You are now standing on what was once Officer's Row at the second Fort Smith. From 1846 to 1865, two large buildings stood on the western edge of the parade ground and provided housing for officers and their families. Unlike the cramped quarters of the enlisted men's barracks, there was a degree of privacy here. Large front and back porches, yards, and gardens surrounded by picket fences provided further domestic comforts.
Fire destroyed both Officer's Quarters in 1865 and 1870. In 2000, the National Park Service placed the concrete pads here to show the approximate locations and floor plans of both buildings.
Following the Civil War, the U.S. Army constructed a dome-shaped cistern between the two officer's quarters. This underground storage tank is 22 feet deep and holds 55,000 gallons of water. The cistern, enlisted men's barracks and the commissary are the only structures remaining from the second Fort period (1838-1871).
Captain Samuel Sturgis,
Commander at Fort Smith, 1859-1861,
Officer's wives and children shared the trials and tribulations of military life with their husbands and fathers. At Fort Smith, Sturgis' son, Jack was badly burned when two other boys accidentally exploded twelve pounds of gunpowder. Jack carried a facial scar until his death as a lieutenant at the Battle of Little Bighorn in 1876.