By December of 1866, a site for the new post of Fort Harker had been selected approximately one mile northeast of the old Fort Ellsworth. The Fort Ellsworth post office was discontinued on December 3, 1866. It was moved to the new site and reopened as the Fort Harker post office. Vincent B. Osborne, the post sutler, served as the first post master of this new post office.
Records of the new post indicate that construction of the new fort may have started as many as five months earlier in July of 1866. However, the presence of a master carpenter, a master mason, five carpenters, and fourteen masons at the fort in September 1866 strongly suggests actual construction was underway.
In anticipation of Fort Harker' closing, Surgeon Fryer was relieved as Post Surgeon on March 27, 1872, by Acting Assistant Surgeon C. C. Arms. Fryer, who had been at the post for several years, was sent to Fort Union with the 15th U.S. Infantry.
Orders for the abandonment of the post were received at Fort Harker on April 28, 1872. With the exception of some items to be sold, Medical Department property was sent to Fort Hays, and Medical records were sent to the Office of the Surgeon General. Most of Companies D, E, and F of the 5th U.S. Infantry had already left the fort on April 26. A small detachment of Infantry, consisting of one commissioned officer, a sergeant, and five enlisted men, was left to garrison the post. Company C of the 5th U.S. Cavalry left Fort Harker on May 7. Post returns for June/September 1872 were filed by 1st Lieutenant E. L Randall, who commanded a detachment of five-six enlisted men remaining at the post. Surgeon J. W. Brewer made his last monthly entry in October, indicating that he left the post on October 5, 1872.
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