• Rifle Regiment arriving at Belle Point, 1817. Artwork by Michael Haynes

    Fort Smith

    National Historic Site AR,OK

July 23, 1886 Execution

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Calvin James and Lincoln Sprole were executed at Fort Smith on July 23, 1886. The two men had been tried and found guilty for two separate crimes. In August 1885, Calvin James traveled with three other men to Texas to acquire a supply of whiskey. During the trip, James shot and killed one of his companions in order to take the four gallons he had purchased. The other men with James later served as witnesses against him. In May 1885, Lincoln Sprole worked on a farm in the Chickasaw Nation. A disagreement with Benjamin Clark, who lived on the farm, escalated to violence. While Clark and his son were returning home one day, Sprole suddenly appeared from a thicket by the roadside. He shot and killed them both.

Did You Know?

Park staff and volunteers demonstrating using lindstock and slowmatch to ignite the cannon's primer

The soldiers who came to Fort Smith in 1817 were still using some 18th century technology and drill. The cannon was discharged using a lindstock and slowmatch to ignite the primer, which originally was loose powder or a turkey quill filled with powder.