Best Preserved Frontier Fort in the West Fort Larned Old Guard Newsletter

Santa Fe Trail Rendezvous - September 20-22, 2012
     The 17th biennial Santa Fe Trail Rendezvous, hosted by the Santa Fe Trail Center, Fort Larned National Historic Site, and the National Santa Fe Trail, will meet September 20-22, 2012. A schedule of events and registration form have been sent to all Fort Larned Old Guard members and Fort Larned National Historic Site volunteers, and we hope to see you there. For more information, please contact the Trail Center, 620-285-2054 or {museum@santafetrailcenter.org}.

The Fort Introduces Civil War Trading Cards
by Celeste Dixon, Park Ranger
     Fort Larned recently introduced five Civil War trading cards to the public with a series of programs designed to tell the story behind each card's subject. The cards were completed by the interpretive staff in the spring, with the completed cards arriving at the park in early June. The cards are part of a larger National Park Service program designed to encourage children and their families to explore parks more thoroughly and make the connection between each individual site and the larger National Park Service system.

     The programs started on July 22, 2012 with Dr. David Clapsaddle talking about the establishment of the Pawnee Fork mail station to introduce the first card, "Moving the Mail on the Santa Fe Trail." Protecting the mail wagons prompted the Army to send troops to the area and eventually led to the establishment of Fort Larned. The next card "Flying the Flag," was introduced on July 29, 2012 by Park Ranger Celeste Dixon. She explained the military's flag ceremonies as well as the different cultures that mingled at Fort Larned beneath the flag. On August 5, Park Ranger Ellen Jones talked about the experience of "The Buffalo Soldiers, Company A, 10th US Cavalry" at Fort Larned. Park Ranger Mike Seymour recounted the history of the two post cemeteries at the fort for "Fallen Heroes." Park Ranger Roy Hargadine told the story of General Winfield S. Hancock's "Burning the Indian Village" (illustration below), to complete the introductory talks on August 19, 2012.

     The talks were well attended, with an average audience of 25 people. Those in attendance received a set of trading cards to start their collection. Earning the cards is easy, just come out to the fort and tour or participate in an activity to learn more about a topic related to the cards' subjects. Come on out to Fort Larned and start your National Park Service Civil War trading card collection!

Fort Larned Trading Card No 5

     Fort Larned Trading Card No 5, "Burning the Indian Village," shows General Hancock's burning of the Cheyenne and Sioux village on Pawnee Fork, April 19, 1867. Today this site, on the National Register of Historic Places, is owned and managed by the Fort Larned Old Guard which plans to transfer the site to the National Park Service.

Fort larned New Rack Card    Fort larned New Rack Card
Click on Cards for Larger View
Fort Larned Has New Rack Card
     Fort Larned has a new rack card, thanks to the work of Fort Larned Old Guard Chairman Rex Abrahams (whose firm designed and printed the cards). The cards were funded by the Larned Tourism Committee and the Fort Larned Old Guard. The card contains several impressive photographs, a map, contact information, and schedule of annual events. One of these cards is included in this issue. Fort Larned Old Guard members and fort volunteers are encouraged to help place these cards in public places where they will be seen and encourage people to visit this wonderful Kansas treasure.

Fort Larned Old Guard Chair's Column
by Rex Abrahams.
One Hot One and Some Rambling Thoughts!
     Summers like this one always give me pause to think about the pioneers and what they endured as they struggled west. There was little relief from the heat and wind. Even the nights were hot. With no rain, the earth was scorched. The wind just blew dust around. No wonder some of them went crazy. There seemed to be no end to an unforgiving environment. They prayed for rain and 150 years later we still do the same.

     Here are a few random thoughts as we get ready for a terrific Fall at the fort.

     *The dedication of HS9 on Saturday, May 26, 2012 was well attended and a lot of fun. Chris Day and Janet Armstead started off the celebration with some good old-fashioned period music. George Elmore discussed the history of the building and William "Chappy" Chapman shed some insight on the renovation of the structure. Hats off to the staff at Fort Larned for bringing this building back to life. It is another interpretive station that brings this wonderful fort alive.

