In 1882, Congress authorized the War Department to construct the Army-Navy General Hospital in Hot Springs and allocated $100,000 to pay for it. In 1884, workers began diverting hot springs water to assist with construction. This angered Hot Springs Reservation Superintendent Samuel Hamblen who argued that the bathhouses needed all the available water from the hot springs. Despite Hamblen’s objections, Captain Jacobs, supervising the construction of the military hospital, diverted water.
Captain Jacobs later made the following report to his superiors in Washington,
Superintendent Hamblen and his men suddenly found themselves staring down the twin barrels of Captain Jacobs’ shotgun. Jacobs was not just a man with a gun and an iron disposition. He was also a decorated combat veteran and no stranger to ending human life. Hamblen and his workers wisely decided that discretion was the greater part of valor and retreated. Both Hamblen and Jacobs urged their superiors to intervene. Officials in Washington ordered Jacobs to stop diverting water. The War Department authorized the purchase of city water for construction projects. The military completed the Army-Navy General Hospital in 1887. No superintendents were harmed in the construction of the facility.
Cockrell, Ron. The Hot Springs of Arkansas, America's First National Park: The Administrative History of Hot Springs National Park. 2014, 63 - 68.
Last updated: May 6, 2020