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

Lost Day Found In Accounts Of Hancock Expedition
by Leo E. Oliva Chairman, Fort Larned Old Guard
     In the last "OUTPOST" (Spring 1999), David Clapsaddle, whose penetrating analyses are almost legendary, raised a question regarding the chronology of the Hancock Expedition that deserves an answer.

     A careful reading of all the documents available from that expedition reveals that every day was accounted for. Clapsaddle made one error of assumption, and this led to his conclusion. Perhaps he asked the wrong question, especially when all the sources were in agreement.

     A classic puzzler might help illustrate the importance of asking the right question. Three men on a hunting trip arrived at a lodge to rent a room for the night. The young attendant at the lodge showed them to a room and said the charge would be $30. Each man gave him $10. Later the manager noticed that his attendant had charged the men $30 for the room and said that was too much, he only wanted to charge them $25. He gave the attendant $5 and told him to return it to the three men. The attendant, thinking that the three men would not know the difference if he kept some of the money, told the men he had overcharged them and that he was returning $1 to each of them. He kept $2. This meant that each of the men had paid $9, for a total of $27. The attendant had kept $2. But there had been $30. What happened to the other dollar?

     That seems logical, but it was not the right question and was, in fact, misleading. Clapsaddle made an assumption that led him to ask the wrong question.

     Every detail in the primary sources, all stating that the Hancock Expedition arrived near the Indian village on Pawnee Fork on April 14, 1867, and took possession of the abandoned village that night, is correct. Lieutenant M.R. Brown's map and notes confirm that the expedition camped on April 14 at Camp 13 on the north bank of Pawnee Fork, "1 mile below the Indian camp." Brown recorded, too, that the army moved to Camp 14 on April 15, nearer the village site.

     Clapsaddle's error was in assuming, despite all the records, that the troops took possession of the Indian village from Camp 14 (established April 15) rather than from Camp 13 (established April 14). That assumption blinded him from seeing that there was no missing day.

     Clearly, Custer and the 7th Cavalry departed from Camp 13 on the evening of April 14 and "captured" the abandoned village. Custer and most of his regiment were dispatched from that same camp during the early morning of April 15 to pursue the fleeing Indians (again, all accounts agree on this time for Custer's departure).

     It was after Custer's command had departed that Hancock ordered the camp to be moved nearer the village. Thus the crossing of Pawnee Fork was accomplished during the morning of April 15, just as Lieutenant Brown recorded, including the construction of a log bridge and the establishment of Camp 14. Hancock's command remained at Camp 14 until April 20, as Brown recorded, the day after the village was burned. There was no lost day, and there is no dilemma.

     Everything, including the maps and notes of Lieutenant Brown, fits with no discrepancies. One only has to accept the recorded details and realize that the troops were located at Camp 13 when the 7th Cavalry took possession of the village on April 14, and that the remainder moved to Camp 14 on April 15 after Custer had departed in pursuit of the Sioux and Cheyennes.

     When all sources agree, a historian's delight, there is no disparity. There was no missing day in April 1867.

Soldiers, Sobriety And Fort Larned During The Indian Wars
     It's time once again for Fort Larned's popular candlelight tour. The Fort staff and numerous volunteers will be on hand for the annual event this Saturday evening, October 9. If you were fortunate to secure reservations, we'll see you there.

     The theme of this year's tour is alcohol and its impact on Fort Larned during the Indian Wars. During much of the post's existence, liquor was available literally just down the road at Boyd's Ranch.

     Alcohol, a little-discussed aspect of frontier life, sometimes played a larger role in events than one might expect.

     In his book Fort Larned: Guardian of the Santa Fe Trail (Kansas State Historical Society, 1997), Fort Larned Old Guard Chairman Leo E. Oliva describes how alcohol contributed to the death of at least one soldier at the Fort:

     "In April 1871 a Private Mickey showed up for guard duty after spending too much time at the sutler's bar. When he spoke out of turn the sergeant of the guard hit him on the right temple with his rifle butt. Mickey was taken to the hospital where Dr. [James N.] Laing found the man inebriated but able to communicate rationally, The soldier was placed in bed to sleep, and by evening he was insensible. He died the next day. A post-mortem showed he had a fractured skull."

     Oliva included a discussion on alcohol and its impact on the U.S. Army at frontier forts in his book Fort Wallace: Sentinel on the Smoky Hill Trail (Kansas State Historical Society, 1998):

     In 1880 retired officer Duane M. Greene, who had served at posts in Kansas with the 3rd Infantry and 6th Cavalry, wrote a book about the army. He noted that intoxication of officers and enlisted men was notorious. He declared that "the blighting curse of intemperance destroys ninety per cent more of the Army than powder and ball." The major source of alcohol was the post trader's store. "Virtually," Green wrote, "the Army is a school of dissipation; and it really seems as if the establishment were kept up chiefly for the benefit of the Post Traders."

