• Fort Parade Ground and Officers Quarters as seen from Guardhouse

    Fort Scott

    National Historic Site Kansas

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  • Exhibits Closed

    Beginning Monday August 25, the infantry barracks museum will be closed for remodeling and to prepare for a new theater and exhibits. Work is expected to be completed by spring of 2015. The site's movie will be played in the visitor center upon request.

Guardhouse - Cell Types

Solitary Confinment Cells


Each guardhouse had an area set aside for light and dark cells, which were reserved for the worst offenders - soldiers who refused to obey orders, had delirium tremens, were riotous, or perhaps were mentally disturbed. The light cells had small openings in or above the doors admitting some light and air. Dark cells had solid doors, and ventilation was provided by openings in the rear wall or by shafts. Cells were unheated and without sanitary facilities. Buckets served the latter purpose. Since many guardhouses were built of stone, like Fort Scott's, the cell areas were cold and damp. Although the foul air was of concern to the surgeons at the garrisons around the country, it was not until years after the Civil War that conditions improved for those in confinement.

General Confinement Cell


Prisoners with light sentences were placed in the prison room. This usually was a large room with adequate ventilation but unheated. There seems to have been no furnishings in the room. The men brought their blankets and slept on the floor. Only rarely was a platform bed permitted. Meyers, during his one stay in the guardhouse, indicated he preferred the cells to sleeping in the prison room with the other inmates.

Historic Furnishing Report for The Guardhouse at Fort Scott NHS, by Sally Johnson Ketcham.

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Did You Know?

Col. George Croghan

Colonel George Croghan, the inspector general, visited the fort in 1844. He praised living conditions, but disliked the layout. He remarked that the hospital "interrupted in the most offensive way, the only refreshing summer breezes" One author doubted that any building could stop a Kansas wind.