Historic Fort Supply was established on November 18, 1868, as "Camp Supply" for a winter campaign against the Southern Plains tribes in what is now western Oklahoma. From this post, Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer and the Seventh U. S. Cavalry marched south to the Washita River Valley and attacked the Cheyenne village of Chief Black Kettle. This event marked the beginning of the end for the Southern Plains tribe's nomadic way of life because they were soon forced onto reservations.
The military presence in the region was felt for the next twenty-five years as troops from the post performed peace-keeping duties monitoring the Cheyenne and Arapaho reservation. Camp Supply was the site of the first Cheyenne-Arapaho Agency in 1869-1870. Soldiers patrolled the Cheyenne- Arapaho Reservation and the Cherokee Outlet in an effort to contain the tribesmen and keep out trespassers. Buffalo hunters, timber and horse thieves, whiskey peddlers, and "Boomers" were a continual threat to stability in the Indian Territory.
The post served as the supply point for the Red River War of 1874-1875. This was the final struggle in the subjugation of the tribes of the Southern Plains. The unsuccessful attempts to stop the flight of the Northern Cheyenne from their reservation in Indian Territory, known as the Dull Knife Outbreak of 1878, were the last engagements between Indians and soldiers from Camp Supply.
Cavalry policed the cattle drives along the Western Trail as they made their way through the territory from Texas to Dodge City, Kansas. They later policed the large grazing leases that cattlemen held on the lands of the Cherokee Outlet and the Cheyenne-Arapaho Reservation.
When Camp Supply became Fort Supply in December, 1878, the post had already become the hub of transportation and communication in a region which included southern Kansas, the Texas Panhandle, and Indian Territory. Troops built the roads and telegraph lines that linked the forts, reservations, and settlements. They guarded the stage coaches, freight haulers, and travelers as they moved along the trails.
The Run of 1893 opened the lands of the Cherokee Outlet to non-Indian settlement. The troops at Fort Supply policed that operation, which proved to the the last major task for the soldiers at Fort Supply.
The frontier was closing and the presence of the army was no longer required. In late 1894, the post was abandoned and the property turned over to the Department of the Interior.
The old fort was ceded to the State of Oklahoma for use as the state's first mental hospital. The first patients arrived in 1908. Western State Psychiatric Center continues to serve the mental health needs of Oklahoma. They also have a program for the treatment of substance abuse. Starting in 1969, the Oklahoma Historical Society assumed responsibility for the five remaining army-period buildings. The William S. Key Correctional Center, a minimum security facility, became part of the family of state agencies occupying the grounds of the old post in 1988.
The Oklahoma Historical Society's mission at the Fort Supply Historic Site is to educate the public about the history of Fort Supply and northwest Oklahoma through the preservation and interpretation of its historic resources. As part of this mission the fife remaining buildings from the army-era will be restored to their appearance of over 100 years ago. The Ordnance Sergeant's Quarters (c.1875) and the Teamster's Cabin (c. 1882) are picket-style log buildings. These are rare examples of a common frontier construction method. The walls of these buildings consist of upright logs with one end buried in the ground. The Commanding Officer's Quarters (1879) and the duplex Officer's Quarters (1882) are the only houses left on Officer's Row. The Guard House (1892) was the only brick building erected by the army at Fort Supply.
The Visitor Center is located just west of the old Guardhouse and contains exhibits telling the fort's story through artifacts, photographs, and graphics.
An annual Living History Day is held each June. This colorful celebration allows visitors to experience Oklahoma history through reenactors portraying the lives of the people of Fort Supply's past.
The Oklahoma Historical Society is joined in its efforts by the private Historic Fort Supply Foundation, an organization made up of individuals interested in the preservation and development of this important site.
The full command of the Army Expedition of 1868 reached the confluence of Wolf Creek and Beaver River in Indian Territory on November 18. General Field Orders named this place Camp Supply. When the request for abandonment of Fort Supply reached General of the Army Philip Sheridan, the refusal was quick and emphatic. November 30, 1881, he wrote that Fort Supply... "was built under my direction of logs, originally, and has been improved, except for a few years past, so as to have good company quarters, good storehouses and excellent hospital....
