With Independence Day quickly approaching, I’ve been reading cool blogs about our nation’s beginnings. I’ve decided to be different. (This decision has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that most of the Midwest was owned by Spain during the American Revolution, and therefore, had no part to play.)
Fort Leavenworth, Kansas may not have had a part in the founding of our nation, but it certainly played a huge role in the settling of it.
Built in 1827, Fort Leavenworth is the oldest continuously active fort west of Washington, D.C. Cantonment Leavenworth, as it was called then, was located in a strategic point near the Kansa tribe of Native Americans and began with fourteen officers and 174 enlisted men. It quickly grew in importance, as it became the eastern end of the Santa Fe Trail.
Fort Leavenworth saw many changes and many famous people through the years. William Clark (of Lewis and Clark fame) and Stephen W. Kearny both were stationed there. So were the Buffalo Soldiers, the African-American units of the Civil War.
The Rookery, built in 1834, is the oldest building in Kansas and was originally built as the bachelor quarters for the solders. It’s said to be one of the many haunted buildings on the fort, which has a reputation for being the most haunted fort in the U.S. Residents say the place is gorgeous and that makes up for the quirky incidents.
Soldiers at the fort were instrumental in keeping a lid on early conflicts with Native Americans, fighting between bushwhackers and jawhawkers, as well as participating in the Indian Wars (1868-1890).
By the turn of the century, the fort took on a new focus. Education. It’s now one of the leading educational centers for the Army, including the Command and General Staff College.
There’s an interesting museum at the fort as well as many historic (and haunted) buildings and tours.