     *The Little Red House served as the focal point for students from Northside Elementary this past May. David Clapsaddle gave a brief history of the building while Ellen Jones and Jack Singer led the students in frontier games. A very nice article appeared in the Great Bend Tribune covering this event. The Old Guard was mentioned several times. It is exciting to see the Little Red House used for its intended purpose. Thanks once more to David and Alice for this special donation to the Old Guard.

     *Speaking of David, we wish him a full and speedy recovery. His health has not been up to par this past year and a trip to Mayo Clinic has hopefully got him on the right track. Alice, we remember you too, as you have to put up with David!

     *The Old Guard Board is excited about serving "Lunch In the Barracks' for the upcoming Santa Fe Trail Rendezvous. We did this several years ago and received a positive response from those in attendance. Hamburgers and beer-broiled brats are always a hit. Oh what the soldiers would have given to have been so lucky. I don't doubt many of them might have said, "Forget the hamburgers, forget the brats, just give me the beer!" Ha! Some things never change.

     *We hope to see many of our Volunteer friends at the Candlelight tour on October 13, 2012. Likewise, we hope to see many of the Old Guard members that same evening. Take the time and stroll around the parade ground with one of the fort's tour guides as you enjoy the historic vignettes. George Elmore never ceases to amaze me with the great scenes he comes up with. Then leave it to the volunteers to bring those snippets to life!

     See you on October 13, 2012!

Superintendent's Column
"On Our Watch" by Kevin McMurry
Dear Friends,
     After too short a time with our great seasonal coworkers and volunteers, the summer is almost gone. After Labor Day "living history" programs and the Santa Fe Trail Rendezvous it will already be time to finalize plans for the Candlelight Tours and Volunteer Recognition Dinner. Thinking back over the summer though, it was a Great Memorial Day weekend and 4th of July, with large groups of visitors who saw Fort Larned alive with the activity of an 1860's working military post! Memorial Day celebrated the grand opening of the completely restored North Officers Quarters with special guests, including Fort Larned Old Guard Member Ron Drummond delivering the invocation, John Beard representing Congressman Tim Huleskamp, Pawnee County Commissioner Donna Pelton, Fort Larned Old Guard members Chris Day and Janet Armstead providing music for the event, and the ribbon being cut by "residents" of the quarters, Captain Noland and his wife (portrayed by our great volunteers Lloyd and Gay Choitz)

     In cooperation with Tom Giessel, a great friend of the fort, on the evening of June 2, 2012 the fort hosted a special service in the Quartermaster Storehouse to begin Sacred Heart Church's centennial celebration with a Mass led by Bishop John Brungardt. Following the Mass were tours of the fort, and refreshments. The public was invited to attend and help celebrate Sacred Heart's 100th Anniversary.

     Elsewhere in this edition is information on Rendezvous 2012, the history seminar sponsored by the Santa Fe Trail Center, Fort Larned National Historic Site, and the National Santa Fe Trail which will be held in Larned on September 20-22, 2012. This year's theme will examine the different types of people who traveled the Trail and how they each impacted the history of the Trail. On Saturday afternoon, after lunch at Fort Larned provided by the Fort Larned Old Guard for only $5.50, the Cheyenne & Sioux Indian Village Site will be the actual historic backdrop for speakers Leo Oliva and Louis Kraft discussing the burning of the village on orders from General Winfield S. Hancock, which led to "Hancock's War." After return to Fort Larned, the evening's dinner program will be held in the Quartermaster Storehouse.

     Please mark your calendar because, as always, we will welcome lots of help with the Candlelight Tour on October 13th! Contact George if you'd like to be part of this very enjoyable evening experience at the beautifully "candle lit" Fort Larned. Prior to the tour we will host our annual Volunteer Recognition Dinner and Awards Program. Come out at 4:30 for the catered (early) dinner and short awards program in recognition of YOU and your support of Fort Larned. Following dinner a brief overview will be given about the candlelight tour before beginning practices at 6:30. We need an RSVP no later than Oct. 9th with the number of signed up volunteers who will be attending. Your professionalism and dedication is a huge asset to the park, the visitors and certainly to all of us who deeply respect your devotion to the Fort.

     The project to reconstruct the historic wagon bridge in its original location is proceeding and we recently received a grant of Federal Highway funds through KDOT to complete the project which includes an extension of the entrance road and paved parking lot on the west side of the Pawnee Creek. Work will begin in October and folks are invited to stop by anytime to review the construction plans and visit the project site.

