General Phil Sheridan and Scout Ben Clark

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General Sheridan

In July 1885, General Sheridan (called Little Phil) crossed the Cimarron River in Indian Territory enroute to the Cheyenne Agency. President Cleveland had ordered reinforcements to Fort Reno along with Generals Sheridan and Miles to meet with Agent Dyer and the Cheyenne leader Stone Calf. General Sheridan concluded that Agent Dyer was not aggressive enough in his efforts to disarm, dismount and put Indians onto farms near Darlington.

General Sheridan recommended to President Cleveland that all leases be terminated in Indian Territory and that unauthorized persons be removed from Indian land and that the military personnel replace the civilians at the Cheyenne and Arapaho Agency. Sheridan spent time at Fort Reno during the early years, and a log cabin structure known as ‘Sheridan’s Headquarters’ or Billet is now located on the Canadian County Historical Museum grounds in El Reno.

General Sheridan organized a Turkey Hunt that five Generals attended, led by his favorite scout, Ben Clark, longtime resident of Fort Reno, buried in the Post Cemetery.

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Ben Clark (Scout)

To many Indian Wars historians, cavalry scout Ben Clark is the most notable burial in the post cemetery. Clark (1842-1914) was dispatched to lead groups throughout the Great Plains to several forts. In the Civil War he was with the 6th Kansas Cavalry. In 1868 he was assigned to Lt. Col. George Custer’s 7th Cavalry at Camp Supply (Fort Supply in present NW Oklahoma) as Chief of Scouts, and led the 7th Cav south to the Washita River where they attacked the winter camp of Cheyenne “Peace Chief” Black Kettle in the controversial “Battle of the Washita” on November 27. Clark was said to have defied Custer twice Re: complaining that troops & Osage scouts were shooting at women & children; and advocated an exit plan when the campaign was threatened by warriors from other camps.

Clark came to Fort Reno from Fort Supply in January of 1878 as “Post Interpreter”, to the Cheyennes, at $100 a month. He had married into the Cheyenne tribe. He, his third wife Moka (Mo-kay) and five of their eleven children are in the post cemetery.

In 1888, Clark welcomed and hosted famous New York artist Frederic Remington who produced several drawings and paintings inspired by his 3 months at Fort Reno. Clark was also called “Chief of Scouts” and led officers and other dignitaries on hunting trips. The Clarks lived in a log house, then moved into the remodeled one-room 1878 school/chapel (Bldg.10, to be restored). In 1908 Clark was placed in temporary charge of the post during the transition from a garrisioned fort to a Quartermaster Remount Station. Clark wrote over 400 pages of “Ethnography and Philology of the Cheyenne”, mostly dictionary, which is at the Autry National Center museum in Los Angeles, CA.