river estuaries and harbors along the continental shore of Puget Sound..." (Snowden, Volume III,pp.70-71.)

"All mail for northern Oregon still came up the coast to Portland from San Francisco, with which there was weekly communication of some regularity by steamer. From Portland it was carried to Rainier, or to Monticello, near the mouth of the Cowlitz ... There it was delivered to Antonio B. Rabbeson, who carried it on horseback, over a road that was still scarcely a trail, to Olympia.

The soldiers at Fort Steilacoom sent for theirs with some regularity and at their own cost apparently. Perhaps it was in answer to their complaints that the second assistant postmaster general was led to write to the special agent of the department then in Oregon, that he would authorize the establishment of a route from Olympia to Steilacoom provided the mail could be carried for not to exceed $140 per year..." (Early 1853. Snowden, Volume III, p.146.)

"In July (1857) Patkanim, who evidently remembered the outcome of his attack on Fort Nisqually in 1849, went with a party of his snoqualmies to Fort Steilacoom, and told the officers there that an uprising was imminent, and that he and his people would not join in it ... All tribes east of the mountains were bent on war, they said, and "it was good that the whites should fill the Dalles, Vancouver and Steilacoom with soldiers--not a few, as they were then, but full--many soldiers." They promised to remain at home..."  (Snowden, Volume III, p. 325).

"Captain Keyes and his company were now sent to Fort Steilacoom which was as comfortable a place as Fort Vancouver, and he took command there on November 28th. (1855). (Snowden, Volume III, p.403).

"After the Indians had been dispersed by the battle of Connell's Prairie ... it began to be suspected that some of the old-time employees of the Hudson's Bay Company were giving them aid and comfort. These men ... were married to, or living with Indian women .... On March 2d (1856) it was determined to order them to Fort Nisqually ... Most or all of them obeyed it, but soon returned again, claiming that their houses or stock-needed their attention.

Late in March Captain Maxon arrested Charles Wren, John McLeod, L. A. Smith, Henry Smith, and John McField, and sent them to Fort Steilacoom. "I consider them guilty of treason, and can prove Wren guilty of giving aid and comfort," he wrote the governor." (Snowden, Volume III, p.484.).

(Snowden, Clinton A. History of Washington. The Rise and Progress of an American State by Clinton A. Snowden, New York: The Century History Company, 1909).


Colonel Joseph K. F. Mansfield was Inspector General of the United States Army from 1853 until 1861. During his period of service he made two tours of inspection in the Pacific Northwest, one in 1854 and the second during the fall and winter of 1858-59. The report of his first visit to Fort Steilacoom is quite brief as were his reports of other posts in the area. As he gained experience he apparently became more detailed in his inspections and in their reports. August Kautz, in his diary account of Colonel Mansfield's visit to the military escort to the Boundary Commission at Semiahmoo Bay, recorded that the inspection there was brief and perfunctory but that the mere presence of the Inspector General caused much commotion.

At the time of Mansfield's first inspection of Fort Steilacoom the place was little more than a series of log cabins either built by the Army or inherited from the Hudson's Bay Company. The original site had been settled as early as 1842 but was soon abandoned and the next settler, Joseph Thomas Heath, built several buildings which the Army used when they arrived in the summer of 1849. Lieutenant Grier Tallmadge, who served as quartermaster officer with the original Army detachment assigned to Steilacoom, was responsible for the construction of the log buildings seen by Colonel Mansfield in 1854.

The inspection of Fort Steilacoom in December of 1858 was more detailed and Colonel Mansfield wrote in much more detail. Lieutenant August V. Kautz and other officers had finished the major reconstruction of the fort so that nearly all structures were in good condition.

The Washington Territorial Legislature had memorialized Congress in 1855 requesting that an armed steamer be stationed on the Sound and it is clear that local leaders discussed the matter with Colonel Mansfield for he concluded the same recommendation in his report.


The prairie lands which stretched inland from the shores of Puget Sound afforded little opportunity for settlement before the arrival of the Hudson's Bay Company in the early 1830s. Local Indians preferred to live on the banks of the streams which flowed through the area or near the mouths of the rivers and streams that emptied into Puget Sound. With a water related economy and the lack of horses for quick transportation Indians usually avoided the open spaces on the prairie lands.

When the Hudson's Bay Company arrived in 1833 and founded Fort Nisqually they brought with them horses, cattle, and finally sheep and for the first time the rich grasses of the prairies found a commercial use.

