Named in honor of Jefferson Davis, president of the Confederate States of America, Cantonment Davis was the principal Confederate outpost in northern Indian Territory during the Civil War. Located on the south bank of the Arkansas River two and one-half miles northeast of present Muskogee, "Fort" Davis, as it was more commonly called, served briefly as Confederate headquarters in Indian Territory. Ordered built by Brig. Gen. Albert Pike in November 1861, Fort Davis was strategically positioned near the Texas Road. The post surrounded a prehistoric mound that, along with the natural slope of the terrain, helped conceal Confederate activity and provided a clear view of the countryside. Lacking a stockade, Fort Davis consisted of thirteen wooden buildings and covered an area of about eight acres. Troops from the Five Civilized Tribes, Texas, and Arkansas garrisoned the post. Following the Confederate defeat at the battle of Pea Ridge, Arkansas, in March 1862, General Pike, fearing a Union attack, abandoned Fort Davis and moved his troops south where they constructed Fort McCulloch in the Choctaw Nation. Union troops led by Col. William A. Phillips occupied and burned Fort Davis on December 27, 1862. The site of Fort Davis was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1971 (NR 71000670).
BIBLIOGRAPHY: William P. Corbett, "Confederate Strongholds in Indian Territory: Forts Davis and McCulloch," in Early Military Forts and Posts in Oklahoma, ed. Odie B. Faulk, Kenny A. Franks, and Paul F. Lambert (Oklahoma City: Oklahoma Historical Society, 1978). Grant Foreman, "Fort Davis," The Chronicles of Oklahoma 17 (June 1939). Muriel H. Wright and LeRoy H. Fischer, "Civil War Sites in Oklahoma," The Chronicles of Oklahoma 44 (Summer 1966).
Jon D. May
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