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

Inspection Fort Zarah.
     At the date of my inspection there was no officer of the Q.M. Dept. on duty at this post, an[d] the work in progress was being done under the direction of Bvt. Lt. Col. A.F. Rockwell, A.Q.M. U.S.A. whose office and station was at Fort Larned.

     Lieut Kaiser, 3d U.S. Infantry, was in command of the Post, and a detachment of twenty five (25) enlisted men, but, under orders which he exhibited to me, from Comdg Officer at Fort Larned, he could exercise no authority over the employees engaged in the labor, nor of anything connected with the Q.M. Dept. Building operations were, therefore, entirely under the control of the superintendents in the hire of Col. Rockwell, A.Q.M.

     The new stone Fort being built is near the Arkansas river, and about one half mile from the site of the old one, and is intended for accomodation of one company with quarters for officers of same.

     It was commenced about April 15, by Lieut Kaiser, then A.A.Q.M. with a force of twenty-five (25) laborers which was increased from time to time until in the latter part of the month of July more than one hundred (100) employees were engaged. The plan of construction of the building is a peculiar one, and, (I was informed) was designed by an Engineer officer.

     At the date of my visit the foundations alone for the structure were built, but a considerable quantity of stone and other building materials were on hand and ready for use.

     From statements of Lieut. Kaiser, the work was not being pushed forward as rapidly as it might be, considering the force of employees which had been, and were then engaged.

     A statement exhibiting the number of persons employed and nature of duties is herewith (enclosure marked A) transmitted.

     The amount of transportation used in connection with the work of construction consisted of 12 six mule teams which were engaged in hauling the stone from a distance of several miles---and the other necessary labor required in forwarding the building operations. The stone obtained and being used was of good quality, hard and durable.

     The twelve teams and wagons before mentioned together with one employed for necessary police purposes &c. at the post and two kept at the station for transportation of escorts, were all in fair condition.

     The officer and enlisted men at the station were quartered in the old Fort building, with fair accomodations. About one hundred and fifty (150) tons of hay were on hand, which was neatly and properly piled.

     Wood for the winters use was being delivered. The time required to finish the new Fort building from the date of my visit, would probably be several months---the period depending, in a measure, upon the manner in which the employes labored, and it would seem to be demanded by the interest of the service that the officer at the post should be required to superintend, and direct the progress of the work, for it is not practicable for the officer of the Q.M. Dept. at Fort Larned---a distance of 31 miles---to direct and push the building operations properly.

     Col. Rockwell states that the officer now at the post is not, in his opinion, one to be chosen for the duty. It is respectfully recommended that whatever officer may be at the post should be given charge of the work, under the general control of the Asst. Qr. Mr. at Fort Larned, and be held responsible that all of the employes perform their duties energetically.

Fort Larned.
     On the 19th ult, the garrison at Fort Larned consisted of one company of cavalry and three companies of infantry.

     The company of cavalry and one company of Infantry were quartered in tents, and the remaining two companies of Infantry in adobe barracks.

     The adobe barracks were old, but sufficiently comfortable until the cold weather commences.

     Several of the officers were quartered in old adobe buildings in poor condition, while others were occupying tents. A stone building, 150 x 40 feet to accomclate two companies of infantry was in progress of construction and was about one third completed.

     It was thought by Bvt. Lieut Col. Rockwell A.Q.M. U.S.A.---the officer of the Q.M. Dept. on duty at the post---that the said structure would be ready for occupation on or about Nov. 1st

     The foundation for another stone barrack building, 161 x 43 feet, for quarters of one company each of Cavalry and Infantry, was laid, and it was contemplated to finish the building about January 1, 1868. When these barracks are constructed there will be good quarters for all the enlisted men now at the post.

     A stone building 46 x 36 feet, with attic, kitchen 16 x 16 feet and cellar, for use of Comdg officer was advanced far enough in construction for shingling, and would be finished about the 20th inst. It [is] conveniently planned, and will present a fine appearance. The excavation for foundation has been dug for a structure 84 x 34 feet, with addition of 20 feet for kitchen, intended for quarters for the officers of one company.

     Work of building quarters for officers of the remaining companies was soon to be commenced, and it was thought by Col. Rockwell that he would have quarters built for all of the company officers about Feby. 1st if allowed to retain his then present force of employes. The plan of construction showed me is a suitable and economical one.

     A stone building 156 x 40 feet, for use as Quartermaster store house, was about ready for occupation at the date of my visit. This storehouse is a substantial and suitable one, and, as work in its erection was commenced only about Aug. 7th, its rapid construction, is, in my opinion, highly creditable to the officer of the Q.M. Dept. at Fort Larned. The buildings in use as storehouses consisted of several old adobe structures formerly occupied as quarters for troops, which had been repaired so as to answer the required purposes until the new storehouses could be erected. The building in use as a hospital was one of the adobes, about 60 x 20 feet[,] It had but recently been placed in good repair, is comfortable, and in my judgment will answer all the requirements of the Post for the present, or until the officers and troops are fully provided with suitable quarters.

