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

Fort Larned Bridge
by George Elmore, Park Ranger

The article about the bridge and photo is at this link!

Glenda & Jim Goatcher
Glenda & Jim Goatcher receiving
recognition plaque from William Chapman

     Jim Goatcher was hired in 1968 as the first maintenance worker at Fort Larned National Historic Site. Last July he was honored by his family and coworkers for 30 years of work with the National Park Service. During his career Jim also worked at Badlands National Park in South Dakota and Glen Canyon National Recreation Area in Arizona.

     Jim left the National Park Service and Arizona in 1982, returning to Kansas to work for the City of Larned. He rejoined the National Park Service and Fort Larned National Historic Site in 1993, where he has since been in charge of maintaining all electrical, water, and highly-complex alarm systems, as well as leading most special buildings and grounds projects. He will retire January 29, 2010.

     Jim's work has been all about public service, whether it was on the national or city level, and he has had a positive impact everywhere he has worked.

     During the reception honoring him, Jim intrigued the group with several stories about his work as a City Inspector, repairing broken water lines in subzero weather in South Dakota, herding buffalo, and days of back-country work at very remote sites in Glenn Canyon. He recalled his first years at Fort Larned as the fort was transformed from a farming and ranching operation to the historic military post visitors see today. He has also been significantly involved in development of the Nicodemus National Historic Site in Graham County. At Fort Larned, he has always been a "go to guy" who could be counted on whenever help was needed by anyone.

     Jim is a native Kansan, raised in Larned, Kansas where he and wife Glenda reside. We all wish Jim a long and enjoyable retirement, with thanks for his years of service.

Flog Chair's Column
Chris Day
     Kudos to Superintendent Kevin McMurry and the Fort Larned National Historic Site Staff, the 150th Planning Committee, and the Volunteers at Fort Larned for the 150th Celebrations this past year!

     The Fort Larned Old Guard was happy to help fund the 150th Celebration rack cards, the boxed commemorative coins (still available), two special postal cancellations (still available), plus several living-history events and speakers for the celebration. these types of support are only possible because of your membership in the Fort Larned Old Guard. Your continued membership is so vital to support the interpretation, protection and promotion of the resources and history of Fort Larned. We deeply appreciate your membership and hope that you will continue that commitment for 2010. If possible, try to get another person in your community to join our purposeful organization.

     As a young teacher, I had heard of Fort Larned Old Guard but was not a member. For many years, the Fort Larned Old Guard Board has been giving donations to our student educational Santa Fe Trail trips so a student has a chance to go who didn't quite have enough money to pay off the balance of the trip. as a member of Fort Larned Old Guard Board and my current position as chairperson, I am trying to catch-up with Fort activities that I missed out on for so many years.

     The Old Guard Board met October 24 with Superintendent Kevin McMurry and Park Ranger George Elmore for our fall meeting at the Commanding Officer's Quarters at Fort Larned.. The projects at Fort Larned are ongoing, and I am happy to announce the Old Guard is raising money to help fund the outfitting of an Indian mannequin and a horse for display at the Fort. The Fort already has a soldier mannequin and horse. The purpose of these projects is to help educate the public on the significant function of Fort Larned on the Santa Fe Trail. This new project is the result of an exhibit at the Kansas State Fair and at Town West in Wichita, Kansas which was a big hit.

     The Fort Staff converted the soldier and horse into an Indian and Indian pony. They borrowed the Cheyenne clothing and accouterments for the pony from Ken Wiedner.With the Plains Indian Exhibit project, Ken Wiedner will make the Cheyenne clothing and accouterments for the pony.

     Mark your 2010 calendar for Annual Mess and Muster which is scheduled for April 24. The Annual Mess and Muster Committee is working on plans for the program, dinner, business meeting, and entertainment, to be announced soon.

     The Fort Larned Old Guard Board is looking forward to seeing you again at Fort Larned.

The Challenge of History is to Recover the Past and Introduce it to the Present.
Special Fundraising Project

David Thelen
     The Fort Larned Old Guard is helping raise funds ($4,500) to outfit an Indian Mannequin, including his horse, to have on exhibit at Fort Larned National Historic Site and to take off site to meet the public, help stimulate interest in the history, and encourage people to visit the fort. Donations for this project may be sent to Treasurer Linda Peters, 1035 S Bridge St, Lakin KS 67860. Those donating $100 or more to this special fund will receive their choice of a Jerry Thomas print "Bold and Fearless" or a Rick Reeves print "Thus Far and No Further." Prints may be viewed online at the Last Chance Store. Anyone donating $200 or more will receive both prints. All donors will be recognized in Outpost.

Fort Larned Superintendent's Column
"On Our Watch" by Kevin McMurry
Dear Friends

     Since the last issue of Outpost we have left behind the great successes of the year long 150th anniversary celebration, except for saying a formal "Thank You" to all those who helped! We are now focused on many construction and other projects and taking related history programs into area schools.

     Through the incredible efforts of Alice and David Clapsaddle, Fort Larned now offers its largest assortment of off-site school programs in the history of the park. David and Alice have developed hands-on programs targeted to Fort Larned and Santa Fe Trail history which are relevant to Kansas history studies for grades three through eight. The programs were the subject of an article in the last issue of Outpost. "The Little Red House" is a new addition, while a Santa Fe Trail themed program is currently being developed. Students and educators alike enjoy the programs personally delivered by Dr. Clapsaddle. A dozen requests for these are scheduled through February across Kansas and into Colorado. Follow-up to these school programs are class trips to Fort Larned where David has helped us develop a program to feed students an authentic but meager mess hall "supper" consisting of bacon, bread, dried apples, ginger cookies all prepackaged, and water. Teachers are informed in advance the meal is not intended to be filling or nutritious, but it is an experience of frontier army life that every student will remember! We are always happy to partner with the Clapsaddles.

