Post Recreation - Literary Talents
Almost every regiment had its library, consisting of a few books and magazines. These were available to the men, but officers and their families also took advantage of the reading materials. Usually a man from the company or regiment was in charge of checking out the books. When the library was kept in the Adjutant's Office, this usually was the orderly sergeant. Reading material from the post library where books and periodicals (including some foreign language newspapers) might be available suited some including bibliophile Ethan Allen Hitchcock, an officer whose personal collection sold for thousands of dollars when he disposed of it in the 1850s in San Francisco.
Writing and receiving letters brought similar pleasures to the literate, and had the additional benefit of providing future generations with a clearer picture of frontier military life. Singing societies, various types of organizations and clubs along with religious activities filled hours too. Visiting, sing-alongs at officers' quarters when a piano or organ was available and looking through picture albums or stereoviews were also inexpensive means of amusement. Finally, if all else failed, leave could be taken to seek entertainment and relaxation in a more populated area.
Amateur theatricals also held a certain appeal. Soldier-actors could always draw audiences from their comrades and members of the garrison. On occasion, nearby civilians attended, anxious to escape their workaday lives just as the troopers were. In turn, traveling troops or local little theater presentations at neighboring settlements attracted military personnel, as did other novelties including steam calliopes and possibly even circuses.
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...