Established in 1834 by A and C companies of the Third Infantry, Capt. James Dean commanding, Camp Washita served as a forward base for the Dodge-Leavenworth Expedition. In June 1834 Captain Dean's troops proceeded to clear a road from Fort Towson to the mouth of the Washita River, where they had been ordered to construct a blockhouse and a barracks.
The Dodge-Leavenworth Expedition left Fort Gibson on June 15, 1834. After marching some two hundred miles toward the southwest, Brig. Gen. Henry Leavenworth's advance party reached Camp Washita on June 29. Accompanying Leavenworth was artist George Catlin. The First Dragoon Regiment, led by Lt. Col. Stephen Watts Kearny, arrived at the encampment on July 1.
Nearly one-half of the some five hundred dragoons were ill at Camp Washita, where many died. All capable troops resumed their march on July 3. Colonel Kearny was placed in command of the campsite, where the sick soldiers and some seventy-five disabled horses and mules remained. After completing their mission, the dragoons bypassed Camp Washita and returned to Fort Gibson via the Canadian River. Camp Washita was abandoned in autumn 1834.
The precise location of Camp Washita is uncertain. According to George Catlin it was situated "on the point of land between the Red and False Washita rivers, at their junction." Historian Muriel H. Wright placed the campground along Rock Creek southwest of Platter in Bryan County. Both sites now lie under Lake Texoma.
BIBLIOGRAPHY: Brad Agnew, Fort Gibson: Terminal on the Trail of Tears (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1980). Grant Foreman, Pioneer Days in the Early Southwest (Cleveland, Ohio: The Arthur H. Clark Company, 1926). William Brown Morrison, Military Posts and Camps in Oklahoma (Oklahoma City: Harlow Publishing, 1936). George H. Shirk, "Peace on the Plains," The Chronicles of Oklahoma 28 (Spring 1950).
Jon D. May
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