Site of Fort Aubry, Kansas
In the infancy of the Santa Fe Trail, the trader took his protection with him in the form of a side arm or long rifle. Later, as the number of Americans using the trail increased and as the amount and value of goods transported on the trail multiplied, there was a growing demand for professional protection. The United States Army was asked to escort the traders across the rolling plains and to shield them from all the accompanying perils. Most of the trouble encountered by the traders came from the Indians and from trail bandits, but there were also cases of harassment by the Mexican government as well. Until the army began to offer escorts to the trains, there really was no law between the Missouri River and Santa Fe, except that law which was created as it was needed. There was only the tremendously spacious countryside where travelers were at the mercy of the elements, the Indians, and any brigands who might venture near.
The problems that developed with the Indians came mainly from marauding bands of renegades demanding tribute from an wagon train to insure it against attack. There were cases, however, of full-scale Indian wars, were tribes of Indians joined together to protect what they considered to be their land and their rights. In order to guard the travelers and traders along the Santa Fe Trail from these dangers, the United States Army built a series of forts and posts along the trail at several strategic locations. The forts, such as Larned, Dodge, and Lyon, etc., were permanent establishments with buildings constructed of field stone or native timber, if it was available. Some of these buildings are still in use today, for one reason or another.
In order to keep a good line of communication open and to gain the full measure of protection for the travelers, many smaller posts were established. These posts were, for the most part, simply temporary establishments and were never meant to become anything else, as it shown by the orders creating them. They were located at points along the trail where water was readily available and where they would be in a good position to serve the next post or fort along the way. Most of these posts had some permanent buildings constructed of native field stone, or, occasionally, timber. Because wood was generally scarce in the western portion of the plains area, posts in this area had to use sod, adobe brick, and even caves and dugouts. The jails were very crude, very small, and rough hewn. The jail from Fort Dodge, now sitting in the Boothill complex at Dodge City, Kansas, can testify to the crudeness of the jails during this expansionist period of the United States. It is a small five by eight feet, rough-hewn log structure, only six feet tall, and containing three cells. Many of the jails used at these forts, however, were not even this glamorous. Often, they were merely open pits dug into the ground, perhaps topped with reeds or long prairie grass. All of the forts and posts used some tents to supplement the few permanent structures. Very few forts along the trail actually had the wooden walls which are a part of the modern concept of the western American fort.
The forts were all built in a square arrangement that was most easily defended. All the buildings faces inward, looking upon a central compound area. In case of a prolonged attack by Indians, the fort could be enclosed with relative ease by the placement of loaded wagons in the open areas.
These posts and forts were all used by troopers during Indian uprisings, when the army would order a number of men to take up a specific position at one of them. Even while not in used by soldiers, however, the posts were used by others. Troopers, while on missions of one kind or another might camp there, as would caravans. Occasionally, Indians met at them, perhaps with government representatives, to talk. On many occasions they were used by travelers, military and otherwise, as havens at nightfall and in bad weather. Because they were always near portable water, they made good resting places for weary trail wonderers. They also became landmarks and were used in giving directions across the prairie.
Several of these posts were graced with the name of "fort" at different times during their existence. Occasionally, the location of a post rendered it to better use as a major fort, if its location was strategic during Indian troubles.
One such army post, that later became a fort, was known as Fort Aubry. It was situated at Aubry's Crossing of the Arkansas River and was an ideally placed establishment. This was the junction of Aubry's Trail and the Bent Fort Route of the Santa Fe Trail. There was always a constant supply of fresh water from an abundant spring which ran nearby. The spring, in fact, had gradually become known as Aubry's Spring, even before the establishment of the army post, because of its proximity to Aubry's Crossing and cutoff. It was Aubry's favorite campground whenever he was in the area. The post and later the fort naturally bore his name.
