Fort Scott tells the tale of life on the frontier.
While Fort Scott was at the center of the sweep of history through the westward movement, theMexican War, and the Civil War, it was also the home of military men and their families. Both of these aspects of life on the frontier are displayed and explained in the reconstructed and well marked Fort. Some of the buildings have well organized museum displays which tell the story of the events during the active years of the fort, but others have been restored to original condition and furnishing. There is a Tall Grass Prairie Loop Trail to walk out and get the feel of what the land might have been like before the fort was built.
The Fort was a full community.
The National Historic Site of Fort Scott is located where US 69 and 54 intersect, about 90 miles south of Kansas City. The Fort was built between 1842 and 1846 out on the prairie, mostly by the soldiers themselves with wood and stone from the surrounding land. It was an isolated post, so complete facilities were needed, including barracks for the enlisted men, housing for officers, stables, hospital, storehouses, and storage for weapons. The buildings which survived have been refurnished and restored, and others have been reconstructed to give the complete picture of the fort as it would have been when it was operating.
Guarding the Santa Fe Trail.
The primary purpose of the fort was to keep peace between the various Indian groups and white settlers. A major duty was the guarding of caravans on the Santa Fe Trail and general patrol of Indian country. Capt. Kearny led his troops through the high plains in the summer of 1845 as far as the Rockies and Arkansas. They escorted emigrants on the Oregon Trail, and traveled back to the fort over the Santa Fe Trail, which passed just north of fort Scott, demonstrating control of a wide geographic area. Fort Scott Dragoons fought battles in 1846 and 1847 during the Mexican War.
Fort Scott and Bleeding Kansas.
During the tumultuous years called Bleeding Kansas, from 1855-61, Federal troops from Fort Scott were called on during the raging war over slavery, the result of Congress opening Kansas and Nebraska in 1854 to white settlers with the right to choose by vote whether to be slave or free. Fort Scott was the headquarters of the Army of the Frontier during the Civil War, when it served as a refugee center for Indians, the base for one of the first Black regiments, and general supply center for the area.
The town of Fort Scott.
The town continued to grow around the Fort to include stores, a hotel, saloons, billiard tables, and the support and the businesses that an army base attracts. The town and the restored fort are a worthwhile stop on a road trip, or a day or weekend trip from nearby towns.