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

    Fort Smith

    National Historic Site AR,OK

Postcards of Second Fort Smith

postcard of second fort walls and buildings with flag flying in center
Old Fort
 

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In 1838, two years after Arkansas statehood, a second fort was established at Fort Smith. Major buildings included two officer's quarters, a barracks, a commissary, and a quartermaster storehouse, all enclosed by a stone wall.

This postcard contains misinformation. It states the fort was built in 1830, not 1838. It says it was destroyed during the Civil War. Again, this is not true. The fort was garrisoned until 1871.

The stone wall that surrounded the fort remained in place through the federal court era and was not removed until 1897.

In the center of this image is the garrison flag which flies from a 100' flagpole in the center of the parade ground. Near the flagpole are two identical buildings; these are the officer's quarters. One was burned in 1865, soon after the end of the Civil War; the other building burned on December 19, 1870.

Near the wall, on the right hand side is the guardhouse which was located next to the main gate into the fort.

To the left of the flagpole is the enlisted men's barracks. In the distance, between the barracks and officer's quarters, is the quartermaster storehouse which provided clothing and subsistence for the soldiers.

Built into the wall on the left is a small structure that served as the powder magazine where ammunition was stored.

The projecting part of the wall in the foreground is a bastion. A bastion is an area from which one can resist attacks. The fort's original design included five bastions, but only three were completed.

The postcard below shows a closer view of the bastion, guardhouse, and officer's quarters.

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postcard of fort with walls and guardhouse in foreground, officers quarters in background
Old Fort
Fort Smith, Ark
 
view of old fort showing powder magazine
Old Fort Smith
 

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The postcard above shows the fort from the southeast, looking towards the powder magazine and barracks. The quartermaster storehouse is on the lefthand side.

While the image is a view of Fort Smith prior to 1870, the postcard itself is later, but does date before 1907. The backside of the card is designed exclusively for the address and the message is written in pencil on the front of the card. After March 1, 1907, the U.S. Postal Service allowed postal cards to have a divided back, enabling people to write a message next to the mailing address.

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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.