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The First Fort Smith

Fort Smith, Arkansas

June 18, 1822

Arkansas Gazette - Vol. II1 - No. 26- Whole No. 130 1822


On the night of the 8th inst. from Fort Smith, Arkansas Territory BENJAMIN WHITING AND JOSEPH DYKES, Soldiers of Capt. Nathaniel Young's Company Of the 7th Regiment U.S. Infantry.

WHITING is twenty-two years of age, five feet five inches high, has black eyes, black hair, dark complexion, and by occupation a farmer ----- He was born in the town of Plymouth, state of Massachusetts, and was enlisted 26th March 1818, at Fort Gadsden, Georgia.

DYKES is about twenty years of age, five feet five and a quarter inches high, has grey eyes, light hair, light complexion, and by occupation a soldier. He was born in the town of Oringsburgh, in the state of South Carolina; was enlisted 14th March 1820 at Fort Scott, Georgia. Dykes is slender made, has an elfminate voice and can be recognized by inspecting his right leg which is much inflamed by a sore. Whiting is also remarkable for a healthy appearance, fine face, and long temple locks which hang in curls to his cheek bones. The above named soldiers took with them military clothing, and it is presumed will appear in cotton jackets and trowsers, as they took clothing of that description with them.

Whoever will apprehend the aforesaid Deserters, and deliver them to the Commanding Officer at this Post, or to any Officer of the United States Army, or secure them in jail will receive Sixty Dollars reward, or Thirty Dollars for the apprehension or delivery of either of them. Nat Young Capt. U.S. 7th Infantry Fort Smith, June 9, 1822 ----- 26-3w

Founding of Fort Smith

In 1817, the U.S. Army ordered Major William Bradford to "...ascend the Arkansas river to the point where the Osage boundary line strikes that river...with the advice of Major Long select the best site to be found upon it...and therein erect as expeditiously as circumstances will permit a Stockade..." In the late 1700's, the Cherokee tribe, encouraged by the federal government, had begun to migrate to new lands in the west. These Cherokee settlers, however, did not get along with the neighboring Osages and the resulting raids by Osage and Cherokee warriors threatened all-out war. In response to this unrest, Fort Smith was established, and the troops contained the Cherokee/Osage hostilities until the garrison was ordered further west in 1824.

Major Stephen H. Long selected Belle Point as the site for Fort Smith and provided a plan for its construction. Two years later he embarked from St. Louis, Missouri on an expedition to the Rocky Mountains during which he surveyed and mapped much of the Great Plains. In 1837, by determining a location for the terminus of the Western and Atlantic Railroad, Long established the site which would become Atlanta, Georgia.


August 20, 1822

Arkansas Gazette - Vol. II1 - No. 35- Whole No. 139

  •  Indian Treaty --- A grand Council of the Chiefs, warriors, &c. Of the Cherokee and Osage Indians, took place at Fort Smith, the beginning of this month, for the purpose of concluding a treaty of peace and amity between the two nations. We are happy to learn by gentlemen who left there since the Council broke up, that an amicable treaty of peace has been the result of the Council. Gov. Miller, Col. Arbuckle, and Col. Brearley, U.S. Agent of Indian Affairs, were present at the Council, and assisted in concluding the treaty. In our next, or soon after, we shall probably be able to give some further particulars of this treaty.


May 19, 1821

Arkansas Gazette Vol. II - No. 27 - Whole No. 79

 A keelboat arrived yesterday from Fort Smith, which place she left on the 9th inst. No hostilities had taken place among the Indians, later than that mentioned in a letter in our last. Two keelboats arrived at this place on Sunday last, in 10 days from St. Louis, with provisions for the Army at Fort Smith.

June 3, 1823

Arkansas Gazette -Vol. IV - No. 24 - Whole No. 180

  • STEAM- BOAT WOOD ALEXANDER McWILLIAMS, CONTRACTOR FOR FORT SMITH, RECOMMENDS to the citizens residing on the Arkansas, that CORD WOOD, suitable for steam-boats, be in readiness on the bank of the river, at, or in the neighborhood of, the following places, viz.: Col. Bartley Harrington's, Maj. Francois Vaugines, Grady's, Little Rock, Radford Ellis's, Henry Stinnetts, and Thomas Moore's. A steam-boat will ascend the Arkansas the ensuing fall as early as the stage of water will permit, it will therefore be necessary that the wood be cut immediately that is may have time to become properly seasoned. June 3

January 20, 1824

Arkansas Gazette Vol. V - No. 3 - Whole No. 211

 From Fort Smith --- Maj. Bradford, from Fort Smith, passed this place on Sunday the 11th inst. on his way to Kentucky. He informed us, that on hearing of the late outrage committed by the Osages on a party of licensed hunters, on Red River, Col. Arbuckle, commanding officer at Fort Smith, dispatched Maj. Cummins to the Osage village, to ascertain the cause of the aggression, and to demand that the authors of it should be given up for punishment. The results of the mission was, that the Osage Chiefs agreed to meet Col. Arbuckle at Fort Smith, some time this month, to endeavor to settle the existing difficulties. No retaliatory measures, it is presumed, will be adopted by Col. Arbuckle, until he shall receive orders from the War Department. We understand that Major Wm. Bradford has resigned his commission in the Army. Edward Duvall, Esq. who succeeds Col. Brearly, as Superintendent of Indian Affairs for the Cherokee Nation on the Arkansas, has arrived at the Post of Arkansas, with his family, and may be expected here in a few days.


