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

A Good Time Was Had By All
by Rex Abrahams
     A very special Thank You to all who planned, participated, and attended the Fort Larned Old Guard Annual Mess and Muster on April 24. We had a great day! The event kicked off with some leisure time to explore the Fort. So many things are happening at Fort Larned that this is a must. One never knows what the next change will be.

     At 3:00 William Y. Chalfant presented a talk on his new book, Hancock's War: Conflict on the Southern Plains. The presentation was extremely interesting as Chalfant discussed the high points of his book and what prompted General Hancock to make some of the decisions he made. Without a doubt, Hancock's destruction of the Cheyenne and Sioux village (a site now owned by the Old Guard) greatly inflamed tensions and activities on the Plains for years to come. Following the presentation, Chalfant autographed books for an eager audience.

     At 4:30 the Fort was graced with the presence of an old trooper, Private Robert Morris Peck, Company K, First U.S. Cavalry, 1856-1861. Leo E. Oliva donned the persona of Private Peck and did an outstanding job presenting Peck's memoirs, written in 1901, of the founding of the Fort Larned in 1859. In fact, Leo went so far as to grow a mustache and beard, greatly resembling pictures of Private Peck. Private Peck will return to Fort Larned on September 18, during the Santa Fe Rendezvous, with other stories about life in the frontier cavalry.

     At 5:00 a wedding was held on post in the Quartermaster building. After a short ceremony, the Fort Larned staff did a tremendous job changing the Quartermaster building back to the setting for the evening festivities.

     At 6:00 a BBQ dinner with all the fixings was served. Fort Larned Old Guard Chair Chris Day then honored two individuals with honorary commissions in the Old Guard for outstanding service to the Fort and Fort Larned Old Guard -- Felix Revello and William Chalfant. Thank you Felix and Bill for all that you have done!

     Following the presentations, Day presented the Plains Indian Exhibit to Superintendent Kevin McMurry, Fort Larned National Historic Site. Ken Weidner, volunteer and new Fort Larned Old Guard board member, was called to the floor and he explained the research and design that went into the construction of the clothes and accouterments he created for the display. The display will soon be touring the state. Please be on the lookout for it. Donations are still needed for the project.

Plains Indian Exhibit
Ken Weidner, right, with the Indian exhibit created for Fort Larned NHS,
funded by the Old Guard. Donations are needed for this project

     Next, David Clapsaddle gave a presentation on the Traveling Trunk Program. Dr. Clapsaddle has presented the traveling trunks story to more than 3000 students this past year. There are four exciting programs, "Charley's Trunk," "I Heard a Coyote Howl," "The Little Red House," and "A long Way to Santa Fe. " Great Job and a Big Thanks You to David!

     The evening concluded with a very entertaining program from Jeff Davidson and the Trail Riders. Jeff presented the history of Kansas through song and visuals that left us wanting more. With smooth voices and beautiful pictures they covered the Santa Fe Trail and Civil War, cattle drives, railroad building, and U.S. patriotism, all topics to get the heart pumping. Excellent job!

     Make plans to attend next years Mess and Muster. It is assured, "A Good Time will be had by all!"

George Elmore New Chief Ranger
by Supt. Kevin McMurry
     George Elmore was recently appointed Chief Ranger at Fort Larned National Historic Site. A veteran ranger and well-known frontier military historian, George had served at the fort since 1973. He replaced Felix Revello who recently retired.

George Elmore New Chief Ranger
George Elmore New Chief Ranger

     Elmore was raised on a farm near Rozel, Kansas and graduated from Pawnee Heights High School in 1969. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in History from Fort Hays State University in 1973. That same summer he began working seasonally at Fort Larned National Historic Site. During 5 years he worked as a seasonal (9 months per year), Elmore began a living-history program at the Fort, including a historic weapons firing program. Since obtaining permanent status in 1978, Elmore has served as Historian, Para-professional Archeologist, Historic Preservation Compliance Specialist, Volunteer Coordinator, Museum Artifact Coordinator, and "acting" Chief Ranger on many occasions. He has made numerous and significant contributions to interpretation of life at Fort Larned, including the coordination of large living-history events like Memorial Day weekend and Fourth of July celebrations and the writing, planning, and organization of yearly Candlelight Tours.

     In 1983 Elmore attended Federal Law Enforcement training in Georgia, obtaining a Federal Law Enforcement Commission. As such, he has served on numerous security teams at National Parks throughout the nation for various events, including three Presidential events.

     Since 1986 Elmore has been the Historic Weapons Coordinator for the Midwest Region of the National Park Service, inspecting the programs and safety procedures of all National Parks in the region using black powder for rifles and cannon firing programs. In 2008 and 2010 he served as coordinator and lead Instructor for the nationwide Historic Weapons Training course held at Fort McClelland, Alabama.

     Fort Larned was an active military post for 19 years, and Elmore has served at the National Historic Site nearly twice as many years. He knows the history of the Fort and the National Park Service site better than anyone else. He has developed living-history programs that are among the best in the nation. He is highly respected by his peers and the visiting public. Congratulations Chief Ranger Elmore!

Rex Abrahams
Fort Larned Old Guard Chair - Rex Abrahams

Flog Chair's Column
by Rex Abrahams
     It is a privilege and an honor to serve as the new chairman of the Fort Larned Old Guard. Fort Larned is a special and unique place. Its status in the westward expansion of our country cannot be overemphasized. The fact that it still exists today with a full feel and flavor of 150 years ago is incredible.

     As I sat on the front porch of the barracks this past Memorial weekend, looking out over the parade ground, thunderheads building in the background, I was thrown back in time. It could have easily been 1868. What a responsibility we have been entrusted with! It is our goal to protect and share with our children and our children's children the meaning of America and the meaning of this little outpost on the Western Frontier. I am not a writer but know what I feel in my heart. We have something very special at Fort Larned and we must not take the responsibility lightly.

     The Old Guard can and should play a part in the promotion, development, and interpretation of the Fort. With the National Park Service's lead, we should be there to assist with their programs and undertake projects they are unable to do. Everyone interested in the preservation in our historic past should be a member of the Old Guard. Every volunteer at the Fort Larned should be a member of the Old Guard. Why? Because we have the opportunity to make things happen to help improve the visitor's overall experience at the Fort.

     Most members are well aware the Old Guard helped purchase the Indian Village site destroyed by General Winfield Scott Hancock in April 1867. What a fantastic opportunity to help preserve this historically-significant location. Did you also know the Old Guard purchased a Third Infantry marked 1866 2nd Allen Conversion Trapdoor Springfield for the museum? Did you know the Old Guard helped purchase the historic Rucker Army Ambulance that was restored by volunteer Ron Drummond? Did you know the Old Guard contracted historical re-enactor and new Fort Larned Old Guard board member Ken Weidner to create and craft the Indian trappings for two mannequins and a horse? Ken spent six months and many hours on this project. The authenticity of his work is stunning. The mannequins and horse will travel the state to create interest in Fort Larned . . . and interest they will create! They look real!

     Did you know the Old Guard helped purchase the 150th Anniversary rack cards distributed through-out the state last year? These rack cards were reprinted several times because the demand was so high! Did you know that from time to time the Old Guard helps sponsor lecturers at the Fort? Did you know that Old Guard member David Clapsaddle has presented the "Traveling Trunks" program to more than 3000 students this past year? Now that is getting up and doing something.

     Together we can make things happen at Fort Larned. With your assistance we can spread the word about this gem that is tucked away in central Kansas.

     I am Proud to be a member of the Fort Larned Old Guard.

Fort Larned Superintendent's Column
"On Our Watch" by Kevin McMurry
     Since the last issue of Outpost we have successfully accomplished several objectives, including the annual "Mess and Muster" programs, the Indian exhibit funded by the Old Guard (and most of the beautiful work completed by new board member Ken Weidner!), school programs developed and presented by Dr. David Clapsaddle, and continued progress on restoring the North Officers' Quarters for opening to the public in September. Facility Manager Bill Chapman and Chief Ranger George Elmore have also worked hard to appropriately install a wheelchair accessible door on the visitor center/museum and contracts are expected soon to "hard surface" all of the company streets to make the Fort's buildings wheelchair accessible.

     Work on the bridge replacement is ongoing with careful clearing of anticipated areas for archaeological surveys to be conducted in early August. In addition, the U.S. Federal Highway Administration office in Denver is completing engineering and design of the project which will move to contracting later this year. With help from the Old Guard, we're working on our planned exhibit for the Kansas State Fair which will hopefully include two full-size horse mannequins; please come see how it turns out! ("Thank You" to all our volunteers who helped with the fair!)