This chosen spot was on a desolate and long stretch of the Santa Fe Trail which had been subject to frequent Indian attacks. The Indians, hiding in the abundant sandhills which lay just south of the river, would strike out quickly against the wagon trains, and then, just as quickly, retreat back across the river and into the sand hills. Troopers stationed at this location could easily work out to Fort Lyon, approximately fifty miles west and to Fort Dodge, about one hundred miles to the east. In addition, they could work south to the Cold Spring Campground and so protect travelers all along this portion of the trail.
The locality was first a campground, used by both the army and by travelers. During the 1830's and 1840's it was used to some extent, but during the 1850's, following the opening of Aubry's Route, it became the regular campground for all travelers in the area. In the 1850's Camp Wyncoop was created by the army at the site. It was used in the transportation of supplies to Santa Fe and Fort Lyon and as a temporary resting place for troopers on long trips. During Indian outbreaks, troopers were sent to the site from both Fort Dodge and Fort Lyon, where they would remain until the trouble was squelched. They then would return to their home fort. Of course, what structures were located at Camp Wyncoop could easily be converted into a more permanent establishment.
During the mid-1860's, particularly in 1865, the Indian wars became so intense and frequent in the area between Fort Lyon and Fort Dodge that it was deemed necessary to fortify some of the posts and camps between the two, in order to protect the travelers. Camp Wyncoop was one of those designated by the army to become a permanently manned fort.
On September 15, 1865, Major General W. L. Elliott, Commander of the District of Kansas, and stationed at Fort Leavenworth, sent a letter to the commanding officer at Fort Lyon. The letter contained special Order Number Twenty and it authorized the establishment of a fort on the site of Camp Wyncoop and also prescribed that the name given the fort be "Fort Aubrey." The letter said, "The post to be established on Aubry's Crossing of the Arkansas, formerly Camp Wyncoop, will be known as Fort Aubry." 
The letter arrived at Fort Lyon on September 20 and by September 25, Captain W. S. Parker, from Fort Leavenworth, and his group of ninety-two men and fifty-seven horses, were at the site. This group was Company "K" of the Thirteenth Missouri Volunteer Cavalry and it set about immediately establishing a permanent post. Captain Parker was the only officer with this group at the time of its occupation of the post.
Most authors mentioning Fort Aubry give Captain Adolph Wittman of Company "D", Forty-eighth Wisconsin Infantry, the credit for the establishment of the fort. Captain Wittman's group was accompanied by Company "K" of the Forty-eighth Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry. On the first post return from Fort Aubry, however, dated October 10, 1865, the post was commanded by Captain Parker, Company "K", Thirteenth Missouri Volunteer Cavalry. Company "K" had been at the post for some time prior to the arrival of Companies "D" and "F" with Captain Wittman. In actuality, Captain Wittman did not arrive until October 10, 1865, as verified by the October 10, 1865, post return.  The date of the establishment of the fort has also been in question. Most sources give the time of establishment as early September, 1865, but actually the letter authorizing the creation of a permanent fort was dated, as previously stated, September 15, 1865, and it was not received at Fort Lyon until September 20, 1865.
There was one other officer carried on the rolls as absent without leave in Company "K", Thirteenth Missouri Cavalry, at the time of the establishment of Fort Aubry. Lieutenant Thomas Doyle was listed as A.W.O.L. on September 6, 1865, and he did not return to duty with his company until October 9, 1865. Per Special Order Number Forty-six, district of Kansas, Lieutenant Doyle resumed his stint in the cavalry at Fort Aubry. 
When he arrived at Fort Aubry, Captain Parker was in command of a troop of ninety-two men and fifty-seven horses. He was the only officer present with his company at the time of occupation of the fort. He had eight sergeants, eight corporals, two musicians, one blacksmith, and seventy enlisted men with him.  Captain Parker remained the commander of the fort until December 12, 1865, when he and his troops were ordered to return to Fort Leavenworth.
