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Fort Gibson - A brief history

APPENDIX 1

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 Bin 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, 1834.

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, crystalline 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.

FromTo
Colonel Matthew Arbuckle7th InfantryApr. 1824Feb. 6, 1839
Major Alex Cummings7th InfantryApr. 24, 1825Aug. 1825
Lieutenant Colonel James B. Many7th InfantryAug. 1825Sept. 6, 1825
Captain John Philbrick7th InfantrySept. 1825Oct. 1825
Captain Benjamin L. E. Bonneville7th Infantry, 1815Apr. 1828May 1828
Captain N. G. Wilkinson7th infantryFeb. 6, 1829Apr. 20, 1829
Captain N. G. Wilkinson7th InfantryMar. 26, 1830Apr. 23, 1830
Captain N. G. Wilkinson7th InfantryOct. 14, 1830Nov. 1830
Lieutenant Colonel J. B. Many7th InfantryFeb. 1, 1832July 7, 1832
Lieutenant Colonel J. B. Many7th InfantryMay 15, 1834Sept. 30, 1834
Major Sullivan Burbank7th InfantryOct. 1, 1834Nov. 4, 1834
Lieutenant Colonel William Whistler7th InfantryAug. 6, 1835Sept. 10, 1835
Lieutenant Colonel William Whistler7th InfantryApr. 20, 1836May 5, 1836
Lieutenant Colonel William Whistler7th InfantryMay 11, 1837Sept. 13, 1837
Major C. Wharton1st DragoonsSept. 14, 1837Oct. 23, 1837
Major J. S. McIntosh7th InfantryJune 15, 1838Aug. 1838
Captain E. S. Hawkins7th Infantry, 1820Aug. 1838Sept. 1838
Major J. S. McIntosh7th InfantrySept. 1838Jan. 28, 1839
Lieutenant Colonel William Whistler7th InfantryJan. 29, 1839Feb. 6, 1839
Major Bennett Riley4th InfantryFeb. 7, 1839Apr. 1839
Colonel Enos Cutler4th InfantryApr. 1839Jan. 1840
Major B. Riley4th InfantryJune 21, 1839Jan. 17, 1840
Colonel & Brevet Brigadier General M. Arbuckle7th InfantryJan. 18, 1840Feb. 4, 1840
Colonel Alexander Cummings4th InfantryJan. 1840Aug. 1841
Major Clifton Wharton1st DragoonsFeb. 6, 1840Feb. 16, 1840
Lieutenant Colonel Riley2nd InfantryFeb. 17, 1840Feb. 24, 1840
Major C. WhartonFeb. 25, 1840Mar. 3, 1840
Colonel & Brevet Brigadier General ArbuckleApr. 10, 1841May 27, 1841
Lieutenant Colonel J. Garland4th InfantryMay 27, 1841June 19, 1841
Lieutenant Colonel R. B. Mason1st DragoonsJune 20, 1841Aug. 1841
Lieutenant Colonel R. B. Mason1st DragoonsAug. 1841Apr. 28, 1842
Colonel S. W. Kearney1st DragoonsApr. 29, 1842July 3, 1842
Lieutenant Colonel R. B. Mason1st DragoonsJuly 4, 1842Oct. 7, 1842
Captain Jacob Brown6th InfantryOct. 8, 1842Jan. 16, 1843
Major Clifton Wharton1st DragoonsJan. 17, 1843Jan. 31, 1843
Colonel William Davenport6th InfantryFeb. 1, 1843Sept. 17, 1843
Lieutenant Colonel R. B. Mason1st DragoonsSept. 18, 1843Dec. 17, 1843
Captain W. S. Ketchum6th InfantrySept. 20, 1843Sept. 26, 1843
Captain N. Boone1st DragoonsSept. 27, 1843Dec. 17, 1843
Lieutenant Colonel Gustavus Loomis6th Infantry, 1811Dec. 18, 1843June 19, 1844
Lieutenant Colonel R. B. Mason1st DragoonsJune 20, 1844Feb. 27, 1846
Captain Nathan Boone1st DragoonsMay 30, 1845Aug. 13, 1845
Captain Albemarle Cady6th Infantry, 1829Feb. 26, 1846Mar. 27, 1846
Lieutenant Colonel Gustavus Loomis6th Infantry, 1811Mar. 28, 1846Feb. 24, 1848
Captain A. Cady  1829Apr. 30, 1846May 26, 1846
Major B. L. E. Bonneville6th InfantryFeb. 26, 1848Nov. 4, 1848