     He declared of post traders, "their chief business is to sell intoxicating liquors to the troops." As a result, "they get rich in a short time---rich by destroying the bodies and souls of human beings,---and their occupation is dignified by the guarantee and protection of the Government."

     Green also observed that some soldiers joined the army because they were "inveterate drunkards" who were "unable to obtain employment at their trades." Even if they were not heavy drinkers when they joined, the pressures to consume were powerful.

     Young men not inclined to intemperate habits before entering the service soon acquire them after joining. . . . They are compelled to associate with uncongenial people. . . . On pay-day, they see that drunkenness is almost universal---seemingly an obligation---and, unwilling to shirk anything that pertains to duty, they join in the common revelry with a vigor that soon begets the title of "veteran." Such is the force of example when it is constantly before a man's eyes.

     Even when the post commanders attempted to restrict or prohibit access to alcohol, drunkenness remained a problem. Beer and whiskey usually were available for those who could afford the price, until President Rutherford B. Hayes banned all hard liquor from military posts in 1881. At Fort Wallace, the post trader usually charged from fifty cents to one dollar for a quart of beer, and whiskey was available for ten to twenty-five cents per drink, or $1.50 for a quart bottle. The abuse of alcohol remained a prime problem in the enforcement of army discipline.

     The following letters were Written from Fort Larned during 1868 and 1869. Each mentions alcohol and its effects.

April 5, 1868
     Fort Larned's commanding officer, Major Meredith Helm Kidd, 10th U.S. Cavalry, published an order stating that it had been brought to his attention that enlisted men "have sold, bartered, or given away to Indians visiting this Post, Spirit Liquors thereby causing them to appear in a frenzied, and beastly state of intoxication."

June 20, 1868
     Letter from Captain Henry Asbury, 3rd U.S. Infantry, commanding Fort Larned, to Brevet Major E.A. Belger, Fort Harker:

      I would respectfully report that the Arrapahoe Indians encamped on the Pawnee Fork about sixteen miles above the post have been in a state of intoxication during the past week and it is supposed they received their liquor from the ranches along Walnut Creek

     The Cheyennes encamped on North Fork of Pawnee have also been drunk and it is believed received their liquor from the ranche on North Fork.

July 9,1869
     Fort Larned medical history by post surgeon Brevet Lieutenant Colonel Alfred Alexander Woodhull, Assistant Surgeon, U.S. Army:

     The troops here were paid on the 7h, and some drunkenness followed, but not enough to affect the sick report. . . .

November 26,1869
     General Orders No. 42, by order of Captain Dangerfield Parker, 3rd

     U.S. Infantry, commanding Fort Larned:

     I. Before a Garrison Court Martial convened at Fort Larned Kansas . . . was arrained and tried

     Private Michael strife Company "K" 3d US Infantry

     Drunkness on duty, in violation of the 45th Article of War

     Plea           Not Guilty

     Finding      Guilty
Sentence. And the Court does therefore Sentence him Private Michael Strife Company "K" US Infantry, to be confined in charge of the Guard for the period of One (1) month and to carry a log weighing Twenty (20) pounds from 9 oclock A.M. to 12. M. and from 2 oclock P.M. to Retreat.

     The proceedings and findings in the foregoing case . . . are approved. So much of the Sentence as relates to confinement in charge of the Guard is Approved and will be duely executed. The rem

ainder of the Sentence being too Indefinite in its character is disapproved. . . .

November 30, 1869
     Medical history by Lieutenant Colonel Woodhull:

      The health of the command continued as good as heretofore. . . . Three other men were taken on the sick report for a day or two, two being the immediate result of drunkenness. . . .

Niche Tourism
Superintendent's Desk
     Kansas has a new director at the Travel & Tourism Division, Claudia Larkin. Claudia has initiated a new program called the Kansas Tourism Alliance. This is an effort to enlist people from across the state in building alliances to boost tourism.

     At the first meeting held last April more than 250 people showed up. The wide range of folks who attended and the great enthusiasm shown bode well for this grass roots effort to identify and capitalize on Kansas' tourism potential.

     Clearly there is much more to see and do in our state than even many of us who live here realize!

     The focus of the first meeting of the Tourism Alliance was to break into groups to examine "niches," areas where we felt Kansas could compete for tourism dollars.

     The niches, which were identified in the recent "Kansas Tourism Strategy" study, are: Western Frontier; Agritourism, Aviation, Cultural Arts, Hunting, and Nature-based Tourism. Each of these groups is now meeting separately to develop ways to promote Kansas in these specific fields.

     The Western Frontier group met during the past few months in Abilene, Medicine Lodge, and Dodge City. This is the niche I have chosen to work with. Our group further identified the top six areas that we felt best identify the Western Frontier and Kansas. They are: Native Americans, Pioneers, Cowboys, Military (including forts), Transportation (including trails and railroads), and Conflict/Bleeding Kansas. Our next meeting will be in Manhattan.