     The Christmas Past open house and dance was terrific, thanks to efforts of Marla Matkin, Christine LaRue, and Rusti Gardner! Additionally, dozens of our Great Volunteers were on hand to help bring Christmas at Fort Larned to life; as usual, our employees kept everything running safely and efficiently! For the first time, the celebration was held in the Quartermaster Storehouse with infrared heaters, restroom facilities, and parking directly behind the building. This new location worked out well and affords much more room and convenience. With everyone's ideas for continuing improvements, this is likely to be the new home of the annual Christmas event.

     I want to say a huge "Thank You" to Facility Manager William "Chappy" Chapman and Park Ranger George Elmore. The contracted restoration of the North Officer's Quarters is proceeding very well and is being kept on schedule for a late-summer public opening. Also, the new underground electrical system being installed by Midwest Energy is nearing completion. This system upgrade eliminates all above-ground power lines which were installed in 1946 and are clearly visible from the quadrangle. Chappy also successfully finished contractor and staff efforts to complete energy conservation projects funded by the U.S. Department of Energy. Fort Larned was one of the only 14 parks across the country to be included in this nationwide effort. He and George also continue to work with the Larned Corrections facilities on construction of the Adjutant's Office and other screening elements included in the electrical system project, as well as a large funded project to improve wheelchair access to the Fort.

     Finally, for now, I'll mention a few other tasks we are working on, including next year's reconstruction of the parking lot and the wagon bridge in its historic location, planning for 2012 restoration of the Commanding Officer's Quarters, and finishing immediate security upgrades for all buildings. A complete annual report of accomplishments for 2009 is in progress, and my coworkers and I will be proud to have that for you in the next issue of Outpost. Until then, thanks to your editors, Nathan King and Leo Oliva, for patience and assistance compiling this issue.

     "On Our Watch," and with the generous assistance from all our employees, many partners, and great volunteer friends, we continue to provide Fort Larned and Santa Fe Trail history for all to learn and enjoy. We hope to see you at Fort Larned, and as a new Life Member of the Fort Larned Old Guard, I personally invite you to join the Fort Larned Old Guard and support its work. All of us at the Fort hope to see you here for Fort Larned Old Guard's annual meeting on April 24, 2010.

Fort Larned Old Guard Roll Call:
     Born in Chicago and raised in Oklahoma our Fort Larned Old Guard Treasurer, Linda Peters, holds a degree in Special Education from the University of Central Oklahoma with a Certificate in English as a Second Language. As she and her family traveled while she was growing up, they always checked out places of historical interest. Linda also enjoys reading many historical novels and biographies of historical figures.

Treasurer Linda Peters
Treasurer Linda Peters

     When Linda moved to Lakin, Kansas in 1971 to teach Special Education students, it was only natural that she prepared a study in Kansas History for her students in the three years she was with them. Linda married in 1973, and her husband, sons, and she continued an interest in American history.

     Linda returned to teaching in 1982. Four years later she and her mother attended a Santa Fe Trail workshop presented by Dr. Marc Simmons. They both quickly became Santa Fe Trail "junkies" attending numerous Symposiums, Rendezvous, and a Santa Fe Trail bus tour. Linda prepared a Santa Fe Trail study for her sixth-grade students with field trips to Bent's Old Fort National Historic Site. As a second-grade teacher, her students studied the Trail with field trips to Fort Larned.

     Linda and her family are charter members of Fort Larned Old Guard. Attending Rendezvous and Fort Larned Old Guard annual meetings, among other historically-related activities, has built an interest in history for her two sons. Linda hopes to nurture a love of history in her grandchildren. The oldest one (age 7) is studying Kansas history and recently toured the local county museum with her grandmother.

     Linda was a member of the Fort Larned Old Guard Board for six years from 1997-2003. She was elected to the board again in 2005 and has served as treasurer since then.

     Linda retired in 2006 after teaching for 27 years. She presently serves on the Kearny County Historical Society Board as secretary and volunteers at the local Museum. She is looking forward to the day when her 3-year-old twin grandchildren and their sister can head down the Trail to see all the wonderful living-history at historical sites, including Fort Larned.

Fort Larned Roll Call:
Nathan Kingt Park Guide
Nathan King

    Nathan King is a new permanent Park Guide at Fort Larned National Historic Site. Nathan started his National Park Service career as a Student Conservation Association intern at Glacier National Park's St. Mary district in 2004. After finishing his Bachelor of Science degree in History at the University of Wisconsin - Madison, Nathan returned too Glacier as a summer seasonal Park Ranger from 2005 through 2008. At Glacier, Nathan spent much of his time hiking in the mountainous terrain, occasionally encountering grizzly bears and once a mountain goat with a bad attitude. Ask him and he will tell you about forest fires, avalanches, and getting snowed on in July.

     In 2007, Nathan began working as a winter seasonal park ranger at Theodore Roosevelt National Park. There Nathan has been involved in behind-the-scenes projects as well as regular park ranger duties, developing the park's web site, and creating a library of thousands of digital images. Theodore Roosevelt National Park was created to commemorate Theodore Roosevelt's achievements in natural resources conservation matured. Nathan compulsively sneaks Theodore Roosevelt quotes into everyday conservations for his own amusement. He cannot explain why he stays in North Dakota in the winter.

     Before coming to Fort Larned in late 2009, Nathan was a park ranger at Pipestone National Monument in Minnesota. Pipestone is one of the most sacred places for tribes of the Northern Great Plains and is still used by American Indians for collecting by hand the sacred stone found there. The stone is used to make smoking pipes, one of the most significant personal and spiritual items for many American Indians both in the past and today.

     Nathan and his wife Amber will be moving to Kansas for the first time in 2010. Amber is a software engineer and telecommutes from her home office. They enjoy traveling together both in the United States and abroad. The visited Tanzania in 2008, where they climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro (19,341'), and toured Serengeti National Park, Ngorongoro Crater, and other national parks. They were both amazed by the variety and amount of wildlife there.

