Fort History

Fort W.S. Harney Chapter OSSDAR


In 1867 fifty Chinese were ambushed en route to their mines at Silver City, Idaho. One man lived to tell the tale and the settlers demanded that the Army do something about protecting them. The response came in the rapid expansion of the brand new Camp Steele to a full-fledged post.

Company K of the 23rd infantry, on 16 August 1867,then established a camp on the west bank of the Rattlesnake River. On September 14, 1867, the camp was officially named Camp Harney for Brig. Gen. William S. Harney. It was officially designated Fort Harney on April 5, 1879.

In 1874 the fort was garrisoned by companies of the 21st infantry and Troop K, 1st calvary. By 1877 the fort consisted of long parade grounds running north and south; five officers' quarters buildings, two of logs and three of frame construction; three log soldiers' barracks; kitchens and mess halls; four log houses for married enlisted men; an eight-horsepower sawmill; a slaughter house, blacksmith shop, bakery, and commissary; stables for 150 horses; the quartermaster's storehouse, guardhouse, head quarters and a commanding officers' quarters. In addition to Army personnel, there were two masons, four clerks, one saddler, one shoemaker, one painter, one tailor, one baker and four laundresses.

The Fort was disbanded on June 13, 1880 and the buildings all dismantled. Nothing remains at the old fort site other than the fort cemetery which contains two civilian graves as well. The fort site is now on privately owned land approximated two miles southeast of Burns, Oregon.

Sources:
STORY OF CAMP HARNEY by Eugene E. Lucky for the Burns Times Herald
OLD FORTS OF THE NORTHWEST by Herbert M. Hart



Last updated February 3, 2003
Web manager, Barbra Schultz