A frontier outpost during the Indian wars, Fort Missoula is best known for the 25th Infantry Bicycle Corps and the Alien Detention Center that imprisoned Italian and Japanese citizens during World War II. The infantry units that occupied the post for almost 70 years fought the Nez Perce at the Big Hole, helped rebuild the Mullan Road, and prevented violence during labor strikes.
Construction of the fort began in 1877 upon the arrival of two companies of the 7th Infantry, but was interrupted by the outbreak of war with the Nez Perce. The two companies of infantry under Captain’s Rawn and Logan a fortification in Lolo Canyon in a futile attempt to stop the fleeing Nez Perce. A few weeks later the soldiers at Fort Missoula participated in the surprise attack of the Nez Perce village in the Big Hole Valley, where Captain Logan was killed, and the remaining soldiers were besieged. Shortly after construction resumed Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman visited, and ordered that the fort enlarged to a battalion-sized post. This was accomplished by a battalion of the 3rd Infantry between 1878 and 1888, when the “buffalo soldiers” of the 25th Infantry arrived. During the bicycling craze of the 1890s, Lt. Moss of the 25th Infantry led a platoon of men on a 1,900 bike ride to St. Louis.
Fort Missoula also served as district headquarters of the Civilian Conservation Corps during the 1930s. Before America entered World War II Fort Missoula was used to detain 1,200 Italian sailors by the Immigration and Naturalization Service. The camp also housed 1,000 Japanese men who had been rounded up after Pearl Harbor. The camp then became an Army Disciplinary Barracks from 1944 until 1947. Although the military presence has nearly ended, Fort Missoula remains a treasured community asset, home to museums, golf courses, parks and playing fields, the Fort Missoula Cemetery and the Missoula State Veterans cemetery.
144 pages, more than 100 black & white and color photos.