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Title: Fort Gibson - A Brief History
Author: Foreman, Grant, Foreman, Carolyn Thomas
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Fort Gibson - A Brief History" ***

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                              FORT GIBSON
                            A BRIEF HISTORY

                             GRANT FOREMAN
                         CAROLYN THOMAS FOREMAN

                [Illustration: Stockade of Fort Gibson]

 _To the Friends whose assistance has made possible the restoration now
                      in evidence in Fort Gibson_

                  Copyright by Carolyn Thomas Foreman

  Books by GRANT FOREMAN Published by the University of Oklahoma Press
                            Norman, Oklahoma

  INDIAN REMOVAL (Out of Print)
  A TRAVELER IN INDIAN TERRITORY (Editor: Privately Printed)
  INDIAN JUSTICE (Editor: Oklahoma City, Oklahoma)


Fort Gibson was not only the oldest and most celebrated military
establishment in the annals of Oklahoma but in its early days it was the
farthest west outpost of the United States, and in many respects
continued for years to be one of the most important on that frontier. It
was one of the chain of forts reaching from the northern to the southern
boundaries of the nation, which included Fort Snelling, Fort
Leavenworth, Fort Gibson, Fort Towson, and Fort Jesup, at times there
were as many soldiers stationed at Fort Gibson as in all the other forts
together. It was constructed in a wilderness frequented by bears,
wolves, and panthers, while the neighboring prairies were the feeding
grounds of wild horses, buffalo and deer. The nearby streams were rich
in beaver, and furs were shipped by trappers and traders to eastern

This fort actually owed its establishment to the indomitable spirit of
the Osage Indians who ranged the surrounding country and claimed
exclusive right to the game in that locality; consequently they
challenged the hunters from eastern Indian tribes, notably the
Cherokees, and were constantly engaging in savage battles with them.
This situation resulted in the establishment, in 1817, of a garrison at
Belle Point, subsequently called Fort Smith, which it was hoped would be
able to abate the warlike activities of the Osages. As it was not able
to achieve the desired results, the garrison was abandoned and the
troops were directed to find a new location at the mouth of the
Verdigris River, where they would be near the towns of the Osages and
better able to watch and control their movements.

When Colonel Matthew Arbuckle came up the Arkansas River with his
command of the Seventh Infantry, he found the best boat landing on the
Verdigris River, and adjacent territory for three miles above its mouth,
occupied by a considerable settlement of white traders and trappers, the
earliest trading settlement within the limits of Oklahoma. Most
conspicuous among the settlers was Colonel A. P. Chouteau, a graduate of
West Point of the class of 1806, who resigned from the army the next
year to engage in Indian trade. From 1815 to the time of his death in
1838 he was identified with the Indian Territory and performed valuable
service for the government in the negotiation of important treaties with
the Indians, with whom he had more influence than any other man of his
time. He was long a familiar and welcome figure at Fort Gibson. His
judgment commanded greater respect of army officers, commissioners and
Washington officials than that of any other man on the frontier; he was
frequently consulted and his services solicited for the settlement of
important problems relating to the Indians.

In connection with his Indian trade at the Three Forks, Chouteau’s
establishment was integrated with the facilities of river navigation. He
employed a large number of men for assorting and packing for shipment
the peltries purchased from the Indians; he also maintained a little
shipyard on the bank of the river where he made the boats in which, with
the help of a rough and hardy class of river men, he shipped his
peltries to New Orleans and St. Louis. As the settlement of traders and
trappers would have made it troublesome to establish a garrison on the
site, Arbuckle decided to find a location for his fort a short distance
up the nearby Grand River, which discharged its waters into the Arkansas
about half a mile from the mouth of the Verdigris.

It was on the twenty-first day of April 1824, that two long flatboats
were to be seen ascending Grand River, manned by bearded young men in
the uniform of the United States Army. As they worked the boats up the
river they scanned the shore for a landing place, and about three miles
from the river’s mouth they were successful in discovering a wide ledge
of shelving rock on the east bank, which made a natural boat landing.
They tied up their boats at this ledge, and unloaded axes, adzes, froes,
saws, food supplies, tents, baggage, and a miscellaneous assortment of
camp equipment. On the bank they met other uniformed young men, unshaved
and long of hair, who had come by land to the place from Fort Smith with
their horses and oxen. They were, in all, 122 officers and privates of
companies B, C, G, and K of the Seventh Infantry.

The river bottom land near their landing place was low and fertile, and
covered by an immense canebrake, great forest trees, and a jungle of
vines and undergrowth. The soldiers were soon engaged in clearing
sufficient space in which to set up their tents. Then began the weeks
and months of labor necessary to remove the cane, vines, and brambles
from an area large enough for an army post; the ring of the ax and the
crash of the huge falling trees were heard, and roaring fires consumed
the prodigality of nature. Logs were fashioned by axes and cross-cut
saws into lengths and shapes suitable to form the walls of houses; other
logs were split into puncheons for floors, or rived into clapboards to
roof the structures to be built.

By the early part of 1826 a number of log houses had been completed,
providing quarters for the soldiers, quartermaster, sergeants, surgeon,
and a hospital, guard room, matron’s room and storeroom. These buildings
were constructed on four sides of a square and, with the upright logs or
pickets surrounding them, constituted the stockade, so arranged for
protection against possible attack by the Indians. This stockade has
long since fallen into decay; but on the site another has been
constructed from the original plans, as nearly like the old one as
possible, where it is now to be seen.

Fort Gibson maintained communication with the outside world by means of
transportation on the Arkansas River over which, at first, the keelboat
brought men and supplies to the fort from remote distances, and down
which furs and peltries were shipped by the traders living in the
neighborhood. Later, steamboats that supplanted the keelboats came up to
the fort with military supplies and merchandise for the sutler at the
post and for merchants in that vicinity. During 1833, seventeen
steamboats were tied up to the boat landing from time to time through
the season. Under the railroad bridge which now spans the river at this
spot may be seen one of the rings anchored in the rock to which the
boats were secured many years ago. The fort was also reached by the
famous thoroughfare known as the Texas Road, which came through
southwestern Missouri, southeastern Kansas, and following the course of
Grand River passed Fort Gibson and continued on to Texas. For many years
an amazing number of emigrants, freighters, and traders going to or
returning from the then unknown country beyond Red River passed over
this road.

In 1831, the whole of the Seventh Infantry was ordered to Fort Gibson
and the officers reported the interior of the stockade much overcrowded
by the host of officers and men, laundresses and servants. The year 1832
was a notable one in the history of Fort Gibson. A commission had been
created by Congress for the purpose of locating in the Indian Territory
the Indians about to be removed from the East. It was necessary for the
commission to make its headquarters at Fort Gibson, and negotiate
treaties with the wild Indians which were to prepare them for the
impending changes in their neighbors. The commissioners were Montford
Stokes, until then governor of North Carolina, Henry L. Ellsworth, of
Hartford, Connecticut, and Rev. John Schermerhorn. They were afforded
protection by the Ranger company of Captain Jesse Bean, who arrived at
the post in October, 1832, and was then ordered to the West on an
exploring tour. Mr. Ellsworth arrived at Fort Gibson that same month,
accompanied by Washington Irving and some friends whom he had met on
Lake Erie and had invited to accompany him to Fort Gibson. They came
down the Texas Road past the Creek agency at Three Forks, just below the
site of Okay, and arrived at the bank of Grand River, across which
Irving noted the neatly whitewashed blockhouses and palisades of Fort
Gibson. Someone halooed across the river, and a scow, which served as
ferryboat, was brought over; the travelers entered the boat, which was
poled by soldiers across the stream; as it was tied up to the landing
the visitors stepped ashore and walked up the bank 150 yards to the gate
of the garrison. A sergeant’s guard admitted them, and as they entered
the fort their attention was attracted to a number of men pilloried in
stocks and riding the wooden horse. Startled at this spectacle, Irving
made a note of it in his journal.

On their arrival at Fort Gibson, Washington Irving and Commissioner
Ellsworth and their friends, on learning that Captain Bean’s company was
somewhere up the Arkansas River, after spending two nights in Colonel
Arbuckle’s quarters in the fort, started out to overtake the Rangers and
share in their adventures. They were gone a month on this trip, and from
his experiences on that expedition Irving wrote his famous book, A Tour
on the Prairies. The company returned to Fort Gibson on the ninth of
November, and the next day Irving departed down the Arkansas River by
steamboat for New Orleans and Washington.

