Fort Row was the small headquarters of the Union Army's local volunteer mounted militia under the leadership of Capt. John Row in 1861. The exact location is unknown but was near the spot where the Big Sandy Creek enters the Verdigris River north of Fredonia and east of Coyville in Wilson County, Kansas. Early in 1862, more than 6,000 Indians and black slaves, under the Creek leader Opothleyahola, fled the Confederate forces in Indian Territory. Loyal to the Union, they had been promised safe haven at Fort Row. Despite all efforts by Supt. of Indian Affairs, with aid from army officials at Fort Leavenworth and use of private funds to alleviate their suffering, hundreds of the refugees perished from starvation and exposure during the frigid 1862 winter. This episode became known as the Trail of Blood on Ice.
This narrative was compiled some years ago by Wilson County Historical Society and Museum director Doris Cantrell, using newspaper articles and other historical documents.