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At Fort Larned, which lies just steps from the Santa Fe Trail, cultures mixed every day. Soldiers met plains Indians, European American and Hispanic Teamsters, homesteaders, height hunters, scouts, and railroad workers. US Army regulars served with paroled Confederates. The fort housed African-Americans later known as buffalo soldiers, who formed the company of the 10th cavalry.

The post evolved from a rough, temporary camp set up in 1859 to guard the construction of an Adobe mail station. It was a bustling soldier town by 1867 but became a ghost town by 1878. The soldiers primary purpose was to escort mill coaches and military supply wagons on the trail. Their broader mission was to keep the peace on the plains end and take action when required.

The Fort also hosted Indian agents for the Shyam, Arapaho, plains Apache, Kiowa, and Comanche tribes. In 1867, peace commissioners appointed by Congress met at Fort learned to plan the medicine Lodge treaties.

A huge American flag flew atop a 100-foot pole at the Paris brown center. Many travelers saw the flag as a beacon of strength and security, but for the plains Indians symbolized lost freedom.

Touring the fort: although Fort Larned is one of the best preserved western forts, its appearance today is that of the late 1860s. The mini wood and Adobe buildings outside the central parade ground (the hospital, laundry, stables, Mill station, bowling alley, Teamsters quarters, and others) quickly deteriorated and did not survive.

From 1865 to 1868/200 civilians labor to complete tin sandstone buildings, boosting the local economy. Nine of these buildings still stand. Construction in the Freighting of supplies among the western forts were welcome sources for civilian contracts.

Touring the fort: spanning 900 miles of the great plains, the trail offered riches an adventure for some – at the risk of hardship and peril. Many westbound wagons carried military supplies, metal tools, cough, and alcohol. Other goods included hardware like fish hooks, crate items like cut glass beads, Home Goods like cookware, and staples light brown Havana sugar and coffee. Some plains Indians feud travelers on the trail as trespassers. As clashes room or a frequent, the US government expanded the string of forts along the trail to protect American interests and promote peace.

First mail station: US postmaster general Joseph Holt asked the word department to protect the Pawnee Fork Mill Station from Indian raids in 1859. The US army soon arrived and by 1860 began constructing a permanent fort. In 1861 the garrison expanded from 60 to 292 men, but throughout Fort Larned's lifetime its numbers rose and fell. Factors included the US army's need for troops to fight back east in the Civil War, the intermittent nature of Indian hostilities, and evolving US government policy toward the tribes.

Buffalo soldiers: One of the first African-American cavalry units of the post-Civil War US Army, Company A, 10th Cavalry, arrived at Fort Larned in April 1867. In late December 1868 after a fight over a billiards game, the cavalry stables burned. Arson was suspected, but no witnesses came forward. On the night of the fire, commanding officer Major John Yard had ordered Company A to guard a distant wood pile. Soon after, Yard transferred the unit to Fort Zarah rather than deal with the racial tensions.

Indian agency: By 1866 two Indian agents had set up offices at Fort Larned – Edward W Wynkoop for the Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes and Jesse Leavenworth for the Kiowa, Plains Apache, and Comanche. In 1868, two days after Lieutenant Colonel George Custer led an attack on a peaceful Cheyenne camp on the Washita river, Edward W Wynkoop resigned.

Crimes: tribes visited the Indian agency to collect annuities-including guns, blankets, tools, clothing, coffee, and flour-promised to them in the Little Arkansas and Medicine Lodge Treaties of 1865 and 1867 in exchange for their lands. Congress intended the annuities to placate the tribes, help them adopt European American ways, and help them adapt to life on the reservations.

After the 1680s, when plains Indians first mounted horses, tribes including the Cheyenne, Arapaho, plains Apache, Lakota, Kiowa, and Comanche moved across the region in pursuit of bison. The animal provided for their material culture-skins for teepees, clothing, and trade, bone for tools-and food for sustenance. By the 1860s, a stream of newcomers and changing US government policies limited the tribes' access to the bison herds and imposed strict boundaries. Commerce, aided by the US Army, became an agent of change. Plains Indian tribes divided into two groups north and south of the Arkansas River. They fought for control of the grasses-to feed the horses-and bison herds until 1840, when they reached a piece. The Santa Fe trail followed the same river that had served as a boundary for the two groups. The river also formed Mexico's northern border until 1848.

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