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Chronicles of Oklahoma
Volume 19, No. 2
June, 1941
Commandant at Fort Gibson, Fort Towson and Fort Smith

By Carolyn Thomas Foreman

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An early commander on the western frontier was James B. Many who was born in Delaware; he entered the United States Army as a first lieutenant in the Second Artillerists and Engineers June 4, 1798.1 The regiment of Artillerists and Engineers was organized under the Act of April 27, 1798 and consisted of three battalions of four companies each. On March 2, 1799, when an additional battalion of artillery was authorized it became part of the regiment, thereafter designated as the Second Regiment of Artillerists and Engineers.2

The treaty for the cession of Louisiana to the United States was signed April 30, 1803, and the country was delivered December 20 of that year. When France and Spain were ordered to surrender posts of Upper Louisiana on January 16, 1804, Captain Amos Stoddard became the governor; Capt. James B. Many, commanding a body of United States troops, went to San Estevan de Arkansas, or Arkansas Post to assume command under the new regime. In his presence, on March 23, 1804, the Spanish commandant, Ignace el Leno, fired a salute to the Spanish flag as it was run down and another to the Stars and Stripes when it was first floated over the post.3

Arkansas Post, on a level tract of land slightly elevated above the adjacent bottom, was located between two bayous on a bend of the Arkansas River.4 This, the earliest settlement in the territory, was some twenty miles above the mouth of the Arkansas River. The Chevalier Henry de Tonti, by a patent granted him by La Salle in 1683, built a large log house surrounded by a palisade on the site and it was there that Laclede, the founder of St. Louis, died on June 20, 1778.5

Zebulon Montgomery Pike reported that when his expedition arrived "at a point equidistant between Fort Massac [Illinois] & the

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confluence of the Ohio & Mississippi Rivers, about eighteen miles below Fort Massac the Army landed on the 5th January 1801 at a high Bluff on the Right Bank of the River where they encamped cleared the ground which was covered with heavy timber, laid out an encampment after the plan of Greenville built with log huts which was named Wilkinsonville." Lieutenant Many was one of the officers who joined the garrison at that place.6 In "Pike's Dissertation on Louisiana" he wrote of "Captain Maney's" voyages on White River which Pike believed to be the White River of the Mississippi.7

When Pike, on his expedition to the headwaters of the Mississippi, arrived at Rock Island, April 25, 1806, he found Captain Many there searching for some Osage prisoners among the Sacs and Reynards; he related that the Indians at the large Sac village of Stony Point were exceedingly hostile. He was met at the mouth of the river by an old Indian, who informed him that all of the Indians in the town were intoxicated and he advised Many to go up alone. He refused to adopt this plan and when he and his troops reached the place they were "saluted by the appellation of the bloody Americans who had killed such a person's father, such a person's mother, brother, etc." The Indian women, fearing trouble carried off and hid the arms. When Many crossed the river he was followed by some of the Red Men who had concealed pistols under their blankets. They refused to hold a conference to arrange for delivery of prisoners and demanded in an insolent manner Many's reason for wearing a plume in his hat, declaring they considered that a signal of war and they proceeded to decorate themselves with raven feathers which they wore only at periods of hostility.

After breakfast, April 26, Pike and Many embarked under full sail, down the Mississippi River and encamped at Grant's Prairie. The next day they arrived at Nauvoo, Illinois where they found all of the Indians drunk. The boats were rowed (with four oars) all night and on April 30 they reached Portage des Sioux at daylight.8

At Chihuahua, Mexico, June 1, 1807, Pike met a Virginian of the assumed name of Martin Johnson who told him he had been captured by the Osages, stripped and robbed. Pike thought him an agent of Aaron Burr, when one of his soldiers told him the man's real name was Trainer and that he had shot and killed Major Bashier (?) between Natchez and Tennessee while in his employ. He left the state and went to the source of White River whence he was driven out by Captain Many and a party of Cherokees. Trainer and an Amazonian companion departed for the West, eventually going to Mexico where he was arrested with property belonging to