Captain E. Steen1st DragoonsJune 16, 1848July 25, 1848
Captain William 5. Ketchum6th InfantryJuly 26, 1848Nov. 4, 1848
Major Dixon S. Miles5th Infantry, 1824Nov. 5, 1848Dec. 18, 1848
Captain C. L Stevenson5th Infantry, 1838Dec. 1, 1848Dec. 18, 1848
Lieutenant Colonel & Brevet Brigadier
General William G. Belknap
5th InfantryDec. 19, 1848May 14, 1851
Captain Isaac Lynde5th Infantry, 1827Dec. 8, 1849Jan. 6, 1850
Captain Isaac Lynde5th Infantry, 1827Feb. 22, 1850Mar. 17, 1850
Captain Isaac Lynde5th Infantry, 1827May 12, 1850June 8, 1850
Captain William Chapman5th Infantry, 1831June 9, 1850July 16, 1850
Major Henry Bainbridge7th Infantry, 1821May 15, 1851July 26, 1851
Captain Henry Little7th InfantryJuly 5, 1851July 26, 1851
Major George Andrews7th InfantryJuly 27, 1851Oct. 5, 1852
Captain Henry Little7th InfantryOct. 6, 1852Oct. 30, 1853
Captain Charles H. Humber7th Infantry, 1840Jan. 15, 1853July 27, 1853
Captain Braxton Bragg3rd Artillery, 1837Oct. 31, 1853Dec. 1, 1853
Lieutenant Colonel Pitcairn Morrison7th InfantryDec. 2, 1853May 7, 1855
Colonel Henry Wilson7th InfantryMay 8, 1855June 22, 1857
Captain Henry Little7th InfantryFeb. 16, 1856Apr. 2, 1856
Lieutenant Colonel P. Morrison7th InfantryApr. 3, 1856June 21, 1856
Captain Henry Little7th InfantryMay 21, 1857June 22, 1857
Lieutenant W. L Cabell7th Infantry, A. Q. M., 1850June 23, 1857Sept. 1857
Colonel William A. Phillips3rd Indian Home GuardsApr. 14, 1863June 1863
Major General Jones G. BluntVolunteersJuly 1863
Colonel Wm. A. Phillips3rd Indian Home GuardsNov. 1863July 1864
Colonel Stephen H. WattlesHq. Indian BrigadeAug. 1864
Colonel James M. WilliamsFrontier Div. (Hq. 2d 8rig.)
7th Army Corps
Sept. 1864
Colonel WattlesSept. 1864 Nov. 1864
Colonel PhillipsDec. 1864Mar. 1865
Major General James G. BluntMay 1865
Brevet Brigadier General John Ritchie3rd Indian Home GuardsMay 1865
Major General BluntMay 11, 1865June 15, 1865
Colonel John A. Garrett40th Iowa VolunteersJune 15, 1865Aug. 3, 1865
Lieutenant Colonel Lewis C. True62nd Illinois VolunteersAug. 4, 1865Nov. 1865
Captain E. M. Jordan62nd Illinois VolunteersNov. 1865Dec. 1865
Lieutenant Colonel Lewis C. True62nd Illinois VolunteersJan. 1866Feb. 17, 1866
Captain James B. Mulligan18th InfantryFeb. 18, 1866Mar. 1, 1866
Major Pinkney Lugenbeel18th Infantry, 1840Mar. 1, 1866May 1867
Captain Robert Ayres19th InfantryMay 1867June 19, 1867
Captain M. Bryant6th InfantryJune 20, 1867Nov. 3, 1867
Colonel DeL. Floyd-Jones6th Infantry, 1846Nov. 4, 1867May 1868
Captain M. Bryant6th InfantryJan. 20, 1868May 1,1868
Captain M. Bryant6th InfantryMay 1868Feb. 26, 1869
Colonel DeL. Floyd-Jones6th Infantry, 1846Feb. 27, 1869Apr. 1869
Lieutenant Colonel Daniel Huston, Jr.6th Infantry, 1848Apr. 24, 1869Jan. 29, 1871
Captain Jeremiah P. Schindel6th InfantryAug. 8, 1869Sept. 25, 1869
Captain Jeremiah P. Schindel6th InfantryOct. 27, 1869Nov. 20, 1869
Lieutenant Jacob F. Munson6th InfantryAug. 22, 1870Sept. 4, 1870
Colonel William B. Hazen6th Infantry, 1855Jan. 30, 1871Sept. 30, 1871
Captain Jeremiah P SchindelJuly 26, 1871Aug. 29,1871
Captain William W. Sanders6th InfantryAug. 30, 1871Sept. 3, 1871


Post re-established G. 0. 1, Headquarters, Fort Gibson, July 31, 1872.

