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

Volunteer Roll Call: Ron Drummond
Hanging Up His Apron

by Ellen Jones, Park Ranger
     The past Memorial Day Weekend Volunteer Ron Drummond turned in his wooden spoons and retired from cooking. We will truly miss his impressive setup in the barrack's kitchen that served delicious food and drink. Ron, a Salina resident, haws interpreted many roles at Fort Larned, including Army Sergeant. Among his volunteer duties that have been appreciated by many over the years was his role of the Army Cook. He learned to be creative with the basic army cuisine-beef, beans, and bread, by preparing tasty stews with whole grains, like barley.

Volunteer Ron Drummond
Volunteer Ron Drummond

     A stroll about the fort shows signs of Ron's woodworking talent. For more than 35 years Ron has donated his time and talent building gun racks, the sturdy benches you see on Officers' Row, the natural wood-grain tables in the kitchens and workroom, and a very useful handcart we wouldn't want to do without! Every room at the fort has evidence of Ron's skills. He has fixed antique clocks and barrels, built crates and shelves, the list goes on. The woodworking projects Ron has completed (to perfection) are to numerous to mention here, but one project in particular has enhanced the Forts setting and has the capability of transporting one back in time--literally!

1865 Rucker-Washington Ambulance
1865 Rucker-Washington Ambulance

     When Ron first saw the 1865 Rucker-Washington Ambulance, acquired with the help of the Fort Larned Old Guard, it was a weathered wagon, in poor condition, being housed at Fort Larned. Ron not only restored the Army hospital wagon but he embarked on a journey of research that included drawings from the Smithsonian, Forts Lee and Sill, Harper's Ferry. He received written details on the dimensions of every piece and corresponded with Amish wagon builders. He smartened up and then he went to work! The ambulance is beautiful now, thanks to Ron, and quite a conversation piece. Interpreters at Fort Larned enjoy showing it off on tours!

1865 Rucker-Washington Ambulance
1865 Rucker-Washington Ambulance

     Ron interprets history with his work. Shortly after he restored the ambulance, he began interpreting Civil War medicine and dressing as a 19th-century medical steward during special-event weekends. It' just nice to know he will still be around to lead the Sunday paryer services or to be the Sergeant of Guard. As for the woodworking, Ron has already left a wonderful legacy here and his skills will continue to benefit Fort Larned. Currently, he is on a project for Fort Davis National Historic Site. He has been enlisted to build a surgeon's examining table much like the one in Fort Larned's hospital. Have fun with that Ron! You are a true friend of the forts!

Bunkie Bison Program
by Ellen Jones, Park Ranger
     The Fort Staff had a very enjoyable morning with a group of young visitors this summer, Golden Rule Preschool from Larned, Kansas took part in launching the "Bunkie Bison" Preschool Program. "Bunkie" is a stuffed bison who explores the fort with the children. Program activities introduce students to Special Places Big and small, and the Five Senses. In this picture the students found the Howitzer Cannon at the flag pole. Both the cannon and the flag were "bigger" versions of the toy cannon and miniature flag that were passed around in the museum.

Bunkie Bison Preschool Program
Golden Rule Preschool

     The students visited three buildings to help familiarize themselves with the Fort's surroundings. They played a matching game with familiar smells; orange, grape, and vanilla. They were introduced to new smells directly from the Fort Larned garden onion, dill, peppermint. The adults enjoyed seeing some funny faces during that activity!

     They all enjoyed beating the drum and playing hide and seek with Bunkie in the barracks! The bugle was on hiatus that day but will surely be a part of future preschool programs.

     Game was a highlight-London Bridges, Ring around the Rosie and Hot Potato (beanbag toss), to name a few. The students enjoyed visiting the Conestoga wagon then acting out the sound and motion of the first locomotive to travel across Kansas. What a nice activity space the Quartermaster Storehouse is for kids!