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the murdered Brashier in his possession. The Mexican officer had him sent to the interior to be incarcerated for life.9

Many received his majority May 5, 1813, and on May 12 the following year he was transferred to the artillery corps.10 In 1814, Many was ordered from New Orleans where he had served since 1805 to Sackett's Harbor, New York, and on November 27, 1814 Major Many requested Secretary of War James Monroe to order him to New Orleans or Mobile for duty, saying he had served eight or nine years in the South and being accustomed to the climate, he flattered himself he would be useful there. His plea was evidently granted for he was on leave from the middle of December to the first of March and gave his address as Charleston, South Carolina, in July, 1815. This was his first leave in fourteen years.11

From Dover (Delaware?) Many wrote, January 10, 1815, saying he had not had a command assigned him and requested duty in the South. He reported from Charleston, June 1, 1815, that he had been put in command of troops in the harbor, by order of Major General Pinckney. Many wrote the adjutant and inspector general from New Orleans, August 16, 1816, sending an estimate for the amount of clothing and funds necessary to equip the four companies of artillery stationed in the Eighth Military Department. Articles required were: "Coats, Epaulets, Roundabouts, Shirts, Caps, Plates, Plumes, Stocks, Gaithers, F. Shirts, Hose, Shoes, Blankets, Great Coats, Frocks, Jackets, Trowsers, W. Overalls." From this estimate one would judge the artillerymen were well accoutred and no doubt they made a dashing appearance with their plumes, stocks, gaiters and epaulettes, but some of the garments seem rather warm for the Louisiana climate. From the same post on November 10, 1816, Many reported to General Parker the names of officers making up his battalion and saying that many of the officers had not yet joined.

Many was still in New Orleans December 17, 1817 from where he wrote the adjutant and inspector general that he had been ill; he was "greatly in want of officers...I want men & have no recruiting funds..." In February, March and May 1819, Major Many was in New Orleans but in April of that year he was president of a Court of Inquiry at Fort Charlotte, Alabama. On September 30, 1821, Many asked Colonel Gadsden for leave of absence, saying "I have had but two furloughs in 23 years service, and those but for a short time."

Many was transferred to the Fourth Infantry June 1, 1821, and he joined the Fifth Infantry in October of that year.12 Many be-

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came lieutenant-colonel of the Seventh Infantry, vice Bread who declined, January 1, 1822 to rank from June 1, 1821.13 He was ordered to Fort Gibson in 1824 and on March 18, 1825, he was sent to Fort Towson to relieve Major A. Cummings. A court of Inquiry was convened at the Cantonment April 20, to investigate the conduct of Major Cummings and other officers of the post who had been charged with resisting civil authorities of the Territory of Arkansas on or about January 19-21, 1825; the committee was made up of Col. T. B. Archer, president; Lieut. Col. J. B. Many and Capt. Nathaniel Young.

In June, 1825, Many was commandant at Fort Smith, Arkansas according to regimental returns of the Seventh Infantry; he held the post of commander at Fort Gibson from August to September 6, 1825 and in October he was at Cantonment Jesup, Louisiana. On September 24, 1827, Colonel Many detailed Capt. Nathaniel Young to cut a road to Cantonment Towson.

Timothy Flint wrote that he was most hospitably received when he arrived at Cantonment Jesup; this post within twenty-five miles of the Sabine River, was farther southwest than any other fort in the United States. "They have very comfortable quarters, two companies of soldiers, and a number of very gentlemanly officers, the whole under the command of Col. Many. It produces singular sensations, to see all of the pomp and circumstance of military parade, and to hear the notes of the drum and the fife, breaking the solitude of the wilderness of the Sabine. . . "14

