While it is true that weapons can be used for violent purposes, it is equally true that weapons can be used for protection and as a deterrent against violence. At Fort Scott, in the 1840s, soldiers used their weapons to defend the frontier and to keep peace between white settlers and American Indians. To achieve success, soldiers had to be well trained in the use and care of the weapons. Thus drill became an important part of the soldiers' daily ritual.
In this station, presenters will discuss the importance of weapons in the military, the operation, handling, and care of weapons, and will take students through a mock weapons drill.
Two structures are associated with this station-the powder magazine and the post headquarters-specifically, the ordnance storeroom in the post headquarters.
The powder magazine was built in 1844, specifically to house black powder and other explosives. Several safety features were included in the design of the building. The walls were several bricks thick and the wood paneling and flooring were fastened with copper nails to prevent sparks. The powder magazine was built fire proof and bullet proof. The domed ceiling was designed as the weakest part of the structure so that an explosion would go through the roof and the thick walls would remain standing. There was also a lightning rod located next to it, to prevent powder explosions due to lightning strikes. Regulations specified that the magazine be opened three days each week to air the building in order to help keep the powder dry.
The ordnance storeroom was where the rounds of ammunition for the weapons were stored. These included musket balls, cartridges, musket flints, as well as rounds and accouterments for the artillery. An Ordnance Sergeant supervised both areas.
While it would be impractical to take students to the ordnance storeroom, presenters could take students to the powder magazine as part of the station.
Did You Know?
At Fort Scott, several of the boxes and barrels are marked Fort Scott, MO. Not actually in Missouri, the fort was located four miles west, in what was then unorganized territory. The army used Fort Scott, MO as a shipping address to assure that supplies made it to the right place.