     At the conclusion of the program Bunkie Bison was given to the students as a souvenir for their classroom. Our hope is the students will continue to visit, learn, and enjoy the fort in the years to come. Our dream is that they will develop into strong advocates for the preservation of these natural and cultural resources, along with an understanding of the National Park Service mission

Flog Chair's Column
by Rex Abrahams
     This past July, George Elmore, Karl Grover, and I represented Fort Larned as the Color Guard for Ellinwood's Annual After Harvest Festival parade. Despite the 100 degree heat, we were proud to carry three flags, the U.S. flag, State of Kansas flag, and 3rd Infantry flag. We were at the head of the parade following the police, fire trucks, and ambulance. The ambulance crew told us we were welcome to jump in if we needed to. It was hot and they were totally serious! But that is not the focus of my thoughts. My meanderings travel a different route....Lack of Respect or Apathy?

     I was appalled at the lack of respect for the US Flag. As we marched down the street, I would estimate only a quarter of the people stood in honor and respect for the US flag. One wise guy even started a counter-cadence to our Left/Right in an effort to get us out of step. Unbelievable! And this is in small town USA! Now I am not bagging on Ellinwood, but as a society have we gone so far that we do not even honor the flag? Do we not respect what it represents? Do we take for granted the freedoms we have today? I know with the Old Guard I am preaching to the choir, but the more I thought about this the more perturbed I became.

     One reason I volunteer at the Fort is so I can bring a bit of history alive for the visitors. You know, give them something extra besides buildings and static displays. I also do it because I love history and feel a sense of pride in our nation's past. I have great respect for this country and the freedoms it presents. The flag is a symbol of those freedoms. Bringing down the garrison flag after a cannon salute and hearing taps on Memorial Day is about as touching as it gets. I had a visitor stop me this past Memorial Day and say that we, my fellow volunteers and park personnel, could not have paid a finer tribute to our soldiers and this country than what we did that day. We could have gone to the lake, we could be out on a picnic, but we chose to be at Fort Larned and pay tribute to our American heritage and those that have gone before us. It was a touching moment.

     Perhaps all is not lost. As we made the final turn with the flag, on a street with hardly anybody on it, one solitary old man stood at attention and saluted. Old Glory was respected at last. If only some of the others had been on that street to see him. If only they had the same respect...perhaps they too would appreciate the freedoms we have. Perhaps they would pause and reflect.

     Perhaps America sits complacent on the wrong street.

     Please make plans to attend the annual candlelight tour at Fort Larned October 8 (reservations required). This is a highlight every year. The Old Guard Board will be meeting that day, and all Fort Larned Old Guard members are welcome to sit in and see your officers and directors at work.

Fort Larned Superintendent's Column
"On Our Watch" by Kevin McMurry
Dear Friends,
     It sure seems to me that the summer of 2011 went by FAST! After too short a time with our great seasonal coworkers and volunteers it's already time for the Candlelight Tours and our Volunteer Recognition Luncheon. In looking back though, it was a Great Memorial Day weekend, 4th of July, and Labor Day weekend with some of the largest crowds we've seen in years and all these visitors saw Fort Larned alive with activity of an 1860s working military post!

     We need lots of help with the Candlelight Tour on October 8th. This year George is planning the tour with the theme,"Connecting to the Human Experience." Every scene will deal with a person who was famous or became famous after being at the Fort. We will need volunteers to portray Jeb Stewart, George Custer, Winfield Hancock, Kit Carson, and others, as well as some who are not quite so famous including Surgeon Forwood, Colonel Rockwell, Theodore Lyster, and others. Contact George if you'd like to be part of this very enjoyable evening experience at the beautifully "candle-lit" Fort Larned. Prior to the tour we will host our annual Volunteer Recognition Meal and Awards Program. Come out at 4:30 for the catered (early) dinner and short awards program in recognition of YOU and your support of Fort Larned. Following the meal a brief overview will be given about the candlelight tour before beginning practices at 6:30. We need an RSVP no later than October 3 with the number of signed up volunteers who will be attending.

