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Fort Supply History

Historic Fort Supply was established on November 18, 1868, as Camp of Supply for the winter campaign against the Southern Plains Indians in what is now western Oklahoma. From this post Lieutenant Colonel George A. Custer led the Seventh US Cavalry south to the Washita River and destroyed the village of Cheyenne Chief Black Kettle.

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 and the Cherokee Outlet. Camp Supply was the temporary seat of the Cheyenne and Arapaho Indian Agency in 1869 and early 1870.

The post served as a supply point for the Red River War of 1874–1875, the final struggle in the subjugation of the tribes of the Southern Plains. In 1878, an unsuccessful attempt to stop the flight of Northern Cheyenne from the reservation precipitated the last battle between Indians and US soldiers in Indian Territory.

Cavalry escorted cattle drives along the Western or Texas Trail as they made their way through the territory from Texas to Dodge City, Kansas. In the early 1880s they policed large grazing leases that cattlemen held on the Indian lands and the Cherokee Outlet. When Camp Supply became Fort Supply in December 1878, the post had become the hub of transportation and communication in a region that included southwest Kansas, the Texas Panhandle, and western Indian Territory. Troops built the roads and telegraph lines that linked the forts, reservations, and region’s settlements. They protected the stage coaches, freight haulers, and travelers as they moved along the trails.

The Land Run of 1893 opened the lands of the Cherokee Outlet to non-Indian settlement. The troops at Fort Supply policed the operation that proved to be the last major task for the soldiers. 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 post became the State of Oklahoma’s first state-operated mental institution with the arrival of the first patients in 1908. Northwest Center for Behavioral Health continues to serve the mental health needs of Oklahoma. Starting in 1969, the Oklahoma Historical Society assumed responsibility for the five remaining army period buildings. Since 1998, the William S. Key Correctional Center, a minimum security prison facility, has occupied most of the old post and hospital grounds.

Timeline

November 18, 1868
Camp Supply established near the confluence of the Beaver River and Wolf Creek in northwest Indian Territory.
November 23, 1868
Lieutenant Colonel George Custer’s Seventh Cavalry depart Camp Supply for the Battle of the Washita.
December 7, 1868
General Sheridan, Custer and troops depart Camp Supply to continue the Winter Campaign of 1868–69.
March 28, 1869
Custer and the Seventh Cavalry with captive Indian chiefs return to Camp Supply at the close of the campaign.
1869–70
Camp Supply is temporary Cheyenne and Arapaho Agency.
June 11, 1870
Troops repulse attack by Satanta’s Kiowas and Comanches in the Battle of Camp Supply.
1874–75
Camp Supply is the primary supply base for General Nelson Miles’s troops during the Red River War.
December 30, 1878
Camp Supply officially named Fort Supply by General Order No. 9.
May 5, 1879
Fort Supply soldiers ordered to expel boomers illegally entering the Cherokee Outlet.
April 27, 1889
Fort Supply troops assist with the opening of the Unassigned Lands, the Land Run of 1889.
September 16, 1893
Troops patrol borders at the opening of the Cherokee Outlet, the Land Run of 1893
September 15, 1894
General Order No. 45, Headquarters of the Army, closes Fort Supply.
February 26, 1895
Fort Supply placed in custody of the Department of Interior.
May 20, 1908
Oklahoma’s first insane asylum, now Western State Psychiatric Center, occupies the old post.
July 1, 1988
Oklahoma State Legislature, SB No. 403, designates Fort Supply Historic District.
December 6, 1988
William S. Key Correctional Center dedicated at Historic Fort Supply.