     Nathan enjoys a wide variety of hobbies. He is thrilled that his saber-fencing experience in college might actually pay off at Fort Larned. He writes a blog called "Ranger Nathan's Adventures." He now serves as co-editor of Outpost. Nathan is very excited to be part of the Fort Larned team!

Volunteer Roll Call:
     It all started in July 1984 when Ron Drummond expressed an interest in becoming a volunteer at Fort Larned. At the time, Ron said his main interest was doing living history in period clothing. Ron participated in the first formal Volunteers-In-Parks workshop held at Fort Larned in November 1984. By December Ron was participating in the annual Fort Larned Christmas Open House, having already volunteered 40 hours that year. Ron became a regular part of the program, portraying a typical soldier in the 3rd U.S. Infantry. By 1993 Ron averaged 200 volunteer hours per year and has stayed at or above that level every year since.

Volunteer Ron Drummond
Ron Drummond

     Ron's carpentry talents were soon realized and he started building various things for the living-history programs. In more recent years, Ron has constructed numerous furnishings for the buildings at Fort Larned. When you walk around the fort, you will see his work: boxes, tables, and chairs. For three years, Ron tried his hand at being a paid intermittent Park Ranger. Even during those three years he kept volunteering, helping maintenance construct furnishing items and lending a hand wherever he could.

     Ron's largest volunteer effort came in 2003 when he agreed to restore the Rucker Army Ambulance, acquired by the Fort Larned Old Guard from a doctor in Tennessee who had attempted to restore it without success. The Fort Larned Old Guard raised $1,500 and the National Park Foundation $3,000 to cover the cost of materials for the restoration. Ron put in more than 350 hours, working on the ambulance during all his spare time and weekends. Today the restored, bright yellow ambulance is one of the only a handful of 1860s army ambulances in existence. Fort his wok with the ambulance and his volunteer efforts, Ron was commissioned as a Colonel in the Fort Larned Old Guard, the only Fort Larned volunteer to hold that high rank.

Commanding Officer's Quarters (HS-8)
Commanding Officer's Quarters (HS-8)
by Celeste Dixon, Park Ranger

Quartermaster report:
This is third in a series on the structures at Fort Larned.

     Fort Larned was established in 1859, but the stone buildings were not constructed until 1864 and 1866-1868. Stone buildings were authorized by the Army's Quartermaster Department because the original adobe structures could not hold up to the harsh weather conditions of south-central Kansas.

     The commanding officer's quarters were constructed in 1867. While the rest of the buildings at the fort were built using rough, uncut stone, the post commander's house was built with dressed (cut and smoothed stone. As you look at the building, through, you will see that the portion near the roof is rough stone. When the army's Inspector General, Randolph B. Marcy, visited the post during the construction process, he claimed that the use of dressed stone increased the cost by three times and deemed it an unnecessary expense.

     The building was finished in October 1867 and consisted of four rooms which opened off a center hall, a kitchen attached to the rear of the house, and a porch along the front, facing the parade ground. Space for a servant over the kitchen was reported to be the "only upstairs room at the post." Of the four rooms off the central hallway, two bedrooms were on the north side of the house and a parlor and dining room were on the south side. There was also a cellar for storage and a well in the back yard.

     The commanding officer provided furnishings for his quarters. The army allowed officers to ship a certain amount of baggage but this didn't cover much more than basic household goods, such as kitchenware, bedding, and clothes. Any furniture the officer and his wife might want for their home had to be shipped at their own expense. Officers commonly sold furnishings to their successors and bought new furnishings at their next post. Ultimately, if the commanding officer were married his wife decided how the home would be furnished and decorated. She sometimes had little to work with other than cotton cloth and packing crates, but she would usually do her best to make the quarters as comfortable and attractive as possible.

     Commanding Officers charged often at Fort Larned with 40 men overall assuming the role of post commander. Of those, thirteen most likely occupied the stone-commanding officer's quarters. Major Meredith Helm Kidd, 10th U.S. Cavalry, was the first commanding officer to occupy the post commander's quarters. He commanded Fort Larned from May 20, 1867, through February 25, 1868. The last officer to live in the house was Major Jacob Hurd Smith, 19th U.S. Infantry, who assumed command on June 15, 1877. fort Larned was abandoned by the Army on June 13, 1878, at which time Smith left with Co. D for Fort Dodge, Kansas.

     The post commander was responsible for administering the post and commanding the troops, including maintaining and improving the post, supervising the drilling of officers and non-commissioned officers in signaling, and training officers in regulations and tactics. This training was accomplished through mandatory training sessions for the officers, such as the school for officers in 1868 (held two nights each week from 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.) and a requirement in February 1869 that officers of the command met in the adjutant's office at 7:30 p.m. each Monday and Thursday evening to recite from Upton's Infantry Tactics and Army Regulations.

     One important aspect of the post commander's job at Fort Larned was dealing with the local Indian tribes, as well as the Indian agents headquartered at the post sutler's complex until 1868 An important part of this duty was reporting to the Commander of the Department of the Missouri anything discovered about the movements and plans of local Indians. This responsibility became much less important after 1868, though, when most of the Indian tribes in the area were removed to present Oklahoma. The other major task for the post commander was ensuring the protection of travelers on the Santa Fe Trail, and later, the workers on the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad.

     The commanding officer's quarters is one of the nine original stone buildings still standing at Fort Larned National Historic Site. some restoration work remains to be done on this building

Commanding Officer's Quarters Timeline
by William Chapman, Facility Manager at
Fort Larned National Historic Site
Commanding Officer's Quarters (HS-8)

     The construction of the commander's quarters, the first and central structure on Officers' Row, began in the summer of 1867, under the supervision of Quartermaster Captain Almon F. Rockwell. With the structure's completion in October, Major Meredith Helm Kidd, 10th U.S. Cavalry, his wife Millicent, and three children, Rose, Edmund, and Lelia, became the first residents.

     Between 1867 and 1875 a wood frame lean-to addition was attached to the kitchen wing of the structure.