May 23, 1826

Arkansas Gazette - Vol. VII - No. 21 - Whole No. 333


Maj. McClellan, Agent of Indian Affairs for the Choctaw Nation in this Territory, arrived here the beginning of last week, from Fort Smith, at which point his Agency is established. He informs us, that just before he started, a man arrived there from Red River, bringing information, that the Osages have recently committed another outrage on our citizens, by the murder of three men by the name of Lawrence, (an old man, his son, and nephew, citizens of Miller County,) who, with a party of 10 or 12, were engaged in catching wild horses, on the Foe-Washita, a branch of Red River, and in a country to which the Osages have no claim. The old man and his son, with three others, were in a party by themselves, when they were suddenly surprised by a large party Osages, an and the two former killed. The nephew was with another small party, at the time he was killed. The remainder of the party then hastened to their camp, roused those who had been left there, and saved their scalps, by making a precipitate retreat, but not without having to abandon their baggage, and about 25 mustangs, which they had taken, all of which fell into the hands of their pursuers. The old man had been engaged in hunting mustangs for a number of years, had several times encountered unfriendly Indians in his excursions, and was severely wounded by them on a former occasion.

As Maj. McClellan came down, he met a Deputation of Cherokees, accompanied by Maj. Du Val, Agent of Indian Affairs for that nation, on their way to Cantonment Gibson, for the purpose of holding a Council with the Osages, and demanding of them, satisfaction for the murder of two or three of their people who were killed some years since, and restitution for several horses, which had been stolen by the latter nation. If their demand shall not be complied with, we understand the Cherokees have determined to wage war with the Osages immediately, and that they will be supported by several strong parties of Delawares, and other tribes in alliance with them. The Osages are said to be considerably alarmed.

Later - Since the above was written, we have conversed with several gentlemen who left Cantonment Gibson only a few days ago, and learned, that the Council between the Cherokees and Osages had broken up without an accommodation of their differences. The latter nation objected to treating, in consequence of the recent death of their Agent Col. McNair, and positively refused to make the satisfaction required by the other party, until another Agent should be appointed. The consequence of their refusal, was an immediate declaration of war against them by the Cherokees - but, through the intercession of Col. Arbuckle, they have consented to suspend hostilities for the space of three months, for the purpose of giving the Osages farther time to deliberate on the matter, and for the appointment of an Agent, and receipt of instructions from Washington City, which, it is hoped, may have a tendency to prevent an effusion of blood between the parties.

We also learn, by the same gentlemen, that an express had been received at the above post , from Cantonment Towson, bringing some farther particulars of the murder of our citizens on Red River. It appears that there were five persons murdered, instead of three, as originally reported; and it is stated that it is doubtful whether the murder was committed by the Osages. Some of the Indians, it is said, were armed with muskets, and dressed in Spanish Uniforms, which make it a probable that the outrage was committed by the Pawnees, or some other nation living in the Spanish Country. We are assured by Mr. Choteau, a respectable French Trader, who has lived and traded among the Osages for many years, and is perfectly acquainted with all their affairs, that there is not a Spanish uniform in that nation, and that they do not use muskets.

We also learn that the express brought information, that a party of 30 or 40 citizens of Miller county had gone out in quest of the Indians who committed the outrage.

Farther Particulars. The following letters to the Editor, from persons of respectability in Miller County, contain some farther particulars of the late outrage committed on a party of hunters from that county. Pecan Point, Miller County April 29th, 1826 Sir - Be so good as to publish in your paper, the death of Mr. Adam Lawrence, Mr. John Lawrence, and Mr. Henry Lawrence, who were murdered by the Indians about the 17th inst. These men were on the Foe-Washita, hunting wild horses, when they were attacked by a large body of Indians, supposed to be Osages, dressed in soldiers clothing, and armed with bows and arrows, and shotguns. Adam Lawrence, and his son John Lawrence, were in company with young Adam Lawrence, a nephew of the former. They were attacked on horse-back and pursued a considerable distance before the two former were overtaken and killed. The latter with great difficulty made his escape, after a long pursuit, in the course of which he received six shot holes through his hunting shirt, but fortunately sustained no other injury.