     Finally for now, the fort is very pleased to announce its latest "Rack Card" which was completely redesigned with great assistance from Fort Larned Old Guard Chairman Rex Abrahams and Rand Graphics in Wichita. The printing costs for this new beautiful and descriptive rack card were paid for by the Fort Larned Old Guard and the Larned Tourism Committee. A copy of this rack card is included in this issue.

     "On Our Watch" and with the generous assistance from employees, partners, and great volunteer friends, we continue to provide Fort Larned and Santa Fe Trail history for all to learn and enjoy. I personally invite you to be active in supporting the work of the Fort Larned Old Guard and hope to see you soon and often at Larned's U. S. National Park site!

Mike Baughn, Brewster, KS
Flog Roll Call: Mike Baughn
     Mike Baughn, Brewster, KS, is a longtime member of the Old Guard. He earned a BA in history and secondary education at Asbury College in Kentucky, MS in educational administration at Fort Hays State University, and AA in criminal justice at Colby Community College. He has been a teacher and worked in law enforcement, including serving as sheriff of Thomas County. He is a founding member of the Smoky Hill Trail Association and served as its first president and is now the current president.

     He served as mayor of Brewster for some 30 years. He is past president and board member of the Butterfield Trail Association and Thomas County Historical Society. He was chairman of the German Family-Cheyenne Peace Ceremonial Commission in 1990. Mike has collected history of the Smoky Hill Trai, Plains Indians, and western Kansas for many years. He is a frequent speaker on these topics. His longtime support of Fort Larned and the Old Guard is greatly appreciated. Check out the Smoky Hill Trail Association at {www.smokyhilltrail.com}. Their annual conference will be held in Abilene, October 19-21, 2012.

Rex Abrahams and daughter, Megan
Volunteer Roll Call: Rex Abrahams
by Ellen Jones, Park Ranger
Rex Abrahams and daughter, Megan, at Fort Larned National Historic Site
     You may have heard this name quite frequently over the years. The Outpost is featuring Rex Abrahams in our Volunteer Roll Call. Rex manages to serve as chairman of the Fort Larned Old Guard and volunteer for annual events each year at the fort. Continuing his commitment in both capacities is commendable. He became a volunteer in 1987 because of his love for history. He doesn't like the spotlight much, but we can't pass up this 25-year milestone without recognizing him.

     Rex is originally from Hillsboro, Kansas. He attended Bethel College in Newton, earning a degree in Economics and Business Administration with minors in History and Psychology. He enrolled in just about any history class he could find. Shortly after graduating from Bethel, Rex moved to Wichita and worked for a typographic printing service. After 20 years his work experience landed him a position with a company he absolutely loves--Rand Graphics Incorporated, where he is currently Vice President of Sales. Rex explains, "It is a very family-oriented company." Speaking of families, the Abrahams' clan includes Rex, his wife DeVonne, their son Dustin, and daughter Megan. They have all volunteered at Fort Larned over the years.

     Rex discovered some years ago his true passion for the Indian Wars history and the stories that transpired from that era. Any history topic within the dates of 1850-1890 is interesting to Rex. He has read countless books on the Civil War, General Custer and the Battle of Little Bighorn, and the Plains Indians. It would seem quite natural for Rex to gravitate to Fort Larned. Just as it seemed natural to step up and help the Old Guard. He stated, "I agreed to be Chairman because of my love for Fort Larned and wanting to promote Fort Larned." Rex has doubled his efforts furthering the mission of Fort Larned, and we're pretty impressed with that!

Seasonal Park Guide Sarah Langness
Fort Larned Roll Call: Sarah Langness
by Ellen Jones, Park Ranger
     Meet Seasonal Park Guide Sarah Langness. She is the new director of the Fort Larned Post Band. Originally from Denver, CO, Sarah and her family moved to Larned in 2009. Music became her passion when she started taking saxophone lessons as a freshman in high school. She volunteered in the post band during the summers of 2009 and 2010 under the leadership of Zack Corpus. During her senior year of high school she decided to major in Music Education. Sarah is a student at Concordia University in Seward, Nebraska where she plans to graduate in 2015 after completing a 5-year degree program.