Because control of the Puget Sound Country became an issue between the United States and Great Britain, the Hudson's Bay Company undertook to strengthen British claims to the area by importing a number of permasettlers loyal to the Crown who would settle in the Northwest most notably on the prairies surrounding Fort Nisqually. Thus in the winter of 1841-42 a party of settlers arrived from the Red River settlements in present Manitoba to secure lands in the Northwest. Because of a number of problems the scheme developed by the Hudson's Bay Company failed but not before a number of families came to the Fort Nisqually area. one of these families settled on the prairie lands above Steilacoom Bay and started a farm on what was to become the site for Fort Steilacoom.

Within two years all the Red River settlers had given up and left the area and it was not until early 1845 that another Englishman, Joseph Thomas Heath, arrived on the prairie lands to begin a farm.

Heath had arranged to lease land from the Hudson's Bay Company and selected the site for his farm in the area of an abandoned Red River settler's cabin. There Heath built his own home, barn, and several outbuildings. He began to farm and was soon raising potatoes, peas and other crops.

Heath died during the winter of 1848-1849 and his farm was taken over by an arm of the Hudson's Bay Company, the Puget Sound Agricultural Company. This company was founded in 1838 to take advantage of the agricultural possibilities of the Pacific Northwest.

Following the 1849 attack on Fort Nisqually by local Indians a detachment of the United States Army was sent to protect American interests in the area for the Puget Sound country was now under the sovereignty of the United States. Searching for a site for an army encampment officers were taken to the Heath farm and because buildings were immediately available it was decided that the detachment would quarter there.

Upon arrival of the troops more quarters were needed and were built out of locally available materials. By the winter of 1849 the troops were encamped at what would become Fort Steilacoom.


Puget Sound, and the town of Steilacoom where there may be population.


It is in latitude 47" 10' 57" and longitude 122" 331 occupying ground and some buildings of the Hudson Bay Company, and is six miles north of Fort Nisqually of that Company, and two miles from the shores of Puget Sound and the town of Steilacoom where there may be 100 Americans.

It is 170 miles from Fort Vancouver via the Cowlitz River and 25 miles from Olympia where there may be a population of 500 Americans. Its supplies excepting fresh beef are received through Fort Vancouver and direct from San Francisco. There is abundant wood and grazing here. No reservation has been made, but one is in contemplation about five miles to the Northeast of the present site, where the garrison has an excellent garden, and is the nearest point capable of cultivation to the present site or on the emigrant trail from Wallah Wallah through the Nachess pass of the Cascade Mountains.

This is the only post in this quarter. It should be preserved as indispensable as a depot and rallying point for the inhabitants in case of attack. The Indians about here number 900 warriors but very much scattered on the shores and Islands of Puget Sound.

From Steilacoom there is a direct water communication to Olympia and other posts on Puget Sound. A military road of about 100 miles should be opened direct to Fort Vancouver and another to Fort Dalles, which would increase the safety of each post, as well as the population by a communication at all times not interrupted by ice of the rivers, etc. and would open the country to the control of the Americans.

The magnificent mount Rainier covered with its snowy mantle is in full view bearing about S. E. and just to the northward of it is the Nachess Pass. Port Townsend is about 100 miles and Bellingham Bay 50 miles by water. Coal has been discovered in large quantities at the latter place and on the Dwamish River. Lumber is abundant as there are two sawmills in this vicinity and several at Olympia. And Salmon, Clams, and Oysters abundant.


14 to the 19th of Dec.1858

On the 12th of December I left Semi-ah-moo at 12 m. in the Revenue Cutter Jefferson Davis, with a fair wind, and without making a tack we reached by sailing our most direct course through the broad channel, the Strait of Haro, Port Townsend, at 12 at midnight, and the next night, the 13th I was so fortunate as to take passage in the Pacific Mail Steamer Panama, and was landed at Steilacoom early in the morning of the 14th and have now the honor to report to the General-in-Chief, the result of my inspection of Fort Steilacoom as follows:

Fort Steilacoom is located about one and a half miles from the town of that name, on the eastern shore of Puget Sound, on an old Hudson Bay Trading post; in latitude 47" 10' 57" and longitude 122" 33' 00". It is about 25 miles from Olympia both by land and water. It is in direct. communication by land say 115 to Monticello near the mouth of the Cowlitz River: thence by Steamer some 50 miles up the Columbia River to Fort Vancouver. Hence it is conveniently situated to receive reinforcements from Fort Vancouver, so long in time of war as the river is not occupied by enemy's navy. It is about 70 miles from Port Townsend by water only. It is about 100 miles from Bellingham Bay via a road for which appropriations were once made, and which has been cut out nearly to Seattle, say 40 miles from this post and from Fort Bellingham say 5 miles to Whatcom. This road should be opened without further delay and additional appropriations made therefore. It is about 125 miles by water from Fort Bellingham. It is convenient to communicate across the Cascade Mountains through both the Snoqualimi and the Nachess passes.

