Fort Crawford (2)
Fort Crawford (2) (1880-1890) - A U.S. Army fort first established during the White River War under the supervision of 1st Lt. Calvin D. Cowles (Cullum 2492), 23rd U.S. Infantry, in 1880 near present day Colona, Montrose County, Colorado. Originally known as the Cantonment on the Uncompahgre and renamed Fort Crawford on 15 Dec 1886 after Captain Emmet Crawford, 3rd U.S. Cavalry, who was mortally wounded in the pursuit of Geronimo on 11 Jan 1886. Abandoned in 1890.
History of Fort Crawford
Established on 21 Jul 1880 in response to White River Agency Massacre that occurred on 29 Sep 1879. The massacre was precipitated by the Indian Agent, Nathan Meeker, who in an attempt to domesticate the local Ute tribe plowed up their race track for use as farmland. The Utes then killed all the men at the agency and kidnaped the women and children. The women and children were later released after a chiefs sister interceded on their behalf.
In a separate incident U.S. troops under Major Thomas T. Thornburgh (Cullum 2181) advanced into the Ute reservation, came under attack and were pinned down for six days until reinforcements arrived. Major Thornburgh and thirteen troopers were killed in the conflict which was known as the Battle of Milk Creek. Two days into the conflict a company of Buffalo soldiers under Captain Francis S. Dodge arrived and stabilized the position of the Army troops but the conflict continued until Colonel Wesley Merritt (Cullum 1868) with some 450 troopers arrived forcing the Utes to withdraw.
In the aftermath of the conflicts the Utes were forced to negotiate a treaty that removed them from most of their lands in Colorado to new reservations in Utah. Many of the Utes did not want to move and the Army sent troops under Colonel Randal S. MacKenzie (Cullum 1967), 4th U.S. Cavalry, from Fort Garland to facilitate the move and protect the Utes from angry settlers. Fort Crawford was established by these troops on 21 Jul 1880. The initial post housed four companies of the 4th U.S. Cavalry, five companies of the 19th U.S. Infantry and two companies of the 23rd U.S. Infantry. Originally envisioned as a temporary supply depot, it evolved into an elaborate post that was garrisoned for over ten years. As tensions eased and the Utes were resettled the post was abandoned on 31 Dec 1890 and the land returned to the Interior Department for disposition.
Marker near Colona, Montrose County, Colorado.
Visited: 27 Jun 2015