     Sarah's first assignment at Fort Larned was to form the post band. Ten talented musicians from Larned and surrounding areas stepped up to the challenge. Sarah gathered music and scheduled practices while simultaneously researching Civil War Era music and its importance to the troops. Sarah explains the role fort bands played during the Civil War. "The purpose of the fort band was to boost morale of the troops in the field and provide entertainment for those in camp." The Fort Larned Post Band performed three concerts over the summer. Favorite tunes have been Wild Irish Rose, Darktown Parade, and the Star Spangled Banner. We are hoping for more concerts next year!

     Sarah has proved to be a quick learner when it comes to Fort Larned history. She has conducted guided tours like an experienced interpreter--sharing her knowledge of the fort. She has been successful at interpretive writing and has engaged in 19th Century activities such as cooking on a wood burning stove and stitching embroidery. She also plays piano in the Junior Officers Quarters (of course!), and the music is pleasing to the ear! The volunteers and staff especially enjoy Sarah's pleasant personality and quirky sense of humor. She is a wonderful addition to our interpretive staff!

Quartermaster Report: Adjutant's Office
by Celeste Dixon, Park Ranger
     (This is thirteenth in a series on the structures at Fort Larned. The building included in this report does not exist today, but a replica is underway.)
Quarters, storehouses, shops and hospitals are all important structures for the functioning of a frontier military post, but there's one building that ties them all together: the adjutant's office. The adjutant is the main aide (a secretary, office manager, and record keeper) to the commanding officer and essentially helps him run the post. The word comes from the Latin adjutans, "to help." As the office where the post's daily business was carried out, this building served as the fort's "nerve center." All official reports, letters, orders, dispatches, etc., were routed through this officer for the commanding officer's review and approval. A sample of correspondence from the Fort Larned adjutant's office includes a request for maps from Department Headquarters, a report to the Adjutant General's office on the disposition of two clocks shipped to Fort Larned, and a General Order from the Post Commander (No. 19) detailing the proper behavior for guards on duty at the post.

     In his construction report, dated January 31, 1868, Brevet Lieutenant Colonel Almon F. Rockwell, who oversaw the construction of the fort's stone buildings, described the adjutant's office as a frame building measuring 30 feet long by 15 feet wide. Some of the materials used in the construction include 8,905 feet of lumber and flooring, 3 doors, 275 bricks, 1 bushel of lime, 5 bushels of sand, 50 pounds of white lead paint, and 7000 shingles. The total cost of the building was $474.07.

     The adjutant was usually a lieutenant who might need a chance to learn the ropes of army administration. However, the post commander could choose whoever he wanted and might consider other factors in his decision, such as an officer with good organizational skills, experience filling out the required forms or writing the necessary reports, or the ability to quickly look up information in the army regulations. Besides his responsibilities in the office, the adjutant was required to attend the guard change at first call to inspect the new guard and give them their post assignments.

     There is no record of what happened to the adjutant's office after the fort closed. Most likely it was either sold or torn down and the wood used for other structures. Plans are currently in place at the park to construct a replica of the adjutant's office. The building will act as a screening element. It could also be considered a 3-D interpretive display since it's not intended to be a usable building but to recreate the exterior appearance and add to the overall historic look of the forts grounds. The building should be in place by late fall.

Post Commander: Spring to Winter, 1866
by Celeste Dixon, Park Ranger
(This is eleventh in a series on the commanding officers of Fort Larned)
     During 1866 there was a quick turnover of post commanders at Fort Larned. Major Hiram Dryer left in April, turning command over to Lieutenant James Cahill, 2nd U. S. Cavalry. Cahill assumed command on April 26, only to be relieved on May 6 by Major Cuvier Grove, .3rd U. S. Infantry (the Old Guard). For the rest of the year, the command of Fort Larned would alternate between Major Grover and Captain Henry Asbury, 3rd U. S. Infantry.

     Although the government had made peace with the area Indians, with the signing of the Treaties of the Little Arkansas in October 1865, the Army was apparently not taking any chances. In May the Department of the Missouri Headquarters issued General Order No. 27, instructing post commanders to make certain that defensive measures were carried out before allowing wagon trains to proceed. The traders were not waiting on the Army, though, and by July 20 a total of 582 wagons had passed by Fort Larned accompanied by 634 armed men.

