While Fort Davis by Big Bend National Park gets more coverage, and Fort Concho in San Angelo is more visited (and both are deserving in
their own right) - more than any other fort, Fort Richardson embodies American Indian reservation policy.

The fort's original location was supposed to be near
Buffalo Springs in today's southern Clay County, but a dry spell made water scarce,
and instead, a new site along Lost Creek was selected instead. Established in 1868, the fort served - like all Texas forts did - as a station of
protection and offense against the Comanches and Kiowas. Fort Richardson, named after Union General Israel Bush Richards (who was
called Fighting Dick), encompassed 300 (!!) acres and had 55 buildings, by far the largest installment in Texas and the only fort close to

Indian Territory.

Being in such proximity to the Red River, Fort Richardson became the staging area for the Red River Wars, waged from 1871-1874.

A Kiowa Reservation after Washita
The Kiowas had been living in the confining protection of Fort Sill since the Washita battle of 1868. General George A. Custer, commander
of the famous Battle of the Washita against Black Kettle's band of Cheyennes and other tribes, used the occasion  to slaughter men,
women and children in an incredible war of attrition. The battle occurred a year after the Medicine Lodge Peace Treaties had been signed
to prevent such these tactics. However, General William Tecumseh Sherman had ordered the battle to force the Cheyennes, Kiowas, and
Comanches onto their reservations, as they had been leaving them in order to hunt and trade. But warrior bands of the tribes also left the
reservation to kill. In 1871, Kiowa bands under Chiefs Satanta and Big Tree, based out of Fort Sill, raided the Warren Wagon Train along the
Butterfield-Overland route. Seven teamsters were killed in what was termed the Salt Creek Massacre.

Criminalizing the Indian
After the Salt Creek Massacre, Sherman ordered the arrests of the leaders of the Wagon Raid, who were jailed at Fort Richardson to
individually stand trial in a civil court. This marked a continuation of Indian reservation policy set in 1862, when over 150 Dakotas were
sentenced to death by hanging in Minnesota Territory for waging war against settlers. Though sentenced to death, the punishment for the
leaders of the Wagon Train massacre's was commuted by Governor Edmund Davis. After serving time in Huntsville, Satanta and Big Tree
were sent back to Fort Sill, but they continued to fight to preserve the Kiowa way of life, participating in the
Red River Wars.

After the Kiowa and Comanche surrendered in 1874, Satanta was re-arrested and sent back to Huntsville, where he committed suicide. Big
Tree lived a long life, dying in Anadarko in 1929.

By 1878, the frontier was considered secure, and the fort was closed. Today, Fort Richardson is an interesting state park not far from
Jacksboro, with restored buildings and a hiking trail. It's hard to imagine that this serene park saw so much brutal history a mere 130 years
From Denton, take US 380 west to Jacksboro. The fort is north on US 281.

From Fort Worth, take TX 199 north to Jacksboro. TX 199 merges with US 281 south
of Jacksboro.
1941 graffiti adorns the interior of the powder magazine at Fort Richardson.
Ruins of the Fort Richardson guardhouse
Satanta, Chief of a Kiowa band, speaks at the Treaty of Medicine Lodge:

"I have heard that you intend to settle us on a reservation near the mountains. I don't want to settle there. I love to roam over the wide
prairie, and when I do it I feel free and happy, but when we settle down, we grow pale and die

Hearken well to what I say. I have laid aside my lance, my bow, and my shield, and yet  I feel safe in your presence. I have told you the truth.
I have no little lies hid about me, but I don't know how it is with the Commissioners; are they as clear as I am? A long time ago this land
belonged to our fathers, but when I go up the river I see a camp of soldiers, and they are cutting my wood down, or killing my buffalo. I
don't like that , and when I see it my heart feels like bursting with sorrow. I have spoken."

Excerpted from My Early Travels and Adventures in American and Aisa (London: Sampson, Low, Marston and Co., 1895) by Henry M. Stanley.
In Our Hearts Fell to the Ground: Plains Indian Views of How the West was Lost, ed. by Colin G. Calloway.Boston: Bedford/St. Martin's, 1996.
The Salt Creek, site of the Warren Wagon Train Raid in Young County.
Fort Richardson:
The Red River War Fort
Quanah Parker and a few members of his family. Parker, son of Nocona and Cynthia Ann Parker, was designated the Chief of the Comanche after
the Red River War by McKenzie because he worked well in both the white and Comanche worlds. He preferred the Comanche ways, however,
steadfastly refusing to give up his religion and his way of life, which included his many wives. (Portal to Texas History)
Fort Richardson hospital.
Questions or comments? E-mail me: robin@redriverhistorian.com
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