It (Fort Supply) has been valuable heretofore strategically and as a supply camp, and is now valuable strategically for the protection of the Indian Territory, the Atlantic and Pacific Railroads and the cattle trail from Texas. I cannot give my approval for its abandonment."
On orders of the Headquarters of the Army dated September 15, 1894, the garrison of Fort Supply --- first the Third Calvary and then the Thirteenth Infantry --- left the post. Lt. F. E. Lacy, Tenth Infantry, placed Fort Supply in the custody of the Department of the Interior February 26, 1895.
Battle of the Washita
7th Cavalry march to the Washita from Camp Supply 23 Nov 1868
23 Nov -- March with command under Lieutenant-Colonel Custer up Wolf Creek, direction south...14 miles.
24 Nov -- continued the march up stream and camped on left bank ....16 miles
25 Nov -- left Wolf Creek on our right marched through south to Canadian River ....18 miles.
26 Nov -- Marched to north fork of the Washita River, where we found Indian encampment; rested until daybreak and then broke in upon Black Kettle's band of Cheyenne Indians utterly destroying their village and winter supplies .... 30 miles.
30 Nov -- Marched to Camp Supply
3 Dec 1868 -- Captain Louis Hamilton, a casualty of the Battle of the Washita was buried on a knoll just west of Camp Supply. General Phil Sheridan and Lt. Col. George Custer were pallbearers.
Thanksgiving 26 Nov 1868
Soup -- Wild Turkey
Broiled -- Wild Turkey, Buffalo Tongue
Roast -- Buffalo Hump, Wild Turkey, Saddle of Vension, Red Deer, Common Deer, Antelope, Rabbit
Entree -- Rabbit Pies, Wings of Grouse, breaded, Turkey Giblets
Broiled -- Quails, Pinnatted Grouse
Vegetables (imported) -- Canned Tomatoes, Lima Beans, Dessicated Potatoes
Bread -- "Hard Tack", plain and toasted, Army Biscuits
Des(s)erts (imported) -- Rice Pudding, Pies, and Tarts
Wines and Liquors -- Champagne, "Pinetop Whiskey", Ale
On June 11, 1870, 200 Kiowas and Comanches attacked Camp Supply. Tenth Calvary troops counterattacked and the battle moved five miles up the Beaver River. The post commander directed his troops from the ridge between the Beaver River and Wolf Creek. After sharp encounters, the Kiowa and Comanche were put to flight.
The long anticipated Indian War gained momentum in June 1874. Camp Supply served as the supply depot in U. S. operations. The staff stocked clothing, ammunition, food stuffs, forage, and other necessary items. Camp Supply was ordered to maintain not less than fifty days of provisions for one thousand men and twelve hundred horses.
22 Apr 1889 -- eighty-two men of Companies B and H of the Thirteenth Infantry from Fort Supply were on duty in Guthrie and Kingfisher to assist and supervise the run into the Unassigned Lands.
Fort Supply troops were on temporary duty in the Cheyenne- Arapaho lands for over a month prior to the opening. The troops provided support and supervision in the opening of the Cheyenne- Arapaho Reservation 19 Apr 1892.
Fort Supply Troops of the Fifth Cavalry Regiment were joined by troops from Forts Reno, Sill, and Riley in clearing the 9,000 square miles of the Cherokee Outlet of cattle and "Sooners". The troops guarded the four land offices and nine registration booths in the four military districts as 115,000 homesteaders entered the Outlet at noon on 6 Sep 1893
The reproduction of the 1868 Stockade is located approximately 1/2 to 3/4 of a mile south and west of the original location.
The reproduction is the approximate size of the original. The picket-style stockade is 10 feet high 150 feet long with 15 foot high two story blockhouses at the northwest and southeast corners. It has 70 foot warehouses built along the east and south walls. The three-room warehouses contain materials which depict their use.
The 1868 stockade was built of cedar logs cut and installed by supervised inmates from the William S. Key Correctional Center. The Oklahoma Historical Society provided the plans and the Historic Fort Supply Foundation provided the funds.