I regard it as a well located post in a military point of view, as a depot post of troops to meet any emergency in this quarter. It is so far up the sound as to be secure, when proper fortifications will be erected on Point Defiance, etc. against any armed attack direct from the Navy of an enemy.

I look upon this post as of the first importance and one where the gravelly prairie all around it is such that troops, both horse and foot, can drill, and be instructed at all seasons of the year, as the ground is not materially softened by the rains of the wet season, which are intermittent, and not continuous, and the snows are merely nominal. Such is the importance of this post it should never have less than three companies, always highly instructed in the use of their arms, in every particular, and commanded by an officer of character; and there should be here a first rate small steamer, always ready at any time, and capable of moving rapidly and calculated for the rough sea and weather of the waters of Puget Sound and the northern Pacific ocean. With this boat supplies could be sent, and troops on emergency landed at any spot against the Indians. Here I take the liberty to remark that at Olympia in the Government Records, I read a paragraph in the letter of Governor Douglas to Gov. Stevens, in which he significantly remarks that in case of a want of harmony between the two governments, it would be impossible for him to restrain the northern Indians.

Now these northern Indians number as follows, according to the census taken by the Hudson Bay Company in 1856; as furnished me by Mr. Geo. Gibbs, a citizen of Washington Territory; to wit, on Vancouvers Island 25,373 under 12 different tribes, which might be estimated at 4,000 warriors. And other Indians on the northwest coast south of 56" 40' at 20,000 and north of 54" 60' at 25,000 say 45,000 or 8,000 warriors all in the aggregate 12,000 fighting men, always ready for murder and plunder. Many of these Indians are cannibals, and are always ready to capture the Indians within our territory and make slaves of them. With a steamer at command here, and a system of telegraphs from the tops of the heights of the Islands, from Fort Townsend and Bellingham Bay to this post a force could be brought down on these northern intruders within our waters unexpectedly to them, and sink their large canoes at once.

Here I will remark that the British and Russian Governments should be required to keep these Indians within their own limits, and to deliver up the murderers of Col. Ebey.

There is no safety without a steamer and I most urgently recommend one to be built expressly for this object and kept subject to the orders of the commanding officer of this post.

A plan of the reservation is herewith accompanying marked A, and a plan of the post marked B, and a plan of the post on the 1st of July 1857 marked C.

This post is rebuilt on the old spot claimed by the Puget Sound Agricultural Company. A contract was entered into by Lt. A. V. Kautz of the 4th Infantry, acting Assistant Quartermaster, dated 30 July 1847(sic) and approved by Bvt. Brig Genl Clark on the 27 August 1857 giving to that company an annual rent of 600 dollars for one square mile of ten years; unless the right be extinguished as per treaty of 1846. At the expiration of 10 years, 6 months notice is sufficient to terminate the contract. Nothing is said about the buildings at the expiration of the lease; and nothing about the buildings which previously existed. In this particular the contract is very defective.

In view of this state of the matter here and a like state of affairs at Fort Vancouver, I would recommend that Congress make an appropriation of 200,000 dollars to liquidate all their claims to soil within our Territory and north of the Columbia River. There was expended at this post from the 1st July 1856 to the 30th of Sept. 1858 by Lieut A. V. Kautz acting asst. Q. M. 150,956.00 dollars. A part of this amount was for current expenses, and the expenses of the war of 1856. There has since been expended to the 15th of December 1858, by Lieut E. J. Harvie 4,244.75 dollars as Act. Asst. Quartermaster making an aggregate say 155,201.37. Of this amount as near as I can judge from the statements 55,000 dollars was probably applied to the buildings.