     We hope to see you Labor Day Weekend and/or on September 16-19, 2010 for the Santa Fe Trail Rendezvous, which has many great programs related to mail and other "communication" methods utilized along the trail, scheduled at both the Trail Center and Fort Larned. Watch for the full Rendezvous program which will be available soon and plan to attend. Information links will be posted on our web site: {}.

     Finally, I'm very happy to extend a welcome to new employees Troy Rodgers, a Maintenance Mechanic who transferred from Olympic National Park and Dan Coaty, A Maintenance Worker who transferred from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation in Oregon. Watch future editions of Outpost for further information on these great additions to the Fort's workforce.

     "On Our Watch" and with generous assistance from our employees, many partners, and great volunteer friends, we continue to provide Fort Larned and Santa Fe Trail history for all to enjoy.

Flog & Volunteer Roll Call: Rex Abrahams
     Rex Abrahams has been a volunteer at Fort Larned for 25 years, and he is the new chair of Fort Larned Old Guard. Rex has always had an interest in history, especially the American West. As far back as he can remember, cowboys and Indians held a special fascination. On vacations as a youth, while other members of the family wanted to go fishing, he wanted to visit museums. Even now, his wife DeVonne complains when they go into museums, "He has to read everything."

     Rex began volunteering at Fort Larned in 1985. He says he started out a private and 25 years later he is still a private. One of the reasons he wanted to volunteer at Fort Larned was a desire to know what the West was really like, not some Hollywood Western myth but the real thing. Fort Larned helped provide that knowledge. "When I first came out to the Fort and met George and TJ Sperry, they emphasized authenticity. That is exactly what I wanted. "

Rex Abrahams & Daughter Megan
Volunteers Rex Abrahams & Daughter Megan
at Fort Larned NHS

     I got more than a real dose the first weekend I attended when they told me to go and put on some cavalry clothes. George and TJ thought I looked like the type that might have been in the cavalry; small, short, and wiry, forget the extra pounds I have put on since! TJ gave me a gray wool undershirt to put on and I remember it smelled so bad, no let me restate . . . stank so bad that I could not wait to put the coat on over it. Obviously it had not been washed for some time. When I took it off, my whole body smelled of the shirt. Either that shirt finally got washer or they threw it away. I am not sure which! After that episode, I knew I could put up with about anything. I did realize very quickly though that I wanted to wear my own historic clothes.

     Over the years Rex's entire family has volunteered at the Fort. His wife, DeVonne, has helped with the Candlelight tours and daughter, Megan (24) and son, Dustin (20), have been volunteering since they were about 7 years old. "I think one of the neatest things is that both Megan and Dustin have enjoyed being a part of the fort as much as I have. They each brought their friends to the Fort and when they get together now, the Fort is still one of the highlights of conversation."

     Rex and family were honored with the Fort Larned "Volunteer of the Year" award in 2003. He considers his new responsibilities as chair of Fort Larned Old Guard a fresh opportunity to serve the historic military post he treasures.

     In the real world, Rex is the VP of Sales at Rand Graphics, Wichita KS. Rand is a commercial printing company that has produced several items for Fort Larned Old Guard and the Fort. Rex and DeVonne live close to Canton KS, just south of the Maxwell Game Preserve. He invites anyone who is traveling the new Prairie Trail Scenic Byway to stop by and say "Hello." He's the one with the limestone "End of the Trail" sign in his front yard. A fitting tribute to the West he loves.

Rachel Gaeddert
Rachel Gaeddert greeting visitors at the Fort Visitor Center

Fort Larned Roll Call: Rachel Gaeddert
     Rachel Gaeddert is one of the STEP (Student Temporary Employment Program) employees for Fort Larned National Historic Site this summer. Rachel worked for Fort Larned National Historic Site for three weeks during the summer 2009, and returned to work a full summer this year. Rachel is a senior at Bethel College in North Newton, Kansas, where she is majoring in Social Work and Spanish. In 2009 Rachel also studied abroad in Ecuador for a semester.

     During the Memorial Day events in May, Rachel learned all about the giant oven in the post bakery. Volunteer Margaret Linderer taught her to make delicious army bread from scratch. She served samples of a fresh batch of this army bread during the Fourth of July celebrations at the Fort. Rachel is also helping coordinate oral interviews with people who used to live at Fort Larned, when it was a ranch between the years 1902 and 1966, to expand Fort Larned's knowledge about the Fort during that time period.

     Growing up in Larned after moving there at age five, Rachel was active in 4-H, especially the Shooting Sports project, and was 4-H's top air rifle shooter in the state of Kansas in 2007. As a child, Rachel visited Fort Larned many times, and as a high school student played the French horn for the Fort Larned Historic Band. During high school she was also involved in Choir and playing the piano.

Quartermaster Report: Company Quarters (HS-1 & HS-2)
by Celeste Dixon, Park Ranger
     The construction of the stone building at Fort Larned was the result of an army building program on the frontier beginning in 1866. The building program itself was the result of the strategic and tactical vision of Lieutenant General William T. Sherman, the U.S. Army commander in the West.

     After the Civil War the army concentrated on defending the frontier and dealing with the inevitable clashes between the Indians and Euro-American settlers moving west across the plains. In September 1866 General Sherman outlined a strategic concept for dealing with this situation which envisioned a series of small infantry posts along the main western routes. These posts would provide permanent installations where wagon trains could gather to be escorted along the trails, and from which cavalry patrols could search out any hostile Indians. This strategic concepts changed Fort Larned's status from temporary post to a permanent army installation.

     In the spring of 1866 the existing structures at Fort Larned were not adequate to support a permanent infantry post. The buildings constructed at Fort Larned in 1860-1861 were adobe, built to comply with Quartermaster policy to use local materials to reduce costs. Those structures were crumbling and needed to be replaced. By the end of 1866 General Sherman had secured funds to begin an extensive construction program throughout the Division of the Missouri. Plans and estimates for new buildings at Fort Larned had already been submitted by the fort's commander, Brevet Colonel Cuvier Grover.

     Company quarters were the most urgently needed structures at the time of this construction project. As a permanent post protecting the central section of the Santa Fe Trail, Fort Larned would have three companies of Infantry for garrison and escort duties and one company of Cavalry for a mobile pursuit and defense force. At this point the enlisted men were quartered in two adobe barracks (each accommodating one company), in dugouts along the banks of the Pawnee Fork, and tents.

Company Quarters HS-1 & HS-2
Company Quarters, Fort Larned NHS, looking west. Today the west building
contains staff offices, visitor center, museum, and auditorium; the east building
includes historic furnishings for squad room, sergeant's quarters,
kitchen, mess hall, surgeon's office, and hospital.

     Construction plans for the company quarters called for two sets of stone barracks, each designed to hold two companies. The original plans have been lost but were most likely drawn in the summer of 1866 by either an officer or enlisted man familiar with masonry or carpentry. The quarters were simple one-story rectangular buildings covered by shingled roofs. The west building, which was designed for infantry, was 150 by 43 feet, while the east building, used for cavalry was 172 by 43 feet. Sometime in 1868 kitchens and storerooms were built on to the back of each barracks, giving them a "T" form. Wooden porches on the front, 10 1/2 feet wide, completed the buildings.

     Both structures were built of sandstone, following Quartermaster policy of constructing army buildings from available local materials, with lime cement used for mortar. The woods elements, including supports, joists, rafters, roofing, shingles, and flooring used lumber either locally obtained or (mostly) shipped in from the East. The interiors were partitioned, lathed, plastered, and whitewashed to finish out the buildings.

     Although much better than the quarters the enlisted men had before, these buildings were hardly luxurious, providing only simple plain quarters. Heat came from cast-iron stoves; water for washing, cooking, and fire prevention was stored in barrels placed around the buildings. There were no washrooms so the men washed and shaved in the tin basins in the squad room. Privies were located behind the quarters.

     The furnishings were minimal and, unlike in the offices quartered, were provided by the army. The squad rooms had double-tiered bunks, with four men to each (two up and two down), rifle racks were at the foot of the bunk, and a hook strip for hanging clothes ran around the wall of the room. The mess rooms had long tables and benches covered with oil cloth. The men probably ate from tin mess outfits, unless they purchased white porcelain chinaware and tin tableware from a company fund.

