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Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Battlefield Dispatches No. 319: '90,000 rations, a horrible death and mules stampede'

Friday, June 1, 2012

In May and June of 1862, Fort Scott was the initial rendezvous point for a large Union campaign into the Indian Territory, present Oklahoma, known as the "Indian or Southern Expedition."

The purpose of this expedition was to drive the Confederates out of the Northeastern Indian Territory north of the Arkansas River, re-occupy Fort Gibson and allow the Indian refuges who had been driven from this area to return to their homes.

Because of its strategic location on the "military road" that connected Fort Leavenworth and Fort Gibson, Fort Scott was selected as the main rendezvous point for the troops and the necessary articles of war such as rations, wagons, mules, horses, weapons and ammunition, ambulances, etc.

All of this assisted in turning Fort Scott into a major military complex which continued throughout the war and the reestablishment of Fort Scott as an official installation of the Union Army.

The following incidents describe Fort Scott in late May of 1862 and are located in the May 31,1862, edition of the Fort Scott Bulletin newspaper.

Fort Scott a Military Post

"We are reliably informed that Fort Scott has been made a military post for three years or during the war." It is to be hoped that immediate measures will be taken for the erection of suitable buildings for the commissary and quartermaster stores. One year's rents will do it and relieve our citizens from a great inconvenience now felt for the want of room, every house in town that can be obtained for that purpose, being filled with Uncle Sam's property. Immense (supply) trains for the use of the Indian Expedition are now arriving constantly from Fort Leavenworth. Lt. R. W. Hammer has been detailed to act as the commissary officer at this post.

Four hundred wagons are now on the way down from Fort Leavenworth, having been turned over to Capt. Insley for the use of the "Indian Expedition." They are freighted with provisions, clothing, camp and garrison equipage, ordinance stores (ammunition), etc."

90,000 Rations

"Within a day or two at the furthest, Gen. Doubleday will start south. Ninety-thousand rations are being loaded into the wagons. An immense additional supply will soon be in from Fort Leavenworth. This looks as if work was to be done in "Dixie." We will keep our readers posted on the operations of the expedition. (During the Civil War or for that matter in any war, many soldiers were not killed in combat or died as the result of a disease, but were killed as the result of a fatal accident of which the following was one.)"

A horrible death

"The 6th Regiment of Kans. Vol. (Cavalry). The Companies of Capts. Greeno, Mefford, Rogers, Lucas and Van Sickle came in from Paola this week. Yesterday, captains Lucas and Van Sickle, with their companies, started for Iola. The remaining companies will start probably tomorrow. The health of the regiment is good, the horses are in excellent condition and Gen. Doubleday will find the 6th a valuable acquisition to the expedition.

While at Paola, a member of Capt. Rogers' company met with "a horrible death." He was holding a fractious (nervous) horse and thoughtlessly slipped a noose on the end of the halter over his wrist. The horse became frightened and started off, dragging the man after him. After dragging him a short distance his head was dashed against a wagon wheel, crushing his skull. He was afterward hauled over rocks and stumps until his life was extinct, before the frantic horse could be stopped!"

"Pony Express"

"The Pony Express between here (Fort Scott) and Fort Leavenworth has been reestablished. It goes through in 24 hours."

"A Mule Stampede"

"Last Sunday a mule train of half a dozen wagons stampeded in Bigler Street (renamed Market Street and now Old Fort Boulevard). For a few minutes there was a scene of the wildest confusion. Wagonmasters were galloping about heading off the different teams and making themselves heard generally (I expect they were cussing a very loud "blue streak" at the muley four legged critters.) The disturbance was soon quelled without accident."

Now then, troops and supplies continued to arrive in Fort Scott for the "Indian or Southern Expedition and more of these plus the expeditions organization will be featured in next week's column as the war went on!

Arnold W. Schofield
Battlefield Dispatches