There was a steady build-up of troop strength at Fort Aubry throughout the months of early fall. On October 7, 1865, per Special Order Number Four, District of Kansas, Companies "D" and "F" of the Forty-eighth Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry arrived. They came from Fort Lyon. Company "D" was, as mentioned, under the command of Captain Adolf Wittman. Captain A. J. Lumsden commanded Company "F" Together these companies added 140 men to the complement at Fort Aubry, including six new officers, ten sergeants, sixteen corporals, and 110 privates. Two officers with the companies were listed as absent. Of the total group, sixty-nine belonged to Captain Wittman's company while seventy-one were with Captain Lumsden's company.
Arriving with the two new companies was a welcome addition to Fort Aubry, as it would have been to any frontier fort. The new asset was Post Surgeon H. E. Zielley, Assistant Surgeon, Forty-eighth Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry. 
On October 17, 1865, Company "D", thirteenth Missouri Volunteer Cavalry, under the command of First Lieutenant T. J. Shinn, arrived to reinforce the garrison at the new fort. Their arrival was authorized by Special Order Number Twenty-four, District of Kansas. This group added three officers and seventy-four enlisted men to the fort complement. Those who held special duties were eight who were sergeants, eight corporals, two musicians, and one blacksmith. On enlisted man was lost immediately through a transfer to Fort Leavenworth. Lieutenant Shinn also brought forty-nine horses with him, bringing the total number of horses at the fort to 121. 
These are the last reinforcements to arrive at Fort Aubry in October and they made the total number of men there somewhere over 300. The names and duties of the officers stationed at the fort at this time appeared in Figure Two. 
During the month of November at Fort Aubry, the number of men there remained fairly constant. The only fluctuations were normal, due to medical reasons or termination of service periods. At the end of November the same companies of men were at Fort Aubry as had been there at the first of the month and nine men had been lost due to normal causes. Four men were ordered discharged for disability, apparently due to non-combatant causes and two men were discharged for promotions. One man, Second Lieutenant C. Amman, Company "F", Forty-eighth Wisconsin Infantry, was carried on the roll, although he was ordered mustered out by Special Order Number 108, Headquarters Military Division of Missouri, dated September 4, 1865. One man was discharged by telegraphic order from the War Department. 
No major battles were recorded at Fort Aubry during this period, although the soldiers did engage in many small skirmishes with the Indians while out on patrol in the area and while on escort duty to wagon trains along the Santa Fe Trail. The final post return for the month of November shows the strength of Fort Aubry at 297 men and 129 horses. There are in this group, four captains, seven lieutenants, twenty-six sergeants, thirty-two corporals, six musicians, four blacksmiths, and 208 privates. Also, at this time, Lt. Thomas Doyle had rejoined his company after being absent without leave and he resumed a position on the active roll. Lt. Amman had been mustered out. 
On December 3, 1865, Company "M", Second United States Cavalry, under the command of Lieutenant A. S. Adams arrived at the fort as per Special Order Number 117, Headquarter, District of Kansas. The order, dated November 17, 1865, came from Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. Lieutenant Adams's Company consisted of himself as the sole officer, three sergeants, five corporals, and thirty-seven privates, for a total of forty-six men. This brought the total complement of troops stationed at Fort Aubry to 363 men in three companies of cavalry and two companies of infantry. He also added fifty four horses to those already at the fort and that made a total of 182 horses there as of December 10, 1865. 
The same Special Order 117 also ordered Captain Parker and Lieutenant Shinn to take their companies "D" and "K" of the Thirteenth Missouri Cavalry to Fort Leavenworth.  They left Fort Aubry on December 12, 1865.