     Buildings at frontier posts often served different functions, depending on the immediate needs of the local posts. The floor plans for the barracks at Fort Larned shows that these company quarters served different functions at various times during the army period. The west barracks was used for infantry company quarters from 1868 to 1878 while the east barracks had several different uses. From 1868 to 1874 it was used for cavalry quarters; from 1871 to 1875 it was used for both company quarters and the post hospital; from 1875 to 1878 it was the post hospital, as well as the laundress and commissary sergeant's quarters.

Squad Room
Furnished Squad Room Today

     Although the quarters for the enlisted men on frontier posts did not provide much room or privacy, they did provide them with sturdy and comfortable quarters while in the army. In a letter to General U.S. Grant after a tour of the posts under command in the spring of 1967, General Sherman outlined his reasons for requesting money for improving post buildings: "We cannot expect troops to be worth anything, if we winter them in holes, and force them to fight with rats, bed-bugs and fleas for existence." The company quarters weren't fancy, but they kept the enlisted men out of the "holes" at Fort Larned before their construction.

     These two buildings were converted into one large barn during the farming/ranching years and have been restored to original appearance by the National Park Service.

Maintenance Report
by William Chapman, Facility Manager
     Maintenance and Ranger staff opened a viewshed from the revitalized wayside exhibits in the park's picnic area. Visitors using the facilities at the picnic area can now view three panel wayside exhibits and can see the blockhouse and the cemetery from this point as well. Earlier this spring, Rangers Seymour and Bethke, along with Maintenance Worker Barker, felled trees, cut saplings along the river banks, and mowed fields of hemlock to make this part of the Fort visible from this vantage point. We hope this view encourages rest area users to look out across the prairie to the Fort and stop in and visit for a while.

     In addition to the creation of this viewshed with the new interpretive signage, new signs have been erected at the parking lot kiosk and along the walkway to the bridge. Soon, a new sign will be posted at the detached ruts site as well. Stop by and see the progress for yourself.

     New faces are seen at Fort Larned National Historic Site this summer. Maintenance worker Dan Coaty reported for duty on June 28. Dan will be caring for the grounds and doing operational maintenance. In July Troy Rogers joined staff. Troy will be the new Maintenance Mechanic, filling the void left with Jim Goatcher's retirement. More information about these gentlemen will appear in future editions of Outpost once they had time to settle into the community.

     North Officers' Quarters (HS-9) contract is proceeding well. Some structural issues have slowed the progress a little, but those have been resolved. Recently, windows have been installed along with repairs to the flooring.

     Park mason Bruce Kozlowski retired at the end of June. We wish him the best in as he goes to his next challenge.

Traveling Trunks Extension of Fort Larned National Historic Site
by Supt. Kevin McMurry
     During the school year of 2009-2010, Fort Larned National Historic Site was pleased to sponsor the "Traveling Trunks" educational programs conducted by Fort Larned Volunteer David Clapsaddle. Through his generous contribution of time, knowledge of area history, and teaching expertise, David worked with 23 public and private schools from Junction City, Kansas, to Lamar, Colorado, bringing history to life for almost 3,000 students in grades 3 through 7. Each presentation is enhanced by a trunk filled with artifacts related to a children's story written by Dr. Clapsaddle.

     Charley's Trunk tells the story of Charles Parker, the son of an army officer, who in 1967 traveled to Fort Larned from Fort Riley by way of Forts Harker and Zarah, just before the Cheyenne/Sioux village was destroyed by order of General Winfield S. Hancock. Along the way, young Charles accumulates a number of keepsakes which he stores away in his new trunk, a replica in miniature of his father's trunk, which was a gift to him on his 12th birthday.

     I Heard a Coyote Howl involves a Cheyenne boy named Box Elder living in the above-mentioned Indian village at the time of its destruction. The trunk used in this unit is not a trunk in the usual sense of the word. Rather it is a parfleche made of rawhide which Plains Indians used for storage, sometimes called an Indian suitcase. The story tells the account of the Hancock expedition and the burning of the village through the eyes of a Cheyenne youth, a different perspective than that usually held.

     The Little Red House tells the story of the Little Red House in first person, giving the building the human qualities of speech and memory. The Little Red House was Larned's first building. Originally, the sutler's mess hall at Fort Larned, it was moved to the future site in 1872 where it became the first post office, restaurant, hotel, dance hall, saloon, church, courthouse, and school. The trunk represents the chest owned by James Worrell, one of the early residents of the Little Red House who was a former officer during the Civil War. It is packed with items related to Larned's first school taught by Worrell's 16-year-old daughter, Isabel.

     This fall, Clapsaddle will introduce yet another traveling trunk program based on his new book titles A Long Way to Santa Fe. This story tells the tale of a 10-year-old boy who accompanies his father, the proprietor of a wagon train, to Santa Fe in 1850. The narrative takes the reader some 750 miles on the Santa Fe Trail from Westport, Missouri, across Kansas to the ancient capitol of New Mexico. The trunk, an actual nineteenth-century chest of Mexican origin, is packed with hands-on artifacts relative to the story.

     As with all the Traveling Trunk presentations, there is no cost to the school as this is completely underwritten by Fort Larned National Historic Site. Ranger guided tours of Fort Larned and/or the Cheyenne and Sioux Village site are available in conjunction with Dr. Clapsaddle's classroom programs. Interested teachers can contact Clapsaddle at 620-285-3295 or by mail at 215 Mann, Larned, KS 67550 for further information.

Post Commander: Bvt. Major Henry W. Wessells
by Zack Corpus, Park Guide
     Captain (Brevet Major) Henry Walton Wessells, Company G, Second U.S. Infantry, arrived at Camp Alert with two companies of the Second U.S. Infantry on May 4, 1860, with orders to assume command of the post and construct a permanent installation. The presence of Captain Wessells and his men increased the post garrison to 160 men. His tenure also brought about construction of permanent structures and the renaming of the fort in honor of Paymaster General Benjamin F. Larned.

     Henry Wessells was born February 20, 1809, in Litchfield, Connecticut. He was appointed from Connecticut as a cadet to the U.S. Military Academy on July 1, 1829, graduated 29th in the class of 1833, and was given a commission as a brevet 2nd lieutenant in the Second U.S. Infantry. During the period from 1837-1840, Wessells served with his regiment in the Florida Seminole Wars. Several journal entries from a fellow soldier, First Lieutenant Amos B. Eaton, mention the orders sending the Second Infantry, with Lieutenant Wessells, to Florida.

     "In obedience to the above order the Garrison of Fort Howard in command of Bvt Maj Hoffman, Surgn Satterlee, Lieutenents Eaton, Hill Patton, Bowford, Wessells, Anderson & Patrick.

"The Battalion arrived at Fort Hamilton N.Y. on the evening of the 6th of Sept 37
     "Adjt Genls Office
     Washington Sept 13, 37"

     "General Order No. 60. The Battalion of the 2nd Regt of Infty- consisting of four companies, now at Fort Hamilton, will immediately proceed to Tampa bay, Florida.
     "By order of Maj GI Macomb
     "(Signed) R Jones
     "Adjt Genl"

     As the Second Infantry's campaigns in Florida came to an end, the men boarded ships for the journey back to the northeast. Lieutenant Eaton, as they sailed north, mentioned a meeting in the waters off the coast of Florida between the officers of the Second Infantry and the paymaster officer whose name would be extremely important in the history of Kansas, Major Benjamin Larned.

     "23 Nov. After much delay & some disappointments in regards to a Steam boat, got on board the schooners. Maj Hoffman, Sargt. Stinneeke, Lieuts. Eaton, Bowford, Wessells & Andrews, & "D" "G" & "H" Companies on board the Schr. Sarah & Capt. Morris, Lieut. Patrick & "A" Company on boars the Schr. Pilot -- were just getting under sail, when the Pilot getting aground & evening in stop both schrs for the night. At day break, finding the Pilot off, both set sail & proceeded (beating the wind ahead) down the bay (Tampa). During the previous evening, rec'd a message from a boat passing up the Fort, that some officers on board a schr. near by would be glad to see up. After tea some of us. went on board & to our great pleasure found our old friend Maj. Larned - 9 days from N. Orleans. He gave us much political & other news."

Major Henry Walton Wessells
Henry Walton Wessells

     Wessellls very well could have been a member of the party to greet Larned, meeting the namesake of the fort he would one day command. It is interesting to note this "old friendship," as it may well have determined the eventual name of the Camp on the Pawnee Fork.

