In the spring of 1867, nearly 1,400 troops were on the move across Kansas. Commanded by Civil War hero General Winfield Scott Hancock, the expedition was meant to demonstrate to the Plains Indians the lengths the U.S. Army would take to enforce safe travel along the Santa Fe and Smoky Hill trails. "Now the rest of the story," as Paul Harvey would say, will be the topic of the 2008 annual meeting of the Fort Larned Old Guard. And, in keeping with General Hancock's exanple 141 years ago, the Old Guard will be on the move as well.
On Saturday, April 26, 2008, we invite everyone to travel to Fort Hays, Kansas, 48 miles north up the trail from Fort Larned, to take part in a joint meeting with the Society of Friends of Historic Fort Hays. Topic of the day will be the Hancock Expedition and its impact on the Cheyennes and Sioux who lost their village on Pawnee Fork when the general ordered it destroyed.
Scheduled speakers that afternoon include former Fort Larned Old Guard Chairman Leo Oliva giving an overview of the Hancock Expedition, along with Wilmer Stampede Mesteth discussing the Oglala Lakotas and Searle Chapman on the Cheyennes. After an evening meal at Fort Hays, Louis Kraft will portray Edward W. Winkoop, Indian agent to the Cheyennes. This promises to be an outstanding program that we know you won't want to miss.
Earlier that day, the Old Guard board will hold a meeting at the Fort Hays State University student union at 10 a.m. Members are invited to attend. At noon, our membership will gather for a meal at the union, during which time we will conduct our annual business meeting. Agenda items will include:
For several reasons Fort Larned Old Guard was not able to hold its traditional annual meeting in 2007 and we strongy encourage all members and friends to attend our 2008 event. If you haven't visited Fort Larned's "sister fort" at Hays, Kansas, in recent years, you'll be able to see recent improvements in the site made by the Kansas State Historical Society. Members of the newly formed Smoky Hill Trail Association will also be invited to take part in the afternoon and evening events at Fort Hays, so you'll be able to make contact with others interested in this aspect of the history of Kansas and the Indian Wars.
At the same time, we encourage those whose memberships expired in December 2007 to village site in Ness County "re-enlist" for another tour with the Old Guard. Next yeaar, Fort Larned will celebrate its 150th anniversary. At the same time, Fort Larned Old Guard will mark its 20th anniversary. Our group was created by a few individuals eager to help promote and preserve the history and heritage of Fort Larned. From that beginning, we have matured into an organization with an inpressive list of accomplishments:
In short, the Fort Larned Old Guard has been a part of Fort Larned's history for the last two decades, and with the help and support of our menbers, we will remain in the role for decades to come.
In closing we invite anyone interested to join us at our special meeting at Fort Hays on Saturday, April 26, 2008. Call 620-355-6213 for your lunch reservations of $10.00 each. They are needed by Thursday, April 10, 2008.
Old Guard membership is open to anyone interested in the frontier military history of the United States, the Indian Wars in the trans-Mississippi West, the role of the military in the development of Kansas and the West, Indian-white relations on the Plains, and-of course-Fort Larned National Historic Site.
Memberships: Individual, $15--$24 per year. Family, $25--$49 per year. Not-for-profit organization, $30--above per year. Business partner, $40--above per year. Life membership, $300--above.
(Other supportive levels of annual membership are available, as well.)
Fort Larned Old Guard, PO Box 354, Larned, Kansas 67550-0354
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Larry & Carolyn
St. John, Ks.