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

A Voice From The Past: Corporal Leander Herron and the Medal of Honor
by Lauren Jones, Park Ranger

     Before Corporal Leander Herron was stationed at Fort Larned in 1868, he had his first brush with fame in 1864. A famous Civil War picture, portion printed at right, of Generals Ulysses Grant and George Meade at Massaponnax Church in Virginia during the Overland Campaign also shows an unknown private, circled. This was Private Leander Herron, Company C, 83rd Pennsylvania Infantry, age 17, who would later be awarded the Medal of Honor for an act of bravery performed while stationed at For Larned.

     Leander Herron's family recently gave the Fort a recording of an interview about those events that earned him a Medal of Honor. The recording was from "The Chevrolet Chronicles," a series of half-hour programs hosted by World War I flyer Eddie Rickenbacker. The first episodes aired in October 1930, and each presented the personally-narrated experiences of prominent American war heroes. Herron's story from this recording inspired this year's Candlelight Tour and has proved a fascinating and informative resource.

     On the evening of September 1, 1868, Corporals Leander Herron, 3rd Infantry, and Paddy Boyle, 7th Cavalry, were detailed to carry the mail to Fort Larned from Fort Dodge. Near Little Coon Creek, about 11 miles northeast of Fort Dodge, they heard gunfire and came upon a wood detail of four soldiers under attack by approximately 50 Kiowa Indians. Without hesitation, both men went to help their fellow soldiers. Thinking that they could not hold out without aid, Tropper Boyle rode his horse through the gauntlet of Indians to get help from Fort Dodge. Corporal Herron stayed with the party, helping them fight off the Indians during the night. Just as the Indians began closing in and the soldiers thought the end had arrived, "a body of horsemen in white" appeared. Corporal Herron recounts, "at first, we thought they were Indians in disguise. But they called out in English, and when the leader galloped up,it was Boyle, at the head of the squadron from the 7th United States Cavalry." The men were in such a hurry to get there that they came in their nightshirts and underwear, not even taking time to dress in their uniforms!

     The corporal in charge of the wood detail was wounded seven times by both bullets and arrows, while one trooper had three wounds, and two troopers had one wound each. Years later the Kiowa chief Satanta said that he lost 22 braves in that fight. It was also reported that two pet prairie dogs in a wooden box in the wagon were both killed.

     In 1919 Corporal Herron was awarded the Medal of Honor, shown below, for risking his life to aid his fellow soldiers. The citation reads: "While detailed as mail courier from the fort, voluntarily went to the assistance of a party of four enlisted men, who were attacked by about 50 Indians at some distance from the fort and remained with them until the party was relieved."

Corporal Herron
     Hearing the voice of a soldier who was actually stationed at Fort Larned has been an exciting experience for everyone here at the Fort. It is very likely the only voice we will ever hear of an enlisted man who served at Fort Larned, telling about his military life. Celeste Dixon did a lot of work removing static from the audio file for easier listening. After improving the audio file, she also put together a very impressive video to accompany the sound. You can check it out and hear the story for yourself on our website. Go to {} and click on "Learn About the Park" in the sidebar, "Photos & Multimedia," then "Multimedia Presentations."

Fort Larned Old Guard Chair's Column
by Ken Weidner

     The National Park Service Centennial Celebration has begun. The National Park Service will be 100 years old in 2016. Once again it has been a busy season at Fort Larned. There have been several special events to help celebrate the Centennial, and many more are planned for the coming year.

     A few of the past events include the Labor Day Weekend in September, as well as the opening of he Butterfly Garden. I was unable to attend either event, but it sounds like both were very successful. When I was there this fall I looked over the Butterfly Garden. I noticed at least three different types of butterflies--unfortunately I also saw several grasshoppers!

     Early October was a busy time at Fort Larned. Marla Matkin portrayed Frances Roe, a captain's wife, in "Reflections of the Plains Hunt." This was part of the ongoing Hometown Team Initiative.

     The second weekend of October brought the annual Candlelight tour. As usual it was a great hit and the weather was wonderful. I had a wonderful time, but who wouldn't if they were stationed in a room with Rex Abrahams, Mark Berry, and Dennis Smith for four hours!

     Another event that I've been curious about was Bring Your Dog to the Fort Day. I've not heard any reports back as it was just a short time ago, but it certainly looked like an entertaining day!

     November 6 brought Dual Survivor to Fort Larned. High school students from Larned were at the fort, learning various skills common on the frontier.

     Looking ahead, volunteers will be welcomed to help with the annual Christmas Open House which will be held on December 12.

     January 23 brings Winter Hike--The Life and Death of Private Henry Bach. Attendees will enjoy a mid-winter nature hike, as well as learn how Bach was caught in a winter storm.

     Now for a bit of news from Fort Larned Old Guard. Last year Fort Larned Old Guard applied for and received the Ticket to Ride Grant of $8,000 from the National Park Foundation, which was used to pay travel expenses for area schools to provide field trips to Fort Larned National Historic Site. With the Ticket to Ride Grant, approximately 1,500 Kansas students were able to visit Fort Larned. Without this grant, most of the participating schools would NOT have been able to bus their students to the fort. We have been fortunate to be awarded the full $8,000 once again. Some schools have already sent kids to the fort this fall. We are expecting to get a similar turnout when most schools come next spring. Ticket to Ride has been very successful for the area schools and Fort Larned!

     More Fort Larned Old Guard news. We are now in the soda pop business--at the visitor center. Fort Larned Old Guard has recently taken ownership of the pop machine in the visitor center. All profits will go into Fort Larned Old Guard general fund to be used to help with programs at the Fort. So the next time you visit the fort, help support Fort Larned Old Guard by buying a can of your favorite pop!

     In spirit of the National Park Service Centennial, Fort Larned Old Guard is organizing a special event focusing on the 1867 Hancock expedition and the Cheyenne-Lakota village on Pawnee Creek. This event, our annual Mess and Muster meeting, will be held on April 30, 2016. There will be a field trip to the village site, along with lectures throughout the day. We are working on a guest speaker for the evening program. If we manage to snag this fellow, it should prove to be a very interesting evening. We will keep you posted in the next issue of OUTPOST.