     Wessells then served in the Mexican-American War and was promoted to captain February 16, 1847. He fought at Contreras, sizing the regimental flag on the death of the color-sergeant and leading his men onward, despite being wounded. For his conduct in Contreras and at the Battle of Churubusco, Wessells was brevetted a major. The state of Connecticut awarded him a jeweled sword, "for distinguished services at Vera Cruz, Cerro Gordo, Contreras, and Churubusco." Followng the 1848 Treaty of Gaudalupe Hidalgo, Wessells werved on the Pacific Coast until 1855 when he joined the western Indian campaigns against the Sioux.

     In 1860 after five years on the western plains, Wessells left the Kansas post of Fort Riley with two companies of Second Infantry and his orders to procced to Camp Alert to relieve Lieutenant David Bell. With continued tensions on the prairie, Major Wessells was charged with the oversight of construction projects at Camp Alert, which was moved a short distance to the new site. The sod buildings erected by the first garrison in late 1859 were abandoned and adobe structures were erected at the new location, which was renamed Fort Larned on May 29, 1860.

     Construction of adobe buildings continued through the remainder of 1860, including an officers' quarters, two storehouses/barracks (one building housed the commissary storehouse and barracks for one company), a guardhouse, two laundresses' quarters, and a hospital. Later, a bakery, meat house, and shops building were added. These structures served Fort Larned until sandstone buildings were erected during 1866-1868.

     During and after this time of construction at Fort Larned, the garrison continued to protect the nearby mail station, provide escorts for the mails, and protect other travelers. Despite the increased military presence at Fort Larned some hostilities continued. At the Walnut Creek Ranch near the Walnut Creek crossing of the Santa Fe Road, east of present Great Bend, Kansas, the owner, George H. Peacock of Independence, Missouri, and several other civilians were killed by a group of Kiowas led by Satank. The Walnut Creek Ranch was one of the first trading posts and mail stations set up in the Pawnee Fork area. Major Wessells wrote in a report on September 9, 1860, Mr. Geo. Peacock and two other persons were treacherously murdered at Walnut Creek on Sunday last by a party of ten Indians." The West Port Border Star from Kansas City gave an additional account,

     "Mr. Geo. H. Peacock, formerly of Independence, was killed on last Sunday week by a Kiowa chief named Satank. Satank and two or three others of the tribe reconnoitered around Peacock's Ranch until an opportunity offered when they fired on him, one ball entering his left temple killing him instantly. They then fired upon a man named Myers, a German, also from Independence and wounded him so that he died in a short time. There was another man in the house lying sick, but he was not molested. The Indians then loaded themselves with considerable plunder and left."

     Despite these renewed tensions on the prairie, a great threat was looming in the East as the Civil War drew closer at the close of 1860. In November 1860 Wessells was transferred from Fort Larned, replaced by Lieutenant Lloyd Beall, Second Infantry. For his service, Wessells was promoted to major in the Sixth U.S. Infantry in June 1861 and soon after, promoted to colonel of the 8th Kansas Volunteer Infantry, Engaged in fighting on the Kansas-Missouri border. In march 1862 Wessells was transferred to the Army of Potomac and commissioned a brigadier-general of volunteers. His main battles took place in Virginia and North Carolina, including command of the town of Plymouth, North Carolina, at its capture by Confederate forces. He was confined at four different prisoner of war camps until exchanged August 3, 1864. After his exchange, Wessells served as the Federal Commissary-General of Prisoners. Brigadier General Henry Walton Wessells retired January 1, 1871, to his hometown of Litchfield, Connecticut.

     There he settled down with his third wife, Caroline E. Wadsworth. In January 1889 Wessells came down with an illness and traveled to Dover, Delaware, to spend the winter. According to his obituary, "he stood the journey well but died within forty-eight hours of his arrival." The day was January 12, 1889. The general was buried within the Wadsworth burial plot of the Litchfield Cemetery, next to his mother and father-in-law, his wife, and Caroline's infant sister. His short time as commander of Fort Larned was a small part of his military career, but for Fort Larned it was the time of construction of the first permanent buildings at the new location. Construction begun during his tenure served the post garrison until the sandstone structures were erected after the Civil War.

Historic Ambulance Travels to Fort Scott
by Nathan King, Park Ranger
     On June 5 and 6, 2010, Fort Larned's 1871 Washington ambulance made an appearance at Fort Scott National Historic Site as part of the city's "Good Ol' Days" celebration. The ambulance was displayed in front of the visitor center along with other military vehicles from the past and present, including humvees and a CH 47D Chinook helicopter that dramatically landed on the Fort Scott parade ground.

1871 Washington Model Ambulance
Ranger Nathan King with the Fort Larned NHS ambulance
at the Fort Scott Visitor Center, unme 5, 2010

     The 1871 Washington model ambulance was a modification to the 1863 Rucker ambulance used by the Union Army in the Civil War. These horse-drawn wagons saw service until the 1930's when President Franklin D. Roosevelt ordered the army to sell off its wagons. Fort Larned's wagon was one of these Rucker ambulances sold by the army. Found in the woods of Tennessee decades later, the wagon was obtained through the efforts of the Fort Larned Old Guard and restored to its current condition by Fort Larned National Historic Site Volunteer Ron Drummond. The bright yellow Washington ambulance is permanently displayed in the Shops Building at Fort Larned National Historic Site.

     Fort Scott was established in 1842 and bore witness to the political, social, and cultural upheaval on mid-19th-century Kansas. Fort more information about Fort Scott National Historic Site visit {}.

My Trip To Bent's Old Fort National Historic Site
by Chaz Beckwith, Park Guide
     On June 11, 2010, I got to take a really interesting trip with several other staff members to Bent's Old Fort National Historic Site near La Junta, Colorado. Bent's Old Fort features a reconstructed 1840s adobe fur-trading post on the Mountain Route of the Santa Fe Trail where traders, trappers, travelers, and Plains Indian tribes came together in peaceful terms for trade. It was Bent's 50th anniversary as a National Park and we were asked to come demonstrate for visitors how Fort Larned's 12 pound mountain howitzer would have been fired in the 1860s.

Bent's Old Fort
Bent's Old Fort National Historic Site

     Our three-day trip to La Junta was exciting. The evening we arrived, some Boy Scouts showed us examples of the diverse types of Indian dances that were done back in those times. It was a very neat show with all the different clothing and headdresses and music. The next day was also filled with much excitement as all of Bent's Old Fort came to life with living history and also living animals. They had oxen, horses, mules, peacocks, and chickens which just gave the fort the essence of the time period. Throughout the day we fired off the cannon six times for demonstrations.

     Bent's Old Fort is really interesting. Even though it has been completely reconstructed, it matches the original fort perfectly and gives visitors the closest experience possible of life at the fort in that time period. For more information on Bent's Old Fort National Historic Site visit {}.

Fort Larned: A Pivotal Point on the Santa Fe Trail
by David K. Clapsaddle
     [Clapsaddle, Larned, Kansas is an active member of Fort Larned Old Guard and writes about the history of Fort Larned, the Santa Fe Trail and other regional topics. Special thanks to his for preparing this article for Outpost]

     In the vicinity of Present Larned, Kansas, the Santa Fe Trail split into two separate branches, the Wet Route and the Dry Route. The Wet Route's eastern terminus was at the Pawnee River crossing near present Larned. From that point, it followed the north bank of the Arkansas River to the river's south bend near present Ford, Kansas, where it made an abrupt turn to the north west following the Arkansas to two different junctions with the Dry Route. At some time, the Wet Route lost favor with the Santa Fe traders who chose to travel the Dry Route, shorter than the Wet Route by half a day's travel. [1]

     Such in evident in the writings of Mathew Field. His article titled "The Lost Track," reads in part, "From the Arkansas to el Rio De Panamas or the point the Americans call Pawnee Fork, there runs two tracks, one of which has not been used for many years and is now almost obliterated." [2]

     Further testimony to the stagnation of the Wet Route comes from Susan Magoffin. Her husband's trade caravan, following in the wake of army troops at the advent of the Mexican War, arrived at the Pawnee River crossing in August 1846. Her diary entry for August 11 reads, "All the companies are before us, or rather they have taken a new road along the river." [3] The myriad of animals used by the Army of the West required water in vast amounts not available on the Dry Route in use at that time. Consequently, troops resorted to the Wet Route; and from that date forward, the Wet Route began to regain its prominence.

