William P. Carlin, noted Civil War General, ends his career at Fort Sherman

Photo ID FSH-4-2

By Robert SingletarySpecial to the Coeur d’Alene Press
General William Passmore Carlin was a career soldier, who began his career with the 6tth US Infantry at Fort Snelling, Minn., soon after graduating from West Point in 1850. He ended his career in 1893 after serving 10 years as the commander of the 4th Infantry at Fort Sherman, Idaho. 

Before his involvement in the Civil War, Carlin participated in numerous battles on the frontier fighting the Plains Indians. When the Civil War started in 1861, he was a regular Army captain but was soon detailed to the Volunteer Service as a Colonel and commander of the 38th Illinois Volunteer Infantry. He was promoted to Brigadier General on November 29, 1862. From January 1863 to August 1864, Carlin participated in just about every major battle that the Union Army of the Tennessee brigade fought, including Sherman’s March to the Sea. 

Carlin admired General Sherman. That could be why in 1887, while he was serving as the commander of Fort Coeur d’Alene, the fort was officially renamed Fort Sherman. General Sherman actually founded the fort while on an inspection tour of military forts in the West in 1877. He named the new fort after the Coeur d’Alene Tribe. It should also be noted that the citizens of the small village of Coeur d’Alene next to Fort Coeur d’Alene named their main street Sherman Avenue in 1883, the year that Sherman returned to officially dedicate the new fort. There is no documented evidence that General Carlin had anything to do with the name change. What we do know is that Carlin was on leave of absence for several months in 1887, just before the name change was made official. He knew a lot of important people in Washington D.C.

After completing his last command at Fort Sherman in 1893, Carlin retired and bought a ranch in Montana. In 1903, he died from a heart attack onboard a train near Whitefish, Montana.  Due to his famed status, he received several commemorations. The town of Carlin, Navada was named for him, as was the General William Passmore Carlin camp #25. General Carlin wrote and published an autobiography, which detailed his long career.

Carlin’s dress is on display at the Museum of North Idaho. 

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