     In other volunteer news, our Washington DC office has directed that all future expense reimbursement payments to VIPs must be made electronically, direct to the volunteer's bank account. This is not new to anyone who has for years had paychecks, farm payments, or other numerous "Direct Deposit" payments made to the bank. The deposits make it to the bank fast and with less effort than a paper check while being more cost-effective for the Government. By this, we have been forced to mail all of our (250+) volunteers a Form 1199A "Direct Deposit Sign-Up Form" which can be easily completed and returned directly to Betsy Crawford-Gore at the Fort. She will forward the form directly to our Accounting Operations Division for all future payments. The security of this information can be guaranteed based on the fact that all employees, all contractors, and numerous others we do business with have been paid in this manner for several years without incident. Please call me, George, or Betsy at (620) 285-6911 anytime to discuss any questions you have about this or anything else related to volunteering at Fort Larned. Your professionalism and dedication is a huge asset to the park, the visitors, and certainly to all of us who deeply respect your devotion to the Fort.

     Of course, everyone at the Fort has been very busy with routine visitor service operations and preservation maintenance programs as well as fulfilling all the ever-growing demands of the National Park Service bureaucracy. With support from our "friends," many of us will continue to speak up for the needs of parks and people...

     The Fort has recently received a very generous donation from David and Alice Clapsaddle of two Frederick Remington bronze statues, "The Buffalo Horse" and "The Horse Thief." Special pedestal bases are being constructed for permanent display in the Forts museum, and we hope to also acquire a third, related bronze statue named "The Cheyenne" to complete the intended exhibit.

     Also, with continuing help from David Clapsaddle, we continue to expand the traveling trunks stories of Fort Larned and the Santa Fe Trail to numerous schools and a growing number of adult groups in several states. Due to school budget cuts many field trips to Fort Larned have been curtailed, but with David's help we're taking the history lessons to them! Please contact your area schools to suggest Dr. Clapsaddle's programs and have interested educators contact him at (620) 285-3295. Information on the different trunk programs is available from David or at the Fort's website . In a related development and with valuable assistance from Fort Larned Old Guard Chairman Abrahams and our bookstore partner, Western National Parks Association, we have produced a new brochure detailing all the educational opportunities available from the Fort and its partners.

     Work on the North Officers Quarters is finally finished. It was opened to the public on Memorial Day weekend! The restored shell of the structure is the result of good contractors, managed by Great Fort Larned employees and the spectacular "beauty" and fully-furnished addition to our visitor experience is the result of more of our Great Employees and our Great Volunteer friends! The formal reopening celebration will be scheduled as soon as Congressional, State, and Local Representatives can be available to attend. Fort Larned Old Guard Members and Volunteers are welcome to tours of the North Officers Quarters anytime!

     The contract to resurface the company streets and walking paths all around the fort is complete and makes touring the buildings easier for all our visitors. This is just the latest of our multi-year efforts to improve access to all the Fort's buildings and visitor experiences.

     The project to reconstruct the historic wagon bridge in its original location is proceeding well, and we expect the Environmental Assessment {EA} to be released for public review in the very near future. The EA is a very well developed comprehensive documentation of the project and issues as well as advantages. Although funded in 2013, it is expected that the work could begin as early as October of this year. Folks are invited to stop by anytime to review the EA and visit the project site.

     "On Our Watch," and with the generous assistance from employees, partners, and great volunteer friends, we continue to provide Fort Larned and Santa Fe Trail history for all to learn and enjoy. I personally invite you to be active in supporting the work of the Fort Larned Old Guard and hope to see you soon and often at Larned's National Park site!

Freighting Artifacts of the Santa Fe Trail
     For the past two years Fort Larned National Historic Site has sponsored the Traveling Trunks Program conducted by Volunteer David Clapsaddle. Fort Larned is pleased to announce an extension of Clapsaddle's presentations, "Freighting Artifacts of the Santa Fe Trail." This presentation utilizes 13 artifacts, all authentic to the 19th century, to explain the history of freighting related to the Santa Fe trade. The program is free to any interested organization. For more information, contact David Clapsaddle, 620-285-3295.

