Post Recreation - Sports and Games
Sports provided one avenue to maintain Victorian mores in addition to relieving boredom and providing a means to keep fit. Shooting competition and field events fell into this category as did baseball and football, when these games grew to be popular in American society. In fact, baseball was a passion with Andrew Burt ever since his first post commander at Fort Bridger, [Wyoming, 1866] recognized its value as a morale builder. Gymnastic equipment offered rewards while tennis and croquet suited the more genteel members of a post. Fort Union, New Mexico opened a bowling alley a few years after the Civil War while the Presidio of San Francisco followed suit toward the end of the 19th century. The Bay Area also gave avid sailors the chance to test their boating skills. Although not as dramatic as the Golden Gate, troops at Fort Grant, Arizona, built a pond which they dubbed "Lake Constance" after Anson Mill's daughter. A small rowboat could navigate this miniature body of water, providing the illusion ' that the post was not a landlocked, isolated, desert outpost'
Nearby lakes and streams also afforded ice-skating rinks in cold weather or picnic sites in warmer seasons. Scenic spots, Indian ruins and other elements of the landscape offered sightseeing outings. Visits to Indian camps for ceremonies also passed time. Camping likewise appealed to some families who wanted to "rough it" with the soldiers.
At Fort Scott, boxing was a popular sport-although it probably was more like an organized fist fight as opposed to true boxing.. For more information about boxing visit the following website.
Other forms of amusement were available at the post sutler store, where the men could enjoy a glass of wine or beer, play cards or checkers and shoot billiards. The last mentioned diversion attained a great deal of popularity even in the years before the Civil War.
Did You Know?
Two of Fort Scott's surgeons, William Hammond and Joseph Barnes served as Surgeon Generals during the Civil War. One of them, Joseph Barnes, was attending physician at the deaths of both Presidents Abraham Lincoln and James Garfield and he oversaw the autopsy of President Lincoln. More...