     Well that's about all I have for now. If you can, try to come out to Fort Larned to attend the various events that are bing planned. Oh, and be sure to buy a can of soda pop while you are there!

Superintendent's Corner
by Betty Boyko

     Fort Larned National Historic Site continues to meet Centennial goals by offering new programs after a very successful year of events and projects. The staff has engaged local communities in a plethora of event offerings during Memorial Day weekend, Fourth of July, and Labor Day weekend with multitudes enjoying the ambiance of the fort. The Fourth of July event has become a favorite for families offering a variety of children's activities.

     The Candlelight event in October took visitors back in time to an event that happened in 1868. A wood-cutting detail was attacked by a Kiowa tribe between Fort Larned and Fort Dodge. Those attending the event heard an eyewitness account of what happened at the end of the tour--a real treat for all. Corporal Leander Herron, who was stationed at Fort Larned, but on a mail-carrier detail, gave an interview of the event in 1930, 62 years after the 1868 conflict that earned Herron a Medal of Honor, presented in 1919, 51 years later. Fort Larned was fortunate to receive the recording from the family. We put a new twist on an old event just in time for our Centennial Celebration!

     Our Centennial theme at the fort, Forward Thinking about the Past, and our overall plan for the Centennial, was recently shared with the Fort Larned Old Guard at their annual meeting. The fort staff depends on and appreciates our friends group for their assistance in reaching our Centennial goals. We seek to connect with other organizations, partnering on Centennial projects. One recent goal was mat through the partnership with the teachers at Larned High School--one of our Ticket to Ride schools. Seventy high school students spent an entire school day at the fort participating in "Surviving the Prairie" challenges. The staff took advantage of the opportunity to visit with teachers about curriculum needs and how we can further the "adopt a class" action for the Centennial. This is just one in many attempts to create the next generation of stewards.

     Fort Larned will be involved in several national programs for the Centennial Celebration in the coming months. Guaranteed to leave an indelible imprint just as StoryCorps does and continues to do, will be a project called Sing Across America. This project will bring young people to the national parks to sing a new song, "Centennial Children's Anthem for National Parks." Individual parks will work with local educators and youth leaders to train a group of young people to perform. "Earth Anthem for National Parks," a song written by Louise Phillips and composed by Charles Eversole. Young people will come together to express our human connection to those special places we protect.

     I encourage you join us in this celebration by attending events, by volunteering, and by supporting Fort Larned National Historic Site in their efforts to have a memorable Centennial year. Join us in forward thinking about the past.

Marla Matkin portraying Frances Roe, standing in the
Evolution Hunting exhibit in the Fort Larned Visitor Center.
Reflections of the Plains Hunt
by Marla Matkin

     (The final Hometown Team program on hunting took place October 4 at Fort Larned. An audience of fifteen people enjoyed a first-person presentation of one of the most interesting and skilled hunters on the western frontier named Frances M. A. Roe. The presentation was given by park volunteer Marla Matkin. She summarizes the subject's personality and accomplishments in this brief article. You may read more about Frances Roe in her Army Letters from an Officer's Wife, 1871-1888, published by the University of Nebraska Press in 1981.)

     Frances Roe holds a unique place among her fellow officers' wives. She not only adapted to a role that nothing to that time in her life had prepared her for, but she came to cherish the freedom and feeling of accomplishment it provided her. From the southern plains of Kansas and Colorado, to the mountains of Montana, she accompanied her husband and assumed her place alongside the frontier army. Frances took pride in learning to ride all sorts of horses. Her skill level often surpassed that of the soldiers, a fact she never failed to mention. Her love of animals is evident in her treatment and care of the horses, dogs, even squirrels that became her pets. She would remember them all fondly in letters to her family.

     Learning to shoot a gun, as she said, "in all sorts of positions," gave her confidence and a sense of belonging to the military culture into which she had married. She expressed her thoughts and feelings in a straightforward manner without sentimentality, but with a deep sense of understanding and respect for a lifestyle few would know or appreciate. As a member of hunting parties, she experienced the joy and regret of killing the magnificent animals that inhabited the plains, but whose numbers would soon be reduced almost to extinction by hunters.

     The beauty of the West and its landscapes enchanted her and her companions. Fishing often with a willow pole she caught delicious mountain trout, which she never failed to share with others on post, in an effort to augment their often monotonous diets. She loved army life in the West and the things it afforded her, the grand mountains, the plains, and the fine hunting. "The vanities of city life do not seem attractive to me," she once said, and when it came time to leave the West behind, she lamented, "Oh how I will miss my army friends."

Hometown Team Project Conclusion
by Ellen Jones, Park Ranger

     Thanks to the funding provided by the Kansas Humanities Council and the Fort Larned Old Guard, many visitors enjoyed two compelling hunting exhibits in the Fort's visitor center this year. The project was connected with the Hometown Team Initiative which supported a larger Smithsonian exhibit that crossed the state of Kansas over a period of 13 months. The fort has very impressive statistics to share with OUTPOST readers. Both the stationary and interactive exhibits were in place by early April 2015 and were taken down in November, with the final report recently submitted to Kansas Humanities Council.

     Over 11,000 visitors engaged with the exhibits on the Evolution of Hunting from April to November! The Open House during Mess and Muster brought in about 150 people. On April 23 two Larned elementary schools sent more than 200 students to attend a special Hometown Team program that included the story, "The Boy and the Bullfrogs" written by David Clapsaddle. The Junior Ranger program in May engaged 20 children learning about the near extinction of bison on the plains. Frances Roe and Reflections on a Plains Hunt, presented by Marla Matkin, brought close to 20 visitors on a cold blustery morning--but in the end received excellent front-page coverage in Larned's Tiller and Toiler newspaper.