|W. S. Parker||Captain||13th Missouri Cav.||"K"||Commander of Fort Post Hospital|
|H. E. Zielley||Assistant Surgeon||48th Wisconsin Inf.|
|A. Wittmen||Captain||48th Wisconsin Inf.||"D"||Company Commander|
|A. J. Lumsden||Captain||48th Wisconsin Inf.||"F"||Sick at Post Hospital|
|T. J. Shinn||First Lieutenant||13th Missouri Cav.||"D"||Company Commander|
|F. Davis||First Lieutenant||48th Wisconsin Inf.||"D"||Company Commander|
|G. S. Rogers||First Lieutenant||48th Wisconsin Inf.||"F"||On duty with company|
|John Viets||Second Lieutenant||13th Missouri Cav.||"D"||On duty with company|
|J. D. Parks||Second Lieutenant||13th Missouri Cav.||"K"||A.A.G.M. Post|
|J. E. Brown||Second Lieutenant||48th Wisconsin Inf.||"D"||Adjutant|
|Fred Scuyler||Captain||13th Missouri Cav.||"D"||Assistant adjutant general per|
Special Order Number 68 dated
February 10, 1865, from the
|Thomas Doyle||First Lieutenant||13th Missouri Cav.||"K"||Absent Without Leave Since|
September 6, 1865
|C. Amman||Second Lieutenant||48th Wisconsin Inf.||"F"||Absent without leave since|
October 1, 1865
Captain Adolf Wittman then assumed the position as commander of Fort Aubry following Captain Parker's departure, although the orders designating him as commander also indicate that it is to be a short tenure as he is to go to Fort Leavenworth in January. He was the senior officer at the Fort at the time and was in line to assume the responsibility of commander of the garrison. Fort Aubry, under Captain Wittman, then, consisted of Company "D" and Company "F" or the Forty-eighth Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry and Company "M" of the Second United States Cavalry. This command had a total complement of six officers and 195 listed men, plus one assistant surgeon. This number remained constant through most of December. The monthly post return listed 198 men at the post and also gave all the names of the officers.  This list appears in [Figure Three].
On January 20, 1866, the post received some reinforcements. Company "H", First Battalion, United States Infantry, was ordered to Fort Aubry by Special Order Number 149, Headquarters, Second District of Kansas at Fort Leavenworth. Company "H" was commanded by Captan Anson Mills and it included five sergeants, two corporals, two musicians, and fifty-nine privates. According to the order, Captain Mills was to replace Captain Wittman as the commander of the Fort. 
On January 21, 1866 Captan Wittman left Fort Aubry with Companies "D" and "F" Forty-eighth Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry to Fort Leavenworth. Accompanying Captain Wittman was Assistant Surgeon H. E. Zielley. He was scheduled to be mustered out of the service at Fort Leavenworth. 
While at Fort Aubry, Captain Mills had under his command two lieutenants, twelve sergeants, seven corporals, three musicians, one blacksmith, and 104 privates. For the names and duties of the officers stationed at Fort Aubry at this time see [Figure Four]. 
The reduced supply of troops was replenished on February 19, 1866, with Company "C" First Battalion, Eighteenth United States Infantry, under the command of Captain W. P. McCleery. This arrival had been pre-arranged by Special Order Number Four, dated November 21, 1865, which had also indicated Captain Wittman's tenure of command. Captain McCleery was the sole officer with his group of forty-six enlisted men. At the time of his take-over of the fort command post, he was responsible for five officers, seventy-five enlisted men, and sixty-five horses. A replacement for the post-surgeon position also came with him. The new post surgeon was Assistant Surgeon Joseph Kugler. 