These quarters were planned and erected for a post of three companies and a field officer and probably is the best arranged post as a whole in this Department and amply provided. They are arranged on 4 sides of a square(see plan marked B). On the north side are the officers quarters, in the center is the commanding officer, and the adjutants office under the same roof. Then 6 buildings right and left for officers of the line and in rear a reservoir of water. on the west side is a mess room and quartermaster and commissary office and a barrack for one company. On the east side is the chaplain's quarters and chapel in one building; a barrack for one company and a magazine and in rear the ordnance sergeant and smith and carpenters shops & without the enclosure barning. on the south side a barrack for one company, quartermaster store house, guard house, clothing house and commissary store, and in rear without the enclosure laundresses. Without the enclosure off the northwest angle is the hospital and surgeons quarters. The sutler has a building without the enclosure.

These buildings are all new with but trifling exception and ample for all the command. The soldiers are very well provided for. There seems to be nothing more required for buildings. The post is supplied by a magnificent spring some 500 yards off and the water thrown into a reservoir, without the enclosure by means of a hydraulic ram, and if necessary might be carried into every building.


An excellent garden is on a reserve where it was at one time contemplated to establish the post, say 4 miles off and is the only suitable spot for that purpose. It yields abundant vegetables for both summer and winter. Each company had 500 bushels of potatoes for the winter, besides other vegetables.


The force here is as follows: Field and staff, Lt. Col. S. Casey, of the 9th Infantry in command from the 1st of January 1856 to the 12 of Jan 1857 when he went on leave, and returned on the 22nd of December 1857. Asst. Surgeon H. R. Wirtz, ordnance sergeant and hospital steward.

Company A 4th Infantry, Captain M. Maloney, 1st Lt. A. V. Kautz in detached service, as quartermaster and commissary at Semi-ah-moo, with the Military Escort with Company F 9th Infantry, 2nd Lt. E. J. Conner acting Adjutant provst. 4 sergeants, 4 corporals, 2 musicians, 74 privates of these 10 sick, 4 confined, 20 on extra duty, 1 absent with leave, 2 absent without leave, 1 absent confined at Benicia.

This company was provided with old knapsacks, tin canteens, old caps, and recently newly equipped with the new pattern rifled musket, and accoutrements, and was supplied with 9,000 rifled ball cartridges, arid in addition it had on hand its entire old equipment of smooth barrel muskets etc. ready to be turned in to the arsenal.

It was well quartered, the men slept in double bunks, two tiers High, a good mess room, and kitchen well provided. Two laundresses attached to this company, and a fund of 454.39 dollars. The books were written up and in order. There were 4 desertions in 1856, 11 in 1857, and 10 in 1858 say 25 in 3 years.

Company C. 4th Infantry. Capt. L. C. Hunt, joined on the 14th Instant, but not able to appear on inspection, 1st Lieut. J. Withers Act. Asst. Adjt General from 10 Sep 1856, 2nd Lieut A. Shaaff in command of Company on parade: 4 sergeants, 3 corporals, 2 musicians, 71 privates, of these 7 sick, 5 confined, 14 on extra duty, 4 on detached service at Puyallup blockhouse. This company had old knapsacks, and gutta puncher canteens, old caps and was armed with the new rifled musket, and supplies with 9,000 rifled ball cartridges. Three laundresses attached to this company and a fund of 182.97 dollars. It was well quartered with mess room and kitchen. The books were written up in order. There were 5 desertions in 1856, 15 in 1857 and 10 in 1858 say 30 in three years.

Company H 9th Infantry. Capt. T. C. English commanding, 1st Lt. E. I. Harvie Act. Asst. Quartermaster and Commissary of the post, 2nd Lt. C. A. Reynolds, 4 sergeants , 4 corporals, 2 musicians, 49 privates, of these 7 sick, 3 confined, 14 extra duty, 10 on detached service at the Muckleshute Blockhouse.

This company was armed with the Harpers ferry rifle, much worn and many out of order and sword bayonet, and supplied with 2076 rifle blank cartridges, 3200 expanding ball, and 800 rifle ball cartridges. It was well quartered with mess room and kitchen. The men slept in double bunks two tiers high. Two laundresses, and well provided except in the article of shoes and drawers. The books were in order and written up. There were 21 desertions in 1856, 23 in 1857, 3 in 1858, Say 47 in three years. A fund of 130.93. dollars.


The guard is 9 privates, 2 corporals, 1 sergeant. The building is made of logs - 7 cells and 1 prison room. There were 9 soldiers and 3 citizens prisoners - 4 undergoing sentence, 4 minor offences, 1 for theft, 2 citizens waiting trail, 1 citizen sentenced for selling liquor to Indians, to one years imprisonment.