     Most important were the many hunting stories people shared with one another. The project spurred conversations among people from different age groups, backgrounds, and locations. It is bittersweet to wind up such a rewarding project. The Fort thanks the Old Guard and Leo Oliva, who served as the project treasurer, and to all the supporters of Hometown Team, The Evolution of Hunting.

Fort Larned Roll Call: Lauren Jones
by Ellen Jones, Park Ranger

     Introducing a new face here at Fort Larned! Jessica Lauren Jones, who goes by Lauren, was born in Norfolk, Virginia, and grew up in North Carolina. She earned a Bachelor's degree in art history from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. She continued on at the university and received her MA in Historic Preservation in 2013. While exploring career options, she worked as a barista in a coffee shop-a job she had experience in throughout her high school and college years.

Lauren Jones Inspecting the Butterfly Garden
     Lauren's first career move post-graduation came this last spring when she accepted a temporary position with AmeriCorps. She was fortunate to be doing something she enjoys: Masonry! She worked May through July at Colonial National Historic Park in Virginia. She worked on the Moore House, one of the original buildings on site which is known for where the Articles of Capitulation were drafted and signed at the close of the Revolutionary War. She also gained masonry experience working on the cemetery wall and Dudley Digs, a house in Yorktown.

     Lauren is enjoying her work at the fort which includes history research, working with maintenance on the historic buildings, and most recently applying for an Active Trails grant through the National Park Foundation. When asked what she likes most about Fort Larned she says, "Learning about history that is new to me." She also added "Everybody is really nice here." Be sure to welcome Lauren next time you are visiting the fort.

Old Guard Roll Call: Becca Hiller
     (Becca Hiller is a member of the Old Guard. She is Director of the Santa Fe Trail Museum and Research Center located between Fort Larned National Historic Site and the town of Larned. The Trail Center and Fort Larned National Historic Site work together on many programs, especially the biennial Santa Fe Trail Rendezvous. She provides this brief biography.)

     Growing up I always loved history and, because my father was in the Air Force, I was fortunate to have visited many historic sites around the world. My first memory of visiting a museum was when we went to the British Museum of Natural History in London. I was awe struck by the HUGE dinosaur in the Great Hall--35 years later and I still get goosebumps at the memory.

     After high school, I served in the U. S. Army as a Supply Specialist for 51/2 years. When I left the military, I used the G. I. Bill to attend the University of Wisconsin and double majored in History and Social Change & Development. I graduated summa cum laude in December 2005. As part of my studies, I was required to complete an internship. A mentor at University of Wisconsin secured a position for me at the Neville Public Museum in Green Bay, Wisconsin, where I conducted a collections survey of World War I helmets. It was an eye opening experience and since then I have only wanted to work in a museum.

     It was a dream come true when I was promoted to Director of the Santa Fe Trail Center Museum & Research Library this past January. First opened July 2, 1974, the museum has grown to encompass the main building, four historic structures, three reproduction homes, and two large exhibition buildings.

     Currently, we are working on a renovation of the East Gallery. As part of this, we are expanding our interpretation of the Santa Fe Trail and American Indians of the Great Plains. It is an exciting time for all of us involved in this endeavor.

     Soon we will begin planning the 2016 Santa Fe Trail Rendezvous, to be held September 22-24. Ideas are already forming for the theme of the upcoming history conference and I look forward to working with the National Santa Fe Trail and Fort Larned National Historic Site to make this event a great success. Collaboration has become essential to the survival of historical institutions and the Trail Center is fortunate to have two wonderful partners.

     Fort Larned National Historic Site is more than a professional partner though. When I am not working, I love to attend the many programs they hold each year. I learn something new each time. My favorite is the Candlelight Tour, held the second Saturday in October. I am proud to be a member of the Fort Larned Old Guard, helping to support and preserve this important part of our history.

Volunteer Roll Call: Steve Stearns
by Ellen Jones, Park Ranger

     Butterfly habitat has been suffering drastically for some years in the Midwest. Fort Larned National Historic Site was fortunate to have teacher Steve Stearns concerned about that problem. He teaches Environmental Science to the Larned Middle School 7th and 8th graders, and he has dreamed about building a butterfly garden for quite some time. With the help of his students during the 2014-2015 school year, his dream has become a reality! Under Steve's vision and leadership the class created the beautiful new butterfly garden located at Fort Larned's new parking lot. Every visitor to the Fort will pass by this wonderful new addition.

     In September the garden became a Monarch Wayside station certified by Monarch Watch, an organization that creates, conserves, and protects Monarch habitat. Steve cut the ribbon as we officially dedicated the garden to Monarch preservation during a Saturday morning event that attracted about 40 people--and a few monarchs too! The Monarchs were tagged and sent on their way as the park service staff recognized Steve and the students for the finished project.

Steve Stearns and students at the Butterfly Garden
     We have received many compliments about the garden from visitors. The best part is that Steve is not done planning or planting. He is now working on the adjacent natural space at the parking lot which will have an American Indian theme. Steve knows how to challenge his students to be creative. The students respond eagerly and learn a lot in his classes. Surprisingly, he has not always been a teacher at Larned Middle School.

     Steve was born in St. Louis and grew up in Arvada, Colorado, a suburb of Denver. After finishing school he worked as a computer programmer for years. His wife realized he had a gift for teaching and encourages him to go back to college for a degree in education. He left computer programming but kept up his skills to be able to teach Computer Technology. His teaching degree came from Georgia University and his first teaching position was in Liburn, Georgia.

Fort Larned Old Guard Board Member Vicki Gillett
visits with Steve Stearns at the Butterfly Garden
     Steve moved to Larned and started teaching at the middle school seven years ago. He teaches Earth Science at Westside during the summers. His many school and community contacts assisted him in his dream of creating the butterfly garden. Jerry Johnson, industrial arts teacher at Westside, cut out the iron mule silhouettes. Gerry Carter, former employee of USD 495, made the wagon wheels. Steve had help from students, parents, an electrician, a plumber, and a number of donations from organizations in Larned.