The inhabitants of the fort were awakened each morning as the bugler
sounded reveille at daybreak to rouse a sleeping garrison; later the
crash of the morning gun echoed and re-echoed among the neighboring
hills and rumbled across the more distant prairies, startling deer and
bear in their sheltered beds. The flag was run to the top of the staff
to catch the first rays of the rising sun. After an early breakfast the
soldiers went about their routine duties; details worked in the garrison
garden among the vegetables; oxen, horses, and mules were fed, watered,
and cared for; recruits were put through their drills by the sharp
commands of officers, and the bugle sounded at intervals throughout the
day, carrying its lively messages over the surrounding valleys and

The end of the day of toil or boredom, as the case might be, was
announced by the drums sounding retreat, followed by the evening gun and
the ceremony of lowering the flag at sunset. The roll of the drum and
the shrill notes of the fife sounded tatoo at nine o’clock and warned
stragglers to cease their amours and other diversions and return to
their quarters within the palisades before the great gates should close
and shut them out; taps then sounded, and Fort Gibson was again stilled
in darkness. This routine repeated day after day, month after month, and
year after year, made life at the post a dull experience. It was an
isolated station in the western wilderness, far from civilization and
white settlements of consequence. The officers and men, exiled, as they
termed it, to this remote garrison, wearied of its limited possibilities
for entertainment. Trifling incidents varied the dull routine of their
lives, and episodes that mattered were of absorbing interest.

                [Illustration: BARRACKS OF FORT GIBSON]

Some cheerful diversions were available, however; there was good fishing
in the river a few yards from the post, and thousands of prairie
chickens and other game afforded zestful hunting. A billiard room
furnished entertainment. Plays were written and presented in the
“theater,” the building used on occasions for Indian councils and
religious services.

A course was laid out and every year there were exciting horse races for
high stakes with entries from all divisions of the fort’s
population—officers, traders, and Indians. Indian ponies, that hardly
had time to rest up from running buffalo, were entered against the
horses of the post. And there were crooked race horse owners who came up
the river to the fort for the sole purpose of making what money they
could by their peculiar methods. This situation became so demoralizing
that Colonel Loomis issued an order barring these people from the
reservation. When other things palled—and when they did not—there was
always the gossip of the post, rumors and confirmation of promotions,
expeditions, and details; the departure of a command on a commission
that would at least give the men a change of scene; the rare arrival of
the paymaster, with fifty to one hundred thousand dollars in the custody
of his military escort; the frequent arrival of steamboats when the
rivers were high; and when they were not, visitors and supplies coming
by keelboats, wagons, or pack trains.

The hoarse resonance of a steam whistle in the distance told a jaded
garrison that a steamboat on the Arkansas River was approaching the
fort. Presently the boom of the signal gun on board announced that she
had passed the bars three miles below and had safely entered the Grand
River. There was always a crowd at the landing place to see her as she
came into view down the stream. As the jangle of her bell or the exhaust
of her engines heralded her arrival, the multitude was increased by
people who were anxious to share in the excitement when she was tied up
to the shelving rock that made a natural dock.

For there were passengers to come ashore—friends to greet, who were
returning from leave with news from the outside world, messages, and
newspapers, and strangers to inspect—young officers from West Point,
older officers trained by service in other posts who had come to a new
assignment, recruits to fill gaps in the ranks. There were civilians,
too, merchants from the neighborhood who had been east exchanging furs
and skins for fresh supplies of merchandise; sutlers who brought stores
to sell to the officers and soldiers, and bonnets, dresses, and finery
for the ladies of the post. And there were wives and children come to
unite long-separated families, and young ladies who planned to visit and
bring a measure of gaiety to the garrison. Mail bags promised letters
from distant relatives and friends. Deck hands and soldiers unloaded
boxes and crates of merchandise. It was a busy and noisy scene. Officers
went aboard to enjoy the hospitality of the captain and to sample the
liquors on his boat.

Young ladies came from the East to visit relatives at the post and they
frequently married officers whom they met there, or had previously
known. In the 1830’s and 1840’s, when Fort Gibson received many young
officers recently out of West Point, such romances were common.

Propinquity and the charm of the Cherokee maidens accounted for many
unions between them and the soldiers and officers at the post. Fort
Gibson was the center of society and gaiety for a large section of the
country that included the Cherokee Nation. The young women of that tribe
were much sought by the officers and were welcome guests at the parties
given at the post, where many romances budded and bloomed during the
seventy years the old fort existed. The result was that in that part of
Oklahoma which formerly constituted the Cherokee Nation, many families
descended from unions between the soldiers and Indians. Frequently, when
their terms of enlistment expired, soldiers remained in the
neighborhood, married Indian girls, reared Indian families, and become
prosperous from the land holdings these alliances brought them.

For want of diversions of greater interest, numbers of soldiers at Fort
Gibson sought such excitement as they could find in the doggeries
maintained by mixed-blood Cherokee Indians on tribal lands just off the
reservation, where drinking and gambling were indulged in. Violations of
the rule forbidding a soldier to remain outside the garrison after
retreat had sounded were frequent, and iron bars were employed on the
windows in the outer walls of the houses to enforce the regulations.
These precautionary measures, said an observer, gave the barracks the
appearance of a dilapidated Arkansas jail: the enclosure, he said, was
made to hold five companies of troops—officers and men, laundresses and
servants herded together in a climate where the temperature ranged in
summer from eighty to one hundred degrees. These remarks truly painted a
picture that explained much of the resistance to discipline and
violation of regulations.

As an instance of punishment, an offender was sentenced to “stand on the
head of a barrel with an empty bottle in each hand, in front of the
dragoon guardhouse every alternate two hours from reveille until retreat
for eight days with a board around his neck marked ‘Whiskey Seller,’ to
carry a pack on his back weighing fifty pounds every alternate two hours
for eight days, from reveille until retreat; to work at hard labor in
charge of the guard for fourteen days, and to have seven days of his pay
stopped.” Another culprit was sentenced “to be drummed around the
garrison immediately in the rear of Corporal Charles Kelloun of H
Company, First Dragoons, carrying a keg in his arms, to have a plank
hanging on his back marked ‘Whiskey Runner,’ and to serve fifteen days
at hard labor in charge of the guard, making good all time lost by

Drunkenness and desertion were the most persistent and difficult
violations with which officers had to deal. The courts martial varied
the punishments inflicted upon offenders as far as their imagination
would permit. One culprit was sentenced to the custody of the guard for
thirty days “and during that period to walk in front of the guardhouse
with a pack of stones weighing fifty pounds upon his back from eight
o’clock A. M. to one P. M., and from two o’clock P. M. to retreat.”
Another, in the winter was condemned “to be immersed for ten consecutive
mornings in the river, fifteen minutes before breakfast roll call.”
Another’s sentence was to have his “hands tied to a post above his head
from reveille to guard mount, five days at hard labor, and to forfeit
one dollar per day and his portion of sugar and coffee.” Forfeiture of
sugar, coffee, and whiskey was a cruel measure often resorted to.
Sentence to the stocks was employed, and frequently the garrison
displayed the ghastly spectacle of a dozen men with hands and heads
projected through these cruel devices which compelled them to stand and
gave them no support. It was charged that in some cases culprits had
died under this punishment. In October 1833, two privates of the First
Dragoons convicted of desertion were sentenced to be branded with the
letter “D” on the right thigh, to have their heads shaved, and be
drummed out of the service of the United States with strong halters
around their necks.

In the early 1850’s a traveler coming from the Northwest left an
interesting picture of Fort Gibson: The Verdigris River forded, “another
ride of an hour or more brought us to the Neosho (Grand River); this
forded, we ride into Fort Gibson. This is a pretty place. There is the
fort itself, with its blockhouses, the palisades with their heavy wooden
gates, the stables on a hill nearby, the quarters of the dragoons in a
former day and their look-out, the campus outside the fort, a plot of
ground elevated above the river, having on two sides the houses of the
officers, the chapel and schoolhouse, the government store, and all
newly whitewashed. In this enclosure was a little burying ground,
carefully protected and tastefully adorned with trees and shrubs. We
pass out into the Cherokee country by a large gate, near which is a
store having one entrance from the fort, and another from the Indian
country. Around this door a great number of horses were tied while their
riders were within, some with articles to barter for goods, others
endeavoring to purchase by giving a lien on the annuity which will come
next year, which annuity may be sold or gambled away to several other
parties, all of whom will be at the council to claim it when it at
length arrives.”

Fort Gibson was still a young fort when it was discovered that the green
logs of which the houses were built were rapidly decaying and constant
repairs were required to make them habitable. It was a sickly place and
the great number of deaths which occurred there gave it the name of the
charnel house of the army. From the time of its founding to December 8,
1835, eleven and a half years, 561 privates and 9 officers had died at
the post. During the years 1834 and 1835 the deaths numbered 293
privates and 6 officers. In the summertime, in order to avoid the
miasmic breezes carrying disease from the surrounding swamps and
canebrakes, detachments of troops were ordered to camp on the hill
above, or seven miles east on Bayou Manard at a place known as Clark’s
Springs, where at one time the Cherokee agency, and later the home known
as the McLain place, were situated.