Owing to trouble over the boundary line between the United States and Mexico in 1830, the Indians were greatly disturbed. Col. Peter Ellis Bean, of the Mexican army, went to Pecan Point on the south side of Red River, opposite the present McCurtain County, Oklahoma, with the intention of establishing a garrison. This plan was opposed by Gov. John Pope of Arkansas and also by the Caddo Indians; Texas authorities had involved the Cherokee Indians in their quarrels and Colonel Bean threatened to send a band of them to destroy the Caddoes. Their agent, Jehiel Brooks, from Natchitoches, called on Colonel Many at Fort Jesup for soldiers to protect his Indians. The War Department issued orders for a detachment of troops to go to the mouth of the Kiamichi River to re-establish a garrison on the site of the abandoned Fort Towson in order to quell disorders on Red River.15

For ten years faithful service in one grade Many was brevetted colonel June 1, 1831.16 Late in October of that year, with four com-

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panies of the Seventh Infantry, Many left Fort Jesup where they had been stationed eight or nine years. The command left Natchitoches, twenty-five miles east of Fort Jesup, aboard the steamboat Enterprise; they changed boats at Little Rock because of low water and arrived at Fort Gibson aboard the Reindeer and two keel boats in February, 1832.

Col. Matthew Arbuckle who established Cantonment Gibson and commanded there many years, left, with his aide Lieut. Dixon S. Miles, for Washington in February, 1832, leaving Colonel Many in command until his return on July 8, 1832.17

From Fort Smith, March 12, 1832, F. W. Armstrong, Cherokee Agent West, wrote Colonel Many: "Before this I presume you have been apprised of the order given me by the Secretary of War, in November last, authorizing me to call on Colonel Arbuckle, then commanding officer, for the necessary aid to open a road from this place, or some point above on the Arkansas, to Red River, (if, in my opinion, the public interest requires it.) I have made the necessary examination, and have had the best woodsmen engaged with me, for the purpose of ascertaining both the utility and practicability of this contemplated road; and upon both points I am satisfied of its importance to the public."

Armstrong, therefore, made the call upon Many to carry out the order of the Secretary of War. He had engaged Col. Robert Bean, of Arkansas Territory, to accompany the command and he was prepared to "point out the precise ground over which the road will run." They were prepared to begin cutting the road on the arrival of troops at Fort Smith. The Cherokee agent pointed out the necessity of completing the work before the extreme heat should begin; the route would pass across several small prairies, and some twelve to fifteen miles in length, where the flies would be extremely hard on the horses and oxen employed in building the road.18

On March 22, 1832, Colonel Many ordered Capt. John Stuart of the Seventh Infantry to go to Fort Smith to consult with Colonel Bean before beginning construction of the road. "Though embarrassed by conflict between the military and the Indian service which deprived him of adequate means and facilities for doing the work, Stuart, with his force of men, made the road; on his return to Fort Gibson he prepared" a report to the commanding officer.19

Colonel Many, July 1, 1832, ordered companies E, T, K, and H with a detachment under Lieut. Richard H. Ross, to proceed on

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the third, under command of Brevet Lieut. Col. Sullivan Burbank, to Clarks Springs about seven miles east of Fort Gibson and there encamp. This was done to relieve the congested quarters at the fort and also for the benefit of the men as the springs were a more healthful location during the summer.20

Under the leadership of Judge [William C.?] Carr of St. Louis, a party of twelve traders left Santa Fe in December, 1832, for their homes in Missouri. They had their baggage and about ten thousand dollars in specie packed on mules. In descending the Canadian River they were attacked by a large band of Comanche and Kiowa Indians in the Panhandle of Texas near the site of the present town of Lathrop. Two of the men were killed and the survivors made their escape after a siege of thirty-six hours; all of the property was left with the Indians. Five of the traders went to the Creek settlements on the Arkansas River, enduring incredible hardships on the way, and finally reached Fort Gibson where they were cared for. Colonel Arbuckle, on May 6, ordered two select companies of the Seventh Infantry and three companies of Rangers to Red River.

