February 4, 2018

Indian War Military Posts of Yavapai County: A Primer

Fort Whipple
One cannot fully understand the Indian Conflicts in Yavapai county without a general understanding of the military posts of the time.

Here then is a primer of the early military posts including locations, dates, the the reason behind their names. This is first presented in alphabetical order followed by a chronological list.

Camp Clark:
Original name for Fort Whipple when it was first located at Del Rio Springs near Chino Valley. It was named for Surveyor General John A. Clark. Water was not a problem, but obtaining timber was. Since it had to be hauled 24 miles to the camp, few buildings would be considered permanent structures.

"There were erected for each depot Quartermaster and Commissary a very good building with canvas roof and a hospital about ready for occupation in 1864," but the rest of the structures were tents or had stone and mud walls.

The camp was in service from December 1863 to May 1864 when it was moved close to the town of Prescott and renamed Whipple Barracks (later Ft. Whipple).


Camp Date Creek:
Camp Date Creek Ruins
First called Camp McPherson (Jan 1867-Mar 1867) then moved 25 miles north and called Camp Skull Valley (Mar 1867-May 1867). The camp then moved back to Date Creek about 3 miles south of the railroad station. The camp would be moved a third time that year to another site on Date Creek. Finally on August 1868, the camp moved to its final location on the south bank of the creek where it functioned until the army abandoned it in 1874.

Moving the camp three times in the first year was made even more difficult by the use of mud roofs and the extremely heavy rains that year.

"The buildings of 1868 enclosed a quadrangular parade ground with the men's quarters, kitchen and post bake house on the north; officer's quarters on the south; the guard house on the east; and the hospital on the west. Water for the post was carted from Date Creek in barrels and run through charcoal filters."

"Officers of this post, under orders, seized a number of government animals in the hands of citizens on the La Paz road.


Camp Hualpai:
Camp Hualpai

Was first named Camp Toll Gate and was first established May 9, 1869. It was renamed Camp Hualpai August 1, 1870.

In November 1872, calvary and scouts from Camp Hualpai went to Camp Verde by way of the San Francisco Peaks and the upper Verde. The 15-day long expedition "destroyed a number of winter rancherias and killed 13 warriors."

On July 31, 1873 the post was given up by the military and formally turned over to the Dept. of the Interior April 22, 1873.

Camp Ilges:
Was a temporary post of which little is known. It was named for Col. Guido Ilges, an officer who served with distinction in Arizona in the 1870s--the same decade the temporary post was in use on the Verde River.


Camp Lewis:
Was probably established in 1865 on Fossil Creek near the head of the Verde River where it almost meets the Salt River and on the trail from the Verde Valley towards the Tonto Basin. While exact dates of operation aren't known, the camp does appear on maps from 1866-1870. It was named for Col. Charles H. Lewis who led several expeditions against the Apache in 1865-66.


Camp Lincoln:
Camp Lincoln
Was the first name given to Fort Verde when it was established in January 1864 on the east bank of the Verde River in the Verde Valley. Specifically it was located 1 mile north of the juncture of the the Verde and Beaver Creek. The site had been chosen by Gen. Crook himself.

Later that year, in February and March two expeditions set out for Indian marauders and "struck blows to the north of the Salt River." In April, 41 Indians were killed in the Verde Valley.

It was manned by a group of unpaid volunteers who went on strike on August 3, 1866 due to a complete lack of any provisions being provided them. By September 29th, the camp was regarrisoned by a company of the 11th Infantry. In November Pauline Weaver was assigned here as a scout and guide; on the 23rd, the post was renamed Camp Verde.


Camp McPherson:
The first name given to Camp Date Creek on January 23, 1867. Named for Brig. Gen. James B. McPherson who was killed in the Battle of Atlanta in July 1864. The troops who manned the camp sailed to La Paz by steamer and then were ordered to "camp at some healthy position on Date Creek as near as possible to the La Paz and Wickenburg roads." One company was assigned to protect the mail from La Paz to Prescott.

Just two months after establishment, the camp was moved 25 miles north and renamed Camp Skull Valley.

ALSO ENJOY: The Battle of the "Pinole Treaty"
Story of King S Woolsey's campaign against Apaches after AH Peeples' ranch was raided. Outnumbered, he convinced them to meet with him before slaughtering them.

