Henry Leavenworth

December 10, 1783 - July 21, 1834

Leavenworth, Henry, army officer (Dec. 10, 1783-July 21, 1834). Born at New Haven, Connecticut, son of a Revolutionary War colonel, young Leavenworth became captain of the 25th. Infantry April 25, 1812, major in the 9th. Infantry, August 15, 1813, and won brevets for distinguished services at Chippewa and Fort Niagara. As a Lieutenant colonel of the 5th. Infantry in 1819 he established Fort Snelling at the junction of the Minnesota and Mississippi rivers. October 1, 1821, he was transferred to the 6th. Infantry, Nebraska, near Council Bluffs. He left Atkinson June 22, 1823, for the Arikara villages on the upper Missouri, where Ashley's trappers had been defeated. Leavenworth called is five infantry companies the "Missouri Legion," being supported by various frontiersmen and Sioux irregulars. Although what artillery was available was used against the rudely barricaded village the results were inconclusive, with from 30 to 50 Indians killed, including noncombatants, and Leavenworth accepting the Arikara offer of a truce, after which they escaped unpursued. He was soundly criticized for his lack of drive and the bad impression made upon warlike Indians by his apparent indecision and failure to push the affair, but he may have been justified. One critic calls him a "brave and energetic officer," which his record would seen to bear out. With a brevet of Brigadier General, he was assigned to Green Bay, Wisconsin, then Jefferson Barracks, St. Louis, and in 1827 built Cantonment (subsequently Fort) Leavenworth. Early in 1834 he was in command of the entire southwestern frontier, instructed to negotiate peace among warring tribes. He set out from Fort Gibson on June 15, but in July was struck by a "bilious fever" and died at Camp Smith on the Washita. His body eventually was reburied at Fort Leavenworth. He was "a man of broad and varied culture," influential in improving standards in the young army, and was noted for his "clearness of judgment and energy in action."


Dale Morgan, Jedediah Smith and the Opening of the West. N.Y., Bobbs-Merrill Co., 1953.