     An octagonal stone building, upon which is arranged a look-out tower, was in use as store house for clothing. It has been probably vacated before this date, and can be used as guard house or for other purpose.

     Temporary and suitable shops for the mechanics engaged in the work at the post have been provided, and the employes of the Q.M. Dept. are sheltered in rude but comfortable quarters along the banks of the Pawnee Fork.

     The shelter for animals at the post was very limited. The old adobe or brush and mud corral was badly out of repair, and would require remodeling to make it available for proper protection of the animals during the winter.

     It was suggested to Col. Rockwell to devote the labor of a few men, for a short time[,] in the repair of the walls and in constructing sheds around them within, when comfortable[,] would be had for all the stock on hand. A statement exhibiting the amount of transportation on hand and how employed was transmitted in my report to you of 23d ult.

     The transportation at the post was carefully inspected and found to be in fair condition. The animals appeared to have had good care---the wagons were old ones but serviceable---the harness was in good repair, but needed oiling. There was on hand and securely sheltered with [tar)paulins, and in good condition, five hundred and seventy five thousand (575000) pounds of corn, and two hundred and sixty thousand (260000) pounds of oats. Two hundred (200) tons of hay were stacked at the Post but had not been officially received from the contractor, and the delivery of the supply of wood for the Winter was In progress.

     The quantity of Q.M. Stores of a miscellaneous kind at the post was not large, but comprised a fair assortment. The same remarks will apply in regard to the Clothing and Garrison Equipage on hand. The stores of both classes were as nearly piled as the limited room would admit, and were securely protected from the weather.

     Not a large quantity of building materials was on hand, but the lumber was neatly piled, and the lime sheltered from the weather.

     The number of Q.M. employes at the post was two hundred and twenty four (224), and the statement herewith (enclosure marked B) submitted exhibits how and where they were employed.

     The work in progress requires a large force of laborers, carpenters, stone-masons &c., and, in my opinion, all of those classes employed, besides the plasters and painters, were needed to prosecute the building operations to rapid conclusion.

     As the work advances to completion, a general reduction may be made in the number of nearly all the classes of employes.

     The book and records at the office were neatly kept, and no irregularities were noticed in the recent property or money accounts of Col. Rockwell. No public funds were reported as in the hands of the officer at the date of my inspection-the amount ($20631.76) on hand Aug. 31st having been paid out during the period from the 1st to 19th ult. to employes.

Chronology sources
Microfilm in the collection of Fort Larned National Historic Site:

Fort Larned, Kansas, Post orders, 1867
Fort Larned, Kansas, Letters sent, 1867
Fort Larned, Kansas, Letters received, 1867
Office of Indian Affairs, Washington, Letters sent, 1867
Office of Indian Affairs, Washington, Letters received, 1867
Barnitz, Albert, Letters and journal, 1867

Books and periodicals:
Berthrong, Donald J., The Southern Cheyennes (University of Oklahoma Press, 1963)
Burgess, Henderson Lafayette, "The Eighteenth Kansas Volunteer Cavalry," in Kansas Historical Collections, volume 13 (Kansas State Historical Society, 1913-14)
Custer, George Armstrong, My Life on the Plains (University of Oklahoma Press reprint, 1962)
Grinnell, George Bird, The Fighting Cheyennes (University of Oklahoma Press reprint, 1956)
Jones, Douglas C., The Treaty of Medicine Lodge (University of Oklahoma Press, 1966)
Leckie, William H., The Military Conquest of the Southern Plains (University of Oklahoma Press, 1963)
Nye, Wilbur Sturtevant, Plains Indian Raiders (University of Oklahoma Press, 1968)
Oliva, Leo E., Fort Larned (Kansas State Historical Society, 1982)
Oliva, Leo E., Soldiers on the Santa Fe Trail (University of Oklahoma Press, 1967)
Powers, Ramon and Gene Younger, "Cholera on the Plains," in Kansas Historical Quarterly, volume 37 (Kansas State Historical Society, 1971)
Stanley, Henry M., My Early Travels and Adventures in America (University of Nebraska reprint, 1982)
Utley, Robert M., Frontier Regulars: The United States Army and the Indian, 1866-1891 (MacMillan, 1973)
Utley, Robert M., Life in Custer's Cavalry (Yale University Press, 1977)
Vanderwerth, W.C., compiler, Indian Oratory (University of Oklahoma Press, 1971)

     Thanks to George Elmore, Resource Management Specialist, FLNHS; Felix Revello, Chief Ranger, FLNHS; and Fort Larned Old Guard board members William Chalfant and Leo Oliva

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