Is under direction of Asst. Surgeon Wirtz since the 30th Jan, 1857. He has a steward, 2 nurses - 1 cook - 1 matron - 18 in the hospital diseased principally. The post not sickly. The building ample with 3 ward rooms 6 iron bedsteads - kitchen - messroom - dispensary, and store room. and the records in order and the whole unexceptionable. The vegetables for the sick obtained from the general garden.

I will remark here that Asst. Surgeon Wirtz declined by an official note to attend on Col. Caseys family. The Colonel knows of no reason therefore. I enclosed a copy of the note to Genl. Harney in Command of the Department.


There are 3 twelve pound mountain howitzers in excellent order placed under the portico of the magazine, 180 twelve pd stripped shot, 97 twelve pd canister shot, 145 spherical case shot, 8 shells, 20 muskets, 34 rifles, 3 pistols, 1 revolver, 29,200 percussion caps, 3,900 pistol ball cartridges, 41 blank howitzer cartridges, 20,700 rifle ball cartridges, 5,000 rifle balls, 2,000 rifle blank cartridges.

The ordnance is well stored in a good wooden magazine, well constructed for the purpose, and a good ordnance sergeant has the charge of the same.


1st Lieut. E. J. Harvie of the 9th Infantry relieved 1st Lt. A. V. Kautz 4th, Infantry on the 1st October 1858, in the duties of this department. Lieut. Harvie is now engaged in completing a quartermaster's storehouse, which will soon be done, and has in his employ 1 master carpenter @ 5 dollars and rations and 9 carpenters @ 4 dollars and a ration per day, one express man @ 4 dollars and a ration, one herder and teamster at 2 dollars and a ration, and extra duty men as carpenters etc. 33 and one clerk and one acting quartermaster sergeant. This large force will be dropped as soon as practicable. I observed an extra duty man at work on a bureau, to which I called the attention of Col. Casey and he ordered such worked stopped for the future.

He keeps 29 horses, 50 mules, 6 oxen, 18 wagons of 6 mules each, 1 ambulance, 1 cart. He pays for oats 74 cts the bushel, and 14 dollars the ton for hay and 37 1/2 cts the bushel for charcoal, which is high. Fuel is furnished by extra duty men.

He receives his funds from the Chief Quartermaster at San Francisco and has expended since the 1st of October 4,244.75 dollars. All his returns and accounts to the close of November have been for­warded. At that date there was due the U.S. 1982.40 dollars. Expended since 821 dollars, leaving a balance of 1156.40 dollars of which 618.20 dollars is in the Assist. Treasury at San Francisco and 517.20 dollars in cash on hand.

The supplies are ample except small sized shoes, and stockings, and drawers, which are wanted. The barns and sheds are all sufficient and he had on hand about 50 tons of hay. The animals were out grazing.


Lieut E. J. Harvie is also commissary for the same date. His supplies are good, but was in want of rice and candles, and feed stored, and his accounts and returns have all been forwarded to the close of November when there was due the U. S. 824.52 dollars, of which 488.50 dollars was in the Assist. Treasury at San Francisco and 619 in cash on hand. Flour costs 13.80 dollars the bushel and beef 18 cts. the pound, sugar 15 cts and crushed sugar 18 1/2 cts. There are two flouring mills, within a mile and a half, and another year flour will be lower.

He receives his funds from Major Lee, chief commissary at San Francisco as well as his supplies generally.


This post is extremely well commanded by Lt. Col. Casey, an officer of high military attainments and character and in case of a war he is well qualified to command on these waters. The discipline is good and harmony both among the officers and men. 

The unmarried officers have a mess. The soldiers appear contented, and have got up a literary society and some books as a library. There is no chaplain at present, but a chaplains quarters and a chapel, in the same building. 2nd Lt. E. I. Conner 4th Infantry is the acting adjutant of the post. and all the post records are well kept. He is also post treasurer and has at date in his hands 178.50 dollars. 2nd Lieut. A. Shaaf is recruiting officer and has in his hands 23.86 dollars.

A good sutlers store is just outside the enclosure and well supplied and J. M. Bachelder is the sutler.

At the Muckle-shute prairie, about 25 miles distant among a band of about 500 Indians Col. Casey has established a detachment of ten men. The Indians have not yet been taken charge of by Indian agents. It is presumed eventually they will be assigned to a reserve.

The payments to the troops have here to fore been made once in four months and they were last paid in November by Major Alvord.


