Monday, September 27, 2010

Civil War barracks destroyed by fire

The Washita Fort barracks, near Durant, Oklahoma, were destroyed by fire yesterday. Read more here. Another article here.

The Washita fort was built in 1842 to house federal troops protecting Choctaw and Chickasaw Indians from raids by plains tribes. It was abandoned in 1861 and taken over by the Confederate Army during the Civil War. According to Wikipedia,

Fort Washita became the headquarters of Brigadier General Douglas Cooper, who assumed command after the battle of Honey Springs. Other Confederate commanders during the Civil War include General Albert Pike, served as commander of Fort Washita for a short time before establishing Fort McCulloch a few miles to the east, and General Stand Watie. Near the end of the war in August 1865 Confederate forces burned the existing buildings and abandoned the post. A confederate cemetery remains to this day on the fort grounds.

After falling into disrepair, the site was purchased and reconstructed in the 1970s by the Oklahoma Historical Society. The site is also known for its ghost legends.


Gail said...

I am a native of Bryan Co. and am currently the curator of the Three Valley Museum in Durant, OK.
I think everyone in the county and those surrounding were heartbroken to see this happen to "our Ft." ...and that is what is was. Ours.

People have been married and buried there. I spent my first overnight camping trip in those barracks as a little girl. Most county kids spent at least one "end of the year school trip" exploring Ft. Washita.
It is a place deep in our hearts and soul. To see it burn - there are just no words.

Est. cost to rebuild is 3.5 million. The state cannot afford to rebuild. At least one group, "FIX OUR FORT" has staged one benefit and more are planned. You can run a search on Facebook for the group if you would like to check out their progress.

I would like to say this is only the first case of arson/vandalism to the many historic and sacred places in Oklahoma, but it is not. Spiro mounds and recreation villages there have been burned and looted, historic cemetaries across the state have seen centuries old headstones shattered...

When will we learn?

Tim Kent said...

Very very sad news. I want to cry every time we lose a piece of our history.