Probably no fort in the West exerted a greater influence for the
civilization of the surrounding country than did Fort Gibson, and this
became the purpose of its maintenance for many years. With the
appointment of the Stokes Indian Commission in 1832, efforts were made
to bring representatives of the wild tribes to Fort Gibson for the
purpose of making treaties with them and impressing them with the
sovereignty of the United States; it was hoped that they would conform
their conduct accordingly and become friends of the whites and of the
Indian immigrants from the East who were to be the new owners of the
Indian Territory. Ellsworth’s efforts in 1832, when Irving accompanied
him, failed to accomplish this result. In 1833 another expedition set
out from Fort Gibson commanded by Lieutenant Colonel James Many. In his
command were two select companies of the Seventh Infantry and three
companies of Rangers commanded by captains Bean, Ford, and Boone, the
latter Nathan Boone, son of the famous Daniel. They went as far as the
country on the Washita, Blue, and Red rivers, but returned empty-handed
after suffering tremendous hardships.

The third effort to make contact with these Western Indians was
successfully carried out in 1834, by what became known as the famous
Dragoon Expedition. General Henry Leavenworth arrived at Fort Gibson
April 28 of that year and assumed command of the post, which he held
until June 12 when he departed in command of the expedition. This
expedition included also Colonel Henry Dodge, Colonel Stephen Watts
Kearney, and Major R. B. Mason. Jefferson Davis, a lieutenant a few
years out of West Point, was in command of one company. This train of
five hundred mounted troops, a large number of white-covered baggage
wagons, and seventy head of beeves made an imposing procession. It was
accompanied by eleven Osage, eight Cherokee, six Delaware, and seven
Seneca Indians who went along to serve as guides, hunters, interpreters,
and as representatives of their respective nations. They crossed the
Arkansas River below the mouth of Grand River, passed over the prairies
near the site of the future Muskogee, traveled southwest to the mouth of
the Washita River, then northwest, where they visited the site of a
Comanche village at the western end of the Wichita Mountains.

This was a disastrous expedition which resulted in the deaths of nearly
150 men from disease and the effects of excessive hot weather and poor
water upon the unseasoned and undisciplined soldiers lately recruited
from private life in the North and East. Included among the casualties
of this expedition was that of General Leavenworth, who died July 21
near the Washita River.

However, they did succeed in bringing back to Fort Gibson
representatives of the Kiowa, Wichita, and Waco tribes, and after their
return invitations were extended to all the Indians within reach to
attend a grand council at the post—Choctaws, Cherokees, Creeks, Senecas,
Osages, Delawares, and others. Here, on September 2, 1834, began one of
the most interesting and important Indian councils ever held in the
country. On this occasion every effort was made to impress the wild
Indians who had never made a treaty with the United States and make them
understand the changed political condition of the country. There were
150 Indians participating in the council, and with their numerous women
and children, tepees and tents, they made one of the most picturesque
scenes ever witnessed at any army post.

Governor Stokes and the army officers who attended did not have
authority at this time to enter into a treaty, but, with the potent
influence of Colonel A. P. Chouteau, who participated in the council,
the commissioners secured an agreement with the wild Indians to meet in
treaty council the following year. And so the plans which were launched
and carried out at Fort Gibson resulted in a treaty council begun August
24, 1835, at Fort Mason on the Canadian River near the present Purcell,
Oklahoma, where was negotiated the first treaty ever entered into by a
number of these western tribes.

In 1837 members of the Kiowa, Apache, and Tawakoni tribes were induced
to send representatives to Fort Gibson, where on May 26 another
important treaty, the first with these Indians, was negotiated. These
treaties gave assurance of peace on the part of the Indians and
guarantees of safe passage for the traders over the Santa Fe route.

After the return of the Dragoon Expedition there were a number of
resignations of young officers who were thoroughly tired of frontier
service. An amusing incident growing out of the tension between them
resulted in a charge of insubordination against Lieutenant Jefferson
Davis by Major R. B. Mason, followed by a court martial of the young
officer at Fort Gibson. The court found him guilty but attached no
criminality to the facts, and the judgment was that he be acquitted.
While the records and decision were being considered by General E. P.
Gaines, commander of the Southwestern Military Department at Memphis,
Tennessee, Lieutenant Davis resigned from the army and went to Kentucky,
where he met and married Sarah Knox, the daughter of General Zachary
Taylor, whom he had wooed when he was serving under her father at Fort
Crawford on the upper Mississippi River.

This statement, based on the life of Davis written by his widow, and
other authentic accounts, disposes of the romantic but wholly fictitious
yarn that Davis and his bride eloped from Fort Gibson; equally
apocryphal is a house nearby that formerly was pointed out by the
credulous as the “Jeff Davis house,” since during the period of scarcely
more than a year that young Lieutenant Davis served there, he and the
other members of the Dragoons did not live in a house but were quartered
in tents half a mile from the fort.

At Fort Gibson were planned and launched other important military
expeditions among the wild Indians to the west that made possible the
negotiation of numerous essential treaties with these tribes. A number
of picturesque Indian councils were held at the fort, with
representatives of many tribes from large areas of the West and
Southwest participating. These councils and negotiations exerted a
profound influence over the country, and Fort Gibson became known far
and wide as the source of important information concerning this remote
country. The early newspapers of the East consequently carried a Fort
Gibson date line more often than that of any other place west of the

This ancient fort performed a multitude of other services in connection
with the civilization of this western country. Through the years
numerous military escorts were provided for the protection of parties
engaged in exploring meandering streams and surveying boundaries of the
lands occupied by different Indian tribes, pursuant to treaties made
from time to time. In the effort to prevent the introduction of whiskey
into the Indian country, detachments frequently were sent out from the
fort to seize shipments of that contraband or arrest and remove across
the line whiskey peddlers who were engaged in this unlawful activity;
others were employed either on land or in boats in patrolling the
Arkansas River for the same purpose.

The commandant at the fort was frequently called upon by the authorities
in Washington to aid parents or other relatives living in Texas in the
rescue of children captured in raids by Kiowa and Comanche Indians.
Emissaries were sent out to bring their captive children to the fort,
where a ransom was effected and the children turned over to grateful

From several points of view Fort Gibson enjoyed a unique association
with the growth of the army. In 1832 a call was made for six companies
of mounted troops known as Rangers for service in the Black Hawk War in
Illinois. Before the companies had all been recruited the orders were
changed, and the Rangers were directed to proceed to Fort Gibson to aid
in preparing that country for the reception of the tribes about to be
emigrated from the East. The company commanded by Captain Jesse Bean was
the first to reach the fort, and they went on the scouting tour, already
mentioned, that was accompanied by Washington Irving.

The next year it was decided to discontinue the Ranger organization and
merge the six companies with the regiment of Dragoons authorized that
year by Congress. Major Henry Dodge headed this regiment, Major Stephen
Watts Kearney was lieutenant colonel, and Captain Richard B. Mason was
appointed major. Five companies were recruited and concentrated at
Jefferson Barracks. After a proud send-off by the citizens of St. Louis,
they departed for Fort Gibson where they arrived on December 17, 1834.
They were not quartered in the fort but had their own reservation on
land about half a mile south of it, and for a time lived in tents. This
regiment began its distinguished service by the tragic expedition of
that year which left so many of its members in unmarked graves along the
route, and in the little cemeteries around the fort. They were
accompanied by George Catlin, the artist, who not only painted many
portraits of the Indians he saw, but wrote an interesting account of the
experiences of the regiment.

One company of this regiment did not go on this celebrated expedition
because it was engaged, under Captain Clifton Wharton, in escorting a
company of traders on the Santa Fe Trail as far as the Spanish boundary.
In the summer of 1836 three troops of the Dragoon regiment, with six
companies of the Seventh Infantry, marched from Fort Gibson to
Nachitoches to aid the Texans in resisting what was thought to be an
impending attack by a large force of Mexicans. The peril did not
materialize and the troops returned to Fort Gibson after an arduous
campaign of several months involving a march of a month each way. During
their absence, and due to an exaggerated alarm of war with Mexico;
several hundred men in Arkansas were mustered in as volunteers and
remained in camp at Fort Gibson for months.

Again, in 1837, a company under Captain Eustace Trenor escorted Colonel
A. P. Chouteau to his trading house near the present Purcell, Oklahoma,
where he called the wild Indians to a conference in an effort to
counteract the machinations of the emissaries from Mexico and Texas who
were trying to enlist them in their respective controversies.