     With the completion of railroads, the reduction of traffic on the Santa Fe Trail, and the relocation of Indian activities to Oklahoma, the troops at Fort Larned were left with little to do other than tend to maintenance of the post. The size of the garrison was reduced between 1872 and July 13, 1878, when the garrison was sent to Fort Hays, and the military supplies were transferred to Fort Dodge, leaving only a small detachment to guard the property.

     Public interest in the government property which made up the military reservation increased after the abandonment of the fort. On April 27, 1882, a federal law was passed which provided for the sale of the military reservation to the public. One section available to the public was comprised of 640 acres and contained all the fort's buildings.

     The section with the buildings was sold at auction in Larned in March 13, 1884, to representatives of the Pawnee Valley Stock Breeders' Association, which won the $4,000 bid by fraud.

     On June 12, 1885, the Pawnee Valley Stock Breeders' Association was granted clear title to the land after meeting the government's price of an additional $8,056, which represented the fort's true value. The Association converted many of the fort's buildings into barns and stables for their livestock operations. The Commanding Officer's Quarters (HS-8) served as headquarters for the ranch.

     After the Pawnee Valley Stock Breeders' Association defaulted on their mortgage, May 1, 1891, the land was sold to Charles A. Wilbur, who had been both secretary and treasurer of the association. It is not know if any alterations were made to the post under Wilbur's ownership.

     Wilbur sold the property to Johanna Frorer of Illinois.

     On July 1, Edward Frizell purchased the Fort site as part of 3,000 acres he acquired from Frorer for $40,000.

     Look for the continuing story of HS-8 in following issues of Outpost

Captain George Hume Steuart

Post Commander: Captain George Hume Steuart
by Zack Corpus, Park Guide
(This is first in a series on the commanding officers of Fort Larned.)
     Life on the frontier military post could be extremely difficult. Malnutrition, disease, boredom, loneliness, and extreme heat and cold were just a few of the perils soldiers faced, in addition to their duty assignments. Add in the long marches and constant threat of attack when away from the fort and many would consider a life here in 1859 downright miserable. It is a huge burden to be in charge of men enduring this hardship while at the same time enduring it oneself. However, from 1859-1878, the 40 men detailed in this series did just that. From their labor and leadership, Fort Larned exerted a massive influence on the Indian Wars and the American West.

     Following the Mexican-American War (1846-1848), the West was a wide-open territory under control of the United States. The prospect of new lands and the rumored "manifest destiny" enticed many people to begin the trek westward. The Santa Fe Road, and other roads to the west, flourished with business. The discovery of gold in California created a great rush, to that land in 1849 and a decade later gold was discovered in the Rocky Mountains. People were excited by this new land. The Plains Indians were not so thrilled with this new influx of visitors, especially the gold rush of 1859. A period known as the Indian Wars was under way. Two main forts bordered the new expanse. Fort Riley, Kansas Territory, near present day Junction City, and Fort Union, New Mexico Territory, were near opposite ends of the Santa Fe Trail. In 1859 the mail contractor (Hall and Porter) for the route from Kansas City to Santa Fe requested military protection for the new mail station to be established at Pawnee Fork. The Kiowas were resisting, especially following the murder of one of their chiefs, Big Pawnee. In response to these events, a military camp was established that became Fort Larned.

     On September 1, 1859, Lieutenant Eli Long and Company H, 1st U.S. Cavalry, departed Fort Riley to provide protection for the mails. On September 27 they arrived at Beach's Ranch on Cow Creek in present Rice County. Their Assignment was to escort mail to a crossing of the Arkansas River. Over a week later, on October 7, 1859, Captain George H. Steuart and Company K, 1st U.S. Cavalry, were dispatched from Fort Riley to relieve Lieutenant Long. They completed that task and on October 22, 1859, the company arrived at Pawnee Fork to establish a new post. The location for a fort was selected and a camp was set up on the site, called "Camp on Pawnee Fork" (later Camp Alert and finally Fort Larned). Captain George H. Steuart was the first commanding officer.

     George Hume Steuart was born August 24, 1828, in Baltimore, MD. He was always fiercely loyal to his native Maryland. He entered the U.S. Military Academy at West Point on July 1, 1844. He graduated 37th in his class in July 1848 and was commissioned as a brevet 2nd Lieutenant in the 2nd U.S. Dragoons. He was promoted to 2nd Lieutenant of the same unit in November 1849.

     Steuart was heavily involved in the post Mexican War Indian campaigns in Texas. He served at various forts until he was promoted to 1st Lieutenant on March 3, 1855, and transferred to the 1st U.S. Cavalry. He was made captain on December 20, 1855. Subsequently, he was involved in several western expeditions. First, he was dispatched against the Cheyennes in 1857, and from 1857-1858, he was on expedition in Utah against the Mormons. Afterward, he was sent to Fort Riley with company K, 1st Cavalry. He led his company onto the Plains during the summer of 1859 to help protect travelers to the Rocky Mountain gold fields and on the Santa Fe Road. His company was selected to establish Camp on Pawnee Fork.

     Steuart's service at Camp on Pawnee Fork did not last long. On November 21, 1859, orders were received from Department Headquarters, Fort Leavenworth, to return with a portion of his company and the company horses to Fort Riley leaving 30 troopers of Company K at the camp under the command of 1st Lieutenant David Bell, where they were soon joined by 20 men of the 2nd U.S. Infantry. Steuart transferred command to Bell on November 26, 1859. After spending the winter at Fort Riley, he joined the Kiowa and Comanche expedition of 1860.

     Private Robert Morris Peck, who served in Company K under Captain Steuart, did not have a high opinion of the officer. He declared that Steuart "was a pompous, fussy little fellow, who allways reminded me of a bantam rooster. His men had dubbed him Capt. 'Whittlebusy.' He always tried to look very dignified, and seemed afraid that he would do or say something that would detract from his austere appearance: but his ill-fitting dignity rather made him look ridiculous.

     ""He seemed to have no appreciation of wit or humor, and when anything comical occurred in his presence he would nearly burst himself rather than smile or seem to enjoy the fun, for fear he would not look dignified.