|A. Wittmen||Captain||48th Wisconsin Inf.||"D"||Company Commander of Post Hospital|
|H. E. Zielley||Assistant Surgeon||48th Wisconsin Inf.|
|A. J. Lumsden||Captain||48th Wisconsin Inf.||"F"||Company commander|
|F. Davis||First Lieutenant||48th Wisconsin Inf.||"D"||On duty with company|
|G. Rogers||First Lieutenant||48th Wisconsin Inf.||"F"||On duty with company|
|A. Adams||First Lieutenant||2nd U. S. Cavalry||"M"||Company commander|
|J. Brown||Second Lieutenant||48th Wisconsin Inf.||"D"||Adjutant|
|J. Mix||First Lieutenant||2nd U. S. Cavalry||"M"||On recruiting duty|
|Anson Mills||Captain||18th U. S.. Infantry||"H"||Commander of post|
|Axel Adams||First Lieutenant||2nd U. S. Cavalry||"M"||Temporarily attached to and|
commanding Company "M" and
Acting Adjutant of Post
|John Mix||First Lieutenant||2nd U. S. Cavalry||"M"||On detached duty at|
|Anson Mills||Captain||18th U. S. Infantry||"H"||Commender of post|
|William McCleery||Captain||18th U. S. Infantry||"G"||company commander|
|Axel Adams||First Lieutenant||2nd U. S. Cavalry||"M"||Company commander|
|Assistant Surgeon||Post Hospital|
|E. D. Harding||First Lieutenant||18th U. S. Infantry||"C"||On detached duty at Fort Lyon|
|Second Lieutenant||2nd U. S. Cavalry||"M"||On recruiting duty|
|H. E. Zielley||Assistant Surgeon||48th Wisconsin Infantry|
|A. Wittman||Captain||48th Wisconsin Infantry|
|Alex J. Lumsden||Captain||48th Wisconsin Infantry|
|Frank Davis||First Lieutenant||48th Wisconsin Infantry|
|George Rogers||First Lieutenant||48th Wisconsin Infantry|
|J. Brown||Second Lieutenant||48th Wisconsin Infantry|
The troop count of the monthly return at the end of February showed 180 men in service at Fort Aubry. There were two captains, three lieutenants, fourteen sergeants, seven corporals, five musicians, and 149 privates.  In the period of late January and early February there were numerous changes in officer personnel from the previous, more stable months of 1865. This is shown in [Figure Five].  The reason for this is not apparent.
In the month of March, Fort Aubry was at a relatively stable strength. No new companies were added and none left. The only changes in personnel came about through desertions and normal discharges. 
Captain Mills was the only man stationed at Fort Aubry to receive a leave according to the post returns. On March 25, 1866, he began a leave and he remained absent until April 15, 1866, when post records ceased. During his absence, Fort Aubry was commanded by Captain William McCleery. 
In the eight months of its existence, Fort Aubry knew three different commanding officers, Captains Parker, Wittman, and Mills, and one acting commander Captain McCleery. Troop strength varied from a high of 363 on December 12, 1865, to a low of ninety-two men on September 24, 1865. The monthly tally of troops at the garrison appears in [Figure Six]. 
The fort had the same problems as other frontier forts. The men were bored and lonely in camp, as is illustrated by the records showing the number of men currently in jail or deserting camp, and summarized in [Figures Seven] and [Eight].  It was strenuous working at a frontier fort. It was also often dangerous, and there was considerable illness, with a high number of men continually on the sick list.  The monthly sick list tallies are given in [Figure Nine].
It has been a fact in United States history that whenever the army has established a permanent fort in a frontier area civilians soon followed. Settlers were somewhat slow, however, in moving out to the Fort Aubry area. This was probably due to the harshness of the land.
One town, however, did spring up in the Fort Aubry locality. This was Mayline (also spelled Maline), and it was located to the north of the fort, in the southeast corner of the southwest quarter of section 18, T40W R24S. Mayline never really prospered as a town. Its main function, apparently, was to serve the fort area. In later years it was a way station for the mails which were hauled over Aubry's Route to the south, especially to Clayton and Springer in New Mexico.
