Fort C plaque gets rededicated

Wednesday, November 28, 2001

In 1863, during the Battle of Cape Girardeau, Union soldiers at Fort C -- one of four forts charged with protecting the city -- attempted to shell the Confederate right flank, which had invaded the area looking for supplies and arms.

Unfortunately for northern troops at Fort C, which was located where the old St. Francis Hospital used to be near the corner of Pacific and Good Hope, most of the enemy were protected by hilly terrain.

Both sides claimed victory.

Although the fight lasted only a few hours and was not a major battle during the Civil War, it's an important piece of Cape Girardeau history that should always be remembered, according to World War II veteran Edward Kaiser.

That's why when the Old St. Francis Hospital was condemned and torn down to make way for apartments, Kaiser wanted to make sure that the plaque that marked the site of Fort C was not hauled off with the rubble.

He made sure that the plaque was stored securely while the work was done. On Tuesday, Kaiser and some of those who helped him rededicated the Fort C plaque on the east side of the Fort Hope Apartments.

"I think it's good to know the history of the area and the city," Kaiser said at the dedication ceremony, which was attended by a handful of history enthusiasts and city leaders. "It's important to remember."

Finding and restoring historical plaques of Cape Girardeau is actually a project of the Downtown Rotary Club 448, but the 77-year-old Kaiser has almost single-handedly taken on the task himself.

Kaiser has spent the past several years looking for the sites of plaques. There are 13 that he's found, like the one in Capaha Park, which marks the former home of the Capaha tribe of American Indians. Other markers, at Lorimier Cemetery and Indian Park, have vanished.

"There's bronze in them, which has become valuable, so I'm sure they were stolen or carried off," Kaiser said.

Plan for plaques

Kaiser, who was wounded twice during the Battle of the Bulge, hopes to replace those. In addition, he hopes to hire professionals to clean all of the plaques, which were commissioned in the 1950s. He also has plans for new historical plaques, like getting one placed near the new Bill Emerson Memorial Bridge.

"History's happening every day," he said.

Dr. Frank Nickell, director of the Center for Regional History at Southeast Missouri State University, said marking historical sites is meaningful.

"When the hospital was here, people knew they were driving around what used to be Fort C," Nickell said. "Now, for the next 100, hopefully 200, years, when they drive around here, they'll know they're driving around an historic site."

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