Guardhouse - Program Outline

Guard on Duty

Title of Program: Securing the Perimeter: Guard Duty at Fort Scott

Type of Program: School Program

Venue: Guardhouse

Intended Audience: Elementary Students

Tangible Resources: Guardroom, Cells, Shackles, Guns, Sawbuck, Log, Barrel

Intangible Concepts:

  • Discipline - One of the purposes of guard duty was to detain and guard those who violated military rules and regulations. Discipline was strict; punishments were harsh and often cruel. Without strict discipline, it was believed chaos and a breakdown of law and order would ensue. With discipline, the army could maintain an effective fighting force. As George Washington said, “Discipline is the soul of an army. It makes small numbers formidable; procures success to the weak, and esteem to all.”
  • Crime and Punishment - Just about every soldier got in trouble for something during his five year enlistment. Those who broke the rules were often dealt with harshly, with the theory being that harsh punisment serves as a deterrent to crime.
  • Duty - When a president is sworn in, he takes an oath to protect the Constitution. When a soldier is sworn in, he also takes an oath to perform his duty. The army took guard duty quite seriously. Dereliction of duty was a primary cause of soldiers getting into trouble.

Universal Concept:

  • Safety and Security - The primary purpose of guard duty was for the safety and security of the fort. Just as modern policemen provide a level of safety for their communities, so too did the guards provide that for the fort. By keeping a constant vigilant watch, the guards could stop threats from the fort’s exterior (intruders, prairie fires) and reduce conflict within its confines (from unruly soldiers, etc.).

Theme: Guards played a vital function at Fort Scott by enforcing discipline and providing for its safety and security.

Goals: The goals of this program are to:

  • Describe the functions of guards while on guard duty.
  • To give an idea of the important role of guard duty in providing for the fort’s security.

Objectives: As a result of listening to this program, the student will be able to:

  • Name three duties of the guards.
  • Identify two common crimes and name a punishment for each.
  • Describe living conditions in the cells.
  • Explain why guards played an important role at Fort Scott.

Suggested Activities:

These are activities you could do at the guardhouse while interpreting to the public.

  • Demonstrate how a sentry would stop someone from entering the fort by having one of the students. approach the guard and give a countersign or password.
  • Allow the students to climb and sit on the platform bed during the program.
  • Let students into the cells-pretend to lock them in.

Resource Management/Safety Issues:

  • Students will not be allowed to handle edged weapons. Students may touch or handle firearms as long as the volunteer or staff member maintains physical hand control of the weapon at all times. Do not leave firearms unattended.
  • Caution students about handling hand and leg shackles. Leg shackles particularly are heavy and can cause injury if dropped.
  • Children may climb on platform bed, but should use caution when dismounting.
  • Students should not be allowed on sawbuck. Park volunteers may demonstrate sawbuck, providing there are two spotters-one on either side to steady the volunteer in case of a fall.

Ball and Chain
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Last updated: January 8, 2021

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PO Box 918
Fort Scott , KS 66701


620 223-0310

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