Traveling Trunks Program
Traveling Trunks Program

     The youngsters above are engaged in the Traveling Trunks program; Since the program has been extended from elementary schools to nursing homes they are invaluable assets. Residents of these facilities love to interact with the children as they distribute the artifacts contained in the trunks. All three are accumulating hours to earn a service award offered by the Fort Larned National Historic Site.

Fort Larned Old Guard Roll Call: Gary Anschutz
     Gary Eugene Anschutz, Galatia Kansas was elected to the Fort Larned Old Guard Board last April. He writes: I Consider serving on the Fort Larned Old Guard board an honor, a privilege, and an opportunity. It is an honor to be associated with those who support the historical process of the Fort and the area environment. Privilege has been earned through both formal historical education and living the life of the Southwest. Opportunity has come to me to serve the Board and Fort in as many ways as possible. Last July was an opportunity cheerfully performed in which I found myself inducted into military uniform at the Fort and that without even taking an oath.

Gary Eugene Anschutz, Galatia Kansas
Gary Eugene Anschutz

     About my early life, I was born a long time ago, in Hays Kansas in 1940. I first saw my father (who had immigrated from, Russia when he was 6 years old in 1923), aboard the USN LST 657 in Norfolk VA. That was in 1944. I remember they had a full-blood Amerindian in the crew. After his discharge from the Navy on the Pacific side, home became the Paradise, Kansas area. Here the Historic process began.

     Although first home reading was the complete works of Pearl S. Buck, a switch in topic was made. Western history became the theme. Authors such as Wellman and Sandoz were sought out. Self goals were set to experience history through study and living. Formal education came through an AB degree in history at Fort Hays State University, under the direction of Dr. Leo Oliva. This was later followed with an MS degree in ED/ESL, also at Fort Hays State University. Travel goals were fulfilled by choosing work that required movement. The first travel attempt was with a wheat harvest crew. The trip was fruitful in that I was able to meet Amerindians on a personal basis once north of Kansas. This served my historical purpose for that trip. For more travel and cultural experience, I enlisted in the US Navy in 1962. A destroyer USS Compton DD-705k was home for approximately 3 years. It went just about everywhere and gave me the opportunity to explore many different cultures Meeting Argentine exiles in Puerto Rico was an unforgettable experience in 1963.

     It might be said that opportunity for study of the history of the Southwest and Santa Fe Trail exploded like a fireball in the night when a job teaching English as a second language was landed at Rocky Ford, Colorado in 1995. Study and living became one there. The Arkansas (Ark-in-saw) River still seems like home. Historic life has been a productive process and one in which serving on the Fort Larned Old Guard Board is a continuum of that process. Thanks to all who have made the opportunity possible. Fort Larned is a special place.

Fort Larned Roll Call: Dan Coaty
     Dan Coaty, new maintenance employee, joined Fort Larned in July of 2010 as one of the Subject to Furlough Maintenance workers. As one of the troops he is maintaining our grounds and restoring the landscape. Dan is a former mechanic with the Coast Guard and the National Guard and also served at Lava Beds National Park and with the Bureau of Reclamation. He and his wife Cindy raised five boys and a daughter in Wisconsin and Oregon, where they call home when they are not in Larned. Dan's hobbies include his family playing musical instruments, and working on classic vehicles. Cindy volunteers at the Santa Fe Trail Center. Remember to stop and say hello when you see Dan on your next visit.

Dan Coaty, New Maintenance Employee
Dan Coaty

Maintenance Report
by William Chapman, Facility Manager
     The Fort's Maintenance staff has continued to improve and rehabilitate the facilities for the enjoyment of all. We recently upgraded the company paths with a crushed stone material. This provided a firmer path than the pea gravel normally used. Work on these paths included weed removal and installation of a barrier to prevent future weeds. Maintenance workers Dan Coaty and Fred Barker did some of the final grading around the flagpole. Others who worked in upgrading the paths are Dustin Abrahams (son of FLOG Chair Rex Abrahams), Aaron Hopkins, and Shawn Calkins. The same crew also constructed the dirt and gravel ramp near the shops buildings.

