Fort Sully (Fort Leavenworth)
Fort Sully was built on the plateau of Hancock Hill, the highest hill just west of Fort Leavenworth, in September and October 1864. Its purpose was to boost the defenses of Fort Leavenworth in case Confederate forces under Maj. Gen. Sterling Price attempted to overrun the area. Price spent all of September and most of October in Missouri on an expedition to occupy that state (see Price's Raid).
Since Fort Sully was part of an existing fort, it was technically termed a battery instead of a fort. It was named for Gen. Alfred Sully, who was not in the area and appears to have no connection at the time with Fort Leavenworth.
Once completed, Fort Sully was a formidable battery. Its occupants and guns could concentrate on any location in the surrounding area. The battery had numerous fortified areas where men, cannons and mortars could be placed. These were not only on the plateau but also along the steep sides of Hancock Hill. The plateau was in the shape of a foot's sole, the widest part being the northern third, which was 100 feet across. The south two-thirds of the plateau ranged from 25 to 75 feet wide. The plateau was approximately 670 long from north to south.
It not known how many troops were stationed at Fort Sully, but it seems throughout its existence, at least some troops were always there. The threat to Fort Leavenworth was eliminated with Price's defeat at Westport, Missouri, on October 23, 1864.
By June 1865 only four men were assigned to Fort Sully. The use of the battery had ended. That month plans were made to take everything from Fort Sully that could be put to use elsewhere at Fort Leavenworth. Since access to the site has always been restricted, the Fort Sully site has remained well preserved to this day.
- William C. Pollard, Jr., interview with Steve Allie, Fort Leavenworth, Kans., Dec. 16, 1993; Thomas P. Barr and Don D. Rowlinson, An Archeological Inventory of the Fort Leavenworth Military Reservation (Topeka, Kans.: Kansas State Historical Society, July 26, 1977), pp. 336-7.
- Barr and Rowlinson, p. 337; map of Fort Sully (Kansas City: Kansas City District Corps of Engineers, Engineering Div., Survey Section, August 1993).
- Map of Fort Sully; Allie interview.
- Brig. Gen. Robert B. Mitchell, report, The War of the Rebellion (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1896), Series I, Vol. XLVIII, Part II, p. 886.