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Future Civil War Heroes Pass Through Fort Jones

As a small, isolated garrison in Northern California’s Scott Valley, Fort Jones opened in October 1852. Within two years it contained nine buildings, seven made of mud-daubed logs and two of roughly shaped boards.

Early officers included Lt. J.C. Bonnycastle and Captains Fitzgerald, Bradley Alden, and Henry Judah.

Officers who later gained fame in the Civil War included George Edward Pickett, who as a general led the charge at the Battle of Gettysburg; John B. Hood, a Confederate major general present at Bull Run; Phil Sheridan, the Army chief of staff under President Grant; and George Crook, one of the Union’s greatest commanders.

Fort reports described difficult conditions.  Capt. Alden told how he arrived at the fort in 1855 with 40 mules, six wagons and 50 enlisted men, 10 of them deserters en route. Alden reported that of 24 muskets, five were as “much bent as to be unserviceable.” Capt. Judah celebrated his assignment by going on a “protracted drunk.” He wrote asking for cooking stoves. Lt. George Crook complained he had “but one wagon fit for service.”

Capt. Judah closed down the fort in 1858 and sent its troops to Fort Vancouver in the Washington Territory.

Source: "Selected Entries from Military Notes from Fort Jones, 1853-1858." The Siskiyou Pioneer 9.2 (2012): 78-88. Print.

Gail Fiorini-Jenner is a writer and teacher. Her first novel "Across the Sweet Grass Hills", won the 2002 WILLA Literary Award. She co-authored four histories with Arcadia Publishing: Western Siskiyou County: Gold & Dreams, Images of the State of Jefferson, The State of Jefferson: Then & Now, which placed in the 2008 Next Generation Awards for Nonfiction and Postcards from the State of Jefferson.