     Ongoing window restoration on the quartermaster storehouse is being done by the park's preservation specialist Robert Sellers. Robert is removing components of the windows which need replacing, which entails repair and duplicating profile to match window sashes. We discovered a unique find at Fort Larned when this work began. Every structure has a slightly different molding profile on its sash.

     In late July a strong straight wind damaged 40-feet of Officers' Row fencing, sending fence boards out into the grassy area south of South Officers' Quarters and damaging one of the guide wires for the flagpole. Repairs have been completed. Other work includes repair of the fleet, grounds equipment, and repairing the alarm system from storm damage.

Notes on Medical Care At Fort Larned
by Stephen B. McCartney
     (Fort Larned Volunteer McCartney, Sapulpa Oklahoma, earned BA and MA degrees at Oklahoma State University. He first visited Fort Larned National Historic Site on 4th of July weekend in 1977.)

     Soldiering in the American West was a trying experience. Fort Larned was no exception and,as Fort Larned National Historic Site staff and supporters know, the late 1860s frequently put the Fort and the region in the limelight. Post Civil War western migration, Indian troubles (read "wars"), and other activities focused attention and stress on the garrison. Death came in many forms and frontier medicine did not always ensure survival. While medical staff-be it by an acting assistant surgeon (a civilian contract doctor), assistant surgeon or a surgeon (both commissioned officers), or even a hospital steward (enlisted man)-may seem crude by modern standards, the care given by army personnel was at a greater level and by higher trained, experienced men than in the civilian frontier (or, for that matter, elsewhere in the United States). The Army Medical Department was becoming thoroughly modern and emphasizing record keeping in its efforts to improve the health of its soldiers. Reports on the cholera epidemics of1866 and 1867 were just two efforts in this endeavor.

     Grisly reading as it is, an important document is Circular No.2, A Report Of Surgical Cases Treated In The Army Of The United States From 1865 To 1871. This Surgeon General's Office report of 1871 mentions Fort Larned surgical operations twice(pp. 19-20; p. 179):

     XLVIII.-Note of a case of Gunshot Wound of the face. By A. A. Woodhull, Assistant Surgeon, U.S.A.

     Private George Bullis, Co. C, 3d United States Infantry, aged 21 years, was wounded on August 11, 1870, by duck-shot, at close range, which shattered parts of the malar bone and superior maxilla, destroyed nearly an inch of the condyle of the inferior maxilla, an chiefly lodged against the temporal, partly escaping, by suppuration, through the external canal. He was admitted immediately afterward into the post hospital at Fort Larned, Kansas. He had, during September, a slight attack of erysipelas, but is now nearly healed. He was returned to duty October 20, 1870.

     DXVII.- Account of a Primary Amputation of the Fore-Arm for Gunshot Injury. By J. J. Marston, M.D., Acting Assistant Surgeon.

     Private Patrick Whalen, Co. D, 3d Infantry, was wounded at Fort Larned, Kansas, April 10, 1867, by the accidental discharge of a Spencer rifle, while in the act of loading the piece. The left hand was badly shattered, the bones being fractured, the arteries, muscles, and tissues lacerated, and the thumb entirely carried away. Three hours after the accident the left fore-arm was amputated at the lower third by the circular method. The tissues of the right hand, between the metacarpal bones of the thumb and fore-finger, were also lacerated, but the bones were uninjured. April 30, 1867: The stump and the wound of the right hand had nearly healed. The patient's condition was good. Discharged May 21, 1867, with a pension of $15 per month.

     That either man survived is a token of the toughness required to be a soldier, the quality of medical care, and, of course, Dame Fortune.

Quartermaster Report: Fort Larned Stables
by Celeste Dixon, Park Ranger
(This is ninth in a series on the structures at Fort Larned.)
     In an era that relied almost exclusively on animal power for travel, stables were a necessity at any frontier military post. Both military members and civilians knew that careless treatment or neglect of one's horses could lead to its injury or incapacitation, not a smart move when your life might depend on reliable transportation. Structures vital to proper care of horses and miles are stables.

