Monday, September 5, 2016

Arizona Territory Army Posts

By Kristy McCaffrey

In the late 1800’s, the unrelenting migration of miners, ranchers, and settlers into the Arizona Territory produced the inevitable clash with Native Americans. It was Army posts—simple structures consisting of a few buildings, made of whatever material was handy—that held the fragile territory together.
Fort Apache, 1877.

Fort Apache in eastern Arizona was a key post in the Army campaign to round up Native Americans in the mid- to late 1800’s. Established in 1870 as Camp Ord, it was designated Camp Apache the following year as a token of friendship with the very people the military was battling. In 1879 it became Fort Apache. The fort protected the White Mountain Agency, fighting bands led by warriors such as Geronimo and Chato. On September 1, 1881, members of the White Mountain tribe attacked Fort Apache as payback for the Battle of Cibecue Creek in which a medicine man named Nochaydelklinne was killed. The two incidents helped reignite violence that lasted until Geronimo surrendered in 1886.

Remains of Camp Rucker.
Camp Rucker, first known as Camp Supply, was named in honor of Lt. John Anthony Rucker, who died trying to save a fellow officer from a rain-swollen stream. On July 21, 1880, six mules were stolen from the camp’s stables. They were later located at the ranch of Frank and Tom McLaury after a search by Lt. J.H. Hurst and U.S. Deputy Marshal Virgil Earp. (A year later, Earp and the McLaury’s would fight it out at the O.K. Corral in Tombstone.)

In central Arizona, Fort Verde was established in 1865 to protect settlements along the Verde River. This fort served as the primary base for Gen. George Crook’s U.S. Army soldiers and scouts who were tasked with capturing Apache and Yavapai people and placing them on reservations. Fort Verde State Historic Park is Arizona’s best-preserved example of a fort from the Indian wars. Three buildings remain today—the living quarters for the commanding officer, the doctor’s quarters and quarters for bachelor officers.

Fort Verde, 1887.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints also established forts in Arizona. In 1874, Mormon President Brigham Young ordered the building of a fort at Lees Ferry in northern Arizona, the only crossing of the Colorado River for 500 miles. And in 1870, construction was begun on a fort atop Pipe Springs, a naturally occurring gush of water on the vast prairie of the Arizona Strip, an area located north of the Colorado River. A telegraph was installed in 1871, connecting Utah outposts to the transcontinental line that passed through Salt Lake City, and was the first telegraph in Arizona.

Historic photo of a ferry at Lees Ferry.

Pipe Spring Fort.

* * * *
Kristy McCaffrey has been writing since she was very young, but it wasn’t until she was a stay-at-home mom that she considered becoming published. She’s the author of several historical western romances, all set in the American southwest. She lives in the Arizona desert with her husband, two chocolate labs, and whichever of their four teenage children happen to be in residence.

Available in Kindle Unlimited

Connect with Kristy


Kaye Spencer said...


What an interesting tidbit about the mules that were stolen from Camp Rucker. I didn't know about this the connection between the Mclaurys and the Earps before the O.K. Corral.

Agnes Alexander said...

An interesting post, Kristy. I'm setting a future book at an army post and I'm gathering all the info I can find. This is very helpful.

Kristy McCaffrey said...

Kaye and Agnes,
Glad the info could help! :-)

Shanna Hatfield said...

Very informative and interesting post, Kristy! Thank you for sharing such great details!