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Boise VA Medical Center

 

History of the Boise VA & Fort Boise

Concern for the safety of west-ward bound emigrants become more immediate when the news of the Utter party's disastrous confrontation with Indians on September 9 and 10, 1860 reached western settlements. Colonel George Wright, commander of the US Army's District of Oregon responded by formally recommending the establishment of a military post near the former Hudson Bay Company's, Fort Boise. Before the Army could react to the proposal the United States became embroiled in a Civil War and the construction of a fort was temporarily delayed.

The discovery of gold during the summer of 1862 in the Boise Basin and Owyhees changed the situation. The new commander of the District of Oregon, General Benjamin Alvord, reported in October 14, 1862 that the need for a military post to protect both the white and native peoples had increased ten fold since 1860. The Governor of Washington, whose territory included all of the later Idaho, firmly endorsed the need. Wright, now a General and commander of the Department of the Pacific, urged immediate action. On January 14, 186, the Secretary of War authorized the new post. Alvord recommended a site about 40 miles up the Boise River from its confluence with the Snake River, and Major Pinckney Lugenbeel left Fort Vancouver, Washingon Territory on June 1 to build the new post.

Major Lugenbeel arrived in the area on June 28 and camped on Government Island in the Boise River. On the Fourth of July, he formally located the site for Fort Boise. While members of his command constructed the Fort, other interested parties were busy laying out the new townsite of Boise, now in Idaho Territory. Aside from early settlers' 1863 log cabins preserved as relics, the oldest buildings in Boise are those constructed for the Fort. The sandstone buildings erected in 1864 are still in use by the Boise VA Medical Center today.

On April 5, 1879, the Fort was redesignated as Boise Barracks. Military units continued to serve and protect the citizens of Boise and southwestern Idaho until the Fort was formally abandoned in 1913. Soldiers returned briefly in 1916 to prepare for the Mexican border campaign, and again between 1942 and 1944. From 1920 to the present, the Boise VA Medical Center has occupied the main part of the grounds of the former Fort Boise, and continues to utilize the buildings and campus. 

Additional Recorded History of Fort Boise: 
Fort Boise History Part 1
Fort Boise History Part 2
Fort Boise History Part 3
G. Flamm History of BVAMC
ISHS 517 Ditch 1974
NPS History of BVAMC
VA History of BVAMC Part 1
VA History of BVAMC Part 2
National Historic Register 1972