     I believe this is an excellent approach for the Travel & Tourism Division to take. People with a wide range of interests from all parts of the state are working together to develop a workable plan to market Kansas. Everyone with an interest in Kansas is welcome to participate.

     If you would like to join us I encourage you to do so. Call the Travel & Tourism Division for information about upcoming meetings in the niche that interests you. You may also give me a call---I will be glad to help get you in contact with one of the groups.
Steve Linderer, FLNHS Superintendent

Bold And Fearless
     The first annual payment on the village site contract has been paid. More than half of the amount was raised by the Old Guard since last June; the balance came from a no-interest loan.

     Now that we have Jerry Thomas' magnificent prints of "Bold and Fearless" to sell, it is my hope that all funds needed for the final land payment in June 2000 will be in the bank before that deadline. When we sell all 1,000 of the limited-edition prints, our goal of at least $100,000 for the village site project will be met.

     If you have purchased your print, thank you for your support. If you have not done so yet, please consider this worthy cause as well as the reward you will treasure as you look at the print on your wall every day.

     Whether you have purchased a print or not, please help promote the sale of this beautiful piece of artwork wherever you can. We have a handsome color brochure, courtesy of Rex Abrahams of ETS Graphics in Wichita, that includes a brief story about the painting and ordering information. If you believe in the village site project, which your board of directors committed the Old Guard to pursue, your help is needed.

     Those who attended the annual meeting at Fort Larned NHS and the village site on April 24 were rewarded by seeing the unveiling of Jerry Thomas' painting, "Bold and Fearless"; hearing four excellent presentations about the Cheyennes, Hancock Expedition, and Indian Agent Ned Wynkoop; two fine meals served by the Wet/Dry Routes Chapter of the Santa Fe Trail; and a visit to the village site where 15 tipis were set up by re-enactors and where Cheyenne Chiefs Gordon Yellowman and Lawrence Hart conducted a Cheyenne blessing of the site.

     The evening program, "Life in Custer's Cavalry," featuring Albert and Jennie Barnitz portrayed by Cecil and Jayne Humphrey Pearce, was a thrilling conclusion to the outstanding day. Special thanks is extended to those who presented the program and to all 191 who came.

     An added attraction, after the evening meal, was the auction of several items donated by the Indian re-enactors (with all the funds going to the village site project). Had the auction been advertised ahead of time and the items displayed throughout the day, possibly even more money would have been raised.

     Plans are underway to have a larger auction at the next annual meeting to help fund the village site purchase. Relevant books, artwork, crafts, and similar items will be solicited from Old Guard members, publishing companies, and other sources to make this a worthy endeavor.

     Any auction, to be successful, needs bidders, and you might start saving your spare change now in order to buy the items you want next April. Watch for more details in a later OUTPOST.

     On behalf of the board of directors, special thanks are extended to the entire staff at Fort Larned NHS for the remarkable job they do all year and especially for the Old Guard annual meeting, to the many volunteers who give their time and talent to living-history programs, and to everyone who has contributed to the village site project. Your continued support is needed.

     The Old Guard is well on the way to an impressive accomplishment of historic preservation, thanks to the decision of landowners Frank and Leota Klingberg to sell this property to the Old Guard.

     With your help this will be done. Please take time to visit Fort Larned this fall.
Leo E. Oliva, Fort Larned Old Guard chairman

Comanche Films At Fort Larned
     "Lights,camera, action." This past summer, Fort Larned was the scene of a Hollywood film production. Burt Kennedy, a director whose movie credits include The Rounders and Support Your Local Sheriff, used portions of the Fort in the filming of a docudrama. The story was reported in the Fall 1999 issue of Developing Kansas, a newsletter published by the Kansas Department of Commerce and Housing:

     Director Burt Kennedy was in Kansas on June 18 and 19 to film portions of Comanche, a docudrama about the life of the most famous survivor of the Battle of the Little Bighorn, at Fort Larned National Historic Site. The filmmakers hope to premiere the docudrama at film festivals.

     Starring in the film is Gerald McRaney, whose television credits include Promised Land, Major Dad, and Simon & Simon. McRaney worked with 18 local re-enactors on horseback to create scenes of Fort Riley in the late 1800s. In addition eight local crew members were hired for the two-day shoot.

     "The re-enactors brought the Fort alive and the public enjoyed watching the film shoot," Fort Larned Park Superintendent Steve Linderer said. "Our main concern is the preservation of the Fort along with public access to the Fort. This particular film group worked well with the public and only closed small areas while the camera was rolling."

     The Larned Chamber of Commerce helped the production company. "We assisted the company locally with their various needs," Cindy Wallace, chamber staff member, said.