Henry Lawrence, son of George Lawrence, was killed about the same time, while in another direction, and in company with a Mr. Dewall. Dewall was pursued a long distance, and several guns were fired at him; and during the chase he had to pass thro' another large body of Indians, who were encamped, and appeared to have a great number of horses. They fired several guns at him which fortunately did him no injury. He owed his escape to the fleetness of his horse. Two other men were pursued by another large party of Indians on the same day, and made their escape after a chase of about five miles. There were two other men out at the same time, and near the same place, who have not been heard from since this affair took place. Those men were all citizens of Miller County. The elder Adam Lawrence has left a wife, and 7 or 8 children to mourn his loss. I have seen and conversed with all the men who have returned, and obtained from them the foregoing particulars, which may be relied on. About 40 men sat out from this county on the 23d inst. to bury the dead, and there is no doubt, if they fall in with those Indians, there will be some fighting. Extract from another letter, same date. "We have no news here except that which you may have received, relative to the late Indian murders. A party of 10 or 12 persons recently went up Red River to catch wild horses, and separated into three companies for several days. One of the companies met, on the Foe-Washita, a party of Indians, between one and two hundred in number, armed with bows and shields, who attacked them and murdered two on the spot. The other made his escape on a fleet horse, after receiving several arrow shots in his clothes, but from so great a distance as to do no injury." "One of the other parties met with Indians in like manner, who attacked them and killed one of their party, by shooting him with two balls. The Indians had a few guns, and it is generally supposed that they were Osages, but I am rather of the opinion that they were Camancha Indians, for I have some acquaintance with that tribe. The persons who were murdered were by the name Lawrence. A few of the hunters have not yet got into the settlement, and we entertain some fears for their safety. The mischief was all committed on the north side of Red River, 50 or 100 miles apart."

Extract from another letter from the writer of last, dated May 13. "Since the arrival of the mail, one of the party of 28, who went out some time since to make discoveries, and to bury the three persons lately murdered by the Indians, has returned. They have all returned, after burying the bones of the dead. The company agree in opinion, that the mischief was done by the Pawnee Indians." "They had a disagreeable trip, owing to the high stage of the waters. Red River has lately been about four feet higher than was ever known, but the damage is inconsiderable." "Col. R- has lately returned from St. Antonio and says that intelligence had been received there in print, that a Mr. Wadle, an Englishman, had obtained a grant for the country west of Red River, to be settled by Europeans."

November 14, 1826

Arkansas Gazette - Vol. VII - No. 46 - Whole No. 358

 DIED - At his residence at Cantonment Towson, after a long and painful illness, on the 29th ult. William Bradford, Brigadier General of the Militia of the Territory of Arkansas, and Suttler to the above post, aged about 55 years. Gen. Bradford was for many years a Captain in the U.S. Army, and distinguished himself during the late war, and in the Indian Wars in the South, under Gen. Jackson, as a brave and intrepid officer; and on one occasion, received a severe wound in the body, which has proved a painful and serious inconvenience to him during the subsequent part of his life. He was for several years Commanding Officer at Fort Smith, where he remained until the garrison of that post was increased by the force under Col. Arbuckle, when he was appointed to the rank of Major by brevet, shortly after which he resigned his commission in the Army, with the intention of returning to the walks of private life. Few men have been more actively or more usefully employed during their lives, and few have died more universally regretted by a large circle of acquaintances, than Gen. Bradford.

October 24, 1837

Arkansas Gazette - Volume XVIII - No. 45 - Whole No. 1098


An important Town Site, At Auction At the repeated solicitations of my friends, I have determined to lay off into Town lots, one hundred and sixty acres of my tract of land known as the FORT SMITH TRACT, and to offer the same for sale, on the first Monday in May next. The terms of sale will be made known on the day of sale. This point has been so long and favorably known by many steam boat officers and commercial men, in the South, that it requires no comment; yet it may be proper to say, that it is the head of navigation, and directly on the Indian boundary. It has, for years past, been the great depot and store house for the whole upper country. Its contiguity to the various mineral, lead, salt, and stone coal, regions of this country, together with its direct communication with the upper Red river, places this point above all others on the Arkansas river, within our boundary. It would be well to say that, in point of health, it surpasses any situation in the country, and must, with little exertion, divide, if not command, the entire Santa Fe and Chiitmahun trade. In consequence of the late date of this advertisement, I now invite gentlemen, merchants, mechanics, and others who may wish to become interested, prior to the sale to make such arrangements and improvements as they may require, on such lots as we may select, with due respect in the general interest of the intended town; and that such person or persons, making such improvement, shall be entitled to such lot as be or the y may have improved, at the same sum and price as the adjacent lots may sell for on the day of the sale.

John Rogers, Proprietor Fort Smith, Ark. September 25, 1837