     Most visitors ask about the location of the cavalry stables at Fort Larned, but it wasn't just cavalrymen who had horses to shelter and care for. There were actually six areas with structures and/or enclosures for horses as well as cattle: cavalry stables, cavalry corral, sutler's corral and stables, quartermaster stables and corral, beef corral, and stables behind each building on officers' row. The number and variety of stables and corrals reflects the different ownership and uses of the animals at Fort Larned.

     The cavalry stables at Fort Larned were built during the period of 1867 when the stone buildings were under construction. They were only used by Company A of the 10th U.S. Cavalry, one of the first units of African-American troops sent west after the Civil War. According to a report from Captain Almon F. Rockwell, the quartermaster officer who oversaw their construction, the stables was a frame building, 247 feet long by 28o feet wide and cost $2156.30.

     The design was typical for Army cavalry stables of that period: two rows of stalls with a passageway down the middle. Post Surgeon Captain William H. Forwood reported that the stables were located 50 yards southeast of the parade ground. This structure burned to the ground on January 2, 1869, after an incident involving some of the Black troopers and white infantrymen. The cause of the fire was not determined and the Black troops were sent away as a result.

     No other cavalry units were sent to replace the men of Co. A and the stables weren't replaced until 1872. At that time a corral "of sufficient capacity to contain 75 animals with the necessary sheds, harness rooms, granaries, etc." was built south of the Old Commissary. It was still standing when the fort was closed but was probably torn down before 1900.

     All officers, regardless of their branch, were allowed to have 2 horses each, however, Army protocol did not allow officers and enlisted men to stable their horses together. For that reason, each of the three quarters on Officers' Row had stables.

     The Quartermaster Department apparently had the largest stable and corral complex to house the extensive number of horses and mules used to pull the various wagons owned by the department for hauling supplies and doing work around the Fort. These stables and corrals were located between the river and the east bank of the oxbow. They were probably still standing after the army left and were most likely torn down in the 1880s.

     The Commissary Department maintained a corral for cattle used for beef rations for the troops, as well as issuing to Indians during the 1860s. It was located northeast of the fort in a small bend of the Pawnee River. This corral was probably destroyed shortly after the fort was abandoned in 1878.

     The final area for horses was the sutler's corral and stables, located near the sutler's store along the river on the west side of officers' quarters. The complex was built during the early 1860s and was in existence for the entire military period. The buildings were sold by post sutler after the post closed. The only description of these buildings dates from 1866 where they are listed as "Two stables, one carriage house, one chicken house, and one smokehouse, built in a continuous bank with stone, log and board fronts, measuring 130 ft. front by 15 ft. deep."

     In the 19th century, animals, especially horses and mules, were vital to economic prosperity and military might.With some exceptions, most people of that time period viewed them as tools. While not sentimental about them for the most part, they did recognize the importance of maintaining these "tools" in top condition. A primary consideration was providing them with clean, dry shelter from the elements and protection from predators, both of which the stables and corrals at Fort Larned were designed to do.

Commanding Officers, 1863 A Year of Change and Tension
by Celeste Dexion, Park Ranger
(This is seventh in a series on the commanding officers of Fort Larned.)
     The beginning of 1863 saw Lieutenant. William West, 2nd U.S. Infantry, still in charge at Fort Larned. Once again, the high demand for troops in the East to fight in the Cival War meant another year of constantly changing troop and officer assignments at the frontier military post. During 1863 the commanders at Fort Larned changed continuously, often with the same man serving several times throughout the year. The post saw ten different command changes during the year, but had only six commanding officers. Adding to the instability of constantly changing soldiers and officers were the reduced troop levels on the frontier. At the beginning of 1863Lieutenant West commanded only 104 officers and men from both the 2nd U.S. Infantry and 9th Wisconsin Volunteer Battery.