And in 1839 a detachment of Dragoons commanded by Lieutenant James M.
Bowman escorted the famous trading expedition headed by Dr. Josiah Gregg
to the limits of the United States on the way to Santa Fe and Chihuahua.
Captain Nathan Boone headed a command of Dragoons that left Fort Gibson
May 14, 1843, and followed an interesting route over the Santa Fe Trail
and through the country west of this post in order to afford protection
to traders from Texas. The Dragoons continued to police the West until
this service was interrupted by the Mexican War, in which it
distinguished itself in several important battles.

Frequent reports came to Fort Gibson of the hostilities of the Plains
Indians against the people of Texas, along with rumors that the Mexicans
were aiding and abetting them. Requests were made for the authorities at
Fort Gibson to aid in making peace with these Indians on both sides of
the Red River. The Secretary of War directed this to be done and in
March, 1843, Cherokee Agent Pierce Butler left the post, and with an
escort attended a council on Tawakoni Creek in Texas, where, however,
nothing definite was accomplished. Another effort was made in the fall
when Butler was accompanied by eighty men commanded by Colonel Harney.
Again the Indians were elusive and non-committal. The next summer in
1844, another effort was made when Captain Nathan Boone, with a company
of the First Dragoons, left the post September 25 and went to the
rendezvous in Texas; but the Indians had left when Boone arrived and he
returned to Fort Gibson unsuccessful, after an absence of six weeks. A
fourth attempt was made when in January, 1846, Governor Butler departed
from Fort Gibson with a large company of civilian hunters and
adventurers and representatives of the Creek, Cherokee, Chickasaw, and
Seminole tribes. Butler was finally successful, and on May 15, 1846, at
Council Springs, Texas, negotiated a treaty of peace with the Comanche,
Anadarko, Caddo, Wichita, Waco, and other western tribes that brought a
sense of security to the frontier settlers of Texas.

Officers and men went from Fort Gibson to take their places in the war
with Mexico; the veteran commander Colonel Gustavus Loomis was the last
high ranking officer to leave, when he departed in February, 1848, for
his post in Mexico City. After that many war veterans who had seen
service in Mexico became part of the military establishment at Fort

Captain Braxton Bragg, who was to become a celebrated commander in the
Confederate Army, arrived at Fort Gibson from St. Louis on October 31,
1853, at the head of Company C of the Third Artillery and assumed
command of the post, which he retained until June 20 of the following

Indian hostilities were harassing a large extent of the surrounding
country and Colonel Pitcairn Morrison was ordered out from Fort Gibson
with three companies of the Seventh Infantry, numbering 235 officers and
men. They left in June and went out over the Santa Fe Trail in Kansas to
Fort Mann and Bent’s Fort, where Morrison held councils with the chiefs
of the Kiowa, Comanche, Arapaho, Apache, and Cheyenne Indians. He then
returned and arrived at Fort Gibson October 15. And so the policing of
the western country from Fort Gibson went on and on.

Soon after Morrison’s return, the post entertained the Second Cavalry
just created by Congress, which was on its way to Fort Belknap, its
station in Texas, to police that country against the Indians. They left
Jefferson Barracks near St. Louis October 27, 1855, and a month later
arrived at Fort Gibson, where they remained a few days to shoe their
horses and give them a much needed rest. This regiment was commanded by
Colonel Albert Sidney Johnston; other officers of the regiment were
Colonel E. V. Sumner, Colonel J. E. Johnston, Colonel W. H. Emory, Delos
B. Sackett, J. E. B. Stuart, and other men who became known to history.
Colonel Robert E. Lee was second in command of the regiment, George H.
Thomas was a major, Edmund Kirby Smith was a captain, and John B. Hood a

After the Mexican War the First Dragoons continued as regulators of the
wild Indians throughout the West. On August 3, 1861, its designation was
changed to the First United States Cavalry, and it served with
distinction during the Civil War. For the next seventy-one years this
veteran organization maintained its fine traditions. Less than two years
ago, after a hundred years of service in the saddle, this organization
ceased to exist as a mounted regiment and was removed by gas power from
Marfa, Texas to Fort Knox, Kentucky.

Fort Gibson was a haven of refuge for many classes of people. When the
emigration of the Creeks began in 1828 the first arrivals settled on the
Verdigris and Arkansas rivers near the fort to enjoy the protection it
afforded against the wild Indians occupying their lands to the west.

In 1836 the remainder of the Creek Indians were forcibly removed from
their homes in Alabama. After appalling suffering and many deaths on the
way, their conductor brought them to Fort Gibson. Ten thousand of them,
cold, destitute, and broken spirited, were encamped through the winter
around the fort where they were given food enough to sustain life until
spring, when they could be removed to the land intended for them. Later,
when the Seminole Indians were brought as prisoners from their old home
in Florida, they were landed from the boats at Fort Gibson. Several
thousand of them were established in camps in this locality where
rations were issued to them; some of them remained several years before
they could be induced to remove to the lands intended for them. At one
time a few hundred Seminole Negroes were located at the same place. They
had surrendered to General Jesup in Florida, and claimed that they had
been promised emancipation in return for their surrender. Some of the
wealthier Seminoles claimed them as slaves, and they were retained in
the custody of the garrison while their status was being investigated
and determined by the authorities in Washington. They were employed in
1845 and 1846 in the construction of the stone buildings at the fort.

Some of the Creek immigrants who had ventured to locate on their lands
in the more remote part of their country near the present site of
Holdenville, in 1843 became involved with a band of Wichita Indians,
four of whom were killed by the Creeks. A call for help was sent in to
the settlements and a general alarm spread over the Creek country. The
Creeks became panic stricken, and women and children came flocking into
Fort Gibson. The Creek agent and some of the traders on the Verdigris
also rushed to the post for protection. Captain Boone was sent with his
company to the mouth of Little River and returned a week later with the
report that the alarm was unfounded.

Fort Gibson was employed also as a base for the establishment of other
garrisons; thus in 1833 Fort Smith was temporarily re-established by a
detachment of the Seventh Infantry from Fort Gibson commanded by Captain
John Stuart. Two years later this detachment was again removed up the
river thirteen miles to make Fort Coffee, to which point a road was
constructed from Fort Gibson. In 1838 they were removed from Fort Coffee
to create, near the Arkansas line, an establishment called Fort Wayne,
another subsidiary to Fort Gibson. In the summer of 1834, under the
direction of General Leavenworth, Camp Arbuckle at the mouth of the
Cimarron River and Fort Holmes at the mouth of Little River were
established, and the necessary buildings erected by detachments of the
Seventh Infantry sent out from Fort Gibson.

In the spring of 1841 a detachment from Fort Gibson commanded by Captain
B. D. Moore was dispatched to select a location for a fort on the
Washita River; it was visited the next year by General Zachary Taylor
who approved the site for the fort, which he named Fort Washita.

Details from Fort Gibson were engaged also in the construction of a
number of important roads; thus in 1826 Captain Pierce M. Butler and
Lieutenant James L. Dawson surveyed a military road from Fort Gibson to
Fort Smith, the first planned road construction within the limits of the
present Oklahoma. Other details built the road from the post to the site
of Camp Arbuckle at the mouth of the Cimarron, and another to the mouth
of the Washita River.

The unhealthful location of Fort Gibson and the appalling death rate
there resulted in ceaseless agitation for the abandonment of the old log
fort and the removal of the garrison to a more healthful situation. The
people of Arkansas had never given up hope that the garrison might be
returned to them. When they were admitted into the Union in 1836 they
had sufficient influence to secure the passage of a bill by Congress
providing for the removal of the post to that new state. A commission of
army officers was appointed to select a new site but they definitely
reported against the wisdom of changing the location of the fort which,
they said, was greatly needed where it was; but they said that if it
were to be removed, the site selected should be at Fort Coffee, still
within the limits of the Indian Territory, about thirteen miles up the
Arkansas River from Fort Smith. As this did not meet the wishes of the
people of Arkansas the matter was dropped.

It was necessary to make constant repairs on the decaying buildings; in
1843 a sawmill was set up at the post for cutting lumber with which to
do this work, and a contract was let to Thomas Rogers for the delivery
there of 2,000 pine logs which he was to cut on the Spavinaw and float
down Grand River.

An order was made the next summer requiring all troops to appear on all
parades and drills in white trousers, and in white jackets on all
drills. First fatigue call was to be at 5:30 in the morning and guard
mount an hour and a half later.

Continued agitation for the construction of more substantial quarters
for the garrison resulted in an appropriation by Congress, and on July
17, 1845, General Thomas S. Jesup, quartermaster of the army, arrived at
Fort Gibson to direct the construction of new buildings of stone on the
hill above, and on the slope between it and the old log fort. Work on
the new structures was soon started and by March 1846, a barracks for
two companies had progressed above the second floor and timbers for both
floors and piazzas were laid.

