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Camp Arbuckle was established in 1850 by Company D of the Fifth Infantry, Capt. Randolph B. Marcy commanding. In spring 1850 Marcy was ordered to build a fortification to protect the California Road. After marching some seventy miles from Fort Washita, he selected a site for the outpost on August 22, 1850. Named in honor of Gen. Matthew Arbuckle, Camp Arbuckle was located just south of the Canadian River, one mile northwest of present Byars in McClain County.

Tents sheltered the soldiers until their barracks was completed in December. The log structure measured two hundred feet by twenty-five feet, contained a kitchen, and was constructed with a clapboard roof, puncheon floors, and chimneys. Four separate officers' huts were built. The site proved unacceptable, however, and was abandoned in April 1851. The troops relocated south to near present Hoover, in Garvin County, and constructed Fort Arbuckle along Wild Horse Creek. No ruins of Camp Arbuckle remain.

Delaware Indians under Black Beaver dwelled near Camp Arbuckle and occupied the post after Company D departed. Lt. Amiel Weeks Whipple visited the site, by then known as Beaversville, in August 1853. His party was conducting a transcontinental railroad survey and spent four days there resting and making repairs. Heinrich Balduin Mällhausen, the expedition topographer and artist, drew the only image of the settlement known to exist. The Delaware vacated Beaversville prior to the Civil War.

To avoid confusion, it should be noted that two other Oklahoma military posts were named Camp Arbuckle. In 1832 ranger companies under Capts. Nathan Boone and Lemuel Ford established a Camp Arbuckle on the west bank of the Grand (Neosho) River, some two miles south of Fort Gibson. In 1834 a Camp Arbuckle was built at the confluence of the Arkansas and Cimarron rivers. Sometimes called Fort Arbuckle, it served as a forward base for the Dodge-Leavenworth Expedition. Located west of present Sand Springs, the site is listed in the National Register of Historic Places (NR 78002269).


BIBLIOGRAPHY: William Brown Morrison, "Fort Arbuckle," The Chronicles of Oklahoma 6 (March 1928). William Brown Morrison, Military Posts and Camps in Oklahoma (Oklahoma City: Harlow Publishing, 1936). George H. Shirk, "The Site of Old Camp Arbuckle," The Chronicles of Oklahoma 27 (Autumn 1949).

Jon D. May

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