Early History of Fort Reno

Early History of Fort Reno:
1891LithographFort Reno began as a military camp in 1874 in the Indian Wars Era. It was established at the insistence of Agent John Miles at the Darlington Indian Agency, to pacify the Cheyenne’s & Arapahos there. Troops from the 10th Cavalry (Buffalo Soldiers) were dispatched from Fort Sill, but, because of other Indian unrest, were detained at the nearby Wichita Agency at present day Anadarko. The military “Camp Near the Cheyenne Agency” for Darlington was then set up for 19 months by soldiers from the 5th Infantry and 6th Cavalry from Fort Dodge and Fort Leavenworth under Lt. Col. Thomas Neil.

In 1875, the commanding officer was authorized to select a site, on the other (south) side of the N.Canadian River, and build corrals and a wagon yard, dig wells, and set up a sawmill for the military post. According to the “Post Returns” (monthly reports) the permanent location was named “Fort Reno” in February 1876 by General Phil Sheridan, in honor of his dear friend Major General Jesse L. Reno, a Virginian, who was killed in the Civil War in 1863 at the Battle of South Mountain in Maryland.

The cavalry and infantry stationed at Fort Reno played an important role in the transition of the area from Indian Territory status to Oklahoma statehood in 1907. United States Cavalry units, including the Buffalo Soldiers (Black soldiers of the 9th and 10th U.S. Cavalry, and the 24th and 25th Infantry), and the Cheyenne & Arapaho Indian Scouts, along with the U.S. Marshal Service, maintained the peace on the central plains until the turn of the century.

The Cavalry and Cheyenne Police later operated the “beef issue” which entailed issuing the Tribes live Longhorn cattle to chase and shoot like buffalo. The Longhorns had been herded up the Chisholm Trail, a part of the also famous 1867 Texas or Abilene Trail, which divided south of the South Canadian River, a leg (or variant) of the trail going northwest to the Fort Sill – Arkansas City wagon road, then through Fort Reno lands. The famous trail continued north of Fort Reno where the issue pens were located, then across the North Canadian River and through the Darlington/Cheyenne & Arapaho Agency, on north over Concho Hill/Caddo Springs (present day Cheyenne & Arapaho headquarters), and north to join up with the main trail at the Cimarron River (called the Red Fork of the Arkansas) and the Red Fork Ranch supply and remount station (present town of Dover).

Fort Reno troops were prominent in the “Indian Wars” era of the 1870s.

The Fort Reno troops helped locate and made several evictions of the “Boomers” from the Unassigned Lands of Indian Territory for ten years prior to the opening for settlement by the 1889 land run. The Fort Reno soldiers also assisted with the land runs of 1892 and 1894. In 1892 some Fort Reno troopers were dispatched to the Choctaw capitol of Tuskahoma to help quell a political dispute among the “Five Civilized Tribes”. In 1898 Fort Reno troops distinguished themselves in the Spanish-American War in Cuba. In 1900, Fort Reno troops were sent to Henrietta where they helped quell the “Creek Rebellion” by capturing Crazy Snake and 67 of his followers. In 1906, as a result of the Brownsville, Texas incident, wherein Black troopers from Fort Brown allegedly had a nighttime shootout with civilians, an entire battalion of the Black 25th Infantry was sent to Fort Reno and discharged.