     Last semester Steve would often say to his students in the Environmental Class, "Let's make something for the garden." The overall reaction he received, "Their eyes light up," and now Fort Larned has a beautiful butterfly garden!

Post Commander: Jacob H. Smith
by Celeste Dixon, Park Ranger

     (This is twenty-fourth and final in a series on the commanding officers at Fort Larned. The next issue will begin a series on other officers who served at Fort Larned but were not post commanders.)

     By June 1877 Fort Larned's last commander, Captain Jacob H. Smith, was presiding over a garrison of just 32 enlisted men. Captain Smith came to Fort Larned with Co. D, 19th Infantry, from Fort Lyon, Colorado. The previous commander, Captain William Lyster, had been transferred to Camp Supply, Indian Territory, along with a company of soldiers.

     Although the Army would soon close Fort Larned, garrison life went on as usual. A porch for the hospital kitchen and new privy were approved in June. A soldier who reported to sick call complaining of paralysis in his right arm was diagnosed with lead poisoning, which he apparently got from working in a paint factory in New York before joining the Army. The post surgeon at the time, Dr. William Whitehead, treated the man by prescribing Epsom salt in small daily doses, 10 grains of potassium iodide three times a day, plus time in a machine every day called "Davis & Kidders Magneto Electric Machine." This last treatment was supposed to help strengthen the tendons in his forearms.

     John Hurd Smith joined the Army during the Civil War on June 5, 1861, as a 1st Lieutenant in the 2nd U. S. Kentucky Infantry. He participated in the Battle of Shiloh in 1862, publishing a history of the battle after the war. He was severely wounded in the hip and although he tried to return to active duty, the wound didn't heal properly. He mustered out of the 2nd Kentucky on June 29, 1863, and was commissioned a captain of the Volunteer Reserve Corps on June 25, 1863. He spent the rest of the war as a mustering officer/recruiter in Louisville, Kentucky. He mustered out of the VRC on October 21, 1865. On March 7, 1867, he was appointed captain in the 13th U. S. Infantry and received a brevet promotion to major for gallant conduct during the Battle of Shiloh. He was promoted temporarily to major in the Judge Advocate corps on May 25, 1869, both of which were both later revoked on December 10 of that year. He was assigned to captain in the 19th Infantry on December 15, 1870.

     Pawnee County continued to attract settlers, and was fast becoming one of the most productive farming areas in central Kansas. Of course, the ability of citizens to settle in the area and grow bumper crops of grain and livestock were due to the Army's presence at posts like Fort Larned. And the fact that the people in the Pawnee Valley area and other areas of central Kansas could build their new lives without fear of Indian attack signaled the end of Fort Larned's usefulness as a military post. The Santa Fe Trail had now been eclipsed by the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad, removing yet another reason for the fort's existence.

     By November 1877, Assistant Surgeon Whitehead was ordered to New York City to appear before an Army medical board for an examination to raise his rank to Surgeon. Dr. F. H. Atkins from Camp Supply came to fill in for him. However, he had to return to Camp Supply at the end of the year, a witness in a general court-martial, leaving the post without medical care for a while. Atkins returned to Camp Supply for good in January 1878 when Acting Assistant Surgeon M. O'Brien replaced him.

     Captain Smith condemned some of the post's hospital property, which hadn't been used in some time, so it could be sold to civilians and hauled off the property. An order dated December 6, 1877, directed that buildings at Fort Larned could be sold at public auction, after the Army property in them had been moved to another post.

     In February 1878 several mild cases of scarlet fever were diagnosed at Fort Larned, including Surgeon O'Brien's daughter. Some new recruits for Company D, 19th Infantry, also arrived at the fort during February. In April, First Sergeant A. Berman, D Company, 4th Cavalry came to Fort Larned on his way back to Camp Supply from a furlough to take custody of Private Thomas Radcliffe, who had gone AWOL from Camp Supply and had been apprehended at Fort Larned.

     Soldiers began playing baseball at Fort Larned in the Spring of 1878. Although the players suffered from a multitude of injuries, the pastime still raised morale at the post. Smallpox also became a medical concern in June after reports of cattle on a train shipment had been diagnosed with the illness. All military and civilian personnel were vaccinated or questioned as to when or if they had been treated for the disease.

     On June 29,1878, Captain Smith received orders from the Department of the Missouri, directing him to discontinue Fort Larned as an active military post. All the public property at the post was to be sent to Fort Dodge, while all the troops at the post were sent to Fort Hays to relieve a company of the 16th Infantry. The troops received their last pay as members of the Fort Larned garrison in July 1878, after which the soldiers left the fort for good.

     After leaving Fort Larned, Smith was promoted to major in the 2nd U. S. Infantry on November 26, 1894, and to lieutenant colonel of the 12th U. S. Infantry on October 20, 1899. He was sent to the Philippines during the Philippine-American war. In December 1899 he told reporters that the Philippine natives were "worse than fighting Indians" and that he had already adopted appropriate tactics he had learned fighting "savages" during the Indian Wars. The Civilian Governor of the Philippines, William Howard Taft, promoted Smith to brigadier general of volunteers on June 1, 1900, with the expectation that he would soon retire, which Smith did not do.

     Smith was later court-martialed for issuing an order on the Island of Samar, which led to the deaths of thousands of Philippine civilians. The order was retaliation for the death of 51 soldiers of Co. C, 9th U. S. Infantry, who were killed in a surprise attack by Philippine guerrillas. Smith told the commander of a Marine battalion under his command, that "I want no prisoners. I wish you to kill and burn, the more you kill and burn the better it will please me. I want all persons killed who are capable of bearing arms in actual hostilities against the United States." When the commander, Major Littleton Waller, asked for clarification on the age limit for those who would be killed, Smith told him, "Ten years." The ensuing indiscriminate attacks on Philippine civilians earned General Smith the nickname "Howling Wilderness Smith."