     Lieutenant Watson D. Crocker, 9th Wisconsin Volunteer Battery, replaced Lieutenant West from February 3 through the 26, when West resumed command. Captain H. N.J. Reed, 9th Kansas Volunteer Calvary, was placed in charge on May 1. However, he was quickly replaced on May 5 by Captain James W. Parmeter who brought a company of 12th Kansas Volunteer Calvary with him to Fort Larned. These troops, along with Colorado volunteer units and the men from the 9th Kansas Volunteer Cavalry, provided much-needed reinforcements against a possible attack from a force of Texans and Indians reported to be moving up from the South.

     Tensions were high in the area around Fort Larned in the spring and early summer of 1863. A large number of Comanches, Kiowas, Kiowa-Apaches, Cheyennes, Arapahos, and Caddos had concentrated around the post, creating a potentially explosive situation. According to one source, the Indians had gathered in the area because of large amounts of whiskey being transported on Mexican wagon trains along the Santa Fe Trail. The seriousness of the situation prompted Colonel Jesse Leavenworth, 2nd Colorado Infantry, to take command of the post from Captain Reed on June 18, who had just replaced Captain Parmeter the day before. Fearing disaster if the Indians were provoked, Colonel Leavenworth seized one wagon train and threatened to seize more if they were found to be carrying whiskey. At the same time, Colonel Leavenworth called for reinforcements from General Thomas Ewing in Kansas City in response to the threatened attack from Texas troops advancing on Fort Larned. Before this attack force reached the Fort, however, they were themselves attacked by a band of Osage warriors and destroyed.

     One of the most well-known incidents at Fort Larned took place in July 1863: the killing of the Cheyenne brave, Little Heart. The Fort was surrounded by thousands of Indians waiting for annuity disbursements, an uneasy situation for a garrison of only 168 men and officers. According to post records, Little Heart came at full gallop toward a sentry on the Fort's south side at 2:00 a.m. on July 9. When Little Heart did not heed the sentry's command to halt, the soldier opened fire and shot him in the head. Although this incident had the potential for greater violence, Colonel Leavenworth was able to contain the situation. He called in all the chiefs in the area as well as reinforcements from troops in the area. The colonel gave presents to the chiefs as compensation for the lost brave, which pacified them and averted a potential disaster.

     Considering the situation during the summer of 1863 it seems fortunate that an Indian war did not erupt on the plains. Troop levels were low while the Indians were restless, attacking wagon trains all along the Santa Fe Trail for food and goods. Colonel Leavenworth did his best to keep whites out of hunting grounds so as not to provoke the natives. He also went to great lengths to pacify the Indian chiefs to maintain peaceful relations, awarding them medals and promising to help them make the switch to farming.

     Meanwhile, the regular rhythm of military life at Fort Larned continued. Wagon trains still traveled along the Santa Fe trail with Army escorts, while troops on other business stopped in along the way to their destinations. Commanding officers at the Fort also continued to change. Captain Reed took over shortly for Colonel Leavenworth from August 11-18, after which the colonel remained in command until October 19, at which time Captain Parmeter again assumed command. Captain Reed returned to the post in November and took command on the 16th. A report in December of 1863 shows troops at the post from the 9th and 12th Kansas Volunteer Infantries, 9th Wisconsin Battery, and 2nd Colorado Volunteers for a total garrison of 176 enlisted men and three officers, with Captain Reed in command of the post.

     The year 1863 was a difficult one for the Fort beside the Pawnee River. Troop levels were low while the Indians were numerous and restless. The continual change in comanders made continuity difficult to maintain at the same time the Fort faced several difficult, potentially explosive situations. Thanks in large part to the diplomacy of Colonel Leavenweorth, the Fort weathered the storm in good condition.

