Saturday, February 5, 2011

Rumors of War in Fort Smith, February 6, 1861

19th Century map of Indian Territory
Although Arkansas voters had not yet made their decision to convene a Secession Convention, the state like much of the South was caught in an outbreak of war fever.

News reached Fort Smith on the state's far western border 150 years ago tomorrow of a plan by troops from Texas, which had already seceded, to move on the U.S. Army posts in the Indian Territory of today's Oklahoma. The forts were important points of supply and defense that would critical in the war that everyone new was coming. The Choctaw, Chickasaw, Creek, Seminole and Cherokee Nations created a buffer zone between the Southern state of Texas and the Northern state of Kansas. Their control would likely lead to control of the Indian Territory as well.

The following account from Fort Smith appeared on the front page of the New York Herald on February 7, 1861:


Threatened Attack on Forts Washita, Cobb and Arbuckle – The Little Rock, Ark., Arsenal Seized.

Fort Smith, Ar., Feb. 6, 1861.

Advices received today by the editor of the Thirty Fifth Parallel state that the Texans have threatened to take possession of Forts Washita, Cobb and Arbuckle, in the Indian Territory.

It is thought that the force at each of these stations is sufficient to protect them.

The conductor of the overland mail from Little Rock, Ark., reports that the arsenal there was taken possession of by State troops on Saturday evening last.

The rumors about Forts Washita, Cobb and Arbuckle was accurate, although no expedition for that purpose was yet underway.
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