Historical Markers, Interpretive Signs

Discussion in 'Photos' started by sfarson, Jun 16, 2012.

  1. LewisNClark

    LewisNClark Long timer

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    Accidentally found this marker several yrs ago...had to use film camera, so pretty crappy pictures. It was truly amazing to stand on these grounds. Extremely remote location.

    Camp Disappointment marker:
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    Location: (14 miles from Canadian border, in Montana)
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    Past Cutbank heading to Browning Montana I see a speck in the distance. Almost dead center of the picture. I know I am on a Blackfoot reservation but decided to check out the speck. For the record, during L & C adventure all Indians they encountered feared the Blackfeet. To this day, a number of Blackfeet websites show a dislike for the L & C Expedition. BTW, David Letterman's big ranch is just south of this marker about 40 miles.

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    On the return journal home Lewis, chose his most important skilled soldiers. Brave, fearless, marksmen, you name it, to join him on this trip. They were Drouillard, Joseph and brother Rubin Field. As mentioned earlier, no mention of Seaman.

    Their mission was to confirm there was no Northwest Passage around the northern side of the rockies, and second, to find the northern most head waters of the Missouri River...which included streams, creeks, etc that flowed into the Missouri...these were the rules France (via Napolean) gave Thomas Jefferson on the purchase of all lands in the Louisiana Purchase Territory...all land with waters running into the Mississippi, and the Marias River runs into the Missouri River, and the Missouri runs into the Mississippi. Napolean really screwed up, and Lewis' efforts at this site changed the United States territory forever.

    At this site, Lewis determined that there could not be a NW Passage (thus he called this campsite Camp Disappointment. But more importantly he did document the latitude and longitude of the most northern creek that was running south into the Missouri about 150 miles away. Documenting these coordinates established the USA's northern border with Canada.

    Long story short...leaving here the four men headed south back to the Missouri to regroup with Clark (at Reunion Bay in North Dakota) and the remainder of the party. Only a few miles away they camped and that's the story of where Fields and Lewis killed two Blackfoot Indian teenagers.

    Standing by the Camp Disappointment marker. Today this marker is used for target practice.

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    Closeup of Camp Disappointment marker. There are literally hundreds if not thousands of bullet holes in the monument...by you know who.

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    Standing at the marker you can see Glacier National Park in the distance and to the north you are looking into Canada. If you ever go to Glacier or Browning, MT the above marker is probably 25 miles from the East entrance of Glacier Park.

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    Sign beside the marker:

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    Text of the Camp Disappointment marker:

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    Site where Rubin Field stabbed the Blackfoot teen to death, and Lewis took care of the other teen when he shot at Lewis. Lewis' famous comment in his journal was, "I could feel the wind of the Indian's bullet pass my ear". (The actual site is between two forks of the Medicine River.)

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    Knowing two of the three teens were dead, and probably several hundred Blackfeet lived 20 miles away and one teen escaped in the darkness (and was probably headed home), they decide to "haul ass" back to the Missouri River. Running at full gallop through the night and in to mid day of the next day they met back up with their boat and headed for North Dakota (place called Reunion Bay).

    Some humor in the event: A few days before the above events, Lewis wrote how exhausted their horses were. Joseph Field shot a deer in the distance and his horse laid down and would not get up for him to retrieve the kill, due to the horse being so exhausted. In 1806 there were not roads here so they had been on horseback thru these up and down gullies for a week and all their horses were exhausted. As I rode thru the territory I can see why the horses were exhausted. (see above picture of the rolling hills).
  2. LewisNClark

    LewisNClark Long timer

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    Wrong river::lol3

    North of Great Falls, they ran into the junction of the Marias and Missouri River and did not know which fork to take. They divided up, with Lewis going up the Marias (named after his girlfriend) River. and Clark and his platoon headed down the Missouri to the 5 giant water falls. Took like 10 days of scouting to finally guess which was the Missouri. They guessed right. The Marias would have taken them to Cutbank and in to Canada. when they saw the "great falls" they knew they were on the right river. The Indians had told them in NDakota that they would run into a huge water fall on the Missouri River.