     Although the Judge Advocate General of the Army determined that the only thing that kept the U. S. troops from instituting a complete "reign of terror" was the good sense and restraint of the majority of Smith's subordinates, the Army's actions were still enough to anger U. S. anti-Imperialists groups. Smith was court-martialed for his orders on Samar, although he was not tried for murder or any "war crimes"-the charge was "conduct to the prejudice of good order and military discipline." Smith was found guilty and sentenced to be "admonished by the reviewing authority."

     Smith retired to Portsmouth, Ohio, on July 16, 1902, and did some traveling around the world. He tried to volunteer for service in World War I but was refused, partly due to his advanced age, and partly to his tarnished reputation for his actions in the Philippines. He died on March 1, 1918, in San Diego.

     Fort Larned was an active military post for 19 years, but it saw much change in those short years of service. When the post was first established in 1859, central Kansas was a dangerous frontier filled with Plains Indians and travel on the Santa Fe Trail was often a perilous undertaking. By the time the soldiers left Fort Larned in 1878, the Indians had been moved off to reservations, the railroad had replaced the Santa Fe Trail, and the town of Larned was a growing, prosperous community.

The Enlisted Men of Company C, Third Infantry
Part I - Robert Allen
by Celeste Dixon, Park Ranger

     (Fort Larned's main interpretive year is 1868, which is the year the stone buildings were completed. Company C, 3rd U. S. Infantry, was stationed at Fort Larned during that year and part of the research for the restoration of the barracks and hospital building was finding out information for most of these enlisted men. That information was compiled in the Historic Furnishing Study: Enlisted Men's Barracks and the Post Hospital, HS-2. Here is the second installment in a series on the enlisted men whose information is included in that report.)

     Robert Allen enlisted in the Army on March 21, 1867, in Boston, Massachusetts. The year 1868, when he was stationed at Fort Larned, seems to be very uneventful for him. For most of the year - January through June, and August through December, he spent his time on company duty.

     Allen only spent a few days in July on company duty. For most of the month he was on the sick list, reporting to the hospital twice. His first attempt, reported on July 4, was constipation. He returned to company duty, but then went back to sick call on the 7th with a contusion. There is nothing in the records about how he got the injury, although it must have been serious because he was not fit for duty again until the 20th. He returned to company duty again until the 28th, when he was assigned to escort duty with Paymaster Smith for the rest of the month.

     In August he returned from his escort duty and then spent the remainder of the month on company duty. Unlike Henry Ahiborn (see last issue), he apparently kept himself out of trouble because there is no indication that he had any problems for the remainder of his time at Fort Larned.

Why Use A Surcingle?
"Managing Risk Lessons Learned"
by Saddler Sam Young, Park Volunteer

     Risk assessment, a key component of risk management, should be applied every time a horse is ridden when it comes to serviceability of the saddle being used, especially a McClellan saddle. The following explains why.

     Many of us have witnessed a rider fall from his or her horse due to a malfunction of any of the straps that hold the saddle on the horse. As a cavalry saddler, I first saw this happen when a living-history cavalry unit was demonstrating close order mounted drill in front of a live audience. All of a sudden a trooper unexpectedly disappeared from his horse and landed on the ground with his McClellan saddle and blanket beside him. He was very fortunate as the mounted ranks and files of troopers were able to avoid him as they passed by. Embarrassed, he walked from the drill field leading his horse and carrying his saddle and saddle blanket. Although he could have been injured or killed, only his ego was hurt.

     When this unfortunate trooper saw me he said he needed his girth fixed as he needed to ride in the next demonstration. My quick glance revealed rotted webbing. I cannot repair rotten webbing and I did not have my saddler equipment or material with me. I did have an extra stirrup strap which I used to make a girth. The trooper and his fellow troopers were happy when he returned to the team.

     Following their demonstrations and attending to their horses, I joined them for an informal chat with two focus areas: maintaining their equipment (each trooper's responsibility) and using the surcingle (used by dragoons and cavalry from well prior to the Civil War through World War II). None of the troopers had a surcingle.

     I see too many riders not maintaining their equipment from which I could tell many stories, but won't in this short article. Whether it's a horse or a truck, if you do not maintain it, it may fail you when you need it. The same goes for saddles and bridles; most are NOT maintained. Lesson one: maintain your equipment for serviceability, longevity, and safety.

     Lesson two: so, what is a surcingle? It is a web strap approximately 5 inches wide and long enough to pass over the saddle and be snugly buckled under the horse by the girth strap. Its purpose is to keep the saddle in place and the rider on the horse in the event the girth or a leather strap breaks. I frequently refer to it as a "seat belt for a horse" because if properly used it will keep the seat on the horse.

     Research this on the internet and you will find other examples of the surcingle keeping the saddle and the rider on the horse.

     The surcingle can also be used to keep a pack or a blanket on the horse.

     Since something could break on even the best maintained saddle, a surcingle (which costs about $70.00) is highly recommended for all riders, regardless of saddle used.

Garrison Life on the Plains
by Sam Young, Park Volunteer

     Most Army life is garrison life, even on the post-American Civil War western plains. What was it like living in a garrison? Unfortunately, virtually every book of that period written by officers, soldiers, and civilians centers around them, life in the field, and the battles fought by soldiers. So, how do we, as living historians, learn about garrison life?

     If you do living history or reenacting you will probably spend time in a garrison environment. Or you could be asked questions about living in a garrison. This became important to my efforts as a living-history volunteer to properly portray either an officer or soldier at Fort Larned's 1868-period garrison. I am frequently asked questions by visitors about Army garrison life.

     Books written by the wives, children, and others who experienced the Army garrison life during the Indian wars period are the best source of such information. For example in "The Girl I left Behind Me" Frontier Army Wives, 1817-1917 (Fort Leavenworth Frontier Army Museum publication) there is a collection of snippets of the lives of various officer and soldier wives. In the introduction Nancy Case writes:

     "A typical Frontier Arm wife came from the middle class of the settled East. She adapted to the harsh, often hostile environment and the frequent separations and moves. She brought her civilizing influence to bear on isolated posts and to the men stationed there."