Colonel Benjamin H. Grierson10th CavalryJuly 31, 1872Jan. 5, 1873
Captain Gaines Lawson25th InfantryOct. 29, 1872Nov. 11, 1872
Captain Gaines Lawson25th InfantryJan. 5, 1873Feb. 23, 1873
Lieutenant Colonel J. W. Davidson10th Cavalry, 1845Feb. 24, 1873Apr. 20, 1873
Captain John J. Upham6th Cavalry, 1859Apr. 21, 1873Sept. 6, 1873
Captain Andrew S. Bennett5th InfantryJune 30, 1873July 5, 1873
Lieutenant Colonel Thomas H. Neill6th Cavalry, 1847Sept. 7, 1873Aug. 6, 1874
Lieutenant Thomas M. Woodruff5th Infantry, 1871Aug. 7, 1874Sept. 7, 1875
Major J. J. Upham5th CavalrySept 8, 1875June 6, 1876
Lieutenant Edward L. Randall5th InfantryJune 7, 1876July 14, 1876
Captain Edmond Butler5th InfantryJuly 15, 1876Aug. 6, 1876
Lieutenant George McDermott5th InfantryAug. 7, 1876Oct. 18, 1876
Lieutenant Lewis Smith3rd ArtilleryOct. 1 9, 1876Dec. 26, 1876
Captain R. I. Eskridge23rd InfantryDec. 27, 1876June 14, 1877
Captain Caleb Rodney Layton16th InfantryJune 1 5, 1877May 18, 1879
Major A. L. Hough22d InfantryMay 19, 1879Oct. 3, 1879
Captain C. J. Dickey22d InfantryJuly 29, 1879Aug. 5, 1879
Second Lieutenant John G. Ballance22d Infantry, 1875Oct. 4, 1879Jan. 31, 1880
Second Lieutenant John Newton16th InfantryFeb. 1 ,1880Mar. 5, 1880
Captain Hugh A. Theaker16th InfantryMar. 6, 1880Mar. 28, 1880
Second Lieutenant W. A. Nichols23rd InfantryOct. 1880Nov. 13, 1880
Major R. H. Offley19th InfantryNov. 14, 1880Nov. 1, 1881
Lieutenant Thomas M. Winie19th InfantryApr. 25, 1881May 10, 1881
Lieutenant John G. Leete19th InfantrySept. 26, 1881Oct. 16, 1881
Lieutenant A. H. M. Taylor19th InfantryNov. 2, 1881Nov. 12, 1881
Captain J. C. Bates20th InfantryNov. 13, 1881May 14, 1885
Captain A. A. Harbach20th InfantryJuly 9, 1882Oct. 31, 1882
Second Lieutenant J. A. Ivans20th InfantryMar. 21, 1883May 11, 1883
Captain Patrick Cusack9th CavalrySept. 29, 1883Oct. 19, 1883
Captain A. A. HarbachMar. 22, 1884Apr. 14, 1884
Captain William S. McCaskey20th InfantryJuly 26, 1884Aug. 4, 1884
Captain HarbachAug. 5, 1884Oct. 5, 1884
Captain HarbachJan. 31, 1885Mar. 2, 1885
Captain HarbachApr. 30, 1885May 8, 1885
Lieutenant W. H. W. James24th Infantry, 1872M cry 14, 1885June 13, 1885
Captain Birney B. Keeler18th InfantryJune 14, 1885Sept. 15, 1885
Captain Carroll H. Potter18th Infantry, 1857Sept. 16, 1885Oct. 1 ,1886
Lieutenant Colonel John J. Coppinger18th InfantryOct. 2, 1886July 17, 1888
Captain Henry H. Adams18th InfantryJune 8, 1888July 17, 1888
Captain Henry H. Adams18th InfantryJuly 17, 1888Dec. 9, 1888
Captain Carroll H. Potter18th Infantry, 1857Dec. 10, 1888Sept. 5, 1889
Captain H. H. AdamsSept 6, 1889Oct. 1, 1889
Captain Jeremiah P. Schindel6th InfantryOct. 2, 1889 Sept. 22, 1890

Post finally abandoned September 22, 1890.

Camp at Fort Gibson

Captain Jacob G. Galbraith1st Cavalry, 1877  Apr. 6, 1897July 18, 1897
Major Albert G. Forse1st Cavalry, 1865July 19, 1897Oct. 19, 1897
Captain Herbert E. Tutherly   1st Cavalry, 1872Oct. 20, 1897Nov. 1897

"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

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