|Date of Post Return||Number|
|October 10, 1865||0|
|October 20, 1865||0|
|October 225, 1865||0|
|October 31, 1865||0|
|November 10, 1865||0|
|November 20, 1865||0|
|November 30, 1865||1|
|November - monthly report||1|
|December 10, 1865||2|
|December 20, 1865||0|
|December 31, 1865||0|
|December - monthly report||0|
|January 10, 1866||0|
|January 20, 1866||0|
|January 31, 1866||6|
|January - monthly report - not available||0|
|February 10, 1866||8|
|February 20, 1866||9|
|February 28, 1866||5|
|February - monthly report||5|
|March 10, 1866||3|
|March 20, 1866||2|
|March 31, 1866||3|
|March - monthly report||3|
|April 10, 1866||3|
|April 15, 1866||2|
|October 10, 1865||1||First Lieutenant Thomas Doyle (AWOL)|
|October 20, 1865||1||First Lieutenant Thomas Doyle (AWOL)|
|October 25, 1865||2||First Lieutenant Thomas Doyle (AWOL)|
|October 25, 1865||2||Lieutenant C. Amman (AWOL)|
|November 7, 1865||0||(Doyle returned November 7)|
|November 10, 1865||1|
|November 20, 1865||0|
|November 30, 1865||0|
|December 10, 1865||0|
|December 20, 1865||0|
|December 31, 1865||0|
|January 10, 1866||0|
|January 20, 1866||0|
|January 31, 1866||0|
|February 10, 1866||0|
|February 20, 1866||0|
|February 28, 1866||0|
|March 10, 1866||5||Private Dunka (Deserted in a group and took three horses)|
|March 10, 1866||5||Private Keazlett|
|March 10, 1866||5||Private Piety|
|March 10, 1866||5||Private Platt|
|March 10, 1866||5||Private Knise|
|March 20, 1866||2||Private White (Deserted March 13 and took three horses)|
|March 20, 1866||2||Private Willis|
|March 31, 1866||2||Private Mullins (Deserted March 27)|
|March 31, 1866||2||Private O'Donnill|
|April 9, 1866||8||Eight deserted April 9, 1866|
|April 10, 1866||11||Three deserted April 8, 1866|
|April 15, 1866||0||Two apprehended from desertion|
Mayline was in existence as a town through the 1870's, 1880's and early 1890's. Today no buildings stand at the townsite. A few of the town's former buildings are still in existence, however. They have been transported from the townsite and are in use on nearby farms as barns and storage sheds.
|October 10, 1865||34||0|
|October 20, 1865||37||0|
|October 25, 1865||42||1|
|November 10, 1865||25||1|
|November 20, 1865||26||0|
|November 30, 1865||19||0|
|December 10, 1865||28||0|
|December 20, 1865||26||0|
|December 31, 1865||22||0|
|January 10, 1866||19||0|
|January 30, 1866||18||0|
|January 31, 1866||15||0|
|February 10, 1866||16||0|
|February 20, 1866||26||0|
|February 28, 1866||21||0|
|March 10, 1866||23||0|
|March 20, 1866||21||0|
|March 31, 1866||27||0|
|April 10, 1866||18||0|
|April 15, 1866||19||0|
Mr. D. Brownlee, who now owns and lives on the farm that occupies the site of Fort Aubry has an old building in use on his farm that probably came from Mayline. While Mr. Brownlee believes his barn is a part of old Fort Aubry, it more likely comes from old Mayline, where it could easily have been the stable, as it is that type of structure. It is of wooden frame construction, and this type did not become widely used in this area of Kansas until the late 1870's, well after the building of Fort Aubry. 
The town of Aubry is a different story. In 1879 a group of people who were heading for Colorado decided that the area around and just east of Fort Aubry would meet their needs and so they decided to settle there. They formed their own town approximately six miles east of the Fort site and, appropriately, named their town Aubry.
Complications developed, however, with their choice of a name for the town. There was already a town named Aubry in eastern Kansas, and much confusion developed within the United States Postal Department. The citizens of the newer Aubry were faced with finding a remedy for the situation. Since they were reluctant to give up their chosen name of Aubry, they decided to keep it and merely change the name of the post office. They accepted the middle name of one of the town's founders, Francis Kelley, and so the name of their post office became Zamora.
The location of the town, too, caused its residents many problems. There was controversy over which county the town was located in, and where the county seat should be located. The town, nevertheless, has survived, and it is in existence today as Kendall, Kansas, in Hamilton County. It is approximately eleven miles east of Syracuse.
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