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Fort Sill


   Staked out 8 Jan 1869 by Maj. Gen. Philip H. Sheridan. Initially named Camp Wichita but renamed, Jul 1869, by Sheridan after his West Point classmate, Brig. Gen Joshua W. Sill who was killed in the U.S. Civil War leading the charge of Sheridan’s Brigade during the Battle on Stone River in Tennessee on 31 Dec 1862. The first post commander was Bvt. Maj. Gen. Benjamin Grierson who initially selected the site along with Col. William B. Hazen. The fort was established to stop hostile Indian tribes from raiding border settlements in Texas and Kansas.
   The fort was initially manned by six cavalry regiments accompanied by frontier scouts such as Buffalo Bill Cody, Wild Bill Hickok, Ben Clark and Jack Stilwell. Units posted included the 7th U.S. Cavalry, the 19th Kansas Volunteers and the 10th U.S. Cavalry. The 10th U.S. Cavalry was organized by Col. Grierson after the U.S. Civil War and consisted of white officers and black "buffalo soldiers". The 10th U.S. Cavalry constructed many of the stone buildings that still surrounding the old post quadrangle.
   In 1869 President Grant approved a peace policy placing responsibility for the Southwest tribes under Quaker Indian agents. Fort Sill soldiers were restricted from taking punitive action against the Indians. The Indians resumed raiding the Texas frontier and used Fort Sill as a sanctuary. In 1871 General of the Army William Tecumseh Sherman arrived at Fort Sill to find several Kiowa chiefs boasting about a wagon train massacre. When Sherman ordered their arrest during a meeting on Grierson's porch two of the Indians attempted to assassinate him.
   In June 1874 the Comanches, Kiowas and Southern Cheyennes went to war, and the South Plains shook with the hoofbeats of Indian raiders. The resulting Red River War, which lasted a year, was a war of attrition involving relentless pursuit by converging military columns.
   Without a chance to graze their livestock and faced with a disappearance of the great buffalo herds, the tribes eventually surrendered. On 2 Jun 1875 Comanche Chief Quannah Parker arrived at Fort Sill, accompanied by most of the Quohadas tribe. There were 100 warriors, 300 non-combatants, and 1400 ponies. The men were disarmed and the pony herd was auctioned off. This marked the last of the Indian hostilities.
   Scott also commanded troop L of the 7th U.S. Cavalry, a unit comprised entirely of Indians and considered one of the best in the west. Indian scout I-See-O and other members of the troop are credited with helping tribes on the South Plains to Avert the Bloody Ghost Dance uprising of the 1890s in which many died on the North Plains.
   In 1894 Geronimo and 341 other Apache prisoners of war were brought to Fort Sill where they lived in villages on the range. Geronimo died at Fort Sill of pneumonia in 1909 and is buried there. The rest of the Apaches remained on Fort Sill until 1913 and they were taught by Lt. Hugh L. Scott to build houses, raise crops and herd cattle.
   Until the territory opened for settlement, Fort Sill's mission was one of law enforcement and soldiers protected the Indians from outlaws, squatters and cattle rustlers.


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