Monday, May 2, 2011

Nice Article in Times Record on 1861 seizure of Fort Smith

Barracks Building at Fort Smith
The Times Record had a nice article from Rusty Garrett yesterday on the seizure of Fort Smith in 1861 by state forces.

To read it, please click here.

The focus was the movement by state militia troops to seize the military post, although Arkansas had not yet seceeded from the Union. Upon hearing that hundreds of militiamen were on their way to Fort Smith under Colonel Solon Borland, Captain Samuel D. Sturgis, who soon became a Union general, ordered the evacuation of the post by his two companies from the 1st U.S. Cavalry.

Leaving just hours before the arrival of the state forces, Sturgis and his men set off across the border into the Choctaw Nation, carrying what supplies they could in 20 wagons. The evacuation took place at 9 p.m. on the night of April 23, 1861, just 10 days after the surrender of Fort Sumter in South Carolina. Among the few men left behind was Captain Alexander Montgomery, the assistant quartermaster. He provided the following report of the arrival of Colonel Borland and the Arkansas militiamen:

Quartermaster's Storehouse at Fort Smith
About two hours after his departure a body of troops under the command of Col. Solon Borland, aide-de-camp to his excellency the governor of the State of Arkansas, accompanied by the adjutant-general of the State, arrived in steamers and took possession of the post, making me a prisoner of war, under authority and by direction of the governor of the State. Maj. R.C. Gatlin, Fifth Infantry, who happened to be in the garrison at the time on a visit, was also made prisoner of war. On giving our parole that we would not fight against the State of Arkansas or the Southern Confederate States during the existing difficulties between the latter and the United States, unless exchanged, we were permitted to go at large. The force under Colonel Borland consisted of 235 men, rank and file, with battery of artillery. Colonel Borland demanded and has taken possession of all the public property at the post and in its vicinity, inventories of which will be forwarded to the proper bureau.- Capt. Alexander Montgomery, April 24, 1861.

You can read more of the official reports on the capture at

You can also learn more about the entire history of Fort Smith by visiting

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