Col. S. C. Stambaugh in a letter to the editor of the Little Rock Gazette, dated Fort Gibson, May 7, 1833, wrote: "One of the finest looking and apparently efficient commands that ever penetrated an Indian country west of the Mississippi, left here today." The expedition was expected to accomplish great results and for weeks men had been busy overhauling equipment, moulding bullets, parching and grinding corn to be used on the march since it furnished nourishment and a refreshing drink when mixed with a little sugar and water.21

The expedition, commanded by Colonel Many, made their first camp across the Arkansas River a few miles below the fort. They had orders to ascend the Blue and Washita rivers and to scour the country between Red River and the North Fork of the Canadian, a section of country unknown to the army. Their orders were to drive to the west all Comanche and Wichita Indians encountered and, if possible, to induce some of the chiefs to go to Fort Gibson for a council.

When nearing Red River, between the Washita and Blue rivers, June 2, 1833, George Abbay, a Ranger, was captured by Indians and carried away. Colonel Many ordered the entire force to pursue the Red Men, estimated to be 150 to 200 by Capt. Nathan Boone of the Rangers. The Indians crossed the Washita leaving horses, saddles, buffalo robes, bows and arrows in their flight, but escaping with Abbay. They were pursued in a westerly direction for twelve days but when the troops arrived at the present site of Fort Sill they were forced to abandon the hunt since food had been ex-

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hausted and many of the men were worn out and ill. They returned to Fort Gibson arriving there after an absence of fifty-four days.22

At the request of Colonel Arbuckle, Lieut. Col. I. H. Vose, Third Infantry, sent a small command from Fort Towson to meet Colonel Many at the Boggy or Blue River but because of heavy rains the force could not cross Boggy and the soldiers returned to their home post after a week's absence. Colonel Arbuckle feared that Many would be in need of provisions from Fort Towson but Vose thought there would be plenty of buffaloes to supply meat for the party, not knowing that they had passed beyond the range of those animals.23

Colonel Arbuckle's orders to Many24 stated: "A material object of your command is to give security to the Indian tribes (under protection of the U. S.) now settling on this frontier, as well as to prevent difficulties between these Tribes and between them and our citizens." If Many met Pawnee or Comanche east of his line he was directed to drive them west and keep them from harming the Indians on the frontier, but if he met them high up on Red River he was ordered to treat them in a friendly manner, to give them flags and medals and to try to induce five or six of the chiefs to return with him to Fort Gibson. Captain Boone was to make a survey of the expedition which was to return in fifty or sixty days.25

Many's report presents a striking account of the adventures and hardships of his command: "In obedience to instructions proceeded to the west Fork of Little river—water too high to cross—changed course to westward—kept up stream until we could cross, after crossing intended to follow dividing ridge between waters of Blue and Washita until we should reach mouth of latter. To get supplies from Fort Towson.

"We had proceeded in this direction about sixty miles nearly opposite the Falls on the Blue when an event occurred that changed our route; One of the rangers, a man by the name of Abbey of Captain Boone's company hunting about a mile and a half from where we were encamped, was taken by a number of Pawnee Indians, this we learned from our interpreter who was hunting near the same place. Immediately dispatching Captain Bean with a command to inquire into the affair; but night coming on, the Captain could make out nothing satisfactory; the next day Captain Boone was sent, when we ascertained that there had been a large party of Indians encamped close by where the man had been taken,—We now determined to pursue the trace of these Indians, the whole of whom were estimated to be from one hundred and fifty to two hundred, until we should overtake them.

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"These Indians fled with the utmost precipitation leaving their effects at their camp, and scattering them all along their trace as far as we could follow it; we far as the Ouichitta (a distance of about twenty-six miles) which we found impassible owing to the state of the water, and steepness of its banks.

"...we pursued our western course in hopes of falling in with these Indians or at all events of finding their Towns; in which after a fruitless search of twelve days we failed, and had to abandon the pursuit, as our provisions had given out...We had therefore to change our course and go in search of the buffalo and other game which we did not find till after travelling upward of thirty miles. The men had now become very much jaded and a number of sick, we therefore determined to return to Gibson with as little delay as possible..."