     The Dry Route was represented by three separate variants. The original Dry Route veered west-southwest from the Wet Route at Forks in Santa Fe Road three-and-a-half miles southwest of the Pawnee River crossing. From that point, the road continued to the crossing of Big Coon Creek, three-and-a-half miles west of present Kinsley, Kansas. From there, the road proceeded on to merge with the Wet Route at Caches, just west of present Dodge City, Kansas At some unknown date, another road was initiated at Big Coon Creek running southwest to a point ten miles east of Caches, one mile east of the location later chosen for the establishment of Fort Dodge. For a period of time, both roads from Big Coon Creek were simultaneously used; but by 1859, the road to the Caches became obsolete. It should be noted that with the establishment of mail service between Independence, Missouri, and Santa Fe, New Mexico, in 1850, the Dry Route was used exclusively by the mail wagons. As an anonymous writer (reputed to be 2nd Lt. William D. Whipple) reported in 1852, "The Santa Fe mail riders, it is understood, always take this dry route" [4]

     The year of 1859 was a decisive date as related to the Wet and Dry routes. In October of that year, mail contractors Hall & Porter established a mail station on the Pawnee River, six miles upstream from its confluence with the Arkansas River. At the same time, Camp on Pawnee Fork (precursor to Fort Larned) was located nearby. [5] Consequently, the eastern terminus of the Dry Route was removed from Forks in Santa Fe Road to a point one mile southwest of Ash Creek crossing just north of the present Larned, Kansas Airport. From there a second variant of the Dry Route proceeded west-southwest to cross the Pawnee at the west edge of the present Larned State Hospital campus, and continued up the south bank of the stream too the mail station and the nearby post. From there, the second variant of the Dry Route marched southwest to Big Coon Creek crossing and on to merge with the Wet Route at the location ten miles east of the Caches. [6]

     With the establishment of the mail station and Fort Larned, the army developed a short length of road which ran southwest on the Dry Route some two-and-a-half miles before turning due south to merge with the Wet Route one mile southwest of present Garfield, Kansas, at the Coon Creek crossing. This road allowed wagon trains supplying Fort Larned to travel a brief distance to the Wet Route where an ample supply of water was available for the hundreds of animals requisite for the wagon trains. [7] It should be noted that, by the time of Fort Larned's advent, the vast majority of American traffic on the Santa Fe Trail was military in nature and Fort Larned was one of the many post supplied by freighting companies contracted by the army.

     Concomitant with the transfer of the post office at the mail station to the sutler's store at Fort Larned, a third variant of the Dry Route departed the eastern terminus southwest of Ash Creek to take another course to the north bank on the Pawnee River. This third variant was labeled Santa Fe Stage Route by Lt. M. R. Braun with the Hancock expedition of 1867. [8] Following the stream as it curled around the northwest corner of Fort Larned, the road forded the Pawnee and entered the confines of the post near the sutler's store. In 1868 a bridge was constructed at this location to accommodate the traffic. [9] Like the second variant, the third departed the post to the southwest to cross Big Coon Creek and continue on to the Wet and Dry routes junction near Fort Dodge. [10]

     Thus, Fort Larned became a prominent pivotal point on the Santa Fe Trail. Freight wagons departing the post on the Dry Route turned south to the Coon Creek crossing to strike the Wet Route. As Captain William J. Lyster reported, "It was customary for all ox trains going west from Fort Larned to take the wet trail." [11] Mail wagons left the post to travel the Dry Route as had been their practice since the earliest days of the mail service.

     Modern travelers on the Santa Fe Trail (to borrow a line from Marc Simmons) will find the routes discussed in the above treatment to be marked by the Wet/Dry Routes Chapter at the following locations: Pawnee River Crossing (Wet Route), Forks in Santa Fe Road, Big Coon Creek Crossing, the Caches, the Wet/Dry Routes Junction, Eastern Terminus of Dry Route southwest of Ash Creek Crossing, Pawnee River Crossing (Dry Route), Post 1866 Dry Route one mile east of the Fort Larned National Historic Site, ruts of the road from Fort Larned to Coon Creek Crossing, and the Caches.


  1. David K. Clapsaddle, "The Wet and Dry Routes of the Santa Fe Trail," Kansas History 15 (Summer 1992): 102-108.

  2. John E Sunder, ed, Matt Field on the Santa Fe Trail (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1995), 291,

  3. Stella M. Drumm, ed, Down the Santa Fe Trail and Into Mexico (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1962), 48.

  4. Louise Barry, The Beginning of the West (Topeka: Kansas State Historical Society, 1972), 1092.

  5. David K. Clapsaddle, "The Dry Route Revisited," Overland Journal 17 (Summer 1999): 1-4.

  6. ibid., 4-5

  7. David K. Clapsaddle, A Directory of Santa Fe Trail Sites (Larned, Kansas: Wet/Dry Routes Chapter of the Santa Fe Trail 1999), G-1, G-7.

  8. The Hancock Expedition, Letters Received by the Office of the Adjutant General, 1867, Record Group 94, Roll 563, National Archives & Records Service.

  9. Record Group 393, Roll 2, Letters Sent, Letters Received, Fort Larned National Historic Site.

  10. Clapsaddle, The Dry Route, 5.

  11. Capt. William J. Lyster, Commanding Officer, Fort Larned, to Asst. Adjutant General, Department of Missouri, May 28, 1977, Post Orders, Letters Sent and Letters Received, Records of the U.S. Army Continental Commands. 1821-1920. Record Group 393, Roll 2 pt. 1 National Archives & Records Service.

Reminiscences of Indian Wars, Part II
by Colonel John H. Page, Third Infantry
     (The introduction and part I of this memoir appeared in the last issue and is concluded here.)

     I wrote a letter to Larned suggesting a hunting and fishing trip to Walnut Creek, but the reply to my missive dashed all my hopes of picnicking to the skies; it informed me that they had just received news of a bloody raid on the Solomon river; that the Indian Camps had disappeared during the night and General Sully would soon be at Fort Dodge to organize a column of troops, to push south of the Arkansas River. The news of this diabolical raid in the Solomon and Republican valleys was soon verified, and was the beginning of the Indian War of 1868 that waged off and on for many years.

     The horrible atrocities committed by the savages aroused General Sheridan, who authorized General Sully to follow the Indians south of the Arkansas to select a site for a camp of supply, for a expedition to be undertaken later in the season, as soon as the General could collect enough troops, transportation and supplies for a winter campaign. The news that the Indians were on the war path was more pleasing than an uncertainty. We resumed our usual vigilance; we were up at sunrise every morning to guard against a surprise. The troop and mule herds were guarded by an armed guard. All emigrant trains were organized so there would be not less than 100 men present armed before they were permitted to proceed on their journey across the plains.

     All communications for Fort Larned were sent by couriers, well mounted, ready to give heed to any roaming party of Indians they might encounter.

     One morning I was at the Adjutant's office; Corporals (Patrick) Boyle of the 7th Cavalry and (Leander) Herron of "A" Company, 3rd Infantry, reported mounted, ready to carry dispatches to Fort Larned. Corporals Boyle and Herron while waiting for the mail were carefully examining their cinches, carbines and revolvers, I asked them how their mounts were. Corporal Boyle replied, "The best in the stable," he said he "kind of felt there were something in the air," he did not know what, but they were both well heeled and he felt no fear. I watched them ride off and meeting Captain (William) Thompson of the 7th Cav. told him about Boyle and Herron. The Captain said he felt it in his bones that something was up, and he had given them the best horses in the troop; that the men had rubbed the horses down for a race, that their arms had been cleaned for them and the ammunition picked for them, and a God Speed had been given them by their comrades. About two hours later, I again met Captain Thompson. He was looking down the road towards Fort Larned and said, "Well Page, I guess everything is alright." No sooner were the words out of his mouth, when we heard the rattle of revolver shots and saw a horseman followed by others coming at a break neck speed. We knew what it meant and yelled out; "Here they come!" quick as a flash the foot soldiers grabbed their rifles and ran towards the coming horsemen. The Cavalry men ran for their horses. On, on came the rider, the redskins close after and emptying their revolvers after him. As soon as the pursued saw he was riding into our lines, he deliberately slacked his speed and delivered the content of his pistol at his pursuers. The Indians gave up the race and turned back.

     The rider did not stop as he reached the Infantry skirmish line but rode up to us and dismounted. It was Corporal Boyle of the 7th Cavalry, he soon told his story.