     "Despite having to endure low pay and near constant indebtedness, being ranked out of quarters on little or no notice and lack of fresh food and accustomed comforts, the Frontier Army wife is aptly described as 'a kind of tough,weather proof, India-rubber woman. Serene and unruffled in all situations.'"

     "There was more to life than inadequate housing and torturous journeys. Life on an Army post was filled with diversions (entertaining new arrivals, visitors, and neighbors; parties; gardening; riding; picnicking; hunting; fishing; teas; and card games)."

     In the following listed books are a multitude of examples describing garrison life. Here are a few samples of that life:
     Army dependents experienced traveling hundreds and even thousands of miles in covered wagons and living in near-primitive conditions; frequent moves by officers which the Army did not reimburse; selling almost everything before moving and buying used items at your new station; being called "camp followers" as the Arm did not recognize dependents - only laundresses; lack of adequate medical care; giving birth in a covered wagon; and cholera epidemics.

     One commander was ordered to take his entire command, less those in the hospital and guardhouse, and the guard detail, many miles to an Indian reservation as a show of force. He left the post funds with his wife and orders to the Sergeant of the Guard to report to her daily for instructions. She is probably the only Army wife ever in command of an Army post.

     And hiring a male Indian, who wore almost nothing, as the cook--and a good one--when no other cooks were available to prepare and serve food for a formal dinner.

     Alexander, Eveline M. Cavalry Wife, The Diary of Eveline M. Alexander, 1866-1867. Ed. Sandra L. Myers, Texas A&M Press, 1977.

     Biddle, Ellen M. Reminiscences of a Soldier's Wife. First Published in 1907. CreateSpace, 2012.

     Boyd, Mrs. Orsemus Bronson. Cavalry Life in Tent and Field. 1894, reprint with introduction by Darlis A. Miller, Univ. of Nebraska Press, 1994.

     Cox-Paul, Lori and Dr. James W. Wengert. A Frontier Army Christmas. Nebraska State Historical Society, 1996.

     Custer, Elizabeth. Tenting on the Plains: or, General Custer in Kansas and Texas. University of Oklahoma Press; abridged edition, 1994.

     Eales, Anne Bruner. Army Wives on the American Frontier - Living by the Bugles. Johnson Books, 1996.

     Grierson, Alice Kirk. An Army Wife's Cookbook. Southwest Parks and Monuments Association, 1972.

     Grierson, Alice Kirk. The Colonel's Lady on the Western Frontier. Ed. by Shirley Anne Leckie. University of Nebraska Press, 1989.

     Lane, Lydia Spencer. I Married a Soldier or Old Days in the Army. 1893, reprint University of New Mexico Press, 1988.

     Lawrence, Mary Leefe. Daughter of the Regiment. Ed. Thomas T. Smith. University of Nebraska Press 1996.

     Nacy, Michele. Members of the Regiment: Army Officers' Wives on the Western Frontier, 1865-1890. Greenwood Press, 2000.

     Roe, Frances M. A. Army Letters from an Officer's Wife, 1871-1888. University of Nebraska Press, 1981.

     Stallard, Patricia Y. Glittering Misery: Dependents of the Indian Fighting Army. 1978, reprint with a forward by Darlis A. Miller, University of Oklahoma Press, 1992.

     Steinbach, Robert H. A Long March: The lives of Frank and Alice Baldwin. University of Texas Press, 1990.

     Summerhayes, Martha. Vanished Arizona, Recollections of the Army Life of a New England Woman. 1908, reprint, University of Nebraska Press, 1979.

     Van Cleve, Charlotte O. "Three Score Years and Ten" Life Long Memories of Fort Snelling, Minnesota and Other Parts of the West. Harrison & Smith, 1895.

     Viele, Teresa. Following the Drum: A Glimpse of Frontier Life. University of Nebraska Press, 1984.

Fort Larned Heritage
Letter from Fort Larned by Hugh H. Morrison, July 30, 1864

     (Hugh H. Morrison, 1836-1917, was an early settler at Salina, arriving there in October 1859. He lived on his farm on the edge of town, ran a dairy, and operated the first meat market in Salina. He later supplied meat to the construction crews of the Union Pacific Railway, Eastern Division, the first railroad built across Kansas, following the Smoky Hill Trail and passing through Salina. Morrison was active in the community. He helped organize the First Presbyterian Church in Salina in 1860; his father was the first minister. Hugh Morrison was the first justice of the peace in Saline County, and he taught the first public school in the county. In 1862 he married Rebecca Elwell, the "wife" to whom the following letter was addressed. During the Civil War he served in Company G, 15th Regiment of the Kansas State Militia, and saw service under General Samuel Curtis along the Santa Fe Trail in 1864. While searching for Indians who were raiding along the Trail, Morrison's company camped at Fort Larned and drew supplies to continue their field duty. While there, Morrison wrote the following letter, copy of which was provided Fort Larned National Historic Site by Mark Jarvis of Lenexa KS. Mark's mother acquired the letter in the 1960s. Special thanks to Jarvis for sharing this letter.)

In camp Ft. Larned, July 30th 1864
     Dear wife, I gladly improve the opportunity of writing to you, I am as well as usual. I was rather poorly yesterday forenoon with symptoms of diarrhea, probably from drinking too much poor water, but by eating nothing, drinking coffee & but little water I came through all right, we got here yesterday afternoon about 2 o'clock; yesterday & day before we got up & started at 2 o'clock & stopped in the forenoon for breakfast, & then went on till 2 or 3 o'clock making 30 or 35 miles march. We camped Thursday night at Walnut creek on the San-Fe road & had good water & plenty of it & nice bait of ripe plums.