When the work had reached this stage it was stopped by the burning of
the saw mill at the fort with the loss of mill, lumber, and tools. By
1855, the only building completed was the commissary, which is to be
seen across the present street from the barracks. The walls of the
partially constructed barracks stood for more than ten years, and still
marked the unfinished plans of the army when the post was abandoned. The
other structures of the fort at that time were principally log barracks,
although a substantial number of those originally standing had been
destroyed by a disastrous fire in December 1854.

The Cherokee people had been agitating for several years for the removal
of Fort Gibson from their country in order that they might enjoy the use
of the boat landing which was claimed to be the only good landing place
giving access to the interior of the Cherokee Nation. Their argument was
strengthened by the fact that, as the frontier had advanced, newer forts
had supplanted Fort Gibson in usefulness and strategic location.

The Cherokees were finally successful; the order to abandon the fort was
issued June 8, 1857, and within the month was substantially executed.
The fort and reservation were turned over to the Cherokee Nation, and
the Cherokee Council, on November 6, 1857, passed an act creating the
town of Kee-too-wah upon what had been the military reservation, and
provided for the sale to Cherokee citizens of lots therein.

The Civil War brought further changes to the old fort. For a time in
possession of the Confederate Army, it was afterwards regained by the
Union side and on April 5, 1863, the whole hill was reoccupied by three
Cherokee regiments, four companies of Kansas cavalry, and Hopkins’
Battery of Volunteers, an aggregate of 3,150 men, with four field pieces
and two mountain howitzers.

A main works embraced fifteen to twenty acres with angles and facings;
from this extended a line of earthworks about a quarter of a mile in
length, the whole defense being considered strong enough to resist a
force of 20,000 men. To this work was, for a time, given the name of
Fort Blunt, in compliment to Major General James G. Blunt, then
commanding the district of the frontier.

General Blunt had made a forced march from Kansas to Fort Gibson and on
the night of July 16, 1863, crossed the Arkansas River, proceeded down
the Texas Road, and the next morning attacked the Confederate command
under General Douglas H. Cooper at Honey Springs, near the site of the
present Oktaha, south of Muskogee. By this engagement, the most
important battle in the Indian Territory during the war, the Union
forces succeeded in preventing a union of Cooper’s forces with those of
General William L. Cabell, coming from Fort Smith, and the probable
recapture of Fort Gibson by the Confederates.

After this battle the strength of Fort Gibson was increased until on
July 31 it aggregated 5,204, and on August 31 there were 6,014 troops at
the garrison, with eighteen field pieces. Being the most important
fortified point in the Territory, it served as headquarters for the
military operations in this region during the remainder of the Civil War
and played a conspicuous part in strengthening the hands of the loyal
elements among the tribes. The name of Blunt was officially attached to
the post until December 31, 1863, when it was dropped in favor of the
old name, Fort Gibson.

After the Union forces took possession of the fort it was surrounded by
several thousand destitute Indian and Negro refugees who remained there
for protection and for the food that was issued to them in small
quantities. The multitude of people thus congregated presented a problem
to the commandant. Some of them put in small crops under the protection
of the guns of the fort; they would have gone farther away to their
homes but for the fear that they would be raided by predatory bands from
both sides, ranging over the country.

A detachment of regular troops from the first battalion of the Tenth
United States Infantry in command of Major James M. Mulligan, on
February 17, 1866, relieved the Sixty-second Illinois Volunteers then
constituting the garrison. The post remained garrisoned under the name
of Fort Gibson by four companies of the Sixth Infantry until September
30, 1871; it was then vacated by the command under General W. B. Hazen
and broken up as a military post; there was left only a guard composed
of a small detachment of the Sixth Infantry for the quartermaster’s
department, which temporarily occupied the post as a depot for such
transportation and other facilities as were necessary to enable
paymasters and other officers to communicate with Fort Sill.

Beginning with that of 1811, nearly all the classes of the United States
Military Academy at West Point were represented among the more than one
hundred graduates who were stationed at Fort Gibson from time to time
prior to the Civil War. Every class after 1819 had from three to ten
graduates who served in later years at that famous post. Many graduates
were sent from West Point direct to Fort Gibson to get their first taste
of army life and frontier experience. Eight of the class of 1842 came
for their frontier service to this fort from whence they were engaged in
protecting the Santa Fe traders.

Except for short intervals, General Arbuckle commanded at Fort Gibson
for 17 years until 1841 when, because of the dilapidated condition of
the buildings there, he removed his department headquarters (but not the
garrison), to Fort Smith. Soon afterward the command was given to
General Zachary Taylor. When Taylor departed for service in Mexico,
Arbuckle was returned to the command of Fort Gibson and remained there
through the years of trouble and turmoil of his Indian neighbors of the
Cherokee Nation, with whom he was more or less involved.

Fort Gibson was garrisoned by detachments of the Seventh Infantry from
its inception in 1824 to February 7, 1839, when the troops left for
service in Florida and were replaced by the Fourth Infantry that had
arrived the day before, after a long, weary march from that remote
Seminole battleground. For a time three companies of the Third Infantry
served at the fort until the spring of 1840. The next year General
Arbuckle was relieved of his command and it was transferred for a time
to Colonel Alexander Cummings of the Fourth Infantry.

In 1843 the post was garrisoned by three troops of Dragoons and four
companies of the Sixth Infantry under the command of Colonel William
Davenport. Another well-known officer who was in command of the post in
1850 was General W. G. Belknap of the Fifth Infantry. Belknap and
Arbuckle died in 1851.

The conclusion of the Civil War returned Fort Gibson to the unimportant
status to which it was reduced by its abandonment in 1857. For years,
however, the large number of substantial buildings of the post were
found useful from time to time. It was reoccupied in July, 1872, by two
companies of the Tenth Cavalry under Colonel Benjamin H. Grierson who
was sent there to cope with the lawless element attracted by the
movement of the railroad camps engaged in building the Missouri, Kansas,
and Texas Railroad from the Kansas line to the Red River.

After the brief stay of the Tenth Cavalry a company of the Sixth Cavalry
and a detachment of the Fifth Infantry were assigned to the post to help
police the country, with Lieutenant Thomas M. Woodruff of the Fifth
Infantry in command. They were mainly occupied in aiding the Cherokee
agent in resisting the encroachment of intruding white men unlawfully
seeking to settle in the Cherokee Nation. In order to maintain
communication with the outside world a telegraph line was constructed to
the fort from the railroad at Gibson Station. Men engaged in cutting
poles for the line were crossing the Grand River on a ferry flatboat on
April 20, 1874, when in the middle of the river, by awkward handling of
the front guy rope, the boat was allowed to swing broadside to the
current; this caused it to fill with water and sink. As a result six
soldiers of the Fifth Infantry and the Sixth Cavalry and one civilian

Later, in 1879, a detachment of the Twenty-second Infantry under the
command of Major A. S. Hough was stationed at the post endeavoring to
aid the civilian authorities in suppressing a gang of forty or fifty
thieves and desperadoes that had been plundering and terrorizing the
country, particularly in the Chickasaw Nation and on the Potawatomi
reservation. To this duty Hough had been ordered by General Sheridan.

During the Creek trouble of 1883, called the Green Peach War, part of
the Twentieth Infantry was stationed at Fort Gibson and detachments were
sent out to Muskogee, Eufaula, and Okmulgee to police the country. One
detachment went to the Sac and Fox agency and captured several hundred
Creeks who were brought to Fort Gibson where they were detained for a
time and given protection from the hostile faction. The Adjutant General
on August 22, 1890, issued a final order for the abandonment of the
fort, directing the withdrawal of the troops and disposition of the
public property there. In 1899, when the little disturbance greatly
exaggerated by the name of the “Snake Uprising” caused some discussion,
a company of the Ninth Infantry was for a short time stationed at the
old post.

For a number of years the Cherokee agency was conducted at Fort Gibson,
first by Montford Stokes, former governor of North Carolina, and by his
successor, Pierce M. Butler, former governor of South Carolina, who left
Fort Gibson to return to his home and organize the Palmetto Regiment
which he was commanding in the Mexican War when he was killed August 20,
1847, at Churubusco.

Even after the removal of the agency the old fort was the scene of
amazing activities during some of the payments to the Cherokees, notably
the payment of 1852 and that of 1894. These were festive occasions when
there were nearly as many white men as Indians, come to take what
advantage they might from the large amount of currency in circulation.
Many of them were creditors of the Indians who had come to collect their
dues; others were vendors of every conceivable sort of merchandise
calculated to tempt the Indians to part with their suddenly acquired
wealth. The payment of over a million dollars in 1894 was made in the
old barracks building. The money was piled on a table in front of the
clerks, while a dozen armed Indians stood guard on either side, and the
Indians came up as their names were called and received their shares.

