Saturday, February 25, 2012

Pea Ridge #14 - Gen. Albert Pike prepares to move to Arkansas

Fort Gibson Historic Site
On February 15, 1862, 150 years ago today, Brigadier General Albert Pike began his efforts to bring reinforcements to the Confederate troops in the Boston Mountains from the Indian Territory of what is now Oklahoma.

Pike was then in command of Confederate forces in the Nations and had been instrumental in organizing a significant force there and pushing pro-Union Indian troops into Kansas. As the call for help went out from Northwest Arkansas, he prepared to move to the support of Price and McCulloch:

Gen. Albert Pike, CSA
...On February 25 I reached Cantonment Davis, near Fort Gibson, with Colonel Cooper's Choctaw and Chickasaw battalion, which had been encamped near the mouth of the Canadian. The same evening Col. D.N. McIntosh's regiment of Creeks arrived at the same point. I had in charge a large amount of coin and other moneys for the different Indian tribes, and found delegations of the Osages, Comanches, and Reserve Indians awaiting me, and the disposition of the moneys left unexpectedly in my hands, together with the dealings with the Indian tribes, detained me there three days. - Gen. Albert Pike, CSA, March 14, 1862.

Fort Gibson had long been an important landmark of the western frontier. Established in 1824, it was the "end point" of the Train of Tears and as such was the place where thousands of Native American families ended their long forced march to new land west of the Mississippi. It was occupied by Confederate troops early in the war and was the setting for several important councils with the various Indian nations.

Fort Gibson Historic Site
The Indians had entered the service of the Confederacy on the condition that they not be expected to cross the borders of their territory. In asking them to do so, Pike was making a major request. They were willing to do so, but insisted they receive their disbursements from the Confederate government first:

The Choctaws, Chickasaws, and Creeks refused to march until they were paid off, and as by their treaties with us they could not be taken out of the Indian country without their consent, I had no alternative but to submit. The payment of the Choctaws and Chickasaws occupied three days. - Gen. Albert Pike, CSA, March 14, 1862.

Pike and his men would play a significant role in the coming Battle of Pea Ridge. I will continue to post on the 150th anniversary of the Pea Ridge Campaign, with attention on the role of the Indian troops in it, over coming days, so be sure to check back often.  You can also read more at

You can learn more about historic Fort Gibson at

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