     "Some of his fellow-officers were fond of placing him in a ridiculous light and enjoyed his discomfiture."

     The rest of Stuart's military career is well documented. When the South seceded from the Union, the State of Maryland was unable to secede and join the Confederacy. Steuart was solidly loyal to his home state and believed it should have seceded. He resigned his commission on April 22, 1861, and along with many other Marylander's, crossed the border into Virginia and joined the Confederate Army. He was commissioned a captain of cavalry. In May the 1st Maryland Infantry was formed and Steuart was named its lieutenant colonel. At the First Battle of Bull Run (First Manassas), Steuart served with distinction and was promoted to colonel and regimental commander. Soldiers referred to him as "Maryland" to distinguish him from Major General J. E. B. Stuart.

     George Steuart was promoted to Brigadier General in March 1862 and commanded three Virginia regiments with the 1st Maryland. He was wounded at Cross Keys on June 8, 1862, and returned to command almost a year later in May 1863. He was involved in the Battles of Gettysburg, the Wilderness, and Spotsylvania, where he was captured. He is famous for refusing to shake Winfield S. Hancock's hand after capture. Steuart was exchanged in 1864. He participated in several more campaigns and , finally, was present at the surrender and parole of the Army of Northern Virginia at Appomattox. After the surrender, Steuart returned to Maryland to take up farming. He died at age 75 on November 22, 1903. He is buried in Baltimore's Green Mount Cemetery along with several other Confederate generals and John Wilkes Booth. Despite his short tenure at the Camp on Pawnee Fork, Steuart was the founding commander of the post that became Fort Larned.

Old Guard Marks 150 Year
Anniversary at Fort Larned

by Sgt. Nancy Deweese
     As the oldest active infantry unit, the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) has been a witness to and an active participant in the development and defense of the United States. Created in 1784, just after the U.S. victory of the Revolutionary War, The Old Guard was formed to defend and expand a newly formed country.

     The contributions of American Soldiers are easily identified in the wars they fought. Just as important, although too often overlooked, are the contributions frontier Soldiers made to develop the United States.

     The Fort Larned National Historic Site near Larned, Kansas, is a fully preserved Army fort which pays tribute to the way of life and the accomplishments frontier Soldiers of the 19th century.

     On October 11, the fort celebrated its 150th year by firing a 150-gun salute to the Soldiers who served there, hosting a lecture series about the life of a frontier Soldier, and rededicating a 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment marker. Of all the units who served at Fort Larned, the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) was stationed there the longest.

     In recognition of the contributions of Old Guard frontier Soldiers, the National Park Service invited Old Guard commander Col. David Anders and regimental command sergeant major Cmd. Sgt. Maj. David Martel, to tour the fort and to participate in the rededication of the 3rd U.S. Infantry marker at Fort Larned.

     "What an honor it is to be asked to participate in this event with [the National Park Service]," said Anders. "The 150th anniversary of the establishment of Fort Larned is an event worth making. For me, the post represents American resolve at a time in our history when west-ward expansion was being challenged not only by Native American Indian tribes, but by the harshest of environmental and human living conditions."

     The Old Guard Soldiers who were stationed at Fort Larned in the 1860s and 1870s were entrusted with an important mission, said Dr. Leo Oliva, a researcher and writer who focuses on the history of the Santa Fe Trail.

     "From 1859 to 1878, the Army was charged with the protection of U.S. citizens," he said in a lecture about the history of Fort Larned. "Fort Larned was the most important outpost in the 1860s and 70s. The Soldiers provided protection for trail commerce, assistance in federal land surveys, and delegations for Indian treaties taking place at that time."

     The job provided adventure for the Soldiers, but it was also a difficult life, said Dr. Rick Herrera, a historian with the Combat Studies Institute at the Combined Arms Center at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.

     "The average Soldier was 23 years old, and was in the Army because he was either on some hard luck, or he was adventurous," he said. "The life of a frontier Soldier was hard; death, discharge and desertion were too common. The Soldiers had poor basic skills, bad marksmanship, and little training."

     Surviving in the unforgiving climates of the Plains was no easy task; it was made all the more difficult with the missions they were faced with, the clash of cultures and the lack of an outlet during leisure time, said Oliva. "The pay was low, and it was a monotonous life. Opportunities for leisure activities were limited."

     In a guided tour of Fort Larned, Anders and Martel saw the way of life for an everyday frontier Soldier.

     Anders remarked about what Fort Larned can tell Americans today about the frontier Soldier. "First and foremost I was extremely impressed by the preservation of Fort Larned. The Park Service has done an incredible job restoring this frontier post. It was actually the best-preserved frontier fort I've had the pleasure to visit. Having said that, these Soldiers did not live in the lap of luxury. Life on the frontier looked tough, secluded and monotonous."

     Despite the dangers and challenges of protecting the frontier during the 19th century, the Soldiers of Fort Larned accomplished a tremendous mission: their efforts were essential in opening new opportunities for the American people. They developed resources which allowed the settlers to make the West a viable part of the republic, said Herrera.

     The legacy the frontier Soldiers left behind in the American West speaks of how the American Soldier developed to become the finest fighting force in the world. Today, 150 years later, the work the frontier Soldiers accomplished can be seen throughout the western United States in the people who continue to thrive there.

     "The story of the 3rd U.S. Infantry at Fort Larned in the 1860s and 70s is part of the American story we celebrate today," said Anders. "Commitment, perseverance and courage undaunted help define the American persona for the entire world. By honoring the memory of members of the 3rd Infantry Regiment who served so many years ago, we remind ourselves that their struggle and hardships helped secure our future."

     Since the 1870s, The Old Guard has transformed from a group of rowdy frontier Soldiers to an elite force based at Fort Myer, Va. The Soldiers of The Old Guard are known as the Face of the Army, representing Soldiers stationed around the world to dignitaries and international and national visitors to the U.S. capital. They have the solemn mission of rendering final honors in Arlington National Cemetery, and of guarding the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier there. They also remain tactically proficient, as they stand ready to defend the national capital region in the event of an emergency. As a deployable unit, the Old Guard currently has one company deployed in Iraq.