    Three Forks is where the Missouri basically ended into 3 big creeks. (Jefferson, Galladin, and Missouri Rivers). Basically the end of water and Lewis (Drouillard, and the Field boys) left the Expedition to persue their month long search for horses west of today's Dillon, MT/Lemhi Pass.


  3. sfarson

    sfarson On a Ride

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    Ahhhh thanks. And more great images bringing to visual life what I've read about.

    BTW, may want to keep an eye on this thread... http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=803950

    While Dr. Greg is writing an account of a trip already taken, you might note with interest his observations and/or have some input here and there as the report unfolds.
  4. Sod Buster

    Sod Buster prairie rider

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    I have a passion for where it happened.
    But I really like Air Conditioning.
    Modern Dentistry.
    And toilet paper.
    :lol3


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  5. MrBob

    MrBob Certified Geezer

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    ... and Motorcycles.
  6. JWhitmore44

    JWhitmore44 pistolero

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    Modern Dentistry is over rated :rofl

    I've often though I was born in the wrong century. But I stop and thing about my ancestors and realize I would have just been a dirt farmer anyway. Not that that's bad, but I wouldn't have gotten to see as much country as I have by being born now. I guess great grand pappy was ranch hand on a good sized ranch in eastern Colorado.

    Sorry no picture, I'll see if I can grab one tomorrow, it's been awfully hot here.
  7. sfarson

    sfarson On a Ride

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    Every time I ride the Big Thompson Canyon east of Estes Park, I always think about what happened there July 31st, 1976...

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  8. SavannahCapt

    SavannahCapt Been here awhile

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    Short ride yesterday morning before "The Big Sweat."


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  9. MrBob

    MrBob Certified Geezer

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    I've traveled in the Scarboro area and loved it. These are from my wanderings north of Tallahassee, near the Georgia border and south of Thomasville. This was plantation country before the unpleasantness between the north and south.

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  10. Spirit_Rider

    Spirit_Rider Been here awhile

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  11. Sod Buster

    Sod Buster prairie rider

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    The bottom of Spirit Rider's historical marker mentions the Kidder massacre, Pawnee Killer who is mentioned on the marker along with Tall Bull and Roman Nose ruled the roost in the Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska area.


    Almost 145 years ago to the day, Company M with Lt Kidder, rode from the north over the ridge seen in the far distance, they rode south down into what is known as Beaver Creek for their last stand. You cross the Beaver on I-70 just west of Goodland Ks, about twenty mile north of I-70, Beaver Creek drains northwest into the Republican River just into Nebraska.

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    The tree line to the right is Beaver Creek and is where Custer found the troop, and where they were buried just below the ridge, the massacre was lower towards the creek bottom, where the trees are.


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    Just above the Beaver where the men were first buried is another monument to M Troop, 2nd U.S. Cavalry, and their Sioux guide Red Bead, I would imagine that Red Bead is still buried here. The ridge line behind was the last one M Troop would ever ride down.


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    July 1867 "M" Company 2nd Cavalry 2nd Lieut. - Lyman S. Kidder, Sergeant - Oscar Close, Corporal - Charles Haines, Private - Roger Curry, Private - Michael Cornell, Private - William Floyd, Private - Michael Gorman, Private - Michael Haley, Private - N.J. Humphries, Private - Michael Lawler, Private - Charles Taltin, Sioux Scout - Red Bead


    Died in the Performance of their duty on or about July 2, 1867, in combat with Sioux and Cheyenne Indians On July 1, 1867,

    Lt. Col. G.A. Custer left Fort Hays, Kansas with 1100 men of the Seventh Cavalry to quell an Indian uprising which had threatened white settlers for the past three years.
    Custer patrolled north to Fort MacPherson on the Platte River near present day North Platte, Nebraska, then south to the forks of the Republican River where Benkleman, Nebraska is located today.
    Although Custer could see smoke signals during the day and flaming arrows at night, he failed to engage the hostiles because of his large force.
    At this time, General William T. Sherman commanded the forces at Fort Sedgewick near Julesburg, Colorado, ninety miles northwest of Custer’s camp on the Republican. On June 29, 1867, dispatches for Custer were entrusted to Lt. Lyman S. Kidder, who left the Fort with a ten man patrol and a Sioux Indian Guide named Red Bead.

    Lt Kidder.