     By June 15 Captain Asbury replaced Major Grover as post commander. Turning his attention to Fort Zarah, Asbury instructed Lieutenant John P. Thompson, 3rd Infantry, to forbid the sale of whiskey there, as well as to keep everyone off the grounds except anyone with official business. This order unfortunately kept out the workers who had come to re-roof the round house. According to H. M. Stanley, noted journalist for Harper's Weekly, Asbury commanded the fort with orderliness and precision, and all activities were carried out strictly to military code, He also noted that the officers were "affable to their equals and gracious towards their subordinates."

Cuvier Grover, 1828-1885
     Cuvier Grover, 1828-1885, a native of Maine, graduated from West Point in 1850. He served at frontier military posts, including Fort Union, NM, prior to the Civil War and was appointed brigadier general of volunteers early in the Civil War. He commanded troops in many battles and lost an arm at the Battle of Cedar Creek, Virginia, October 19, 1864. He was appointed brevet major general of volunteers before the end of the war and returned to the regular army as a major in the 3rd U. S. Infantry following the war. One of his first commands was Fort Larned. He was appointed lieutenant colonel of the 38th U. S. Infantry while serving at Fort Larned, transferred to the 24th U. S. Infantry in 1869, and transferred to the 3rd U. S. Cavalry in 1870. He was promoted to colonel of the 1st U. S. Cavalry in 1875, a rank he held until his death at Atlantic City, NJ, on June 6, 1885 at age 57. He was buried at West Point Cemetery.

     On July 25 Major Grover resumed command. During the summer, construction began on the fort's stone buildings, under the direction of the Quartermaster Officer, Captain Almon Rockwell. It was definitely time for the post to have new buildings. The old sod and adobe structures were mostly falling down and needed to be replaced. By 1866 the walls of some of the buildings were in such bad shape they had to be braced up from the outside to keep them from falling down. Major Grover submitted a layout for the new post buildings along with plans for the buildings, which the Quartermaster General refused to approve. When he found out, General Philip Sheridan requested control of all construction in his military division, presumably to expedite post construction.

     Initially, the idea was to have the soldiers build the structures themselves while also carrying out their regular military duties. At the time, though, there were only two companies of soldiers present for duty. These men had to haul wood from 12 miles away, hay from 8 miles away, as well as carry out regular escort duties along the trail. Since the soldiers were too busy with their military duties to have time for construction work, the army hired civilian masons, stonecutters, and skilled workers to complete the job.

     Captain Asbury again assumed command on November 7 and would finish out the year as the post commander. The garrison consisted of 115 men from the 3rd U. S. Infantry. Many of the frontier posts were understaffed. Although Congress had approved legislation to reorganize the Army, the new numbers for soldiers and offices would be small compared to the job they were being asked to do. Not only was the Army expected to "manage" the Plains Indians as more settlers poured into the West, but also maintain martial law in the South. The coming year would be a challenging one for the soldiers tasked with enforcing U. S. government policy on the plains.

Rough Riding On The Plains (continued)
by Robert Morris Peck
     (The last installment of Peck's memoirs appeared in the Spring 2011 issue of Outpost. Robert Morris Peck, a private in Company K, First U. S. Cavalry, in 1859, was among the troops that founded Camp on Pawnee Fork that became Fort Larned. Peck published his memoirs in the National Tribune in 1901. The portion of his memoirs detailing frontier military life are continued here and will continue in future issues as space is available. This portion of his memoirs picks up his account of escorting the mail wagons. The escort found a party of travelers at Coon Creek, west of Fort Larned, that had been killed by Indians (later identified by Peck as Kiowas). A little of his account is repeated from the Spring 2011 issue to provide continuity. Peck wrote:)

     On this trip, as we approached the crossing of Coon Creek, and while yet several miles away, we caught sight of a white object, which soon proved to be a covered wagon. As we neared it we saw a yoke of oxen, with the yoke on, feeding around on the prairie; but no other sign of life. As we drove up to the still little camp several coyotes left some strange-looking objects that were lying around the wagon on the ground, and 'loped off on the prairie, disturbed by our approach.

     What was our horror as we drove up to the wagon to discover that the strange objects that the wolves had been frightened away from were the naked, and mutilated bodies of four white persons--two men, a woman and a boy about 12 years old!