Fort Larned : A Microcosm
Of Frontier Architecture

by David K. Clapsaddle
     (Clapsaddle, Larned, Kansas is an active member of the Fort Larned Old Guard and writes about the history of Fort Larned, the Santa Fe Trail, and other regional topics. Special thanks to him for preparing this article for Outpost)

     Dispatched from Independence, Missouri, by Hall and Porter, mail contractors, William Butze several employees, and seven wagons of supplies and equipment arrived at a bend in the Pawnee River, six miles west of Present Larned, Kansas, in October 1859. Their assignment was to construct a mail station. [1] Butze was appointed postmaster the following month. [2] A modest building, enclosed in a sizable corral, became the precursor for the various types of architecture at Fort Larned and other locations throughout the Kansas Frontier: frame, dugout, adobe, sod, stone, and log.

     In 1860 Hall and Porter sold their enterprise to the Missouri Stage Company. [3] At that point, James Brice replaced Butze as the manager of the mail station on the Pawnee, where he lived with his wife until 1867 when the mails no longer were delivered through Fort Larned but rather were transported from the new rail-head at Hays City to Fort Dodge and other points southwest. No information has been located as to the materials used in the construction of the station house. However, a sketch of the building was included in the memoir written by Brice, published in 1905. The sketch shows the building to be constructed of poles set in an upright position. [4]

     In the same month that the mail station was constructed, Camp on Pawnee Fork was established nearby under the command of Captain George H. Steuart. His 75-man detachment was put to work excavating dugouts and constructing a corral and some sod stables. [5]

     Dugouts were common on the frontier as temporary quarters. In 1868, when A. H. Boyd purchased the burned out remains of a trading ranch just east of the Fort Larned Military reservation, he made his home in a dugout as he initiated work on a sod structure. [6] Dugouts were used to good purpose by proprietors of trading ranches on the Fort Hays-Fort Dodge Road. Such was the case at the Pawnee Fork crossing where John O'Laughlin established his enterprise in 1869, at the Buckner Creek crossing where a ranch was run by an unnamed proprietor, and at the Sawlog Creek crossing where a ranch was operated for a brief period in 1868 by a man known only as Boyd. [7] Yet another prime example of dugouts on the frontier were the seven stage stations established along the Arkansas River east of Fort Lyon by Robert Wright. Under his supervision in 1860, dugouts were excavated in low bluffs, fronted by sod or adobe walls, and overlaid with poles covered with hay and dirt. [8]

     As to Boyd's sod building, such structures common to the pioneer period were not prevalent prior to the days of settlement. Boyd's structure was an exception, 40 feet in length, 20 feet in width. A photograph taken in 1886 shows small patches of stucco remaining on the sod walls, the rest of the plaster having been devoured by grasshoppers during the plague of 1874. Boyd's sister, who occupied the house in 1877, recalled that the roof was made of wood shingles and that the interior walls and ceiling were covered with white muslin, protection against the ubiquitous dust exhaled by the sod. [9]

     Camp on Pawnee Fork, renamed Camp Alert in February 1860 and Fort Larned in the following May, was relocated about one-fourth mile southwest of its original location in June 1860. The post's buildings were an odd assortment of architecture. A bakery was housed in a dugout, as were the officers' stables, and the shops building was fabricated from posed and canvas. However, the majority of the buildings were built of adobe, [10] not a common material on the Kansas frontier. Who was responsible for manufacturing the adobe remains unknown. However, a recent discovery of a foundation stone from one of the adobe buildings used in later construction provides a clue. The stone is inscribed with the name "Jose." Speculation is that Jose was one of the Mexican workmen employed to manufacture the adobe. On the other hand, perhaps the art of adobe making was not restricted to Mexican artisans. When Lewis Garrard arrived at Fort Mann in 1847, he observed the stockaded walls under construction. He wrote, "Outside, forty men were making adobes from chimneys." These men were not Mexican but a crew of teamsters dispatched under the supervision of Master teamster Daniel Mann to erect a depot for the repair of wagons and replacement of animals during the Mexican War. [11]

     At Fort Zarah on the Walnut Creek crossing, an outpost of Fort Larned established in 1864, the troops were originally quartered in dugouts. Later several adobe buildings, including a barracks, superseded the dugouts. The same was true of Fort Ellsworth, also established in 1864. Troops were quartered in dugouts which lined the bank of the Smoky Hill River. William Darnell recalled that the only building of substance was a sod commissary building. [12]

     At Fort Larned the troops continued to occupy the adobe buildings through the years of the Civil War. However, the sutler during this period, young Jesse Crane, constructed a stone store building, and two frame structures, a residence and a mess house. [13] frame construction prior to the advent of the railroad in western Kansas was uncommon. However, at the Cow Creek Ranch in present Rice County, Ashael and Abijah Beach constructed three frame buildings in 1858. [14] Theodore Weichselbaum described the buildings as follows. "The Cow Creek ranch consisted of three or four little wooden shanties built in a row on the east side of Cow Creek. There were other trading ranches at the Little Arkansas and the Walnut on the trail, mostly built of lumber which had to be hauled out." [15]

     By 1866 the sutler's complex at Fort Larned consisted not only of the stone store building, the residence, and the mess house, but also two stables, an ice house, a chicken house, and a smokehouse. In the following year, army regulations changed the title from sutler to post trader. Another change allowed for more than one such civilian to be licensed as a retail distributor at each post. Consequently, E. S. W. Drought arrived at the post in 1867 and constructed a frame building which included a bowling alley. [16]

     The first stone structure built by the army at Fort Larned was the blockhouse constructed in 1864 following a raid by Kiowa warriors in which 172 horses and mules were driven off. However, during 1866-1868, a massive array of sandstone buildings was constructed, surrounding all four sides of the parade grounds which measured 400 feet square. The stone quarried at three separate locations east of the post by civilian stone masons was used in the construction of permanent buildings. Other tradesmen were employed to erect the buildings; but, at times, soldiers were assigned to construction duties. [17] Some permanent buildings at other posts in western Kansas were likewise constructed of stone: Forts Dodge, Hays, and Wallace.