A Frontier Anomaly
by David K. Clapsaddle
     By and large, Fort Larned was a male-dominated society. In addition to the army personnel, civilian men populated the post in substantial numbers, scouts, blacksmiths, saddlers, teamsters, and a host of others. The number of male civilians increased in 1867 when Army regulations changed the title of sutler to post trader and allowed more than one post trader to be appointed to an army post. Thus in 1867-1868, two post traders were operating a wide range of enterprises at the post, including a bowling alley. Such businesses required additional clerks, all males. During the same period, the post's permanent buildings were under construction. Civilian tradesmen swelled the male population by a huge proportion, with 295 such employees in 1867 [1]

     As to the female population, the number was limited to laundresses, hospital matrons, and officers' wives. However, one female resident was a notable exception. Winty, as she was knwon by the whites, was the wife of T. R. (Dick) Curtis, employed at the post as an interpreter. A full-blood Sioux who claimed to be the sister of Chief Red Cloud, Winty met Curtis in 1847 while he was engaged in Indian trade on the North Platte River. While employed at Fort Larned, Curtis was also a partner with Frank Cole in the operation of a trading ranch at the big bend of the Arkansas River. [2]

     Cheyennes raided the ranch on May 17, 1864 running off all the livestock: four mules, nine horses, and a jackass. Later, the warriors returned to plunder the ranch and damage the house and corral. On July 21, Kiowas ran off eight mules and two horses at Running Turkey Creek Ranch, the property of Curtis and Cole. [3] Curtis and Cole filed two Indian depredation claims for losses to the Cheyennes and Kiowas. [4]

     Subsequently, Curtis moved his family to Fort Lyon, Colorado, then to Fort Suply in Indian Territory. There he went into business with James Richmond where he filed another claim for losses to Cheyennes. Still later, he filed a claim for losses to Apaches. In 1867, the Indian Office provided for a partial allowance for one of the 1864 claims against the Cheyennes and Kiowas. As to the other three claims, the Indian Office in 1871, 1872, and 1874 made recommendations to congress for payment of all three. Curtis's death in 1874 left Richmond the surviving partner of the 1864 claims and Winty, the widow, the beneficiary of the other two claims. [5]

     Following, Curtis's death, Winty and her children settled near Darlington in Indian Territory. There, in 1889, she asked former Indian Agent John D. Mles for assistance in resolving the claims filed by her husband. The U. S. Court of Claims made good on the 1864 claim against the Kiowas in 1915. Whether Winty ever heard that good news remains moot. In 1917 payment was made for the other two claims in the name of W. W. Scott, administrator of her estate. [6]

     What and anomaly. Delayed as it was, an American Indian won a suit against native tribes under the provisions of a law designed to compensate white claimants.


  1. Leo E. Oliva, Fort Larned (Topeka: Kansas State Historical Society, 1988), 62
  2. Larry C. Skogen, Indian Depredation Claims, 1796-1920 (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1996), 119
  3. Louise Barry, "The Ranch at Walnut Creek," Kansas Historical Quarterly 54 (Summer 1971), 143-144: Louise Barry, "The Ranch at the Great Bend," Kansas Historical Quarterly 56 (Summer, 1973), 97-98.
  4. For a full treatment regarding Indian Depredations claims, see Skogen, Indian Depredations Claims.
  5. Ibid, 118-119,
  6. Ibid.

     October 8, 20118: Annual Candlelight Tour at the Fort.

Schedule of Events
     True to life stories of the Indian Wars along the Santa Fe Trail, brought to life by some of the greatest volunteers in the West. . . . Visit the most complete fort surviving from the days when Custer and Buffalo Bill Cody rode through this part of the West on their missions. Original restored buildings to that time peroid, a visitor center, Park Rangers will guide you through this adventure of the Old West.

     Memorial Day Weekend (Saturday, Sunday & Monday) largest living history event in western Kansas - experience a working frontier fort.

     Labor Day Weekend (Saturday, Sunday, & Monday) Reneactors bring the fort back to life for the holiday weekend.

     Candlelight Tour (2nd Saturday of October) Entertaining evening tours with vignettes from the fort's history.

     Christmas Open House (2nd Saturday of December) Old-fashioned Yuletide celebration with hot apple cider, cookies and Christmas carols.

"Deadline for Next Issue of Outpost: November 01, 2011

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

Santa Fe Trail Research Site

Santa Fe Trail Research Site
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Larry & Carolyn
St. John, Ks.
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