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    Lt. Kidder was 25 years of age and was temporarily posted at Fort Sedgewick. He had served in the Civil War, been discharged and re-enlisted twice. He loved the military life.
    Custer, restless at the river camp, decided to move his troops and scout further south, then northwest.
    Seven days later upon his arrival at Riverside Station forty miles west of Ft. Sedgewick, Custer telegraphed the Fort new orders. It was then he learned of the Kidder patrol.
    Custer was concerned for the small party and immediately set out to backtrack his trail.

    Fort Sedgewick is Julesburg, I posted the Historical Marker for it earlier.

    Pawnee Killer, Sioux.

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    Custer’s advance party on the backtrail found a dead horse and the spot where the Kidder party had left the main trail at the gallop. Signs and evidence of a running battle two miles east along Beaver Creek lead to a dry ravine north of the creek. There the remains of the patrol were found.
    The bodies were mutilated, partially burned and all but the scout had been scalped (Red Bead not being scalped was considered an insult). Custer ordered burial in a common grave on a hill above the ravine.

    Harpers Weekly 1867.

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    The patrol was found on July 12, 1867. It was believed the massacre had been carried out about ten days earlier.
    Authorities concluded that Lt. Kidder, on reaching Custer’s abandoned camp on the Republican, assumed Custer had moved the large force to Fort Wallace, some eighty miles south. The small patrol was overtaken on the trail south by a large war party known to have been raiding in the area around Ft. Wallace in late June, 1867.
    Lt. Kidder’s father, a judge living in Dakota Territory, arrived at Ft. Wallace in February of 1868 to recover and claim his son’s body.

    Lt Beecher.

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    Lt. Fred Beecher led the detail from Ft. Wallace to the massacre site to remove all the bodies. Despite the bitter cold and snow, and the fact that the grave had been desecrated, Judge Kidder was able to identify his son’s body by a scrap of shirt Kidder’s mother had made. Judge Kidder returned to Minnesota and buried his son in the family plot at St. Paul. The other remains were taken to Ft. Wallace and interred where they remained until the 1880’s when Ft. Wallace was abandoned. They were moved with military honors to Ft. Leavenworth Kansas, where they remain today.

    Frederick Beecher was 26 years of age in 1868. He was a Civil War veteran and the nephew of the Abolitionist, Henry Ward Beecher.

    In 1866 he had been assigned to duty at Ft. Hays and then to Ft. Wallace, where he built many of the buildings for protection against the constant raids of Sioux and Cheyenne.
    In August of 1868, five months after his involvement with the Kidder party, Beecher was chosen second in command of the Forsyth Scouts. This company was to patrol 900 square miles besieged by hostile tribes.
    The Scouts, led by Col. George Forsyth, were ambushed by 1000 warriors on the Arickaree fork of the Republican River in northeastern Colorado on September 17, 1868. Lt. Beecher lost his life on that day. On August 3, 1969, The Friends of the Library of Goodland, KS, held a dedication ceremony for the historical marker and monument.


    In far western Kansas, in the middle of nowhere is alll that's left of old Fort Wallace, it was known as the Fightenest Fort in The West.

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  12. FJR_Nate

    FJR_Nate n00b

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  13. JWhitmore44

    JWhitmore44 pistolero

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    To go along with Sod Busters story, I have no idea of the history beyond what is written on the sign.

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    Some of Tobe's handy work

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  14. JWhitmore44

    JWhitmore44 pistolero

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    and on the theme of cattle drives and cowboys

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    it was toasty today, the kick stand was trying to sink into the blacktop.

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  15. OneBall

    OneBall Been here awhile

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  16. Sod Buster

    Sod Buster prairie rider

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    JW, acording to Tobes marker this was where Custer camped the night before finding Company M the following day on the 12th.

    Texas Canyon, is pretty cool seems like when they put 34 in they uncovered burials from the old trail along that stretch and they were reinterred there by the Historical Marker for Texas Canyon along 34.

