|Fort Cobb, Photo Courtesy of the OHS Photo Archives|
By Alanna Radle Rodriguez and Judge Rodriguez
Thank you for tuning in to the next chapter of our Oklahoma Fort series. I’m joined, once again, with my husband for this one. This fort is a rather unknown fort, but helps us understand the rich and complex history of this great state.
Fort Cobb was established in1859 in what is now Caddo County, Oklahoma. It lies approximately 80 miles southwest of current day Oklahoma City. The fort was established to help protect settlers moving westward along the California road against primarily the Comanche raiders that plagued the area. It was founded by Major William Emory after moving most of the garrison at Fort Arbuckle. This was an attempt to get the troops in a better strategic position to be able to manage the unruly Northern Comanche.
Starting in 1855, the more peaceable tribes of the Anadarko, Caddo, Tonkawa, and Penateka Comanche were approved to move to areas where they would not be inundated by the more aggressive tribes of the Northern Comanche. This was also an effort to prevent an outright war between the tribesman and the white settlers of northern Texas, who believed that having “savages” in the area was dangerous. After a council of the tribes met with the agents of the government, a site had been chosen to house the tribes close to Medicine Bluff, just outside current-day Fort Sill Lawton, Oklahoma. After a brief expedition, Superintendent Elias Rector from Fort Smith determined that the site was completely unacceptable, due to malaria outbreaks and heavy rains. The tribes were relocated to the reservations in their current day location some 30 miles north of the original site.
Once Fort Arbuckle was created 80 miles to the east-southeast, the area became more hospitable. As explained in last month’s blog, Fort Arbuckle unfortunately, due to lack of resources, fell into disrepair and almost complete ruin until Major Emory received command of the area and was ordered to place troops closer to the Anadarko tribe. The major had received orders to create a new fort, and thus was the beginning of Fort Cobb. The fort was named in honor of Howell Cobb, then Secretary of the Treasury.
At this point, the Indian Agency, federal troops, and settlers helped increase the surrounding area to a small town.
After the outbreak of the War Between The States, Fort Cobb, just like Forts Arbuckle and Washita, was abandoned and their troops were moved to Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.
In August 1861, Albert Pike the Confederate Commissioner for Indian Affairs, signed treaties promising the same protections for the peaceable tribes under the Confederacy that they enjoyed under the Federal Government, in return for their support of the Confederates. The Confederates were garrisoned in the fort from May until August of 1862, where they were guarding mostly abandoned supplies. On October 23rd 1862, an armed party stormed the Indian Agency, killed all members there, and burned the buildings to the ground.
The fort sat abandoned until the conclusion of the war, when it was manned once again by federal troops. In January 1869, the troops permanently left Fort Cobb and were re-stationed to Camp Wichita. Anyone else seeing a pattern of “camps” here? The town remained in place, however, and is still a part of “small town America”. Camp Wichita, on the other hand, is a story for another time.
Born and raised in Edmond, Oklahoma, Alanna Radle Rodriguez is the great-great granddaughter of one of the first pioneers to settle in Indian Territory. Alanna loves the history of the state and relishes in volunteering at the 1889 Territorial Schoolhouse in Edmond. Her first published story, part of a collaborative novella titled Legacy Letters, came out September 2016. Alanna lives with her husband and parents in the Edmond area. She is currently working on a historical fiction series that takes place in pre-statehood Waterloo, Oklahoma.