H. H. Morrison
     We found the ranch deserted & torn up & no Soldiers there, about 1 1/2 miles out from the creek we passed where that ox train were destroyed, there were some dead oxen, & a good many white spots where flour sacks had been ripped open for the sacks & the flour left on the ground. The wagons & everything of account were removed, but I found a small corner of a quilt & covered my canteen with it, by keeping it wet & shaded, I can keep the water cool the greater part of the day, we are going this afternoon to draw 10 days rations; & start out in the morning on a big Indian hunt. The order is to go south of the Big Arkansas as the most Indians are reported to have gone that way. Scouts have been sent out today. The order maybe changed by morning, but we will come back home or go some other direction. Our Col. Says he wants to get us all back home as soon as he can on account of our hay harvest.

     Old granny Curtis (General Samuel Curtis) is not much liked by the militia he don't seem to understand much about Indian hunting. We have had only1/2 rations but are now drawing full rations & corn for our horses, I would like very much to be back home & make hay & take care of things but if we can only give the Indians a good whipping I shant care so much, I hope you will keep well & things will not happen till I get back if it does do not be discouraged but do the best you can & trust the rest of Providence. Our lives are all in his hands, & he is as able to protect & defend our lives here & apart as if we are together, we can pray for each other & if Providence so decrees that we should never see each other I hope we are prepared to meet in a happy eternity.

     Our Col. just told me that we would not come back here, we will perhaps have to carry several days rations on our horses and meet the wagons at the little Arkansas. I may be home before this reaches you as it will not be sent until next week; no more at present.
     Your affectionate husband
     H. H. Morrison
     (postscript) Crawford & the rest are well but will not probably write any
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Report of Indian Attack at Ash Creek, November 13, 1864
     (The following report and endorsement, copied from The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, Series I, Vol. 41, Part I, shows that Indian raids along the Santa Fe Trail continued after General Curtis's expedition to stop the raiding.)

November 13, 1864.--Skirmish with Indians at Ash Creek, near Fort Larned, Kans.
Report of Capt. Theodore Conkey, Third Wisconsin Cavalry.
HDQRS., Fort Zarah, Kans., November 15, 1864.

     Sir: I have the honor to communicate for your information that on the night of the 13th instant, just after dark, an attack was made by a party of Indians, supposed to be about thirty in number, upon a train of five wagons loaded with corn for Fort Larned while in camp at Ash Creek, twelve miles this side of that post. One man belonging to the train is believed to be mortally wounded; the others four in number, made their escape with the loss of their stock. This information was communicated to me by Capt. (E. A.) Jacobs, in command of the post at Fort Larned, on the afternoon of the 14th, and I immediately dispatched a scouting party up Walnut Creek in the direction it was said the Indians had taken. This scout proceeded thirty miles or more up the creek, but saw no signs of Indians. The opinion prevails among men experienced in Indian character and habits that this party was composed principally of Pawnees, from the fact that their plundering excursions are always made on foot, and as they were all dismounted and neglected to scalp the wounded man, who lay directly in their path, it would seem to confirm the opinion entertained that they were Pawnees and their object plunder.
     Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
     Theo Conkey
     Capt., Third Wisconsin Cavalry, Cmdg. Post.
     Lieut. J. E. Tappan,
     Acting Assistant Adjutant-Gen.
     HDQRS. District of Upper Arkansas
     Fort Riley, Kans., November 26, 1864.

     Respectfully forwarded to department headquarters for the information of the general commanding.

     The supposition of Capt. Conkey in regard to Indians being Pawnees may not be correct, as since then Capt. Booth and Lieut. Helliwell were attacked in same vicinity by mounted Indians, as per report previously forwarded.
     B. S. Henning,
     Maj. Third Wisconsin Cavalry, Cmdg. District.

Rough Riding On The Plains (continued)
by Robert Morris Peck

     (Robert Morris Peck's memoirs, published in the National Tribune in 1901, telling about life at Camp on Pawnee Fork, renamed Camp Alert, continue with his account of life at the post during the winter of 1859-1860.)

     Our comrades of the company send us out papers, magazines and other reading matter from Fort Riley occasionally, when they have a chance, which is not often. As many of our detachment are men of little or no education, the services of my self and a few others who are better favored in that respect are always in demand for reading to them and writing their letters.

     I had a little class of several, whom I taught how to read and write, during the Winter, sufficiently well to enable them thereafter to carry on their own correspondence and sign their own names to the pay roll, an accomplishment that they are since quite proud of.

     Strange as it may seem, one of my pupils, and the most stupid one, was the man who was Acting First Sergeant of the detachment.

     It is a thing that has probably been noticed and commented on by many a soldier, and decided to be one of those mysteries that "no fellow can find out," how a man who has no perceptible qualifications will sometimes go ahead of and climb over those who are in every respect his superior, and be placed in command above them. But such instances are not uncommon in the army. This Serg't O-- was a fine-looking soldier and a good rider, but that was all that could be said in his favor. We never could discover that he possessed any other qualifications whatever that entitled him, even remotely, to the position of a non-commissioned officer.

     He could not read a word, or even sign his name, until I taught him as much during that Winter at Pawnee Fork. He had no dignity or commanding ability, or the knack of overseeing or bossing men. As Crowly once told him, he didn't even have good, hard sense, like a horse, yet he was a Sergeant in Co. K. and detailed to fill the responsible position of First Sergeant of this detachment. Either of the two Corporals acting under his command were far superior to him, as also many of the privates. He had formerly been the Captain's "dog-robber," or servant, and it was presumed that the Captain "got stuck" on him, hence the promotion. But such is life in the army.

     Those of us who were fond of still-hunting would stroll off occasionally--first getting permission from the Lieutenant---singly or in pairs, going up and down the creek along the timber, or down to the sloughs along the Arkansas bottoms, seven miles south, where there were always plenty of water-fowl.

     On these trips we were afoot, and had to keep a sharp lookout for Indians, but generally found plenty of game.