Camp Rawlins:
Was a temporary camp located in Williamson Valley 27 miles northwest of Prescott on the old Hardyville Road. A sub-post of Whipple Barracks, it was named for Gen. John A. Rawlins of Civil War fame. it was in service from February-September, 1870.


Camp Skull Valley:
The second name given to Camp Date Creek. It was established in March 1867 and was previously known as Camp McPherson, but was short-lived. May 11th, that same year the camp moved back to Date Creek about 3 miles south of the railroad station. The name was officially changed to Camp Date Creek that following July 15th.


Camp Toll Gate:
Was the first name given to Camp Hualpai and was established May 9, 1869 "just southeast of Aztec Pass, and 40 miles northeast of Prescott on Walnut Creek, below the Juniper Range in Yavapai county." It was located between two canyons to guard the road against Indian attacks. It was here that people paid the toll to use the road. Its name was changed to Camp Hualpai August 1, 1870.


Camp Verde:
Was originally called Camp Lincoln and would eventually be named Fort Verde for the river and valley of the same name. It received its monicker Nov 23, 1866.

However, the location, so close to the river, was prone to flooding and considered too unhealthy.  So in the Spring of 1871, it was moved to the high mesa where the town of Camp Verde is located today.

It was here and at this time that Native Americans surrendered by the hundreds to receive food and clothing at the close of the Indian Conflicts.


Fort Verde: 
Fort Verde, 1931
Was originally known as Camp Lincoln and was located in the Verde Valley near where the Verde River meets Beaver Creek. It was renamed Camp Verde on November 23, 1866 and on April 5, 1879, the name was changed one last time to Fort Verde.

In 1881 fire destroyed some of the officer's quarters and thought was given to disposing of the buildings and selling the camp. However the post stayed in service until abandoned April 10, 1890. Eventually, the State of Arizona acquired the fort and turned it into a state park. (See "Tourist Tip" below.)


Whipple Barracks / Fort Whipple:
The main military post in Yavapai county and the only one that remained in service into the 20th century. It was originally called Camp Clark when it was located at Del Rio Springs near Chino Valley. When it moved close to the town of Prescott, it was renamed Whipple Barracks in honor of Brig. Gen. Emile W. Whipple who was fatally wounded at the Battle of Chancelorsville. It's name remained Whipple Barracks from 1869 to 1884. It was then renamed Fort Whipple.

A railroad depot for the post was built and a few businesses located around there. In 1869 the buildings of the post were condemned, torn down, and rebuilt.

In a six-year period, from 1872 to 1878, Whipple Barracks would suffer three fires: On April 27, 1872 the corral, stables, and shops of the depot were destroyed by fire. On October 27, 1878, a fire destroyed 3 sets of officer's quarters. Lastly in 1881 fire destroyed the headquarters office building.

The post was temporarily discontinued from 1898 until 1902 and in 1913 its days as a military fort ended. A portion of the land was added to the Prescott-Yavapai Indian Reservation. Eventually the post became the main Veteran's Administration center in Yavapai county.

Chronological Listing of Yavapai County's Indian War Military Posts:

1863-64 Camp Clark (later Whipple Barracks)
1864-66 Camp Lincoln (later Camp Verde)
1864-1884 Whipple Barracks (later Fort Whipple)
1865-70 Camp Lewis
1866-79 Camp Verde (later Fort Verde)
1867 Camp McPherson (later Camp Skull Valley)
1867 Camp Skull Valley (later Camp Date Creek)
1868-74 Camp Date Creek
1869-70 Camp Toll Gate (later Camp Hualpai)
1870 Camp Rawlins (Sub-post of Whipple Barracks)
1870-73 Camp Hualpai
1870's Camp Ilges
1879-90 Fort Verde
1884-1913 Fort Whipple

Tourist Tip:

Fort Verde was retained as a state park and is well worth the visit!
Three historic buildings house the museum's collection of artifacts recounting the Indian Wars in Arizona.

It gives hours, admission, location, and upcoming special events!


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Fort Whipple photos courtesy of Tim Gronek

Arizona's Names: X Marks the Place, by Byrd Howell Granger; 1983; Falconer Publishing Co. ISBN# 0-91-8080-18-5

Frontier Military Posts of Arizona, by Ray Brandes; 1960; Dale Stuart King, Six Shooter Canyon, Globe AZ, publisher; Library of Congress #60-15157.

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