Col. Casey divided the command into 4 companies and took them through the battalion drill of Light Infantry and the movements were totally and well performed. It showed, however, the most of the time had been devoted to labor. T. Zain interrupted the drill as skirmishers. The companies fired separately at the target of 6lx22" at 200 yards, 40 men each one round and A Company put in 8 shots, H Company 7, C Company 9 . This last is the best shots in this Department and the three companies together put in more shots than any three in this department at any one post. This is owing to the fact it was the last post of this dept inspected by me, and they had more time to be instructed since the order of Genl. Harvey on this point. I hope to see better results in the future.


There are about 2,000 Indians within 25 miles of this post and about 1,500 of them on reservations. They are all peaceable and there seems to be nothing at present to be apprehended. I would advise the immediate confirmation of all the treaties made by Gov. Stevens as the first step to a permanent confidence, and mutual trust, between the whites and Indians.

San Francisco California.
18 Jan 1859
I am very respectfully,
Your Obt. Servant.
Joseph K. F. Mansfield.
Col. and Inspector Genl.

Brevet Major Irvin McDowell
Asst. Adjt Genl.
Headquarters. Army.


Immediately prior to his inspection of Fort Steilacoom, Colonel Mansfield visited Fort Townsend near the present town of Port Townsend. There he found that seventy four men had deserted in three years at the post and attributed these desertions to four causes:

"l. The worthless unprincipled character of many recruits.
"2. the want of proper discipline and instructions as soldiers at the General Recruiting Depot before they are sent to join companies; a fatal error in our system.
"3. The vicinity of this post to the British frontier, where the gold diggings are enticing, and where they cannot be seized if discovered.
"4. The bad treatment of an orderly sergeant since reduced to the ranks.

After describing several examples of new recruits who were sent west to military posts who were known to be totally unfit for any duty, Colonel Mansfield made the following general observations:

"In this connexion I would earnestly urge that no recruits be sent from the General Depot, till they have been, disciplined & trained to the performance of military duties. This can be better done at the depot than at Military Posts. It would prevent much desertion, & the men Kept at the depot for 6 months, under strict discipline, & instructions, would not fail to show their defects; such as fits etc. and could be discharged without further expense... The pay and compensation of a soldier are ample, and none but good and active men and men of good habits should be allowed to enter the service."

MANSFIELD, Joseph K. F. Report of the inspection of Fort Townsend, Washington Territory, 3rd and 4th December, 1858. U. S. War Dept. Adjutant General's Office Document File. 1859-I-14.



December 10, 1858. Friday. A vessel hove in sight this morning which proved afterwards to be the Cutter. I went over to the Spit to make some arrangements for going up the Sound. Soon after I returned Mr. White came on shore with his boat having Col. Mansfield, the Inspector Genl., Mr. King, Mr. Major and Dr. Kuhn. The Col. inspected my Depts. this evening and he will inspect the commands tomorrow. The Capt. (Dickinson Woodruff) was in great trouble about this unexpected arrival, the mess is badly provided, the command is not in the best order and altogether it is an unpleasant surprise and an unfavorable time both as regards weather and the condition of the post for an inspection. The day was cold, stormy, and wet.

December 11,1858. Saturday. The Col. inspected the Company today but his inspection was not very minute. The men had many complaints to make which were listened to very patiently by the Col. Shean brought up his charges against King. His story first excited the Cols. indignation, but subsequently he learned from Mr. Parke that King was invaluable and has tried to affect a compromise. Shean led him to suppose that he would accept a consideration to stop proceedings and he was offered a hundred dollars which he refused and said he would refuse a thousand which turned the Col. against Shean.

December 12, 1858. Sunday. The Col. intended to leave last night but the weather was so impossible that he and Mr. Frost remained on shore. I went on board this morning with them and about twelve o'clock sailed for Port Townsend. We went through the Straits of Haro and without a single tack arrived at Port Townsend about twelve o'clock at night, without any trouble or mishap. Warren then intended to go up the Sound also was disappointed in not getting off. I like the Col. very much, but he is strongly impregnated with (Isaac I.) Steven's doctrine and views by way of recompence for the consideration which Stevens expresses for the Col. We had several discussions but they did not amount to much as far as influencing his views was concerned.

December 15, 1858. The Col. make his inspections this morning. He seems well pleased with the post....

