• Fort Parade Ground and Officers Quarters as seen from Guardhouse

    Fort Scott

    National Historic Site Kansas

Dragoon Soldier-Program Outline

Dragoons in Squad Room by artist Hugh Brown

Title of Program: Bed and Breakfast: Frontier Style

Venue: Dragoon Barracks

Intended Audience: Elementary Students

Tangibles: Barracks, Beds, Tables, Fireplace, Soldiers, Laundresses, Food

Intangibles:(Concepts associated with the barracks that can be discussed as part of the station)

  • Rest and Comfort-The dragoon barracks gave the soldier a place to rest at the end of a long day. Sleeping in the bunk beds protected in a sturdy structure was better than being exposed to the elements. Unfortunately, sharing a bed with a fellow soldier and bedbugs detracted from that comfort.
  • Cleanliness-While standards of cleanliness may not have been up to today’s standards, for the time period conditions were relatively sanitary. Soldiers did bathe regularly, once a week-a vast improvement over hygiene standards common during the period. Soldiers had laundresses to wash their shirts. Weekly inspections dictated that the quarters also be kept clean. For the most part, Fort Scott provided a better environment than other frontier forts.
  • Recreation-Much of the recreation after hours was associated with the barracks. Soldiers played checkers, cards, wrote letters and read books (depending on whether they were literate or not), played musical instrument, held dances. Many of these activities took place in the barracks. Recreational pursuits helped to alleviate the monotony of garrison life and were good for the soldier’s mental health.
  • Camaraderie-While crowded conditions may have caused conflicts, it also promoted camaraderie. Common experiences and close associations produced an environment where many soldiers formed friendships. Living conditions also led to camaraderie between soldiers and laundresses. Many of these associations resulted in lifelong relationships-either as friends or as husbands and wives.
  • Command Structure-The barracks reveals the command structure of the army. Privates were organized into squads with each squad being commanded by a corporal and a sergeant. This is reflected through the arrangement of the sleeping quarters. Commanding officers for each company lived in separate quarters but did maintain an office in the barracks in order to post daily assignments and to conduct routine business. Discipline was enforced by the non-commissioned officers (sergeants and corporals) under the direction of the commissioned officers (captains and lieutenants). It was also the non-commissioned officers that delivered the majority of the training to the soldiers.

Universal Concept

  • Preparedness: All of the activities that went on at the barracks had the ultimate outcome of preparing the soldier to perform his mission. Necessities of life (food, sleep) were provided at the barracks as was a command structure that delivered training and discipline to the soldier. Camaraderie among the soldiers helped the soldiers to bind together as a unit-psychologically and emotionally. All of the activity at the barracks helped the company to coalesce into an effective unit that carried out the military mission on the frontier.

Theme: The dragoon barracks provided the soldier with creature comforts, a structure that delivered discipline and training, and opportunities for camaraderie- all of which helped the soldiers to coalesce into an effective military unit.

Goals: The goals of this program are to:

  • Describe the many functions that went on at the dragoon barracks.
  • Relate the activities of the dragoon barracks to the efficiency of the military unit.

Objectives: After participating in this program, the students will be able to

  • Explain why mounted troops were needed on the frontier.
  • List two qualifications required to be a dragoon.
  • Give two duties the dragoon soldier would have performed on a typical day.
  • Explain how activities that took place at the barracks contributed to the soldiers' well being.

Suggested Activities:

  • Have the students be new recruits and inspect them.
  • Have one of them open their mouth so that you can inspect their teeth.
  • Interrogate one of the students to see if they match the age and height requirement.
  • Invite a couple of the students to lay down on one of the beds-head to toe.
  • Do a show and tell with the items in your haversack, relating each item to the theme.
  • If you are musically inclined, you could play a tune with the jaw harp or mouth harmonica.

Resource Management/Safety Issues

  • Children should not climb on the top bunks.
  • Weapons safety protocols must be followed at all times.
  • Advise children to watch their step going up and down stairs.
  • Do not share your jaw harp or harmonica with other visitors. Advise them that they are for sell if they wish to try it. It’s not a good idea to let visitors put something in their mouth that you had in yours. It also would be a good idea to sterilize the jaw harp or harmonica at the end of each day of use by wiping it off with an alcohol wipe and then rinsing it with hot water, than drying it prior to storage.
 

 

 
 
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Did You Know?

Montgomery's Raid on Fort Scott

Politics made strange bedfellows. John Little, a proslavery man, was shot to death at his father's store, by free state men who raided Fort Scott in December 1858. A friend, George Crawford, a free state man, was staying with Little that night. Crawford had once been the target of proslavery men.