     All were scalped and had other marks of brutal butchery and mutilation, besides the plainly-distinguishable gnawings of the wolves. The woman's body had been ripped open, and near one of the wagon-wheels, which was bespattered with blood, lay a small mass of something bloody, which proved to be the body of a babe, which had been dashed against the wagon-wheel.

     The bodies of the two men and boy had also been horribly butchered. Truly it was a sickening sight.

     Every bit of clothing had been torn or cut off the bodies, and those of us who had seen or heard of similar instances of Indian fiendishness before were busy in imagination portraying the probable outrages, indignities and tortures inflicted on these poor people before their final murder.

     As we walked about the camp and examined the signs and evidences of the tragedy there was little talk--all seemed dumb with horror.

     From the signs this was evidently a family of emigrants going to the gold region. Whether these four were all there had been of the party, we could not determine for certain. If there had been another it would likely be a girl or woman, who had probably been carried off as a prisoner.

     Knowing the Indian habits, the old hands assured us that they would not encumber themselves with the care of the men or small children as prisoners, and an old shoe was found in the wagon (a woman's or girl's) that was too small to have been worn by the dead woman.

     While thought and conjecture were silently busy, we sorrowfully and with many vengeful vows got out some tools, dug a hole large enough to hold all the bodies, gathered up the remains and buried them securely from the wolves.

     It was interesting to notice that while this rough funeral ceremony was going on nearly every man in the party seemed to discover that he had somehow taken a bad cold that made his eyes watery, and now and then some individual would turn and walk away from the graves to hide his emotions.

     Such evidence of feeling ought not to be considered a weakness, but somehow strong men are generally ashamed to acknowledge this very humane traite, and try to smother what is really the evidence of a manly heart.

     We stopped here long enough to water and feed our teams and get some dinner, and then filled our water-kegs and drove on about 10 or 12 miles, making a "dry camp" on the prairie. We left the oxen and wagon of the murdered family where we found them, as we had no use for them, and they were probably taken possession of by the next travelers who passed that way.

     That night as we sat around the little stove in our Sibley tent there was nothing talked of but the murder of the emigrant family. . .

     On these escort trips our routine of duty is about as follows: Our cook, who is a soldier, and our teamster, who is a citizen employed to drive team, are awakened before daylight of mornings by the sentry on post, and begin their respective work of preparing breakfast and feeding and harnessing the mules. The mail hands--three men--are also called up to perform the same duties for themselves.

     As soon as breakfast is ready all hands are called, and it is eaten before daylight. We take down our tent, roll up bedding, pack the wagon, and are on the road as soon as it is light enough to see our surroundings. We trot along briskly till near the middle of the day, or till we have rode about 20 or 25 miles, according to the watering places, when we stop for nooning.

     Each man then tries to make himself useful by assisting the teamster to unhitch and water and feed the mules, gathering buffalo chips to make a fire, or carrying water for the cook, etc. The mules are not unharnessed at noon, but led to water by some, while others unsling the feed-trough from the hind end of the wagon, fasten it in place on the tongue, put into it a feed of grain for the six mules, which they are soon crunching, and the ones that can eat fastest or kick hardest get the most.

     Many hands make light work, and we are soon seated on the ground around the fire, eating our dinner. This all takes about an hour, when we again string out the team, jump into the wagon and strike the road.

     In case we can't find water at the distance we desire to make for the night camp, we water the mules at the last watering place before reaching such point, and make a dry camp, using water out of our kegs for cooking and drinking.

     It is generally advisable in selecting a stopping place for the night, while in the range of hostile Indians, to camp in open ground, far enough away from any timber, brush, broken ground, or other possible cover for a sneaking foe, that he could not well surprise us, or stampede our stock; and it is the rule for military bodies on the march to take these precautions, but with our small party we prefer to camp in the best shelter we can find, and take our chances of a surprise, rather than camp in open ground and be exposed to the piercing cold winds or this country.

     We do not stand a regulation guard of three reliefs of two hours on post and four off, but have what we call a "running guard;" that is, we divide the time from dark till daylight into as many posts as there are men in the party subject to guard duty. As in this trip, for example, there being ten privates, one who does the cooking is excused from the guard, leaving nine for duty. Say the time that we need to keep a sentinel on post is 12 hours; that gives each man an hour and 20 min each night to stand guard, taking turns at the fore, middle and after watches.

