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

    Fort Smith

    National Historic Site AR,OK

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  • Road Construction I-540

    Traveling West on I-40? To avoid construction delays, do not take Exit 7 (I-540 S). Stay on I-40 west and take Exit 1 Dora. Stay on Hwy 64D for 6 miles and follow signs to Fort Smith. After crossing over the river, turn right on 4th ST & right on Garland. More »

Grounds Stop VI

 
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NPS

Gazebo at Belle Point
N 35° 23.246
W 94° 25.938

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Founding of Fort Smith

In 1817 the U.S. Army ordered Major William Bradford to “…ascend the Arkansas river to the point where the Osage boundary line strikes that river… with the advice of Major Long select the best site to be found upon it… and therein erect as expeditiously as circumstances will permit a Stockade…” In the late 1700’s the Cherokee tribe, encouraged by the federal government, began to migrate to new lands in the west. However, the Cherokee settlers did not get along with the neighboring Osage and the resulting raids by Osage and Cherokee warriors threatened all-out war. In response, the Fort was established, and the troops contained the Cherokee/Osage hostilities until the garrison was ordered further west in 1824. Major Stephen H. Long selected Belle Point as the site for Fort Smith and provided a plan for its construction. Two years later he embarked from St. Louis, Missouri on an expedition to the Rocky Mountains during which he surveyed and mapped much of the Great Plains.

The First Fort Smith

During the early 1800’s, pressure from the rapidly-growing white settlement forced many eastern American Indian tribes to migrate west. In 1817, Cherokees migrating from the southern Appalachian Mountains clashed with the local tribe, the Osage. United States troops were sent here to take all proper measures for the restoration of peace, and the preservation of harmony between the Osage and Cherokee tribes.

More extensive reading on the history of Belle Point:
The Bad Tempered Buffalo Affair
The First Fort Smith
Building the Second Fort Smith

 
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Did You Know?

Portrait of Anna Dawes

A woman was responsible for the building of a modern federal jail at Fort Smith, AR, in 1888. Anna Dawes, daughter of Sen. Dawes of MA, visited the "Hell on the Border" jail in 1885 and wrote an article describing its conditions. When read in Congress, money was quickly approved for a new jail.