Fort Defiance (7)

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Fort Defiance (7) (1851-1864) - A U.S. Army fort established in 1851 in the present day town of Fort Defiance in Apache County, Arizona. Abandoned in 1864.

Fort Defiance Officer's Quarters circa 1905
Fort Defiance Seth Eastman Painting circa 1873

Fort Defiance History

A U.S. Army fort established in 18 Sep 1851 under the direction of Colonel Edwin V. Sumner as the first U.S. military post in Arizona. The post was built out as an open plan fort with a central parade surrounded by the barracks, officer quarters and other post buildings.

Colonel Joseph K.F. Mansfield visited Fort Defiance on an inspection tour of western forts on 15-20 Sep 1853. Colonel Mansfield found the post in good order with 8 officers and 167 enlisted men. He noted that the men had not been paid for six months. He also noted that the Navajos were freely admitted to the post but had a separate building for any that stayed past Tattoo. His estimation of the Indian strength was 1,000 warriors in the area.

The post was involved in several skirmishes with the Navajos during the 1850's but on 30 Apr 1860 some 1,000 Navajos directly attacked the post. The attack was unsuccessful. The post was abandoned on 25 Apr 1861 when the regular U.S. Army troops were recalled to the east for duty in the U.S. Civil War.

The post was reactivated in 1863 by Colonel Kit Carson, 1st New Mexico Infantry, to keep the Navajos under control. Colonel Carson also established Fort Canby (2) some 28 miles to the southwest as a base for his Navajo campaign. Both posts were abandoned in October 1864 and Fort Defiance became a Navajo Agency in 1868.

Current Status

Fort Defiance, Apache County, Arizona.

Location: Fort Defiance, Apache County, Arizona.

Maps & Images

Lat: 35.7537 Long: -109.0818



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