Among the many interesting visitors to Fort Gibson was the picturesque
Sam Houston, who came in 1829 and established himself about three miles
northwest of the post at a place which he called Wigwam Neosho. Here he
was in close touch with the fort, the Creek agency, and the trading post
on the Verdigris River an equal distance to the northwest, where he
carried on his intrigues with the Indians, and drank and played poker
with the army officers and traders. There he lived and enjoyed the
solace of his pretty Cherokee companion, Diana Rogers, until 1832 when
he left for his adventures in Texas. It may have been in a measure the
recollection of Houston and his companionship that later influenced the
movement of troops from Fort Gibson for the relief of beleaguered

One officer of outstanding interest who served at Fort Gibson was the
Frenchman, B. L. E. Bonneville of the Seventh Infantry. In 1824, while
he was a lieutenant, he secured a leave of absence and as secretary
accompanied General Lafayette to France after his triumphal tour of the
United States. Eight years later he secured another leave and made a
protracted expedition in the Rocky Mountains. He kept voluminous notes
of his experiences, which were purchased by Washington Irving who made
them into the fascinating book, The Adventures of Captain Bonneville.

In 1888 Colonel J. J. Coppinger of the Eighteenth Infantry was in
command at Fort Gibson, and in March made an inventory of the buildings
at the post together with a general description of them. He reported
seven stone buildings and ten frame, nearly all large, substantial
buildings which ranged in condition from fair to good.

These buildings fell into private ownership and most of them were razed
for the material that was in them. Four of the stone buildings are
standing. The barracks was originally 23 by 154 feet in size, containing
ten rooms for the accommodation of two companies of Infantry. The north
half of this building was torn down and the material used in the
construction of a house.

The Oklahoma Historical Society purchased the remaining south half of
the barracks building, the stone ammunition building, and the great
brick oven, together with the land on which they stand. Considerable
money was expended in the restoration of these buildings, and the
barracks building is now occupied by a custodian and his family who will
show the place to visitors. The most picturesque exhibit at Fort Gibson
is the reconstructed log stockade built on the site of the first log
fort. This work was directed by a commission created by the State of

The best-preserved relic of the old fort is the commanding officer’s
residence, facing what was the parade ground of the fort. Colonel
William Babcock Hazen came to command the fort in January 1871. He
brought there his bride who, as his widow, was later to become the wife
of the Spanish-American hero, Admiral George Dewey. Lieutenant Colonel
John Joseph Coppinger, commandant of the fort, occupied the building in
1886 with his family. James G. Blaine, father of Mrs. Coppinger, visited
his daughter in this residence and was confined there at one time by
illness. The cornerstone of the building bears the inscription: “Erected
A. D. 1867, A. S. Kimball, Capt. A. Q. M. U. S.”

The story of Fort Gibson is an epic of the prairies; a tale of the
winning of the great Southwest; an account of the conquest of the fleet
warriors of the plains; a narrative of the security of trade and contact
with old Santa Fe and California. Fort Gibson saw the beginning and the
end of the keelboat and the whole career of the river steamboat.

Unknown to the present generation, the old fort and the few relics of
that venerable establishment that have escaped the hand of the vandal
should still have a claim on our consideration. Around them cluster
associations with the past and reminders of early attempts at the
civilization of this western country. The activities of this frontier
post, the toil and hardship, sickness and death endured there, the
picturesqueness of its population, the pageantry of its activities and
functions—all these are calculated to stir the imagination of the
beholder and stimulate in him an interest in the fascinating history of
this country.

                               APPENDIX I
                          _National Cemetery_

There were several small cemeteries around Fort Gibson in which the dead
were buried from the earliest days of the fort. The number of interments
was increased to such an extent during the Civil War that more space was
required, and in 1869 the National Cemetery was established on land that
was originally part of the military reservation of Fort Gibson. After
the abandonment of the fort, the reservation was transferred to the
Department of the Interior on February 11, 1891, a parcel of seven acres
being reserved for cemeterial purposes.

On August 6, 1872, William W. Belknap, Secretary of War, gave
instructions to have the remains of his father, General William
Goldsmith Belknap, removed from Fort Washita, where they were interred
in 1851, to the cemetery at Keokuk, Iowa, the home of the Secretary. At
the same time he directed the quartermaster general to arrange for the
removal of the remains of other soldiers and their families found at
Fort Washita, Fort Towson and Fort Arbuckle, to the National Cemetery at
Fort Gibson. Bids were advertised for, and a contract was let to P. J.
Byrne of Fort Gibson, who succeeded in removing the remains of forty-six
persons in 1872; only two of them, however, were definitely known to be
soldiers. Owing to the careless manner in which the men who served at
these remote posts had been buried, and the fact that fires had been
permitted to run through the cemeteries and burn off all wooden
headboards, and the difficulty of finding other marks of identification
in the graves, or indeed, of finding the remains and the boxes
containing them in such condition that they could be removed at all,
instructions were given to abandon further removal. However, information
was later acquired of forty-six additional graves at Fort Washita:
fifty-four at Fort Arbuckle, and eighteen at Big Sandy Creek on the Fort
Smith and Fort Arbuckle road. Efforts were then renewed, and another
contractor undertook to remove the remains to the Fort Gibson National
Cemetery but this effort proved abortive also.

In 1873 it was reported to the office of the Adjutant General at
Washington that the bodies of one hundred and twenty-five soldiers
killed in the Battle of the Washita were buried on that battlefield.
This again stimulated interest in the subject of removal, and the
visitor will see in the Officers’ Circle in the National Cemetery the
grave of Major Joel H. Elliott of the Seventh Infantry, killed on
November 27, 1868, at the Battle of the Washita.

The removal of remains from all these burial places was attended with
much difficulty because of the lack of identifying marks. It was
impossible to determine whether they were removing soldiers or
civilians, and the whole undertaking was attended with much confusion.
It appeared that during the Civil War a large number of Confederates
died and were buried near Fort Washita. The correspondence relating to
the subject would indicate that removal of the dead from this cemetery
was limited to those known to have been in the service of the Union
Army, and the Confederate dead were probably not disturbed.

The result was summarized in a report of December 31, 1893, which
accounted for graves in the National Cemetery at Fort Gibson, of 231
known to be soldiers and 2,212 whose identity and service were unknown.
Of the comparatively few who are identified by inscriptions on
monuments, the greatest number are to be seen within what is known as
the Officers’ Circle. Among these is Flora, the young Cherokee wife of
Lieutenant Daniel H. Rucker, who died at Fort Gibson June 26, 1845. Her
husband survived her to become in later years Quartermaster General of
the United States Army. John Decatur, brother of Stephen Decatur, died
on November 12, 1832, while a sutler at Fort Gibson. Lieutenant John W.
Murray of the West Point Class of 1830, of the Seventh Infantry, was
killed on February 14, 1831, by being thrown from his horse. Murray’s
classmate, Lieutenant James West, died at Fort Gibson on September 28,

On May 27, 1831, Lieutenant Frederick Thomas of the Seventh Infantry, a
West Point graduate of 1825, was drowned in the Arkansas River. His
classmate, Lieutenant Benjamin W. Kinsman, also of the Seventh Infantry,
died May 14, 1832. Lieutenant Thomas C. Brockway, a graduate of West
Point of the class of 1828, died at Fort Gibson, September 28, 1831.
Among those removed from Fort Towson were West Point graduates of the
class of 1826, Lieutenants Charles L. C. Minor and Alexander G. Baldwin,
both of the Fifth Infantry, who died at Fort Towson in 1833 and 1835
respectively, and Lieutenant James H. Taylor of the Third Infantry, who
was drowned near Fort Towson in the Cositot River, in 1835. Also in the
Officers’ Circle is the monument of Captain Billy Bowlegs, the
celebrated Seminole warrior, who served in the Union Army and died
during the Civil War, and who is buried in another part of the cemetery.

General John Nicks (also buried in this cemetery) acquired his title
from the appointment, by the Governor of Arkansas Territory, as
commanding general of the Arkansas militia. He was later sutler at Fort
Gibson, where he died December 31, 1831. He was survived by his widow,
Sallie Nicks, who continued to “sutle” at the post. Sallie was a popular
young widow whose charms were enhanced by the fact that the estate left
by the General was valued at $20,000. When Washington Irving visited the
post in 1832, he recorded in his notebook that several of the officers
at the post paid court to her, and the quartermaster serenaded her so
often and so vigorously that he disturbed the sleep of others, and made
himself a good deal of a nuisance in the post. According to Irving,
General William Clark and Colonel Arbuckle were both fascinated by the
young widow, and a civilian named Lewis paid such ardent court that all
of the officers united against him.

