• 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.

Weapons-Program Outline

Soldier firing weapon

Program Title: Ready. Aim. Fire.

Type of Program: Education Program

Venue: Firing Range

Audience: Elementary Students

Tangible Resources: Weapon, Blackpowder, Accoutrements, Rounds

Intangible Concepts:

  • Enforcement-The army's mission at Fort Scott was to protect the Permanent Indian Frontier. Armed with the weapons appropriate to their branch of service, soldiers had some success keeping white settlers and American Indians separated, thus enforcing promises made to the Indians.
  • Deterrent-The mere existence of the military in this area may have helped keep the peace. Well armed soldiers both at Fort Scott and on campaign may have been enough to prevent violence in numerous encounters between the soldiers and those they confronted (eg. Texans, American Indians)
  • Efficiency-In order to become efficient in the use of their weapons, soldiers had to drill on a constant basis. Following established procedures, they became proficient in handling and firing their weapons. A well trained soldier could load and fire three rounds a minute.
  • Safety-As important as efficiency was the safe handling of weapons. Unsafe practices could lead to injury and death of the soldier firing the weapon and those around him.

Universal Concept:

  • Protection-Ultimately, the soldiers' job was one of protection, namely to protect people on the frontier and American interests. While trained to fight, the hope was that by being well prepared, they could keep the peace without fighting.


  • The weapons or small arms of the 1840s army assisted the soldiers at Fort Scott in their role as peacekeepers on the frontier.


  • To show how the weapons worked.
  • To identify instances where the soldiers used their weapons to fulfill the mission of the United States Army on the frontier.

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

  • Name the weapons carried by the dragoons and the infantry.
  • Explain why it was important to follow each step when firing small arms.
  • Identify three ways that soldiers at Fort Scott used their weapons in the 1840s. (to keep the peace, to patrol the overland trails, to fight in the Mexican-American War.)

Suggested Activity:

  • Distribute wooden guns to the students and take them through a weapons drill.

Resource Protection/Safety Concerns:

  • Only trained personnel will fire the weapon.
  • Follow all weapons safety protocol during station. Never point a weapon at anyone, even one that is not loaded.
  • Caution students in handling of the wooden guns
  • Students should stand back during firing demonstrations.

Soldier shouldering weapons
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Did You Know?

General Winfield Scott at the time of the Mexican American War

The fort was named for General Winfield Scott, who was the commander of all American armies in the 1840s. General Scott was none too happy about it and said that it was done without his knowledge and against his wishes.