December 18, 1858. Spent the morning in Town and in the afternoon in the office in the garrison making out some official papers. Col. Mansfield is anxious to get off to Olympia. He is either complaisantly situated or he has demagogic ideas to present, for he talks about making inquiries into things that he certainly has nothing to do with. I think he wants to give all the aid he can to Gov. Stevens in prosecuting the claims for the war. The Col. interests himself about many things that cannot be entirely disinterested in their motives and he is beyond all doubt plotting for future advancement. Any further promotion must come to him through popular favor.

December 19, 1858. Sunday. Spent the greater part of today in the office making a plan of the post as it was before the buildings were commenced. I also drew up an estimate of the expenses of the buildings at the post, and of the War of /55 and /56.

KAUTZ, August V. The Northwest Journals of A. V. Kautz. pp. 278-281.


"If action has not already been taken by the Commanding officer of the Department of Oregon in the matter reported of Asst. Surgeon Wirtz by Inspector General Mansfield, that officer (Wirtz) will be brought to trial before the General Court Martial appointed in Special Orders No. 35 from the Adjutant General's office on the charge of "conduct to the prejudice of good order and military discipline," with two specifications, first, that he neglected and failed to give medical attendance to the family of Colonel Casey when called on, second that he refused to give such attendance when required.

"The Judge Advocate will prepare such special instructions for the Judge Advocate of the Court as the case may require. A copy of the recent decision relative to the duties of medical officers will be furnished to the Department Commander and to the Judge Advocate of the Court for his guidance.

"J. B. Floyd, Secretary of War, War Dept.
5 May 1859.

"Attention is respectfully called to the subject of the Indian relations and to the necessity of having a government steamer on Puget Sound. Respectfully forwarded to the Adjutant General. and received 26 Feb. 1859."


M. Bachelder was a civilian who served for many years as the Post Sutler at Fort Steilacoom. He was a U. S. commissioner and as such issued the order for the arrest of the Pierce County Sheriff to stop the execution of Leschi, an Indian leader who was convicted of a specific murder during the Indian war of 1855-56.

He was hung in effigy at Olympia and was removed from office.

Silas Casey graduated from the United States Military Academy in 1826. He was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in the Second Infantry and for the next ten years served on the Great Lakes and on the Frontier. He was involved in the Seminole Indian war in Florida and was severely wounded at the storming of Chapultepec during the Mexican War.

In the 1850s he was stationed principally on the West Coast and was in command of Fort Steilacoom much of the time. He was appointed a Brigadier General of Volunteers at the outset of the Civil War and was active throughout the war.

He was the author of a system of infantry tactics which was published in 1861. He retired from the service on the 8th of July 1868 and died in New York on January 22, 1882.

J. Conner spent much of his military career in the Pacific Northwest before the Civil War being assigned to both Fort Steilacoom and Fort Chehalis. He was born in New Hampshire and graduated from the United States Military Academy in 1857. He achieved the rank of Captain on October 24,1861 but was retired from the service on December 8,1863.

C. English graduated from the Military Academy in 1849 and was assigned to Fort Steilacoom as a Captain in 1858. He served during the Civil War and his highest rank was that of Lieutenant Colonel in the Second Infantry. He died in 1876.

After graduating from the Military Academy, Lieut. Harvie came to the Northwest. He became a First Lieutenant in December of 1857 and resigned from the Army in March of 1861 and was from the State of Virginia.

After serving in the Fourth Infantry during the 1850s, Captain Hunt rose to the rank of Brevet Brigadier General for his Civil War service. He married a daughter of Silas Casey at Fort Steilacoom in 1861. He died 16 September 1886.

After serving as an enlisted man in the Mexican War, Kautz received an appointment to the Military Academy as a member of the class of 1852. After serving briefly in New York upon graduation Kautz was assigned to the Fourth Infantry which was then serving on the West Coast. After reporting to California he was assigned to the Northwest and served at Fort Steilacoom beginning in 1853. He spent time in Southern Oregon and was active in the Indian War of 1855-56.

Kautz did the major reconstruction of the Fort during 1858 and thereafter was assigned to the escort of the joint United States-Great Britain boundary commission for the forty-ninth parallel. In 1859 he went to Europe for the "grand tour."

Returning in 1860 Kautz took command of part of the Blake Expedition which sailed up the Missouri River and then took the Mullan Road west of the Mountains. He returned to Fort Steilacoom but was assigned to Fort Chehalis where he remained until he returned east to fight in the Civil War.