     When nearing Little Coon Creek some twelve miles from the post, they saw some objects moving around at a quick pace, suspecting they were Indians, they took to a hollow and when nearer heard shots. Approaching nearer they saw a government wagon surrounded by the savages and realized there was an unequal fight on hand. Corporal Herron told Boyle to give him his ammunition, to drop his carbine and make the run for Fort Dodge, that he, Herron, would ride into the wagon and help his comrades. This was all he said, but it was enough. In a few minutes the troopers were riding to save life, the Infantry on mules, horses, ponies, loaded down with ammunition and their long toms (50 caliber Springfield breech loaders), were speeding after them.

     The excitement in the garrison was intense. There were several detachments absent on escort duty and their friends were wondering which party was surrounded. The women were in tears as their husbands rode to the rescue. Several squads of men were down the road on high knolls and could see the trail to Larned for some miles, others were on the bluff in rear of the post.

     Waiting for news from friends in peril is always painful; time seems to drag and minutes grow longer. We kept our eyes on the lookouts on the bluff, they had glasses and were watching the other lookouts down the road. We were becoming impatient when suddenly a wild cheer and waving of hats on the bluff relieved our minds; we knew that the beleaguered party had been relieved, that the good news had been transmitted by the waving of hats all along the line. Soon the returning column was in sight and on its arrival much rejoicing and shaking of hands was indulged in.

     It seems that the party of five men with their six mule team were jumped by a war party of Indians, estimated at over fifty warriors, some 2 or 3 miles from Little Coon Creek.

     Fortunately they were at the time on the open level prairie, and had time to get ready to receive the murderous gang. Having a good supply of ammunition, and plenty of pluck, they held them in check and kept moving on. Mule after mule were shot down until they were reduced to a spike team, the remaining ones being wounded. Three of the party were wounded, but were able to handle their rifles from the wagon. They managed to reach the creek and get their wagon in a small cut that afforded them some shelter. Here by keeping cool and not wasting any ammunition they were holding their own, when Corporal Herron with a cheer rode into them. His appearance was a surprise to the Indians and gave our men new confidence, added a supply of ammunition, one more weapon with a brave man to handle it, to the sorely pressed little band.

     The Indians for a little while were some what demoralized, expecting Corporal Herron was an advance guard of a larger party; they scattered to the high ground around to make an investigation; this occasion was utilized to bind up the wounds of the wounded, to strengthen their position and make plans for the fight they knew would soon be renewed. The redskins were not long recovering from their surprise and began their attack again, but there was one more brave soldier to face; they had lost several of their warriors; they realized there was no demoralization among the little band of white men, now well sheltered and delivering a murderous and telling fire. The punishment they had received made them more cautious, and then the white man was carrying the news to Fort Dodge if his pursuers did not stop him in his race.

     The fighting on the part of the redskins began to flag, they were looking for the soldiers from the Fort; our little party appreciated the status of affairs; waving their hats, they gave a cheer of defiance and sent a volley into the foe, to show them, that they were on deck yet.

     The sudden disappearance of the savages was evidence that help was on hand and in a short time the bold troops rode into their midst.

     We congratulated our men on their bravery and good soldierly qualities displayed under such trying circumstances.

     The wagon was perforated by shots and would have made a good pepper box. The mules were wounded but had been bandaged, and looked like veterans as they were. The teamsters gathered around them and expressed their admiration for the poor brutes; for we loved our mules in those days, they were our constant companions. A good bed of hay, an extra food and washing down awaited them; they became the heroes of the corral.

     This incident called forth the following order,
     General Orders No. 1
     Headquarters in the field,
     District of the upper Arkansas,
     Near Fort Dodge, Sept. 4, 1868.

     On the 2nd day of September 1868, Corporal James Goodwin, "B" Troop 7th Cavalry, privates John O'Donnel Company "A" Charles Hartman, company "H" C. Tolan, Company "F" 3rd U. S. Infantry, while on duty returning to Fort Dodge in a 6 mule team wagon, were attacked by about 50 Indians 12 miles from that post.

     This small party gallantly defended themselves and kept the savages at bay, although three of their number were badly wounded.

     About this time the mail carriers from the Fort, Corporals Patrick Boyle, B troop 7th Cavalry, and Leander Herron, Company A 3rd Infantry, reached them. Corporal Herron remained to assist his comrades, while Corporal Boyle retreated to the Fort pursued by 4 Indians but succeeded in reaching the post. Very soon after the party were relieved by a detachment of cavalry.

     It is known that three Indians were killed and one badly wounded. The coolness, good judgment, and gallant conduct of these soldiers calls for this official notice of their conduct.

     By command of Bvt. Brig. General Alfred Sully,
     M. W. Keogh,
     Captain 7th Cavalry
     Bvt. Col. U. S. A., A. A. G. and A.A.A. General

     General Sully arrived from Fort Larned, troops had been ordered to concentrate at Fort Dodge. The General said he intended to give me the command of the Infantry battalion, so my company was relieved from duty at the post and went into camp a half mile below, where companies "B" and "E", 3rd Infantry, and a troop of the 7th Cavalry soon joined. As the 10th Cavalry "Troops" reported they were assigned a camp across the river opposite the Post. The rule was early to bed, early to rise except for the night owls that are usually found in all camps.

     One beautiful morning at reveille, my attention was called to a long train about a mile and half away, coming on the river road from Fort Larned, the mirage made the wagons look like balloons.

     The men had gone to the river to wash, some of the Officers had wandered over to the foot of the bluff some 300 yards from camp. At the base of the bluff a little to our right, some workmen were loading a lime kiln. All of a sudden I heard a war whoop and rattle of revolvers. The Indians were coming down the bluff en masse.

     Lieutenant (Joseph) Hale who was blessed with long legs and good wind was coming like a race horse for camp with the redskins at his heels, but he was a good match for any Indian pony.

     One of the workmen at the Kiln instead of going inside of it, made a run for our camp. Although he had a revolver in his hand, he lost his head, did not attempt to use it and was run down and shot.

     The footmen seized their rifles and belts, poured a volley into the Indians who scampered back to the bluff, and then started on the run down the river for the wagon train. The troopers slung their carbines, bridled horses and were mounting bare back; jumping on my pony I started after my command. Every time the Indians attempted to come down the bluff for the train, our long range rifles drove them back; they were a new revelation to the redmen.

     We could see by the way the wagon train was spreading out that they had taken the alarm and were forming a corral. I was expecting every moment to see the 7th Cavalry troopers pass me like the wind and was surprised when the 10th Cavalry were, he replied eating breakfast. Returning to camp I found the Captain of the troop waiting for me, he wanted authority to place the Lieutenant in arrest. He said he was at the post when the alarm sounded that the 10th Cavalry forded the river and rode through my camp, that when the dust had settled he saw his horses at the picket line and knew there was something wrong; reaching his troop, he found the horses bridled, the men with slings and pouches on, sullenly eating their breakfast. Asking what was the matter, the Sergeant said they were starting for the Indians when the Lieutenant made them dismount and told them to take a little bite before they started on a campaign. To the queries of his Captain this subaltern said that in his four years course at West Point, he was impressed with the important fact, that an army travels on its belly, and he had told the men to take a bite before going after the savages. This troop through no fault of its own, but by the idiosyncrasies of its Lieutenant, was called "the take a bite."

     A few days later, we were startled by hearing a Gettysburg rattle of musketry; rushing out of our tents we saw the men along the bank of the river firing at a band of Indians who were chasing and firing at a herd of ponies on the opposite side of the river. To our surprise as they neared us, the Chief dashed into the river, scrambled to a sand bar, jumped off his pony, lay flat on the sand and waved his sombrero. Some of us then recognized Romeo our scout and with much difficulty stopped the firing.

     Romeo was a swarthy dark complexioned Mexican, who had been stolen when a boy by the Indians, his hair was long, hung down his back and he rode and looked like an Indian. He was herding his scouts ponies when the Indians jumped him the firing was at him, but our men thought he was the Chief and tried their best to bring him down. Romeo was very indignant at the was the bullets tore up the sand around him, he swore in Indian, Mexican and emphatic American, and wanted to know "if we did not know the difference between a white man and an Indian." In conversation with the General, he told me that the last time he had seen Black Kettle, he informed him he was going to assemble his soldiers at Fort Dodge and penetrate into the Indian Country. Black Kettle said he would make one more effort to control the young men, and would go in his wagon flying a white flag, to the soldier camp at Fort Dodge and make a final report, so when the orderly reported a vehicle across the river flying the white flag, the General was not surprised as he had confidence in Black Kettle and was expecting to see him.