Sutlers were licensed to do business in the post, and there was
considerable rivalry for the privilege, as the profits were tempting. At
one time Sam Houston was an aspirant for the position of sutler at Fort
Gibson. During his absence in the East on a political mission, he heard
that General Nicks was to be removed from his post as sutler, and on his
way back to Fort Gibson he wrote a letter to the Secretary of War,
making application for the post. Houston was returning with a keelboat
load of supplies for Wigwam Neosho, his little store northwest of Fort
Gibson. They included nine barrels of whiskey, brandy, gin, rum, wine
and other goods with which he meant to stock the sutler’s store he
intended to take over if Nick’s removal should pave the way for his
appointment. However, after arriving at Fort Gibson and learning of the
gossip said to have emanated from Washington concerning him, he
indignantly withdrew his application with an excoriating letter to the
Secretary of War, obviously written while he was drunk.

To one who wonders what care the soldiers at Fort Gibson took of their
personal appearance, a long inventory of merchandise in the sutler’s
store at Fort Gibson in 1845 will be illuminating. The following is
about one-sixth of the total list. It was submitted to the commandant
for the purpose of establishing the prices at which these articles might
be sold to the soldiers:

Cigars, shaving boxes, round shaving soap, transparent soap, flotant
soap, chrystalline wash balls, whisker pomatum, spontaneous compound,
oleophane, bear’s oil, philocome, fancy soap, perfume boxes, fancy
cologne water, round cologne water, farina cologne water, prevost
cologne water, red and white powder, sweeping brush, clamp brush, horse
brush, shoe brush, counter brush, hat brush, hair brush, wall brush,
cloth brush, shaving brush, teeth brush, ivory brush, nail brush, violin
strings, razor strops, mirrors, shirt butts, cotton purses, silk purses,
pencil cases, whalebone, suspenders, snuff boxes, necklaces, fishing
lines, guard chains, flasks, thimbles, court plaisters, hooks and eyes,
silk guards, pocket combs, English combs, dressing combs.

                              APPENDIX II

List of officers who commanded at Fort Gibson, with beginning date of
service; graduates of United States Military Academy, West Point, are
indicated by year of graduation following name. Names of temporary
commanding officers are indented.