     "They were a great crew to work with and the Fort received publicity. Both Gerald McRaney and Ethan Wayne (John Wayne's son and a member of the crew) signed autographs and visited with Larned residents in local restaurants."

The Cheyenne-Sioux VilIage Revisited!
by David Clapsaddle Fort Larned Old Guard Member
     Several eyewitness accounts provide a description of the Cheyenne-Sioux village destroyed by order of General Winfield Scott Hancock in present Ness County, Kansas, in April 1867.

     Authors of these reports include General Hancock, Lieutenant Colonel George Armstrong Custer, Captain Albert Barnitz, Surgeon Isaac Coates, Lieutenant M.R. Brown, and correspondents Henry M. Stanley and Theodore Davis. Their reports are augmented by that of Major Horace I. Moore whose 18th Kansas Cavalry camped at the site of the village in the summer of 1867.

     Moore described the location as follows, "Companies camped at night on ground formerly occupied by the Indian camp burned by General Hancock, an excellent situation for camping. . . . At this point there is an island containing some ten or twelve acres sparsely timbered."

     Moore's report and maps, "confused and inaccurate," according to Minnie Dubbs Millbrook, place the Village on the south side of Pawnee Fork and an island on the north side of the stream.

     In contrast, Lieutenant Brown places the village on the north side of the Pawnee in what he characterized as "a bend in the stream." At this point, his map shows the Pawnee making a nearly complete circle, thus forming the bend, presumably the island noted by Moore.

     Around the south, east, and north sides of the bend, Brown's map shows a number of lodges with other lodges located within the bend. The area within the bend must have been the main portion of the village, "the high level plateau" mentioned by Custer.

     Brown's map is in error with regard to Pawnee Fork. The stream did not encompass the bend; rather, it was encircled by a slough that had carved out the so-called island from the surrounding terrain.

     An examination of an aerial photograph of the area is instructive. The photograph shows the Pawnee at this point arcing in a distinct loop to the south. Such is in contrast to the maps of both Moore and Brown that show the Pawnee departing the village site in a westerly orientation. In addition, the photograph shows three decided bends in the slough north of the Pawnee; Brown's map shows two bends; Moore's map shows one.

Moore Map

     Moore's map (above) shows the Cheyenne-Sioux village on the south side of Pawnee Fork. Brown's map (below) places the village north of the Pawnee.

Brown Map

     Have both the river and the slough carved out a new course since 1867? The question is moot.

     Regardless, a visit to the location proves helpful. The slough mistaken for Pawnee Fork still bisects the village site where the buffalo grass cited by Coates as "soft and velvet to the feet" continues to abound. Gone, however, is the "grove of noble elms" identified by Stanley and sketched by Davis for publication in Harper's New Monthly Magazine. In place of the elms, second-growth ash trees dot the landscape; but a few of the giant elm boles are yet to be found, testimony to the deadly Dutch elm disease that was rampant in the early 1970s.

     To the northwest is a low ridge terminating in an unimpressive promontory, the "high bluffs" described by Custer as "a short distance off," and by Barnitz as "a mile or two off." The latter figure is a close approximation. The distance is about a mile and a half.

     Nevertheless, as one surveys the village site, Moore's "island," Coates' "buffalo grass," Stanley's "noble elms," and Custer's "high bluffs" all come into view. Even the least imaginative observer cannot help but be transported to what Coates described as, "The Indian village . . . situated in a beautiful grove on the North Fork of Pawnee creek, a most charming spot."

"USGS Aerial Photo"

Letters Received by the Office of Adjutant General, 1867, roll 562, microcopy 619, National Archives & Records Services, Washington, DC.

     Henry M. Stanley, My Early Travels and Adventures in America (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1982), page 41.

     Theodore Davis, "A Summer on the Plains," Harper's New Monthly Magazine, (volume 36, number 213, February 1868), page 295.

     General George Armstrong Custer, My Life on the Plains (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1966), page 49-50.

     Robert M. Utley (editor), Life in Custer's Cavalry: Dairies and Letters of Albert and Jennie Barnitz, 1867-1868 (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1987), page 33.

     W.J.D. Kennedy, On the Plains with Custer: The Journal of Isaac Coates, Army Surgeon (Boulder, Johnson Books, 1997), page 66.

     Minnie Dubbs Millbrook, "Custer's First Scout in the West," Kansas Historical Quarterly, volume 39 (Spring 1973), page 81.

     Map and Report from Major H. Moore Cowdy, 18th Kansas Volunteer Cavalry, with report of Captain E.A. Barker, Commanding 18th Kansas Voluntary Cavalry. Military District of the Upper Arkansas, Military Department of the Missouri, record group 393, National Archives & Records Services.

     Aerial photograph of village site, Fort Larned National Historic Site Research Records.

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