• Fort Parade Ground and Officers Quarters as seen from Guardhouse

    Fort Scott

    National Historic Site Kansas

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Post Recreation - Program Outline

Musicians

Title of Program: That's Entertainment: Frontier Style

Venue: Education Program

Grades: K-4

Tangibles: Soldiers, Officers and Wives, Civilians, Musical Instruments, Dance Floor, Animals (dogs, prey, horses), Games, Guns.

While Army life represented a routine of drill and fatigue duties, soldiers, particularly officers and their wives, found time for some leisure pursuits that helped them to cope with the isolation of the frontier, the hazards of Army life, and the routine of garrison life.

Intangible Concepts:

  • Recreation-Officers and their wives found many diversions just for their amusement, hunting, fishing, horseback riding. These activities actually had some beneficial value. It honed their skills, provided them with exercise, and supplemented their rations. Many tested their skill at hunting. For some it was a sport, but for others it was a means of survival. Practicing their skills at guns was a means of entertainment for many but also a way to hone their skills
  • Culture- Many of the leisurely pursuits, particularly of the officers' wives, were merely to show their station in life. Since they had servants to do the house work, officers' wives had time for flower pressing, sewing, and tatting, literary pursuits, keeping up on the latest fashions, all things that showed their culture and their station in life.
  • Entertainment-Dancing and literary talents often kept officers and wives and the enlisted men amused. Dancing was often used as a way to celebrate end of summer campaigns. Dances ranged from formal balls to free for alls, with some dances turning into drinking sprees. All of these activities served as diversions from military life.
  • Socializing: One of the reasons for leisure was socializing with others of similar ilk. Lavish dinner parties allowed officers and their wives to put on the dog, showing their station in life and jockeying for position. Officers who sought promotion worked their social connections to their advantage. Likewise, officers wives also put their best food forward even though they might not particularly like the person they were putting on the airs for.
  • Music Music entertained people on many levels. Music was a means of expressing thoughts and feelings. Fiddling was popular among the settlers. Military forts had post bands. Individual soldiers played the jaw harp and harmonica to while away the hours.
  • Sports and Games: Many people played games to hone their physical abilities or as a demonstration of physical prowess. Some were more games of skill, while others were games of endurance. Soldiers played baseball, boxed, and did tug of war. while children played games such as hoop and stick, three legged races. Skill-Games and other activities were designed to improve agility, endurance, concentration, observation, hand-eye coordination-all vital skills for a warrior or a soldier.

Universal Concepts:

  • Health, preparedness- The leisure activities allowed the residents of Fort Scott not only to maintain their physical health but their mental well being. These leisure activities of the soldiers meant more than just recreation and health, many of these activities meant honing skills, physical agility, powers of observation, etc , preparing the individual not just for battle but for life.

Theme:

  • Enlisted men, officers and their wives engaged in a variety of leisure pursuits (e.g. sports, games, music, outdoor pursuits) while at Fort Scott for reasons of recreation, health. and developing skills on the frontier that not only helped prepare the individual for battle but for life.

Goal:

  • To show the meaning of various forms of recreation-sports, games, etc.

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

  • Explain the psychological importance of leisure activities.
  • Describe two recreational activities of the people of Fort Scott.

Suggested Activities:

  • Do a sing a long with the students.
  • Have the students walk through some of the steps of the Virginia Reel.
  • One popular play of the time that may have been performed was "Box and Cox" - a one act play produced in London in 1847. A possible activity is to perform part of this play for the students
 
 
Woman riding side saddle on horseback
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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.