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Fort Smith was actually a frontier established by General William Bradford in 1817 as a means to prevent hostile wars between the Osage and the Cherokees. The post was very strategic but had to close in 1824 after a severe outbreak of a disease that took the lives of several soldiers who were stationed there. A new fort was then constructed on the same site in 1838, while the original post was repaired and improved. In the new was also found the quarters that housed General Zachary Taylor from 1841 to 1845.

When the American Civil War too place, the fort was abandoned by the men who were stationed at the post and was used by a Confederate garrison. On September 1, 1863, the Union Forces took regained control of the fort, and in 1867, the post officially became a National Cemetery.
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