     After the Winter weather got to be pretty severe we heard little more of the Kiowas' depredations. Travel on the road seems to be about ended for the Winter, with the exception of our mails and escorts, but the redskins don't seem to be anxious to tackle us. Still, we relax none of our vigilance, for we find a trail now and then that shows that the Kiowas, in small parties, are still hovering along the Santa Fe road, probably hoping to catch us off our guard sometime. We don't know where they have established their Winter camp, but it is probably in some locality that affords good timber shelter, as is their custom at this time of the year, perhaps a few days' march south of us on the Canadian, or north on the Smoky Hill.

     They know we can't hunt them till the grass comes in the Spring, and so take it easy, sending out a small party now and then to see what they can find along the road.

     When we go eastward on mail escort we frequently find a few of the alleged friendly Cheyennes and Arapahoes at Peacock's Ranch doing a little trading, but whether it is legitimate traffic or that they are acting as go-betweens for the Kiowas we can't tell. Still, as they profess to be very friendly and are living under the protection of a treaty of peace with Uncle Sam, we have to take their word for it. But we strongly suspect that they are keeping the Kiowas posted as to our movements, and trading for them, and keeping them supplied with necessities that they are afraid to come and buy for themselves.

     Until this Winter our company had never used the Sibley tents for Winter service, and we find them so far superior to the old-fashioned tents that we are very much pleased with them.

     They are certainly the best tents for general service, Winter or Summer, that have yet been used in the army. But, like many other useful inventions, the real inventor has not, and never will, receive any of the profits of his invention. The actual inventor of the Sibley tent was a private soldier of the 2d Dragoons. He was pointed out to me several times at Fort Bridger, Utah, while we were stationed there in the Summer of '58, and I often heard his name, but have forgotten it. It was talked of then as a well-known fact that the soldier had studied out the plan and made a model of this tent, but not having the means or not knowing how to proceed to get it patented, he had applied to old Sibley, who was a Major in the same regiment, to assist him. Sibley saw that there was a fortune in it, got a furlough, took the model, went to Washington, got it patented in his own name, and the soldier got nothing. When the civil war broke out this old thief, Maj. Sibley, 2d Dragoons, resigned, and joining the rebels got to be a Major General in the Confederate army. After the war he was for several years engaged in prosecuting a claim against the Government for a large amount of money for the royalty on his alleged invention, which has been in use in the army ever since it was patented (1856).

     The stoves we got this season were soon battered or bent so as to render them useless, but the inventive genius of the soldier is always sufficient for any emergency. Soon one of the men had taken an old camp-kettle, punched a lot of holes around the bottom of it with the sharp end of a picket-pin, to give it draft, hung it by the bail to the little chain and hook under the tripod that supports the tent-pole, put a fire in it, and we had a far simpler, handier and more serviceable stove than the patented one, which we threw away.

     The ground being frozen now we had to use iron picket-pins for tent-pins.

     The man who had charge of the new mail station near our post, a Mr. Stark had brought out from the States a few goods for traffic, and among other things several barrels and kegs of whisky, brandy, etc. There is an immense profit in these things at the usual prices in this country, though they are cheap enough in the States. For instance, good common whisky that sells for 25 cents a gallon there will here bring several dollars. The Government furnishes good common whisky through the Commissary Department to officers at 25 cents a gallon; that is what it costs Uncle Sam, minus cost of transportation, which is never included in the price of any supplies sold to officers.

     Whisky is sometimes issued to soldiers by order of the commanding officer, when they are doing hard duty or exposed to very severe weather in fatigue parties, or whenever the commander thinks they need it.

     We had not had much "commissary" of late, and some of the men having found out (and it didn't take them long to find it out) that the Mail Agent kept whisky, managed one day to get enough from him to get drunk on, and came back to the quarters so noisy that they created quite a disturbance. (to be continued)

Christmas Open House, December 12, 2015
     If you're looking for a place to have pictures taken with Santa Claus this year, and experience a frontier post Christmas, come out to Fort Larned's Christmas Past celebration on Saturday, December 12 from 12 to 4:30 pm. We'll have pictures with Santa Claus in the North Officers' quarters, desserts and food from the 1860s to sample, Christmas caroling, living history scenes, ornaments for the kids to make, and even carriage rides.

     Christmas is a special time of year when we celebrate with friends and family and it was no different for the soldiers, officers, and civilians living at Fort Larned in the 1860s. We'll be recreating the look, feel and tastes of Christmas at an Indian Wars era frontier post with baked goods that an officer's wife, laundress or even servants might have made for their families, or for the soldiers in the enlisted barracks. We'll also have volunteers and staff dressed in living history attire in the buildings, a chance to sing Christmas carols, and even have a carriage ride if the weather permits.

     Santa Claus has also agreed to come out and take pictures with the kids - for free! Bring the kids out for a picture with Santa in a historic setting and stay for the food, music, and fun. The kids can also make their own Christmas ornament to take home with them. The events will take place between 12:00 and 4:30 p.m. on December 12th and everything is free to the public.

New Membership
     Fort Larned Old Guard welcomes the following new members:

     Terry & Melissa Nech, PO Box 441, Hoisington KS 67544

     Dec. 12, 2015: Fort Larned Christmas Open House, 12-4:30 p.m.
     April 30, 2016: Fort Larned Old Guard Annual Mess & Muster

Deadline For Next Issue: February 1, 2016

Membership Reminder
     Annual memberships in the Fort Larned Old Guard expire on December 31. If you have not renewed for 2016, please send dues to membership chair Linda Peters, 1035 S Bridge St, Lakin KS 67860. Additional donations are always welcome to assist with projects of the Old Guard.. Thank you so much for all your support!!!

Fort Larned Old Guard Contact Information
     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.

Schedule of Annual 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 Indian 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 period, 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) Re-enactors bring Fort Larned 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.

     Fort Larned National Historic Site is a unit of the U.S. National Park Service located six miles west of Larned on Kansas Highway 156. Open 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p. m. daily, the park's Visitor Center/Museum and all furnished buildings are admission free. Information on Fort Larned may be found at {}, by calling 620-285-6911, or by sending email to {}.

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