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  17. Sod Buster

    Sod Buster prairie rider

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  18. Earl of Portchester

    Earl of Portchester Been here awhile

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    My wifes Grandfather was on the St Nazaire raid and was awarded the Croix de Guerre and a Mention in Despatches. He was issued with a revolver before they set sail to which he replied "What the F**k do I want with that thing, I'm a Matelot not a bloody Cowboy!"
  19. LewisNClark

    LewisNClark Long timer

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    Initial pioneer settlers gradually mingled with the Indians east and west of the Platte River with land grants. Whites and Indians were granted land separately but many new early settlers (trappers and traders) married into the Indian tribes. Mostly male trappers taking Indian squaws. With no place to put the "half breeds" the government resurveyed the territory to allocate land to the "half breeds". Located on a back road in the middle of corn country in Nebraska.

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    Half Breed Drive still lives today:

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    "Half Breed Road" in the distance:

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  20. Sod Buster

    Sod Buster prairie rider

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    This will be a little long winded, I know thats got to be hard to believe:lol3.
    My only goal with all the postings is to get folks to maybe go check some of these places out many of them are slowly fading away. The people that really cared about this history are fading away as in the old folks still left in these small western Kansas towns, the folks with a link to it's past, who have cared for it and protected it the best they could over the years. The crush of people that fought so hard to take the Great Plains the place of new beginnings, they were turned back not by Indians but by the land itself. The population of western Kansas peaked in the 1920s and its been a steady decline since, Ghost Towns or those hovering on the verge are the norm out here.


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    The cemetery and the location of where the fort stood is about two miles from the town of Wallace, looking east from the cemetery.


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    The township of Wallace placed their cemetery on the east side of the old Fort Wallace cemetery and built a rock wall around the old fort cemetery.

    Fort Wallace, it sat one half mile to the south of the cemetery, no buidings remain now only the cemetery stands to tell the story, many head stones of the civillian contractors that died here and the wives and children of enlisted men, the soldiers remains were removed to Fort Leavenworth, some beleive that a few soldiers do still lie here. There is something really special that still sits here on the plains in solitude, it has stood here on the western prairies of Kansas, for 145 years, weathered beaten as it is, it stands as testement to the men that died here in combat with the many tribes of the Plains Indian war's. The Monument was erected in 1867, erected and paid for by the men who fought from this fort, quaried from near by bluffs, engraved with the names of those that died in the year eighteen sixty seven.

    Before we take a look at the monument we will look through the old Fort cemetery. Most all of these markers have always been wood, even the German familys was a wood marker untill 1957, they show their names and where they hailed from if known, with cause of death. they came from all over the world to find their final resting place on the far western prairies of Kansas.

    Looking east from inside the fort cemetery out over the township cemetery.


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    Looking west into the fort cemetery. These civilian plots are all kept up by the township of Wallace they have a historical society that has kept these plots marked over the years. This is not a tourist boot hill these folks are buried here and cause of death on the grave markers are from the fort records.


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    Because of the determination of the Plains Indians to prevent white encroachment on their western Kansas lands, military force became necessary for the acquisition of that area. Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman, commander of the Military Division of the Missouri, planned to provide that force by fortifying the Western Plains with a chain of posts as strongly garrisoned as possible.


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    In addition to Fort Riley, which already existed, the army constructed Forts Harker, Hays, and Wallace, plus a host of minor camps along the Smoky Hill trail. These forts provided protection for stage coaches, wagon trains, railroad surveyors and laborers, and settlers. Fort Wallace, originally known as Camp Pond Creek, was the most western post in Kansas along the Smoky Hill trail, and from 1865 to 1878 bore the brunt of the hostile Indian activity in the state.



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    Although General Sherman did not officially authorize the construction of Fort Wallace until October 26, 1865, a detachment of troops made camp at the bluffs of the south fork of the Smoky Hill river and Pond creek in September, 1865. This camp was about two miles west of the permanent location of the fort.


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    These troops spent the winter in dugouts and had begun minor construction when Capt. Edward Ball, Second cavalry, arrived with Company H and assumed command in March of 1866. Ball reported the building for the quartermaster's stores bad already been constructed with lumber received from Denver. He further noted the commissary was nearly completed, and the 46,000 board feet of lumber remaining would he utilized to provide storehouses for the commissary and the quartermaster.


