Featured Book Reviewer
- Feb 23, 2013
- East Texas
Fort Towson, Indian Territory, (now modern-day Oklahoma) was another of the U. S. Military posts established by the Federal Government during the time of Indian Removal. In this particular case, it was built in 1831 in what became the Choctaw Nation to provide protection to the members of that tribe near the Red River, then the border of Indian Territory with Mexico and then the Republic of Texas. Today it is an Oklahoma State Historic Site and park interpreting and preserving the grounds of the fort that once stood here.
Unfortunately, all remaining from the era of the fort in the 1830's and 1840's are stone foundations like those of the barracks pictured here; the buildings were built log cabin-style upon stone basements that served as mess halls and storage spaces with large open kitchen fireplaces and their chimneys built in each end. Over the log framework was placed siding of planed lumber painted a shade of blue and topped by shingled roofs.
There were two of these long one-story rectangular structures, built side-by-side, with three smaller but similar officer's quarters built at right angles forming the base of an elongated rectangle, in the center of which was the parade ground and flag pole.
Across the parade ground from the barracks stood an ordnance storeroom above, and the powder magazine below. The latter had brick steps leading up to the all-stone-construction magazine, built to protect gunpowder stored here and hopefully contain any accidental explosions!
A hospital building was on the east side, about 250 feet from the last barracks building. Stables, shops and gardens were outside the rectangle on the east. Nothing remains of any of these buildings, save a few more foundation stones scattered about.
At a little distance from the rectangle and nearer Gates Creek stood what was called "soapsuds row", the homes of post laundresses who were usually the wives of non-commissioned officers who also lived here.
The post Sutler's Store underwent a thorough archeological excavation a number of years ago and has been reconstructed for use as a visitor center until being replaced by the much larger and more modern one that can be seen in the background below.
Although Fort Towson was abandoned by the United States Army in 1854, it continued to be an important spot along the Texas-I.T. border and was occupied by Confederate forces upon the secession of Texas; it and neighboring Doaksville became supply depots for Texas and Indian units stationed here and the vicinity and was used for a time as the headquarters of Texas General Samuel B. Maxey, then commanding the I. T. for the Confederacy.
The last remaining troops here were commanded by the Cherokee Indian General Stand Watie, principal chief of his nation until the end of the war. He surrendered to Union forces at nearby Doaksville on June 23, 1865. Nothing remains of the latter place but headstones in what eventually became the cemetery of the town of Fort Towson, Oklahoma, like these of notable Choctaws who died in the antebellum period. A trail leading from the cemetery traverses much of what had been the town of Doaksville but is now woodland.