     At evening, after feeding, the mules are picketed out on the dry grass around the wagons, in as small a space as possible, so that they will not get tangled up in each other's ropes, and the one sentinel, instead of being restricted to the limits of a certain beat, has the range of the entire camp.

     If there is a timepiece in the party, it it usually loaned to the man on post, and when his time is up he calls his successor and turns over the watch and his orders to him. But it don't take long to ruin a watch in this way, as I had proof of on this trip, as the sentry, when he had no matches, would open the watch-case and holding it down close to the dying fire would blow among the few living coals to make light enough to see the dial, but would often find that he had opened the back, instead of the face, and soon had it filled with ashes.

     Each man always occupies the same place in the tent, so the sentry soon learns where to find any individual of the party.

     If no one in the escort has a watch, we guess the time off, or estimate it by the rise or decline of certain stars. Or, in peaceable times, if we had candles to burn (coal oil had not come into use then), we could count the time by them. Our commissary candle would burn just six hours, if placed where the wind would not flare the light, and by marking it off into equal spaces we could count the time pretty accurately.

     An infantry bayonet makes the best camp candlestick that I know of, and in peaceable times we usually carried one rolled up in our tent for that purpose; but now we dare not use candles, or lights of any kind, after dark, for fear of attracting the Indians.

     The Sibley tents which we use being circular, we sleep in a circle, with our heads to the circumference and feet to the center. We never take off our clothes on going to bed, as we are liable to have to turn out to meet an attack at any minute, and each man must be prepared to get out in fighting trim instantly, with revolver and Sharp's carbine, at any time of the night.

     As sabers would be a useless encumbrance to a dismounted man, we leave them at Camp Alert.

     The three mail hands are also well armed and prepared to take part if a fight occurs.

     The sentry on post is instructed to walk around among the mules and keep a sharp lookout for prowling Indians. The mules will tell him of the approach of anything suspicious by looking and pointing their ears in that direction, or by snorting and running around at the end of their lariats. In case the sentry sees or hears anything suspicious he is instructed to slip back to the tent and quietly wake up the Corporal, or all hands, as the emergency may seem to demand.

     But this trip we were not disturbed by the Indians, nor did we see any, hostile or otherwise. Yet we were not deluded into a feeling of security, but kept a vigilant watch day and night, for in this country eternal vigilance is the price of life.

     We knew that though they were keeping strictly out of sight, they were probably watching our every movement, and waiting for a chance to catch us off our guard. And such evidence as we had seen this day of their recent presence on the road was enough to keep us ever on the alert.
     (to be continued)

Calendar
     Sept. 20-22, 2012: Santa Fe Rendezvous
     Oct. 13, 2012: Fort Larned Candlelight Tour (reservations required by October 9, 2012)
     Oct. 19-21: Smoky Hill Trail Association annual conference in Abilene.

Schedule of Events
     True to life stories of the Indian Wars along the Santa Fe Trail, brought to life by some of the greatest volunteers in the West. . . . Visit the most complete fort surviving from the days when Custer and Buffalo Bill Cody rode through this part of the West on their missions. Original restored buildings to that time peroid, a visitor center, Park Rangers will guide you through this adventure of the Old West.

     Memorial Day Weekend (Saturday, Sunday & Monday) largest living history event in western Kansas - experience a working frontier fort.

     Labor Day Weekend (Saturday, Sunday, & Monday) Reneactors bring the fort back to life for the holiday weekend.

     Candlelight Tour (2nd Saturday of October) Entertaining evening tours with vignettes from the fort's history.

     Christmas Open House (2nd Saturday of December) Old-fashioned Yuletide celebration with hot apple cider, cookies and Christmas carols.

Membership Reminder
     Annual memberships expire on December 31. If you have not renewed for 2012-2013, please send dues to membership chair Linda Peters, 1035 S Bridge St, Lakin KS 67860. Thank you for your support.

Deadline for next issue: October 25, 2012

     The officers, members of the board of directors, dues information and email's are listed on this page of information. Please feel free to contact any of us.




Santa Fe Trail Research Site

Santa Fe Trail Research Site
"E-Mail & Home Page"
Larry & Carolyn
St. John, Ks.
© "Forever"