He rose to the rank of Major General of Volunteers during the war and after service in the Southwest he commanded the Army department for the west coast and retired to Seattle.

Maloney began his military career as a private in the 4th Infantry. He was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in 1846 and a Captain in 1854. He was born in Ireland and joined the Army where he fought in Florida and Mexico. He was in command of Fort Chehalis, Washington, during nearly all of its pre-Civil War existence. He retired from the Army in 1870 and died in 1872.

Reynolds served first in the ranks and was later appointed a Second Lieutenant in the 9th Infantry. He served throughout the Civil War and served much of the time in the Quartermaster Corps. He retired in 1887 and died in 1896.

Shaaff was a southerner who resigned his commission at the beginning of he Civil War. He served as a Major in the 1st Batallion of the Georgia Sharpshooters.

Dr. Wirtz was post surgeon at Fort Steilacoom and later at Fort Chehalis. He was from the state of Pennsylvania and served as an assistant surgeon beginning in 1846. He was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel at the close of the Civil War.

Withers graduated from the Military Academy with the Class of 1849. He served in the 4th Infantry as a Second Lieutenant, a First Lieutenant and a Brevet Captain. He resigned his commission on March 1, 1861 and returned to the South.



Joseph King Fenno Mansfield, the son of Henry and Mary Mansfield was born December 22, 1803 in New Haven, Connecticut. He joined the class of 1822 at the United States Military Academy in 1817 and received the rank of Second Lieutenant in the Engineers on July 1,1822.

His early career was spent mostly in the Southern Atlantic states where he worked on the construction of a number of military posts which were to be used for coastal defence. He held a responsible position in the construction of Fort Pulaski at the mouth of the Savannah River.

He remained a Second Lieutenant for ten years being promoted to First Lieutenant in 1832 and to Captain in 1838, the year he married Louisa Maria Mather.

During the War with Mexico he was chief engineer of the army under the command of General Zachary Taylor and as such was given several brevet or honorary ranks. He was made a brevet Major for his conduct during the defence of Fort Brown, Texas and later in the fall of 1846 was breveted to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel during the battle of Monterey, Mexico. In early spring he received the rank of Brevet Colonel for "...gallant and meritorious conduct" at the battle of Buena Vista.

Following the conclusion of the war Mansfield worked on the construction of coastal defence works until he was named inspector-general of the Army. Serving in this capacity until the beginning of the Civil War, Mansfield traveled extensively inspecting posts in the Southwest, California and the Pacific Northwest.

At the beginning of the Civil War, Colonel Mansfield was promoted to the rank of brigadier general and was assigned to command the Department of Washington which included the national capital and its surrounding territory. Later when the Army was reorganized he was "...assigned to command under General Wool at Fort Monroe and in 1862 took part in the occupation of Norfolk and Suffolk, Virginia."

Following another change in the Army command structure General Mansfield was promoted to Major General of Volunteers and assigned to command the Twelfth Army Corps. It was in this capacity that the General was killed at the beginning of the battle of Antietam on September 17,1862.

The following account was written of the death of the General by Major John M. Gould who was present when he was mortally wounded:

"The Confederate force in our front showed no colors. They appeared to be somewhat detached and in advance of the main rebel line, and were about where the left of General Duryea's brigade might be supposed to have retreated.

"To General Mansfield we appeared to be firing into Duryea's troops, therefore he beckoned to us to cease firing, and as this was the very last thing we proposed to do, the few who saw him did not understand what his motions meant, and so no attention was paid to him.

"He now rode down the hill from the 128th Pennsylvania and passing quickly through H, A, K, E, I, G, and D of the 10th Maine, ordering them to cease firing, he halted in front of C, at the earnest remonstrances of Captain Jordan and Sergeant Burnham, who asked him to see the gray coats of the enemy, and pointed out particular men of them who were then aiming their rifles at us and at him.

"The general was convinced, and remarked 'Yes, yes, you are right,' and was almost instantly hit. He turned and attempted to put his horse over the rails, but the animal had also been severely wounded, and could not go over. Thereupon the general dismounted, and a gust of wind blowing open his coat we saw that he was wounded in the body. Sergeant Joe Merritt, Storer Knight, and I took the general to the rear, assisted for a while by a negro cook from Hooker's corps. We put the general into an ambulance in the woods in front of which we had deployed...

JOHNSON, Robert Underwood. Battles and leaders of the Civil War, New York, The Century Company, 1884. Volume II, pp. 640-41.