     Romeo brought the Indian across the river on a pony to the General's tent. When he told the same old story about the young bucks not listening to him, and that the soldiers would have to run them down, that he himself would not go on the war path as he recognized the white man had come to stay and there was no show for the red man to drive them out of the country. He escorted the old Chief to the river, where his squaw was waiting for him on the opposite bank; shaking hands, he gave a long sigh and turned his back on us forever.

     The sun was setting in the golden sky, the General watched the savage's wagon as it grew dim in the distance; he was in deep thought and no doubt thinking of the bloody trails he had followed in the Minnesotas and Dakotas of the North and now it was to be in the south.

     Waving his hand in the direction of the disappearing Chief he exclaimed, "It is settled; that is the trail we will follow; it is not strewn with roses."

Santa Fe Trail Rendezvous, September 16-19, 2010
by Ruth Olson Peters
     (Ruth is Director of the Santa Fe Trail Center and a charter member of the Old Guard. She heads the committee organizing the Rendezvous.)

     All Fort Larned Old Guard members and volunteers at Fort Larned National Historic Site are invited to attend the biennial Santa Fe Trail Rendezvous, Sponsored by Fort Larned National Historic Site the Santa Fe Trail Center, and the National Santa Fe Trail, September 16-19, 2010 at Larned, Kansas. The theme this year is "Communication on the Santa Fe Trail." A grant from the Kansas Humanities Council will help cover expenses for speakers and promotion. Assistance for the Rendezvous will also be provided by the National Trails System - Inter-mountain Region of the National Park Service. We are appreciative of the support from the Kansas Humanities Council and the National Park Service.

     The Rendezvous will convene Friday morning at the Larned Community Center with Santa Fe Trail Manager Harry Myers of Santa Fe, New Mexico, giving the introduction to the theme and the first presentation "Before the protection care of the nation, "Mail Service on the Santa Fe Trail up to 1850." David Clapsaddle, historian from Larned, Kansas and current president of the Wet/Dry Routes Chapter of the Santa Fe Trail, will speak next on "Regular Mail Service on the Santa Fe Trail, 1850-1860." Dr. Michael Olsen Professor of History Emeritus, New Mexico Highlands University, and retired Instructor of History at Pike's Peak Community College in Colorado Springs, Colorado, will present "Mail on the Santa Fe Trail - 1860-1880: The Impact of Political and Technological Changes." His discussion will also provide information about the two territories that became states (Kansas and Colorado) during this time period.

     Otis Halfmoon, Nez Perce Tribal Elder and National Park Service Tribal Liaison in Santa Fe, New Mexico, will speak on "The Moccasin Telegraph." He will address communication as it relates to the Indian Tribes on the Santa Fe Trail both historically and today. The final presentation at the Community Center on Friday afternoon will be given by Dr. Susan Calafate Boyle, who will speak on "Commission Merchants: Anglo-Hispano Joint Business Ventures." She will discuss the Santa Fe Trail as a major commercial route bringing together individuals and businesses from a wide geographic area and how coordination and effective communication became key factors to the success of these operations. She will also discuss the establishment of multi-ethnic firms. Dr. Boyle works for the Long Distance Trails Group Office of the National Park Service in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

     The program will pickup again in the early evening at the J. A. Haas Building near the Community Center, including dinner, Santa Fe Trail Awards presentations, and a program, "My Life on the Santa Fe Trail" by Faye Gaines, owner of the historic Point of Rocks Ranch in New Mexico.

     The Saturday morning programs will reconvene at the Larned Community Center with Dr. Alexa Roberts, Superintendent of Bent's Old Fort National Historic Site, La Junta, Colorado, as the first speaker. She will present "Bent's Fort as a Mail Station on the Santa Fe Trail," and will talk in conjunction with Greg Holt, Park Ranger and Historian at Bent's Old Fort National Historic Site. Dr. Robert's presentation will discuss how the mail delivery system between St. Louis and Santa Fe developed and the role Bent''s Fort played as a stop along that route. Holt will talk about the importance and challenges of long-distance communications in the remote West during the mid-19th century.

     Dr. Leo Oliva will present the program "The Mail Station at Pawnee Fork and the Founding of Fort Larned." He will review the changing Indian-White relations in Kansas Territory following discovery of gold in the Rocky Mountains, changes in the U.S. Government contract for carrying mail on the Trail, attempts by a contractor to establish a mail station at Pawnee Fork, and military protection provided.

     Dr. Doug Scott, retired archaeologist from the National Park Service and current professor at the university of Nebraska, will speak on "The Mail Station at Fort Larned: Archaeological Reality of the Station." Dr. Scott conducted the archaeological work on this station in 1973 and 1974 for the National Park Service. He is most noted for his work at the Little Bighorn in the mid-1980's. He worked out a field methodology that has enabled archaeologists to systematically investigate battlefields. His work is internationally recognized.

     There will be a wrap-up session after Dr. Scott's presentation on Saturday afternoon. This session will include a panel of all speakers with interaction from the audience. It will be led by Harry Myers.

     The afternoon will continue with activities at Fort Larned National Historic Site, including a visit to the mail station site, living-history programs, retreat ceremony, dinner in the Quartermaster Storehouse, and a program, "Escorting Mail on the Santa Fe Road." The program will be in first-person account by Private Robert Morris Peck, Company K, First U.S. Cavalry, member of the troops that established Fort Larned and escorted mail on the Trail. Peck wrote detailed memoirs of his military life, and he will be portrayed by Dr. Oliva.

     Sunday, September 19, will feature a bus tour from Larned to Dodge City following the Dry Route of the Santa Fe Trail. The tour will be led by David Clapsaddle. The Dry Route was used by the mail companies almost exclusively in preference tot eh Wet Route. Participants will be limited to bus size, and the tour will be available in order of registration, with a waiting list if the bus fills.

     Members of the Fort Larned Old Guard will receive registration materials for Rendezvous 2010 early in August. For any questions regarding Rendezvous, please contact the Santa Fe Trail Center.

Annual Candlelight Tour October 9, 2010
by George Elmore
     The annual Fort Larned Candlelight Tour will be presented the evening of October 9. Visitors will once again have the opportunity to step back in time to witness events that took place while Fort Larned was an active post. Through various scenes, visitors will be given the illusion of seeing the Fort o a busy evening. The events depicted this year will pertain to the post cemetery and some of the deaths that took place at Fort Larned. Details of the scenes are gleaned from actual post records, diaries, and various letters. Reservations are required for the tour, and each tour is limited to 20 people. The first tour will leave the visitor center at 7:30pm and the last will begin at 10:15pm.

     Reservations can be made starting September 25, 2010, in person or by calling the Fort at 620-285-6911 between 9:00am and 4:30pm daily. This annual program is the most popular event held at the Fort and the tours fill quickly.

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 following the killing of Kiowa Chief Pawnee near Peacock's Ranch on Walnut Creek in September 1859. Peck was among troops escorting a westbound mail wagon. At Pawnee Fork the mail party (comprised of Michael Smith, Lawrence Smith, and Bill Cole) decided to continue without an escort.)

     When we halted to camp on the east side of the timber on Pawnee Fork, Conductor Smith told Lieut. Otis that as he had made such a short drive, and thought he was beyond all danger now, he believed he would drive on to Coon Creek, 10 miles further, before stopping for the night, assuring the Lieutenant that there was no necessity of the escort going any further. Bidding us good-by the mail party trotted on, and crossing the creek were soon lost to sight behind the strip of timber that borders the stream. Otis immediately posted a sentry on the high bluff overlooking the ford and also commanding a view of the road the mail party was on for several miles beyond; but as it was growing dusky the man on post saw but little of them after they left the creek. At dusk the sentinel was called in and the usual guard put around our camp.

A Tragedy
     Of what happened to the mail outfit after they left us I will here give in substance, as near as I can remember, the account given us by Bill Cole, the only survivor of the party, next morning.

     "Conductor Smith was out-riding, his brother was holding the lines, while I was lying in the wagon resting up. When we got along by Jone's Point, where the lone tree stands, 16 mounted Indians rode up out of the ravine, and making signs of friendship rode along with us, talking pleasantly in Mexican and by signs. They said they were Comanches, and professed great friendship, asking for some grub, which we gave them. I told the Smith boys that I was suspicious of them, but they guessed the Indians were all right. However, I shoved a cartridge into each one of the Sharp's rifles to be ready for row.