     As to log construction, west of the post about 28 miles was the trading ranch previously mentioned where John O'Laughlin operated out of a number of dugouts. In 1872, he sold out to George Duncan, who forsook the dugouts to build a substantial log complex. Duncan's enterprise was described by W. S. Simmons as follows. "Duncan's ranch was an interesting place, and I am surprised that I have never seen it mentioned in any of the sketches of these early days. It consisted of a big stockade made of logs set about two feet in the ground and standing perhaps seven or eight feet above ground. These logs had been hewn on the sides to fit close to make a real protection from Indians.

     "Forming one side of the stockade were the log buildings, a house of several rooms and a stable, all built to afford protection against hostile Indians. in the living room there was a table made of slabs which was hinged against the wall, and which when not in use hung against the wall. Under this table was a secret door leading through a tunnel to a dugout some distance away, providing a last stand should the buildings be taken." [18]

     A similar complex was constructed at Fort Mann in 1847. Lewis Garrard described it: "The fort was simply four log houses connected by angles of timber framework, in which were cut loopholes for the cannon and small arms. In diameter the fore was about sixty feet. The walls were twenty in height." [19] It should be noted that the area in the proximity of Fort Mann was bereft of timber. The logs were cut on Sawlog Creek, 12 miles to the north.

     At the Walnut Creek crossing 31 miles east of Fort Larned, Hall and Porter's mail station was housed in a log building; and farther east where timber was more abundant, log buildings were constructed at trading establishments on Cottonwood Creek, 142 Mile Creek, and 110 Mile Creek. [20]

     Log buildings were of two types, those built with logs assembled in a horizontal fashion and those known as picket houses, The latter were constructed by placing logs upright in a trench to create a vertical wall. One example of a picket house is the sutler's store at Fort Harker. A sketch of the building plainly illustrates the vertical position of the logs. [21] Yet another example, still in existence, is the teamsters' cabin erected at Fort Supply in Indian Territory, 1870. Its upright cedar logs, impervious to rot remain in good condition. [22] The same type of construction was used in the station house at Camp on Pawnee Fork.

     If Brice's residence at the Pawnee mail station was accurately sketched for his memoir, and if the poles used in construction of the building could be construed as logs, one could conclude that all the architectural types common to the Kansas frontier were used in the structures at Fort Larned and its environs: frame, dugout, adobe, sod, stone, and log.

     Thus, Fort Larned might well serve as a microcosm for mid-19th century construction through Kansas and other parts of the West

  1. Morris F. Taylor, First Mail West: Stagecoach Lines on the Santa Fe Trail (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1971), 61

  2. Robert W. Baughman, Kansas Post Offices (Topeka: Kansas State Historical Society, 1986), 99, 46.

  3. Taylor, First Mail, 123 Douglas D. Scott, 1974 Excavations at Fort Larned National Historic Site (Denver: National Park Service Center, 1974).

  4. James Brice, Reminiscences of Ten Years Experience on the Western Plains (Kansas City, MO: James Brice, 1905), 13

  5. Leo E. Oliva, Fort Larned: Guardian of the Santa Fe Trail (Topeka: Kansas State Historical Society, 1997), 10-11.

  6. David K. Clapsaddle, A. H. Boyd: Entrepreneur of the Prairie (Larned, Kansas: The Larned Tiller & Toiler, no date), 9.

  7. David K. Clapsaddle, "The Fort Hays - Fort Dodge Road," Kansas History 14 (Summer 1991): 107-108; David K. Clapsaddle, "The Fort Hays - Fort Dodge Road: A Ladder of Rivers," Overland Journal 18 (Fall, 2000): 10.

  8. Taylor, First Mail, 116.

  9. Clapsaddle, A. H. Boyd, 9, 12.

  10. Oliva, Fort Larned, 10-11, 13-16. There has been some confusion with regard to the location of Camp Alert in relation to the new location of fort Larned. Theodore Weichselbaum helps in this respect, "Our first goods were taken to Camp Alert, right across the timbered ravine, northeast of where they were building Fort Larned." Kansas Historical Collections 11 (1909-1910: 562

  11. From a conversation with George Elmore, Fort Larned National Historic Site Park Ranger, September 3, 2009: Lewis H. Garrard, Wah-to-Yah and the Taos Trail (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1987), 255; Robert W. Frazer, Forts of the West (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1988), 56.

  12. Oliva, Fort Larned, 22; George A. Root, "Reminiscences of William Darnell," Kansas Historical Collections 17 (1926-1928), 510.

  13. Oliva, Fort Larned, 70.

  14. Louise Barry, "The Ranch at Cow Creek Crossing (Beach Valley, P.O.)," Kansas Historical Collections 17 (Winter 1972): 418.

  15. "Statement of Theodore Weichselbaum," Kansas Historical Collections 11 (1909-1910): 570; Weichselbaum was wrong about the material used to construct the ranch at Walnut Creek. It was built of sandstone. Kansas Historical Quarterly 37 (Summer 1971): 147.

  16. Oliva, Fort Larned, 70.

  17. Ibid., 25-39..

  18. W. C. Simons, "An Address Made Before the Old Settlers' Association of Lawrence, Kan., Sept. 15, 1924," Kansas Historical Collections 16 (1923-1925, 520-521.

  19. Garrard, Wah-to-Yah, 255.

  20. Louise Barry, "The Ranch at Walnut Creek Crossing," Kansas Historical Quarterly 37 (Simmer 1971): 138: "The Legislature of 1868," Kansas Historical Collections 10 (1907-1908): 267; D. E. Schiessen, "History of Allen, Kansas," Our Land - A History of Lyon County, Kansas (Emporia: Emporia State Press, 1976), 40-41; James R. McClure, "Taking Census and Other Incidents in 1855," Kansas Historical Collections 8 (1903-1908): 236.

