Civil War Fort A

Everybody who grew up in Cape learned about Fort D. Maybe you even went on a field trip there.

If that was D, were there Forts A, B, C and E? Well, there wasn’t a Fort E, but A, B and C existed.

Missourian librarian Sharon Sanders wrote about efforts to preserve Fort A, which was atop the bluff at the end of what is now Bellvue Street. Her research, as always, is worth reading. (Click on the photos to make them larger.)

She’s not a dry historian, either. she likes to toss in tidbits like, “A 1922 story reports 12-year old Wilson Gibbs chased a rabbit into a a cave at the site. While the rabbit made its escape, Gibbs did stumble upon two jugs of moonshine. A law-abiding youth, Gibbs turned the illegal liquor in to Justice of the Peace C.M. Gilbert. There’s no mention of whether anyone claimed the whiskey.

Scenic lookout proposed

In 1960, Sharon reports, there was talk about creating a scenic overlook/turnaround at the end of Bellvue. The project never got anywhere.

Here’s what’s on the right side of the street today. That apartment building has been there since at least the mid-60s, because Missourian reporter Arlene Southern lived in one of the first floor apartments.

Fort B became SEMO

If you have good eyesight, you MIGHT be able to spot a gray marker in the median of Normal Avenue just east of the red brick crosswalk between Kent Library and Academic Hall. That marker notes the location of Fort B, which was to guard the Perryville and Jackson Road approaches to Cape Girardeau.

St. Francis Hospital site was Fort C

The old St. Francis Hospital site in the middle of the marked streets was the location of Fort C. It’s occupied by the Fort Hope housing development today.

I’ve written about some of the landmarks in this photo.

20 Replies to “Civil War Fort A”

  1. Carol Allen, Vernetta Rubel Ford and I used to go to the library, load up with books, then go to the area of Fort A and spend the afternoon lying in the grass and reading until close to 5 p.m. We’d walk to where my mother worked, Wring’s Tot-Teen on Broadway and wait for her to get off at 5, and Daddy would take us all home. Sweet summer days were spent in one of our favorite pastimes.

  2. Ken,
    I remember going to Brownie Scout camp at Fort D in the summer of about 1948. I recall one of the girls found a small,green garden snake and decided to put it in the center drawer of the councilor’s desk. We waited all day to see her face when she found the snake. No luck. I worried the whole time about the SNAKE. Later, at home, my mother assured me that the little snake would find its way out of the desk and back into the grass outside.

  3. Ken,
    The Sheets family, Jay, Pam & Sue lived in the last house on the left on Bellvue. Sound like a fright film.
    I often wonder if anyone had ever run metal detectors over the area. It would still if it could be a scenic of not historic point with a marker. It had a great view of the Mississippi which its cannons could have easily protected.

  4. I grew up near Fort A. We used to throw snowballs off the cliff on to main street. There was a goat that used to roam around there. A great place for kids!

  5. My wife and I have lived on the bluff across from the Harrison/Sheets home — in the old Riley Deal home (vintage 1930) — for 34 years, in approximately the area where barracks or tents were located for the soldiers. We have a stunning view of the river, downtown and the bridge in the distance. Where the apartment building is situated there were batteries of cannon that controlled the river traffic. Jay Sheets built a home immediately east of his family home and across the street from the apartment building, and from his small side yard at the very dead end of Bellevue, one need only hit a 7-iron to fly the river wall, and a good hit from a driver can smash a barge. Of course a shank might smash a car on Main Street right below.

  6. Steve Limbaugh that wrote the article about you and your wife living on the bluff across from the Harrison/Sheets house, the Steve Limbaugh that graduated from Central High in May of 1945? If you are I was one of your classmates and we went into the military right after graduation.
    Joe Wgitright “45” E-Mail is


    1. John, thank YOU. It was my pleasure to visit your home. You’ve done a great job of bringing it alive. I know the family appreciates the care you’ve taken with the restoration.

  8. I grew up at 224 North Lorimier on the hill that runs alongside the Petit N’Orleans and runs into Bellevue. From our back yard, we would go “exploring” through the rocky tree-covered hillside and end up at Fort A, which was much more exciting than riding our bikes up the hill and a block down Bellevue to get there. Mike Bremmerman, remember the ballgames in our backyard with the Crass, Freeman, and Barks kids? Did you and your brother and sister take part in the neighborhood circus we put on? We got our one and only dog(a red Chou named Champy) from your family. Steve Limbaugh, I remember going to your home when the Deals lived there. Mrs. Deal gave us her parakeet which was named Ralo…each letter of the bird’s name was the first letter of her grandkids names. She fixed us lemonade and we sat on her screened in porch.

    Ken, once again you have brought me to that wonderful place I always think of as home.

    Brenda Bone Lapp

    1. Brenda Bone , I lived next door to u, Kenny, your dad, Eldon, nanny. we were 220 lorimar. I think. I remember Tommy fteeman and carol crass. her dad worked on kfvs tower, at tbT time. was the tallest structure in the world..I think I remember that.. wow!! thus is weird. what were the chances of me finding your name on here

    1. Steve Limbaugh Jr. I believe your fther was also a great friend of my father’s, Sam Trainum. Is your father still alive? My father passed away in 2008.

  9. Stacy — May father is alive and well at age 85, practicing law full time at the firm of Armstrong Teasdale in St. Louis. He retired as a United States District Judge at age 80 after 25 years of service. His email address is

  10. So good to hear that. I always thought your father was such a nice man. Good looking too. Last time I saw him he paid my a wonderful compliment saying I was the very image of my mother.

  11. ken steinhoff; i would like to have access to yourarticle on central high school at cape girardeau.i was a regular subscriber for years and somehow got takenoff.Joe Whitright/ class of 1945

    1. Joe,

      Here’s a link to the Fort A story I think you are looking for.

      I’ll check to see if you are still on the email list, but the reason you haven’t gotten anything is that I’ve been taking a break. I hope to get some stuff out of the way and get cranked up again before too long.

  12. I am working on a short paper about John Wesley Powell and the Civil War fortifications at Cape Girardeau.
    I am interested in determining if he was in charge of the construction of fortifications of Forts A.B.and C in addition to Fort D.

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