     "Suddenly at a signal from one of the Indians who seemed to be their leader one of them rode in front of the team and attempted to stop the mules, while the rest poured a shower of arrows into the conductor, and also into the wagon at me and the driver. I raised my rifle and shot the Indian at the head of the team, and he fell off his horse. I saw the conductor fall off his mule, probably dead; his brother, the driver keeled over in front of the wagon with several arrows in his body, the arrows they had been shooting at random through the wagon cover.

     "At the crack of my rifle, as the Indian I shot fell off his horse, the mules took fright and started on a wild run. It was getting dark, and seeing the Kiowas rushing ahead to stop the team I ran to the hind end of the wagon and tumbled out, and crawled away into the tall grass. as soon as they succeeded in stopping the team and found I was not in the wagon several of them came back afoot to look for me, while the rest were busy cutting the harness off the mules, plundering the wagon and scalping the two Smiths.

     "I had been bleeding some from my wounds, but didn't have time to examine them to see if they were serious; still, I didn't feel as I was getting weak or dying, so I concluded I wasn't hurt much. The party who seemed to be looking for me walked around through the grass and now and then one of them would come very near me. I thought I would certainly be found, but had resolved that the Indian who first stumbled over me should die right there, as I had my six-shooter in my hand and being on the ground in the tall grass he would have to walk right up over me before he could see me. I was afraid to move, as the least rustle of the grass would have given me away. I lay there very still--almost afraid to breath hard--as now and then I would hear one of them coming close to me, holding my pistol ready so that I could fire as soon as I was discovered. But luck seemed to favor me as one by one they moved away to where they had left their horses near the wagon, and in a little while I heard them riding away. I was still afraid to move, and for a long time after all sounds had died away I lay still for fear that some of the redskins were lying around watching for me.

     "The night was cold and my wounds began to hurt me so that I could lie still no longer, so I raised myself up--little at a time--peering cautiously around in the darkness, till I was on my feet. I felt stiff and sore. I could see the outline of the wagon standing on the prairie a little piece off, where the Indians had left it, but was afraid to go to it for fear that some of them might be watching for me. I was somewhat bewildered as to the points of the compass, and the sky being cloudy I could not see the stars to steer by.

A Narrow Escape
     "I concluded the only thing I could do was to try to make my way back to your camp and report what had happened, but could not tell what direction to go. In my excitement I forgot on which side of the road I was. Looking all around I saw a fire--a camp-fire seemingly a long way off. I knew that we must have been about three miles from the ford when we first met the Indians. We had probably gone a half mile further when they made the attack. I concluded that the fire was at the emigrant camp that I had noticed near the ford as we came across the creek and started to it. I was tedious walking through the grass and my wounds made me sore and stiff. It took me a long time to get near the fire, for I had to lie down and rest very often.

     "On coming near enough for the fire to see persons moving about it I was horrified to see it was surrounded by Indians who seemed to be broiling meat and eating. On realizing this I instantly dropped to the ground and lay very still for a while and then began crawling away as quietly as possible, fearful that I might make some little noise or otherwise attract their attention before I could get far enough away to be out of sight. I thought once they noticed me, as some of their horses which were standing around began looking at me and picking up their ears, which some of the Indians observing caused them to look in my direction, but they probably concluded it was a wolf attracted by the smell of their broiling meat. As the grass here as only short buffalo grass it afforded no cover and I had to crawl quite a ways before I dared to rise up and walk, but when I did I got away from the fire pretty lively for all I was so sore.

     "From what I saw of them I am certain it was the same party that had cleaned up out on the road, and as their horses were standing around saddled, I think they had just halted and made a buffalo-chip fire to cook and eat some meat and would go on.

A Friendly Camp
     "As I approached the camp-fire, and when yet a long ways off I noticed that it brightened up and died down by turns, which indicated that some one was astir, probably the camp guard, feeding the fire to warm his hands and feet by, as the night was pretty cold. Soon the outline of timber along the creek became visible; then the barking of a dog seemed to indicate that he had heard or scented my approach. A man's voice commanded the dog to be still, and then the man's form, which I could see in the firelight, quickly disappeared in the surrounding darkness, and as I stumbled on towards the fire the same form suddenly raised a little out of the grass in front of me. I heard the click-click of a gun being cocked and at the same instant a gruff voice demanded, "Who comes there?" I hastened to sing out "Friend," and then satisfied that I was not a prowling redskin he man raised to his feet, let down the hammer of his piece and bid me come forward to the fire. As I did so I hastily told him what had happened to our party. He soon roused up the rest of the camp and some of them kindly dressed my wounds while listening to my story, as others hurried to make me some coffee and get something to eat. They were all very kind and did everything they could to make me comfortable. It proved to be the emigrant camp, as I had supposed composed of men, women and children. It was now nearly daylight, and while I was eating and resting a little, one of the men came over to your camp which is about a half mild off, and informed Lieut. Otis of the affair."

     This ended Bill Cole's account of the tragedy. As soon as the messenger reached our camp and reported the occurrence to Otis he had the camp roused up quietly without bugle call, and we were ordered to bring in our horses, saddle up, and were soon mounted and on the gallop across the creek and along the road to the scene of the disaster. I was now daylight and we could see the mail wagon in the distance, standing on the prairie, where the Kiowas had left it. As we approached nearer we scared away some coyotes that were making a feast off the bodies of the two Smiths. First we came to the body of the conductor, lying in the road where he had fallen off his mule. The top of his head presented a ghastly sight where the scalp had been removed. Some distance farther, and several hundred yards off the road, out on the prairie, stood the wagon with the body of the other Smith lying on the ground just in front of the fore wheels, seemingly where the Indians had dragged him out of the wagon to finish and scalp him. Both bodies had been somewhat torn by the wolves before we reached them. Pieces of harness were scattered around, showing that the Indians, not knowing how to unharness the mules, had cut it in pieces to get it off. They had no use for the wagon or the harness, having no knowledge of the use of such things, but could make good use of the mules as pack animals. The wagon had been cleaned out of most of its contents, everything useful to them having been carried off by the Kiowas. The mail bags had been cut open and some of the letter scattered about, but they had no use for such stuff and so left it.

     In the road near where the conductor had fallen we found plain signs where the Indian whom Bill Cole claimed to have shot had fallen and bled in the dust, but probably he had only been wounded and was helped away by his comrades; but if killed the Indians would have carried the body off with them, as is their custom, to prevent it from falling into the hands of their enemies. The Sharp's rifles had been taken out of the wagon and the dead men's revolvers and belts and some of their clothing had been removed. There were some broken arrows still sticking in the bodies, and a number of wounds where arrows appeared to have been pulled through or cut out, probably for future use.
(continued next issue)

Fort Notes
     Fort Larned Old Guard member Kathleen Brandt of Sitka, Alaska, who grew up near the village site, returned to visit in early June. Leo Oliva took Kathleen and her cousin, Pat Hackett, both great-great-granddaughters of the family that homesteaded the land, to the site where they had a flat tire and discovered the spare tire would not fit the vehicle. They were rescued by Daryl Barricklow of Bazine, Kansas, who farms near the site.

     The Stockton Sentinel, a weekly newspaper, recently featured a photo of the huge barn at Fort Larned, during the ranching period, when the two barracks were connected with hayloft added, asking if anyone could identify the building. It was an opportunity to inform the public about Fort Larned while identifying the structure.

     A descendant of Trooper John Huggins, Company K, First Cavalry, who was among the troops who established Camp on Pawnee Fork in October 1859, lives in Wichita, Kansas. Ron Lathrop, great-great-grandson of Huggins, shared this information with Leo Oliva during a Kansas Military Forts program at Park City, Kansas. Private Robert Morris Peck, who also served in Company K and whose memoirs continue in Outpost, mentions Huggins several times. Both men were discharged at Fort Wise in November 1861 and traveled with three other discharged troopers to Fort Leavenworth. Ron Lathrop has visited Fort Larned several times and hopes to learn more about his military experiences.

     Sept. 4-6: Labor Day Weekend, Living History, end of regular summer programs.
     Sept. 10-19: Kansas State Fair, Hutchinson--Fort Exhibit.
     Sept. 17-18: Santa Fe Trail Rendezvous, Santa Fe Trail Center, Larned Community Center and Fort Larned.
     Oct. 9: Old Guard board meeting, open to all members.
     Oct. 9: Candlelight tour. Tours start at 7:30pm, reservations required, call 620-285-6911 beginning September 25.
     Dec. 11: Christmas Open House.

"Deadline for Next Issue of Outpost: September 15, 2010"

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