Print this page

Entrance to Fort and Drawbridge (8 on map)

Tour Stop

Scale Model of Fort Davidson showing the drawbridge on the left Directions: The main entrance [ Waypoint = N37 37.188 W90 38.376 ] into Fort Davidson no longer exists. But it was located about half-way on the northeastern wall of the fort. Continue walking in a clockwise direction to the center of the eastern wall.

Description: Here in the middle of the northeastern wall of the fort was the main entrance into the fort. There was a drawbridge over the moat. When the Confederates launched their attack on September 27th, Brigadier-General Ewing ordered the drawbridge raised, but one of the ropes broke.

Captain William J. Campbell was in command of a detachment of the 14th Iowa Infantry and remembered that Ewing ran up to him and ordered him to find twenty men to hold the gate into the fort. Captain Campbell remembered what he did next. [106]

"I quickly secured twenty men and rushed them to the gate. The gate, or drawbridge, hung suspended by one rope and was only half closed, as the other rope had broken in pulling it up. We barricaded the passage with empty barrels and made it secure. The enemy's lines now gave way and fell back but immediately reformed and made a second charge, advancing to within fifty yards of our works. Then again they broke in confusion, our fire still dealing death and destruction through their ranks."

Sergeant-Major John H. Delano, Forty-seventh Missouri Infantry Volunteers, was outside of the fort when the Confederate attack began. He remembers moving quickly to get inside through the main gate. [107]

"The first thought that popped into my head was that I didn't belong there; I must get into the fort … I went … toward the fort along the front of the north rifle-pit to the drawbridge at the fort's entrance. The enemy covered the plain east of our works, so I was in the crossfire between them and the rifle-pit … I reached the fort and turned on the drawbridge to cross … As the draw was broken the bridge could not be raised, and our boys were barricading the gate as I passed. At the time I went into the fort the Confederates were not thirty feet away."

Captain Charles E. Hill, Assistant Provost Marshall of St. Louis, was with the Federal forces at Fort Davidson. After evacuation, Captain Hill made his way back to St. Louis and provided the following narrative to the Daily Missouri Democrat newspaper. [108]

"General Cabell came clear up with his infantry, and got in under the guns of the fort, so that they could not hit them at all. The rebels were cheering and yelling, and General Cabell came up with his line right towards the drawbridge of the fort. We undertook to raise the draw. The infernal rope broke, and down it went. We could not get it up to save ourselves. So we just laid hold of bands, &c, to form an obstruction. The rebels got up on the bridge, came clear across it, but could not get by the barrels, we finally got the rebs started on the retreat."

The Muse South African