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Officer's quarters at the National Historic Site of Fort Scott, Kansas. It was named for Gen. Winfield Scott, a figure who gained prominence for his exploits during the Mexican-American War in the mid-19th century. The fort served as a military outpost on the frontier, and was used as a supply base and a security buffer during the opening of the West. It was situated on a main military road between Forts Leavenworth and Gibson, which offered protection to an ever-increasing number of settlers migrating from the East. The fort was most active between 1842 and 1853, but it was used during the Civil War also.

Key events such as Bleeding Kansas, a series of violent confrontations between pro- and anti-slavery proponents, from 1854 to 1861, and the Civil War also occurred during its most-active period. The Civil War was essentially a large-scale eruption of the conflict which had burned in the states of Kansas and Missouri for years. Missouri was a slave state, but Kansas eventually entered the Union as a free state in 1861, which denied rich slaveholders control of the land, and infuriated many in Missouri who had Southern sympathies, and had fought to influence the vote, often by descending into gang violence and essentially guerilla warfare.

Curiously, it did not have fortification walls when first built, probably because of the presence of artillery. Because there were few trees and the closest mill was about a mile and a half away, only one duplex out of the five which were planned for officers' quarters was built by 1844, and the site was never completed. Barracks and a substantial barn with dozens of horse stalls did eventually appear, and still remain. The fort was essentially obsolete by the time it was completed, and it was abandoned after only three years, when the army moved further west to Fort Riley. Fort Scott was renewed in August, 1861, when war broke out, and it was also one of the few installations which recruited and trained black soldiers. It served as a general hospital and prison until after the war, when the army left and auctioned off what was there. They returned in 1870, but the old fort was rarely used, as the soldiers primarily camped along the railroad tracks they were assigned to protect. The fort languished until 1965 when the National Park Service gave the city government of the adjacent town of Fort Scott the funding to restore it, and it became a National Historic Site in October, 1978.

The national historic site oversees this site, which encompasses about 20 historic structures and five acres of tallgrass prairie. Guests are free to walk around the site, and many of the buildings are open as well. The displays focus on life at the fort, which was monotonous, to say the least. The desertion rate ranged from twelve to sixteen percent, due to irregular pay, boredom and especially the harsh conditions. According to one captain who served there, wolf and duck hunting was the only way someone could tolerate living there. It now encompasses about 17 acres. Visitation averages about 25,000 per year. Surviving structures include four officers' barracks, like the one seen here, a dragoon's barracks, two infantry barracks, a hospital, guardhouse, stables, ordinance and post headquarters, quartermaster stable, bakeshop and magazine. Many school groups come through the site, where they learn from costumed docents who teach them about life on the frontier and at the fort during one of the most expansive periods in US history.

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Additional Photos by Terez Anon (terez93) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 77 W: 78 N: 826] (1638)
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