Fort Richardson

A handful of United States Sixth Cavalry arrived to establish the post in Jacksboro in 1867. Fort Richardson was constructed following an abortive attempt to build a fort at Buffalo Springs. Ranald Mackenzie's Fourth Cavalry replaced the Sixth in 1870. Shortly thereafter General Sherman passed through on an inspection tour just in time for the Warren Wagon Train Massacre. Realizing how close he had come to losing his scalp and the power and viciousness of the Indian raiders, he instructed his subordinate General Sheridan to take all necessary measures to subdue the Kiowas and Comanches.

Sheridan saw to it that Mackenzie forces were well reinforced and soon his headquarters at Fort Richardson was the largest military installation in the United States. Acres of tents supplemented drafty cross timber and mud barracks. The most elaborate housed the growing family of adjutant R. G. Carter. His recollections of life at Fort Richardson included his necessity to station soldiers around the tent to hold down the stakes during a violent norther, which struck the night that his wife went into labor. He also fondly mentions his soldier's baby gift, a bear cub.

A good portion of Carter's time was devoted to hunting down deserters. The lure of the west and the harsh conditions of the fort tempted many a soldier to risk Mackenzie's brutal punishment to abandon their post, usually with an army horse and carbine. The exceptions were his black troops, commonly referred to as "Buffalo Soldiers", who were willing to endure extreme misery and danger for their meager pay and the pride of being a soldier.

During the trials of the Kiowa chiefs, the town filled with journalists, curiousity seekers, gamblers, con artists and such. Many stayed, becoming regular customers of the dozens of saloons and dance halls that lined the road from Fort Richardson to Jacksboro. On soldier's payday, the town became a riot. An oldtimer wrote that on these days it was possible to walk from downtown Jacksboro to the middle of Fort Richardson without your feet touching the ground as passed out soldiers so tightly lined the road beneath you. Doc Holliday spent enough time in Jacksboro to hang his dentist shingle, though it seems he spent all his time in the gambling halls. Reportedly it was in such a place that he had his southern feathers ruffled by some Buffalo Soldiers, on whom he opened fire, possibly killing one or two, but certainly giving him significant cause to move his operations to Fort Griffin. It was there he made a lasting friendship with Wyatt Earp. Their legendary saga climaxed at the historic gunfight at the OK Corral in Tombstone, Arizona.

Fort Richardson is well preserved and lovingly restored and Jacksboro retains it's late 19th century facade. The Green Frog Cafe that Jerry Jeff Walker sings about still serves good meals and coffee. Across the street, Herds turns out the best hamburgers in the world as they've done for over half a century.