                                                      From                To
  Colonel Matthew Arbuckle, 7th Infantry         Apr. 1824      Feb. 6, 1839
  Major Alex Cummings, 7th Infantry          Apr. 24, 1825         Aug. 1825
  Lieutenant Colonel James B. Many, 7th          Aug. 1825     Sept. 6, 1825
  Captain John Philbrick, 7th Infantry          Sept. 1825         Oct. 1825
  Captain Benjamin L. E. Bonneville, 7th         Apr. 1828          May 1828
    Infantry, 1815
  Captain N. G. Wilkinson, 7th Infantry       Feb. 6, 1829     Apr. 20, 1829
  Captain N. G. Wilkinson, 7th Infantry      Mar. 26, 1830     Apr. 23, 1830
  Captain N. G. Wilkinson, 7th Infantry       Oct. 14,1830         Nov. 1830
  Lieutenant Colonel J. B. Many, 7th          Feb. 1, 1832      July 7, 1832
  Lieutenant Colonel J. B. Many, 7th          May 15, 1834    Sept. 30, 1834
  Major Sullivan Burbank, 7th Infantry        Oct. 1, 1834      Nov. 4, 1834
  Lieutenant Colonel William Whistler,        Aug. 6, 1835    Sept. 10, 1835
    7th Infantry
  Lieutenant Colonel William Whistler,       Apr. 20, 1836       May 5, 1836
    7th Infantry
  Lieutenant Colonel William Whistler,        May 11, 1837    Sept. 13, 1837
    7th Infantry
  Major C. Wharton, 1st Dragoons            Sept. 14, 1837     Oct. 23, 1837
  Major J. S. McIntosh, 7th Infantry         June 15, 1838         Aug. 1838
  Captain E. S. Hawkins, 7th Infantry            Aug. 1838        Sept. 1838
  Major J. S. McIntosh, 7th Infantry            Sept. 1838     Jan. 28, 1839
  Lieutenant Colonel William Whistler,       Jan. 29, 1839      Feb. 6, 1839
    7th Infantry
  Major Bennett Riley, 4th Infantry           Feb. 7, 1839         Apr. 1839
  Colonel Enos Cutler, 4th Infantry              Apr. 1839         Jan. 1840
  Major B. Riley, 4th Infantry               June 21, 1839     Jan. 17, 1840
  Colonel & Brevet Brigadier General M.      Jan. 18, 1840      Feb. 4, 1840
    Arbuckle, 7th Infantry
  Colonel Alexander Cummings, 4th                Jan. 1840         Aug. 1841
  Major Clifton Wharton, 1st Dragoons         Feb. 6, 1840     Feb. 16, 1840
  Lieutenant Colonel Riley, 2nd Infantry     Feb. 17, 1840     Feb. 24, 1840
  Major C. Wharton                           Feb. 25, 1840      Mar. 3, 1840
  Colonel & Brevet Brigadier General         Apr. 10, 1841       May 7, 1841
  Lieutenant Colonel J. Garland, 4th          May 27, 1841     June 19, 1841
  Lieutenant Colonel R. B. Mason, 1st        June 20, 1841         Aug. 1841
  Lieutenant Colonel R. B. Mason, 1st            Aug. 1841     Apr. 28, 1842
  Colonel S. W. Kearney, 1st Dragoons        Apr. 29, 1842      July 3, 1842
  Lieutenant Colonel R. B. Mason, 1st         July 4, 1842      Oct. 7, 1842
  Captain Jacob Brown, 6th Infantry           Oct. 8, 1842     Jan. 16, 1843
  Major Clifton Wharton, 1st Dragoons        Jan. 17, 1843     Jan. 31, 1843
  Colonel William Davenport, 6th Infantry     Feb. 1, 1843    Sept. 17, 1843
  Lieutenant Colonel R. B. Mason, 1st       Sept. 18, 1843     Dec. 17, 1843
  Captain W. S. Ketchum, 6th Infantry       Sept. 20, 1843    Sept. 26, 1843
  Captain N. Boone, 1st Dragoons            Sept. 27, 1843     Dec. 17, 1843
  Lieutenant Colonel Gustavus Loomis, 6th    Dec. 18, 1843     June 19, 1844
    Infantry, 1811
  Lieutenant Colonel R. B. Mason, 1st        June 20, 1844     Feb. 27, 1846
  Captain Nathan Boone, 1st Dragoons          May 30, 1845     Aug. 13, 1845
  Captain Albemarle Cady, 6th Infantry,      Feb. 26, 1846     Mar. 27, 1846
  Lieutenant Colonel Gustavus Loomis, 6th    Mar. 28, 1846     Feb. 24, 1848
    Infantry, 1811
  Captain A. Cady, 1829                      Apr. 30, 1846      May 26, 1846
  Major B. L. E. Bonneville, 6th Infantry    Feb. 26, 1848      Nov. 4, 1848
  Captain E. Steen, 1st Dragoons             June 16, 1848     July 25, 1848
  Captain William S. Ketchum, 6th            July 26, 1848      Nov. 4, 1848
  Major Dixon S. Miles, 5th Infantry,         Nov. 5, 1848     Dec. 18, 1848
  Captain C. L. Stevenson, 5th Infantry,      Dec. 1, 1848     Dec. 18, 1848
  Lieutenant Colonel & Brevet Brigadier      Dec. 19, 1848      May 14, 1851
    General William G. Belknap, 5th
  Captain Isaac Lynde, 5th Infantry, 1827     Dec. 8, 1849      Jan. 6, 1850
  Captain Isaac Lynde, 5th Infantry, 1827    Feb. 22, 1850     Mar. 17, 1850
  Captain Isaac Lynde, 5th Infantry, 1827     May 12, 1850      June 8, 1850
  Captain William Chapman, 5th Infantry,      June 9, 1850     July 16, 1850
  Major Henry Bainbridge, 7th Infantry,       May 15, 1851     July 26, 1851
  Captain Henry Little, 7th Infantry          July 5, 1851     July 26, 1851
  Major George Andrews, 7th infantry         July 27, 1851      Oct. 5, 1852
  Captain Henry Little, 7th Infantry          Oct. 6, 1852     Oct. 30, 1853
  Captain Charles H. Humber, 7th             Jan. 15, 1853     July 27, 1853
    Infantry, 1840
  Captain Braxton Bragg, 3rd Artillery,      Oct. 31, 1853      Dec. 1, 1853
  Lieutenant Colonel Pitcairn Morrison,       Dec. 2, 1853       May 7, 1855
    7th Infantry
  Colonel Henry Wilson, 7th Infantry           May 8, 1855     June 22, 1857
  Captain Henry Little, 7th Infantry         Feb. 16, 1856      Apr. 2, 1856
  Lieutenant Colonel P. Morrison, 7th         Apr. 3, 1856     June 21, 1856
  Captain Henry Little, 7th Infantry          May 21, 1857     June 22, 1857
  Lieutenant W. L. Cabell, 7th Infantry,     June 23, 1857        Sept. 1857
    A. Q. M., 1850
  Colonel William A. Phillips, 3rd Indian    Apr. 14, 1863         June 1863
    Home Guards
  Major General James G. Blunt,                   July 1863
  Colonel Wm. A. Phillips, 3rd Indian            Nov. 1863         July 1864
    Home Guards
  Colonel Stephen H. Wattles, Hq. Indian          Aug. 1864
  Colonel James M. Williams, Frontier            Sept. 1864
    Div. (Hq. 2d Brig.) 7th Army Corps
  Colonel Wattles                               Sept. 1864         Nov. 1864
  Colonel Phillips                               Dec. 1864         Mar. 1865
  Major General James G. Blunt                     May 1865
  Brevet Brigadier General John Ritchie,      May 11, 1865     June 15, 1865
    3rd Indian Home Guards
  Major General Blunt                         May 11, 1865     June 15, 1865
  Colonel John A. Garrett, 40th Iowa         June 15, 1865      Aug. 3, 1865
  Lieutenant Colonel Lewis C. True, 62nd      Aug. 4, 1865         Nov. 1865
    Illinois Volunteers
  Captain E. M. Jordan, 62nd Illinois            Nov. 1865         Dec. 1865
  Lieutenant Colonel Lewis C. True, 62nd         Jan. 1866     Feb. 17, 1866
    Illinois Volunteers
  Captain James B. Mulligan, 18th            Feb. 18, 1866      Mar. 1, 1866
  Major Pinkney, Lugenbeel, 18th              Mar. 1, 1866          May 1867
    Infantry, 1840
  Captain Robert Ayres, 19th Infantry             May 1867     June 19, 1867
  Captain M. Bryant, 6th Infantry            June 20, 1867      Nov. 3, 1867
  Colonel DeL. Floyd-Jones, 6th Infantry,     Nov. 4, 1867          May 1868
  Captain M. Bryant, 6th Infantry            Jan. 20, 1868       May 1, 1868
  Captain M. Bryant, 6th Infantry                 May 1868     Feb. 26, 1869
  Colonel DeL. Floyd-Jones, 6th Infantry,    Feb. 27, 1869         Apr. 1869
  Lieutenant Colonel Daniel Huston, Jr.,     Apr. 24, 1869     Jan. 29, 1871
    6th Infantry, 1848
  Captain Jeremiah P. Schindel, 6th           Aug. 8, 1869    Sept. 25, 1869
  Captain Jeremiah P. Schindel, 6th          Oct. 27, 1869     Nov. 20, 1869
  Lieutenant Jacob F. Munson, 6th            Aug. 22, 1870     Sept. 4, 1870
  Colonel William B. Hazen, 6th Infantry,    Jan. 30, 1871    Sept. 30, 1871
  Captain Jeremiah P Schindel                July 26, 1871     Aug. 29, 1871
  Captain William W. Sanders, 6th            Aug. 30, 1871     Sept. 3, 1871
  Post re-established G. O. 1,
    Headquarters, Fort Gibson, July 31,
  Colonel Benjamin H. Grierson, 10th         July 31, 1872      Jan. 5, 1873
  Captain Gaines Lawson, 25th Infantry       Oct. 29, 1872     Nov. 11, 1872
  Captain Gaines Lawson, 25th Infantry        Jan. 5, 1873     Feb. 23, 1873
  Lieutenant Colonel J. W. Davidson, 10th    Feb. 24, 1873     Apr. 20, 1873
    Cavalry, 1845
  Captain John J. Upham, 6th Cavalry,        Apr. 21, 1873     Sept. 6, 1873
  Captain Andrew S. Bennett, 5th Infantry    June 30, 1873      July 5, 1873
  Lieutenant Colonel Thomas H. Neill, 6th    Sept. 7, 1873      Aug. 6, 1874
    Cavalry, 1847
  Lieutenant Thomas M. Woodruff, 5th          Aug. 7, 1874     Sept. 7, 1875
    Infantry, 1871
  Major J. J. Upham, 5th Cavalry             Sept. 8, 1875      June 6, 1876
  Lieutenant Edward L. Randall, 5th           June 7, 1876     July 14, 1876
  Captain Edmond Butler, 5th Infantry         July 15,1876      Aug. 6, 1876
  Lieutenant George McDermott, 5th            Aug. 7, 1876     Oct. 18, 1876
  Lieutenant Lewis Smith, 3rd Artillery      Oct. 19, 1876     Dec. 26, 1876
  Captain R. I. Eskridge, 23rd Infantry      Dec. 27, 1876     June 14, 1877
  Captain Caleb Rodney Layton, 16th          June 15, 1877      May 18, 1879
  Major A. L. Hough, 22d Infantry             May 19, 1879      Oct. 3, 1879
  Captain C. J. Dickey, 22d Infantry         July 29, 1879      Aug. 5, 1879
  Second Lieutenant John G. Ballance, 22d     Oct. 4, 1879     Jan. 31, 1880
    Infantry, 1875
  Second Lieutenant John Newton, 16th         Feb. 1, 1880      Mar. 5, 1880
  Captain Hugh A. Theaker, 16th Infantry      Mar. 6, 1880     Mar. 28, 1880
  Second Lieutenant W. A. Nichols, 23rd          Oct. 1880     Nov. 13, 1880
  Major R. H. Offley, 19th Infantry          Nov. 14, 1880      Nov. 1, 1881
  Lieutenant Thomas M. Winie, 19th           Apr. 25, 1881      May 10, 1881
  Lieutenant John G. Leete, 19th Infantry   Sept. 26, 1881     Oct. 16, 1881
  Lieutenant A. H. M. Taylor, 19th            Nov. 2, 1881     Nov. 12, 1881
  Captain J. C Bates, 20th Infantry          Nov. 13, 1881      May 14, 1885
  Captain A. A. Harbach, 20th Infantry        July 9, 1882     Oct. 31, 1882
  Second Lieutenant J. A. Ivans, 20th        Mar. 21, 1883      May 11, 1883
  Captain Patrick Cusack, 9th Cavalry       Sept. 29, 1883     Oct. 19, 1883
  Captain A. A. Harbach                      Mar. 22, 1884     Apr. 14, 1884
  Captain William S. McCaskey, 20th          July 26, 1884      Aug. 4, 1884
  Captain Harbach                             Aug. 5, 1884      Oct. 5, 1884
  Captain Harbach                            Jan. 31, 1885      Mar. 2, 1885
  Captain Harbach                            Apr. 30, 1885       May 8, 1885
  Lieutenant W. H. W. James, 24th             May 14, 1885     June 13, 1885
    Infantry, 1872
  Captain Birney B. Keeler, 18th Infantry    June 14, 1885    Sept. 15, 1885
  Captain Carroll H. Potter, 18th           Sept. 16, 1885      Oct. 1, 1886
    Infantry, 1857
  Lieutenant Colonel John J. Coppinger,       Oct. 2, 1886     July 17, 1888
    18th Infantry
  Captain Henry H. Adams, 18th Infantry       June 8, 1888     July 17, 1888
  Captain Henry H. Adams, 18th Infantry      July 17, 1888      Dec. 9, 1888
  Captain Carroll H. Potter, 18th            Dec. 10, 1888     Sept. 5, 1889
    Infantry 1857
  Captain H. H. Adams                         Sept 6, 1889      Oct. 2, 1889
  Captain Jeremiah P. Schindel, 6th           Oct. 1, 1889    Sept. 22, 1890

               Post finally abandoned September 22, 1890.

                          Camp at Fort Gibson

                                                      From                To
  Captain Jacob G. Galbraith, 1st             Apr. 6, 1897     July 18, 1897
    Cavalry, 1877
  Major Albert G. Forse, 1st Cavalry,        July 19, 1897     Oct. 19, 1897
  Captain Herbert E. Tutherly, 1st           Oct. 20, 1897         Nov. 1897
    Cavalry, 1872

  “This command is now, October 31, in tents on the old parade ground at
  Fort Gibson, the old buildings being uninhabitable.”

                          Camp at Fort Gibson

                                                      From                To
  Captain T. Q. Donaldson, Jr., 8th           Apr. 7, 1901    Sept. 20, 1901
    Cavalry, 1887
  Squadron Adjutant A. G. Lott, 3rd         Sept. 21, 1901     Nov. 19, 1901
    Cavalry, 1892

                          Transcriber’s Notes

--Silently corrected a few palpable typos.

--Retained publication information from the printed book: no evidence
  was found of copyright renewal, making this eText public-domain in the
  country of publication.

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