Fort Sill – A Camera Trip Through Fort Sill (PDF)

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History of Fort Sill ……. Fort Sill, established in 1869 by General P. H. Sheridan, figures prominently in the History of Oklahoma and the development of the West. Now the location of the Field Artillery School, the site first was visited by forces of the United States Army in the summer of 1834, when Colonel Henry Dodge camped in the vicinity for a conference with the Comonche Indians. During the following 15 years, the Wichita Indians lived in a village of grass houses where the Field Artillery School now stands. Captain Randolph B. Marcy, during his Red River explorations in 1852, stopped in the locality where Fort Sill later was erected, and urged that a military post be built there. Other explorers made similar recommendations. Definite action, however, was not taken by the government until 1869. At that time General Sheridan declared that the Indians were imperfectly subdued and that a military post in the area was necessary. During the first week of January, 1869, General Sheridan moved troops from Fort Cobb to Fort Sill. The expedition under Sheridan consisted of four companies of the 10th Cavalry, General George A. Ouster’s 7th Cavalry, the 19th Cavalry, and two companies of the 6th Infantry. Custer’s regiment and the Kansas volunteers departed in March, but the other troops remained under command of Colonel B. H. Grier-son to construct the new post. Shortly after the arrival of the expedition. Colonel Grierson selected the site of the present Old Post. Nearby were sufficient water, wood, forage and building rock. Adjutant Samuel I. Woodward was directed to kill some buffaloes to supply the command with fresh meat. The chase extended over the Adams Hill – Arbuckle Hill area, where over fifty buffaloes were killed in two hours. Comanche chiefs were invited to dine with the officers. In return for this courtesy, they staged a scalp dance. The camp first was called Camp Wichita – in honor of the Indians whose village had been there, later it was known as Camp Medicine Bluff. On August 1, 1869, General Sheridan officially named the new post Fort Sill, in honor of General Joshua W. Sill, a West Point Classmate, who was killed December 31,1862, at the battle of Stone River, Tenn. Early in 1870, construction of the permanent post was begun. Most of the labor was performed by the troops. Construction was interrupted frequently by raiding Kiowas and Comanches. A large stone corral – loopholed for defense – was built to provide protection for livestock. In that same year a stone blockhouse was built on Signal Mountain, the same one now used as an artillery reference point. The old post guardhouse, which served as a dungeon for many of the worst Indians (including Geronimo), now is the Field Artillery museum. The 29th Battery of Field Artillery, the first field artillery unit stationed here, came to Fort Sill on January 9, 1902. The separation of the Field Artillery and Coast Artillery in 1907 made it necessary to introduce some uniform system of instruction for Field Artillery officers. The result was the establishment in 1911 of the School of Fire for Field Artillery at Fort Sill. The post then was enlarged by construction of what now is known as the New Post – located west of the Old Post and southeast of Medicine Bluff. The school’s troops and instructors were sent to Texas because of troubles on the Mexican border in 1916 and for a year the school did not function. In 1917, as a result of our entry into World War I, the School of Fire was revived and enlarged. At the time of the Armistice more than 1,500 student officers were being graduated every twelve weeks. In 1919, the Field Artillery School was reorganized and continued for the peace-time army. After 35 disastrous fires of incendiary origin, started by excitement-hungry soldiers during 1924-26, funds were appropriated in 1933 and 1934 for the present new Administration building and permanent barracks for troops, as well as officers’ and non-commissioned officers’ quarters. The permanent post itself consists of the Academic, Concurrent, Old Post and New Post areas and Post Field. Temporary construction south of the main Post includes the Field Artillery Replacement Training Center, Cantonment Hospital, Reception Center and the 112th and 349th Field Artillery and the Cantonment areas. The old stone post of the Indian days stands unchanged in general appearance, although the buildings have modernized equipment and interiors.