Many said the expedition succeeded in driving back the Pawnees so there was more security for friendly Indians; he recommended a new post at the mouth of the Washita as it was as easy to take supplies up there as to deliver them at Towson which gave little protection. "To make treaty with these Indians useless unless we set up a post-middle ground between these Indians and ours is in the country of game upon which they principally subsist...I have been cheerfully aided throughout my tour by all the officers...particularly by Captain Boone who was...useful as a woodsman and soldier."26

Brevet Brigadier General Henry Leavenworth was ordered to take command of all troops on the southwestern frontier with headquarters at Fort Gibson. He arrived there April 28, 1834, from Fort Towson and assumed command which he did not release until June 12 when he turned over the command to Lieut. Col. Many after the Dragoons left for the West.27

When General Arbuckle returned to Fort Gibson, June 7, 1834, the officers of the post tendered him a farewell dinner as he had been granted leave in consequence of ill health; Colonel Many presided at the party which was the largest social affair ever given at the fort. Numerous speeches were made and the General was speeded on his way with good wishes for his recovery.28

Colonel Many reported to Adjutant General Jones from Fort Gibson, July 18, 1834, that Capt. Clifton Wharton and his Company "A" of the Dragoons had arrived that day from "detached service escorting the Traders from St. Louis to Santa Fe."29 On July 21, 1834, Many received his full rank as colonel and was transferred to to the Third Infantry.30

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Early in February, 1836, Colonel Many, commanding the Third was commandant at Fort Jesup.31 This post had been built directly on the continuation of the Spanish trail in Louisiana; it was less than half way between the Sabine and Red River. A short distance south of Fort Jesup was a settlement whose name appears on various maps as "Many, Manny, Maney, and Mary on Emory's map, 1857-58."32 On present day maps the name is spelled Many and the town in Sabine County, Louisiana, was most likely named for the army officer who saw much service at the nearby post.

On December 11, 1836, Colonel Many arrived at New Orleans aboard the steamer Levant, from Natchitoches, Louisiana, and at the end of November, 1837, by Special Order No. 94, he was granted six months leave of absence.33

Gen. Sam Houston called on Colonel Many at Fort Jesup in August, 1838, for troops when a rebellion of the Mexicans and some of the Indians about Nacodoches occurred; it was not necessary to send the detachment as the appearance of the Texas militia caused the rebels and Indians to retreat.34 On November 30, Colonel Many with companies D, E, F, and K, of his regiment and a piece of artillery marched from Fort Jesup to expel about 160 Texans who had unjustifiably crossed the United States frontier under Gen. T. J. Rusk to disarm the Caddoes at Shreveport but the Texans soon departed after completing their mission.35

Colonel Many, with his force, returned to Jesup on January 15, 1839. The Natchitoches Herald stated that General Rusk and his Texans disarmed the Caddoes who had recently been in the neighbor republic; afterwards the General threatened the Indian agent, claiming he had furnished the Red Men with arms and ammunition.36

In his Letters From the Frontier37 Major General George A. McCall wrote his father from Fort Waka-sasa, August 26, 1842: "Jubilate the War is closed!" He related that the Seminoles were to be sent west; that two regiments were to remain in Florida, the Eighth under Colonel Worth and the Third which was Colonel Many's regiment but that he was superannuated and absent.

Lieut. Col. Ethan Allen Hitchcock, in March 1845, on an excursion to New Orleans, called on Colonel Many who seemed in "pretty good health, but has not been in active command of the regiment for many years." The same officer noted in his diary, New Orleans, July 16, 1845, that the Third Infantry, under his command, left Fort

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Jesup on July 7, at reveille, and marched sixteen miles towards Natchitoches. The next day the outfit marched to the river where it embarked aboard two steamboats and arrived at New Orleans on the tenth. The officer called on General Gaines and Colonel Many of their regiment who was still on sick leave from old age and its disabilities.38

In expectation of his promotion as colonel of the Third Infantry, and awaiting impatiently dead man's shoes, Hitchcock wrote that Colonel Many was "at death's door and for more than twenty years has never drawn his sword."39 The old colonel retained his command of the Third Infantry to the day of his death, February 23, 1852, at New Orleans.40

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