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Published: April 30th 2020
FORT GIBSON MONUMENTFORT GIBSON
This monument was placed in honor of the men who fought in the War of 1812, but the fort was not built until 1824.
The 1830s would have been amusing times to have gone forth in America. In 1821 the Mexicans finally kicked the Spaniards out of their country and began to move forward with plans to settle Texas. In 1824 America responded to Mexican encroachment in their own land, with measures to protect the newly acquired Louisiana Purchase lands with an army post on the Arkansas River. The river was the internationally accepted southern boundary of the purchase lands. At the time it was the furthest outpost of the realm. Everyone who was ever posted to Fort Gibson or even visited there got infected with malaria and many of them died. Back then Mexico did not know us very well and did not understand our insatiable penchant for greed. They could not inhabit Texas quickly enough with their own citizenry so they invited settlement by Americans. Before long the soldiers at Fort Gibson had built a road into Texas and the floodgates were open. Commerce at Fort Gibson flourished. One of the early traders there was a fellow from Tennessee named Sam Houston. By and by Sam was drawn to Texas himself.
Sam was a political hack back in Tennessee.
HONEY SPRINGS - WHAT PASSES FOR THE TEXAS ROAD CROSSING THESE DAYS
This bridge crossing is what remains of the Texas Road these days. Stand Watie and his men were part of the civil war battle that took place here, and they won the battle, but failed to take Fort Gibson. There was no bridge here during the battle.
He got himself into mischief with his teenaged wife back there and fled to Fort Gibson to become a trader to the Creek Nation. He was adopted into the tribe and became known among them as The Raven. It seems likely that Sam would have been acquainted with David Crockett who was another political hack from Tennessee. David got himself elected to Congress by virtue of being a colorful bullshitter. He lost the reelection though because of his opposition to Andy, By God, Jackson. Sam encouraged Crockett to make a fresh start in Texas. From Tennessee Crockett followed the rivers to Fort Gibson and then took the Texas Road to his new home. Crockett had a connection to the Creek Nation too.
The Red Stick War started out as a factional dispute over trade policies between the Upper Creeks, or Red Sticks, and the Lower Creeks, or White Sticks. It went forth concurrently with the War of 1812 and got swept up in the flames of the larger conflict. Tecumseh, the Shawnee, wanted all of the tribes to align with the Redcoats and persuaded the Red Sticks to join him soon as they settled their differences with the White
Major Ridge was ambushed and murdered by the Ross Faction as he was crossing a river bridge over in Arkansas. He was on his way down to Fort Smith on court business.
Sticks. The allegiance with Tecumseh brought the Red Sticks into conflict with America and resulted in the Fort Mims Massacre, which was a huge Red Stick victory. The massacre brought forth retaliation that culminated in the defeat of the Red Sticks at the Battle Horseshoe Bend. Andy, By God, Jackson commanded the American forces at Horseshoe Bend, and David Crockett was his chief scout. Crockett held the opinion that Jackson went too far at Horseshoe Bend with the slaughter of women and children. Over the years the opposition between Crockett and Jackson intensified and when Jackson was elected to the Presidency Crockett tipped his hat and went to Texas.
The outcome of the Red Stick War was that the Redcoats were kicked out of Florida, and the Red Sticks lost all of their land in Alabama. After that the Creek survivors were just in everyone’s way. The Indian Relocation Act was a big part of the Jackson Presidency. Not just the Creeks, but pretty much all of the Indians remaining in Florida, Georgia, the Carolinas, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, and Arkansas lost their homes, livelihoods, and what remained of their culture and were forced at gunpoint to start over again
PEA RIDGE BATTLEFIELD
Stand Watie led his brigade across this field during the Battle of Pea Ridge in Arkansas. The Confederate Army was turned back there and their incursion into Missouri failed.
in Indian Territory. Fort Gibson was the end of the Trail of Tears for them all. The Indian Territory was land occupied by the Osage so the Relocation Act ruined them too.
The most factionalized group of Indigenous Americans at the time were the Cherokee, and they really ought to have been assimilated into the American culture rather than segregated from it. They traded with whites, intermarried with them, adopted Christianity, owned slaves, and operated plantations. They had a written language, a Constitution modeled after ours, they sent their kids to Northern schools, and even had their own newspaper. During the Red Stick War a battalion of Cherokee commanded by Chief Ridge became allies against the Creek. Major Ridge, as he came to be known, became an important tribal elder among the traditionalist faction of Cherokee that favored assimilation, continued growth and prosperity. The opposing faction was in the majority and was led by John Ross, who was their Principal Chief, although he was only 1/8 pure blood. They stubbornly resisted removal. When push came to shove with the Jackson Presidency the Ridge Faction agreed to sell their property, below market value of course, and move to Oklahoma. That
STAND WATIE GRAVE
Stand Watie was the only Indian General in the Confederate Army.
move went forward during the summer months and none of them perished from disease along the way. When they arrived they got first pick of the available lands being offered. There was no Trail of Tears for them. The Ross faction continued to resist removal until they were finally placed under arrest and forced to forfeit their property. Their journey went forward during the winter and many of them perished from exposure, disease and starvation. When they staggered in to Fort Gibson Major Ridge had been appointed Principal Chief without their approval.
The Ross faction severely had the ass over their new situation, their loss of power and the poor farms they were left with. In solidarity with Ross, Major Ridge was assassinated and so was his cousin Elias Watie. Elias was the editor of the newspaper and voiced opposition to Ross and his many followers. Elias had a brother named Stands Firm, and Stand Watie, as he came to be known, emerged as the new leader of the Ross opposition. The army decided to abandon Fort Gibson during the 1850s and allow the tribes to govern and police themselves.
The Army reoccupied Fort Gibson after Uncle Abe
WATIE AND RIDGE
The capitol of the Cherokee Nation is at Tahlequah, Oklahoma. These two renegades were never allowed to repose in the cemetery there though. Nor did they want to. They were laid to rest in the Polson Cemetery on Road 340 a few miles southeast of Grove, Oklahoma
was elected to the Presidency and the Civil War fetched loose. By then John Ross had been convicted of stealing the tribal funds and was cooling his heels up at the Fort Leavenworth Prison. The Ross Faction had agreed to support the federal cause, partly because Ross was in jail. Stand Watie raised a brigade of Cherokee Cavalry and joined the Confederate Army partly because the Ross faction was in support of the Union. Stand Watie and his men fought through the entire war, and he was the last Confederate General to surrender after the war.
When the Clint Eastwood movie The Outlaw Josie Wales
came out the role of Stand Watie was ably performed by Chief Dan George, but they had to change his name to Lone Watie.
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