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As It Was: Legislator-Turned-Soldier Establishes Fort Lamerick

Fort Lamerick was one of several hastily erected posts during the Rogue River Indian War.

Located in a remote area called Big Meadow, two miles north of the Rogue River in Curry County, Ore., the Fort was the brainchild of Col. William Chapman, an Oregon territorial legislator in Salem, who was called back to active duty when the war broke out. 

As a wealthy landowner, Chapman rounded up and outfitted troops himself, using his own horses and wagons to transport them to the battle site.  When Chapmen arrived at Big Meadow, he was met by Brig. Gen. John K. Lamerick commanding the Oregon Mounted Volunteers. 

Chapman was full of strategical ideas, and immediately had the fort erected in May 1856 in the meadow. This did not sit well with Lamerick because Chapman was a subordinate, so, after chasing the Indians into retreat, Lamerick ordered a troop withdrawal.  After the massacre of several settlers, Lamerick approved of the fort named after him, and people paid more attention to Chapman's ideas. 

The fort consisted only of a log barrier around a camp.  It was abandoned two months later when the war ended.  

Sources: Hawthorne, Julian. The Story of Oregon. Vol. 1, New York, American Historical Publishing Company, 1892, pp. 184-89, books.google.com/books?id=QnsUAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA186&lpg=PA186&dq=Fort+Lamerick+in+Oregon&source=bl&ots=9pUyy274JD&sig=ACfU3U0Iu-aPk1r8r6rdnqY8vKbvQAhS0A&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwiqmqC7joDhAhWQvJ4KHYc. Accessed 13 Mar. 2019.

Lynda Demsher has been editor of a small-town weekly newspaper, a radio reporter, a daily newspaper reporter and columnist for the Redding Record Searchlight, Redding California. She is a former teacher and contributed to various non-profit organizations in Redding in the realm of public relations, ads, marketing, grant writing and photography.