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    A substantial building program, however, was needed to make the post comfortable and large enough to hold a garrison for a year. Ball recommended the construction of two quarters for a company of cavalry and one of infantry; a mess room and kitchen; quarters and kitchen for two captains; quarters and kitchen for the medical officer and four lieutenants; guardhouse; stables for the cavalry horses and quartermaster's animals; a building for the carpenter, the wheelwright, and the blacksmith; and two buildings for the quartermaster's and subsistence stores. One problem the army faced, though, was the need to transport all the necessary lumber to the site because such a large quantity was not available in the vicinity of the post.


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    In May, 1866, Capt. James J. Gordon, Sixth infantry, assumed command of the post, and Company B, Sixth infantry, and Company M, Second cavalry replaced the garrison. Gordon reported plentiful grass along the river, a heavy meadow five miles to the south, and sufficient timber for building purposes which could supply the post for an unlimited period of time. In addition to grossly over estimating the physical resources of the area, Gordon reported the post now consisted of two storehouses, and a hospital constructed from pine lumber. At this time the officers and troops were sheltered in wall tents, and as yet no stables had been built.

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    1st Lt. A.E. Bates, Second cavalry, replaced Gordon the following July. Bates immediately complained the situation was not as favorable as Gordon claimed, since the camp was located on a low bottom which could be approached from any direction entirely unknown to the command. Thus, the camp, thrust deep into Indian country, was in a dangerous position and could easily suffer a surprise attack. Furthermore, not more than 150 tons of hay could be cut along the Smoky Hill river. Two assets of the vicinity, however, were an excellent stone quarry and a favorable tableland several miles east of the camp.


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    Since a fort built on the tableland could be easily defended, Bates requested permission to move the camp to the more defensible position. Although he informed the district headquarters that he would not move the camp until he received authority, Bates sent 20 men the next day to begin cutting stone for the quarters and stables as fast as 18 teams could haul the stone. The work at the quarry proved difficult because the soldiers lacked the proper tools and were forced to use pick axes and wooden spades to cut the stone. Nevertheless, they managed to take stone out at the rate of eight to 10 cords a day.



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    Bates began moving the post to the new site before he received authority to do so on July 9. By mid-July, 40 cords of stone were on the ground, and the construction of a permanent fort was about to begin. At this point, Bates wrote, "As I am the only man in the company who knows even theoretically how a stone wall should be built, this must necessarily be a somewhat slow process." To remedy the situation, he requested permission to hire one or two civilian masons to help lay up the walls necessary to house a two - company post before cold weather arrived. Lack of expertise and inadequate tools, then, thwarted post construction. Bates complained, "My experience with the Quartermaster's Department out here has been such that I am not sanguine about getting the necessary material for building until I have done most of the work without them." He again appealed for permission to employ civilian labor and requested information as to whether he was to construct a two- or three-company fort.


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    The construction went more smoothly than Bates anticipated; by mid-August one stable and one set of quarters were completed and two sets of officers' quarters were well under way. L.C. Easton, chief quartermaster of the Department of the Missouri, aided the construction when he authorized Bates to purchase lumber and shingles and to employ private teams to deliver those materials. Still, Bates realized the garrison needed more help for the completion of the storehouses before winter, even though he had hired two Civilian masons.


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    In September Bates hired 12 more civilians which brought the total civilian work force to 14 - four carpenters and 10 masons. And, as the fort increased in size, the civilian personnel - teamsters, clerks, blacksmiths, packers, and herders - also increased in number. Fort Wallace employed the largest civilian work force, encompassing construction, clerical, and maintenance personnel, during January, 1869. At that time 215 civilians were on the payroll. As construction terminated, however, and as Indian hostilities decreased, more soldiers could assume the civilians' positions. By April, 1882, when the fort was ready for abandonment, the army employed only one civilian, a blacksmith, at the post.


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    After the summer of 1866 post construction at Fort Wallace slowed because Company M, Seventh cavalry, left in September and the remaining garrison of 30 volunteers of Company B, Sixth Infantry, expected to be mustered out of the army very soon.


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    Evidently their enthusiasm for further construction lagged and the troops accomplished little until Company E, Third infantry, arrived on October 19. These soldiers were joined a few days before Thanksgiving by I troop of the Seventh cavalry. Perhaps the approach of another Kansas, winter caused the men to hurry their work because the construction suffered from poor planning and shoddy craftsmanship - a problem that plagued the building and repair of Fort Wallace as long as it was an active post.


    Fort Wallace.

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