  21. Sketch of Fort Harker's Sutler Store, Santa Fe Trail Center Archives, Larned, Kansas.

  22. Robert C. Carriker, Fort Supply: Indian Territory, Frontier Outpost on the Plains (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1990), ff 112.

Traveling Trunks Exposure
     As described in the Last Outpost, The Fort Larned National Historic Site initiated the "Traveling Trunks" project in September 2009. Originally designed for fourth-grade classes, the project at the request of administrators and teachers has been expanded too other grade levels. The following schools have participated in the program at this writing: Larned Northside Elementary, Lewis Elementary, Pawnee Heights/Hanston Elementary at Burdett, and Jetmore Elementary School. Schools scheduled for the program in 2010 include Kinsley/Offerle Elementary, Macksville Elementary, Lincoln Elementary, McPherson Spring Valley Elementary, Junction City, and Holcomb Middle School. Other schools will include Colorado elementary schools at Holly, Granada, and Lamar. By the close of the 2010 spring semester, 795 students will have participated in the project. Fort Larned Old Guard member David Clapsaddle is the facilitator.

Extra Duty Notes
     Fort Larned Old Guard member Bill Chalfant's Book, Hancock's War: Conflict on the Southern Plains, will be released by the University of Oklahoma Press in April this year. Plans are to have Chalfant talk about his book and sign copies at the Fort Larned Old Guard annual meeting on April 24, 2010.

     Leo E. Oliva has been selected by the Kansas Humanities Council as one of the speakers for the 150th anniversary of Kansas statehood, which occurred January 29, 1861. His topic is "Kansas Military Forts." There are some 60 speakers in the series, and these programs may be booked by libraries, historical societies, civic organizations, and other groups during 2010-2011. For more information, please contact the KHC, 1122 SW 6th Ave, Ste 210, Topeka KS 66603, telephone 785-357-0359, or

Rough Riding on the Plains (continued)
by Robert Morris Peck
     (Robert Morris Peck, a private in Company K, First U.S. Cavalry, in 1859, was present at the founding of Camp on Pawnee Fork that became Fort Larned. Peck published his memoirs in 1901. The portion of his memoirs detailing the background and establishment of the military camp are continued here and will continue in future issues. This portion of his memoirs picks up his story of events near Peacock's Ranch in September 1867, Where Lieutenant George Baird, whom Peck calls Bayard, has just shot and killed Kiowa Chief Pawnee.)

     Pawnee hardly had time to realize that his protecting charm had failed to protect this time, for he instantly threw up his hands, and with blood gushing out of his mouth and nose , fell back off his horse dead.

     The Lieutenant halted and dismounted to examine the Indian, but I, and the other men who had come up, ran on after the pony to catch it, and prevent it from going into Indian camp and giving the thing away. We soon caught him and came back to where the dead chief lay.

     While we were chasing the pony I had noticed a couple of moving objects up on the bluffs a couple of miles off, which I at first took for buffaloes, but on watching more closely I could see that they were mounted men, evidently a couple of Kiowas who had been watching the chase. I reported the circumstance to the Lieutenant as soon as we reached him. He took out his field-glass, that was hanging on his saddle and after looking at them a short time, said:

     "Yes, it is a couple of mounted Indians. They have been watching us, and of course will hurry off to their camp and report what they have seen. Mount your horses, men, and we will go back to the ranch."

     Lieutenant," I asked, "what shall we do with the dead Indian?"

     "Do Nothing; the coyotes will take care of him," he answered as we mounted and rode off.

     As we moved away we looked back to the bluffs and could now plainly see the two mounted Indians galloping in the direction of where their camp was said to be. We were probably near enough to have seen the tops of their lodges, for the big, flat prairie we were on is very level; but the Indian camp being behind an elbow of Walnut Creek, was hidden from our view by the strip of timber bordering the stream. The spot where Pawnee was killed is about one and a half or two miles nearly due north of the ranch,

     As we rode up to the expectant group of officers and soldiers at the ranch, Capt. Walker advanced a few steps and demanded of Lieut Bayard:

     "Well Mr. Bayard, what have you done with the Indian:"

     "Captain," Bayard answered as we came to a halt and dismounted "he wouldn't halt or surrender, and I had to kill him."

     Although he must have expected a similar answer, seeing we had brought back the pony without a rider, still Bayard's answer seemed to completely upset the Captain, as he became very much excited, walking to and fro and wringing his hands as if in great distress.

     "O! Mr. Bayard," he exclaimed, "you little realize what trouble your rashness has brought upon us."

     "Why, Captain," said the Lieutenant, "would you have me let the Indian ride away jeering and making faces at me: not much! I hadn't time to think of consequences, but I just did what any man should do in like circumstances."

     Capt. Walker, like Maj. Sedgwick, was never aggressive in his dealings with the Indians, but always for conciliation, often even carrying it to an extent that was humiliating to the officers and men under his command; but Walker's First and Second Lieutenant, J. E. B. Stuart and Geo. D. Bayard, were not made that way.

     The unmanly spectacle that Captain made of himself on this occasion in bewailing the killing of the Indian, so exasperated Bayard that, losing his sense of military discipline, he blurted out:

     "Captain, I wouldn't make and exhibition of my self before the men. If you are afraid of the Kiowas, turn over the command to some one who ain't."

     This seemed to bring the Captain to his senses, and he reprimanded Bayard for his disrespect, and threatened to put him under arrest. The men who were standing around were sent to their former positions with their respective companies out on the grass, while the officers withdrew to the inside of the ranch to hold a council to decide upon our further movements.
(continued next issue)

April 24, 2010:
     Annual Fort Larned Old Guard Mess & Muster at Fort Larned, Kansas. Details will be sent with registration information in March.

Deadline for Next Issue of Outpost: March 10, 2010!

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

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