Thursday, May 26, 2016


1776 -- During the American Revolution, the colonial forces often fought as makeshift troops, usually under the command of foreign-born officers.

 1802 -- As soon as the United States was established, the Federalists saw a need to train American officers – to lead troops in war and to defend the newly independent country. Jefferson opposed the creation of a military academy until he became President and saw that his Constitutional responsibilities required the creation of a military academy. In the first years of his administration, Jefferson pressed for the creation of the US Military Academy at West Point, on a defensible bend and narrowing in New York’s Hudson River.

 1803 -- President Jefferson purchased the Louisiana Territory from France and America doubled in size and now had much more land to explore and potentially to control. As part of its westward expansion, the American military leaders saw the need to build forts on the country’s frontier.

 In 1819 -- Pioneering soldiers were sent to establish an isolated outpost and build a fort in very western Arkansas at the junction of the muddy Arkansas and Poteau Rivers, which earlier French fur trappers had named Belle Point. These soldiers were sent to temper the conflict between the native Osage and the newly arrived Cherokee tribes. Struggling to survive without the support of reinforcements or provisions from the east was just a daunting a task as moderating the conflict between the tribes. From the start, the American people lived in conflict with the native Indian population.

In 1830 -- under President Andrew Jackson, Congress passed the Indian Removal Act – sending the southeast Indian tribes to frontier lands west of the Mississippi. With this brutal removal, Fort Smith became an important stopping point on what came to be known as the “Trail of Tears,” as the Indians of the Cherokee, Creek, Choctaw, Chickasaw and Seminole Nations were forcibly removed from their ancestral lands. Their emptied, rich lands were now available to white plantation owners for cotton production, the cash crop of the South. Later, some members of these slave-holding Indian tribes fought with the Confederacy in the Civil War.

Rebuilt in 1838 -- the second Fort Smith, relocated several hundred yards from the first, served primarily as a supply depot. In the days before Walmart was founded in nearby Bentonville, Arkansas, Fort Smith continued to serve as a supply hub -- for white settlers moving west in the mid-nineteenth century and for the more distant army encampments in the southwest which enforced territorial law, protected the settlers migrating west and kept control of the Indians.

1872-1896 -- As the need for a fort declined, Fort Smith became the seat of the Federal Court for the western district of Arkansas. Military force was no longer needed. Now the “wild west” was being brought to order by Judge Isaac Parker who enforced the rule of law supported by hundreds of deputy marshals.
Bob at 1819 Fort Wall Foundations

A Cherokee Confederate Officer

Judge Isaac Parker's Courtroom

Territorial Prison for Outlaws

Paddy Wagon

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