Fort Laramie in Goshen County, Wyoming — The American West (Mountains)
Post Quartermaster’s Area
Fort Laramie National Historic Site
The job of building, maintaining, and supplying military posts belonged to the Quartermaster’s Department. The QMD was responsible for quarters, barracks, construction, infrastructure, transportation of personnel and supplies, and the procurement of most equipment and commodities.
The empty field in front of you once bustled with activity at the workshops of the blacksmith, wheelwright, farrier, carpenter, painter, and saddler. The quartermaster’s area extended from where you are standing for almost a quarter of a mile to the northeast. Warehouses for the storage of grain, clothing, lumber, tools, and general supplies were also located here.
On the far side of the quartermaster’s area were large corrals for the post’s draft animals, including horses, mules, and oxen. Firewood and hay filled storage yards adjoining the corrals.
The quartermaster rolls listed 52 civilian employees in 1875, most of them teamsters. The department also employed a telegraph operator, an engineer, clerks, interpreters, blacksmiths, saddlers, and other skilled craftsmen. Salaries ranged from $35 to $125 per month.
Teamsters: Truck Drivers of the 19th Century
Fort Laramie served as the army’s main command and logistics center during the height of the Northern Plains Indian Wars. Supplying the post was an enormous task
A train of freight wagons was an amazing sight. Their wheels alone were almost as tall as a man, and each wagon required five or six teams of oxen to move the four tons of cargo it held.
Teamsters were a tough lot, and had a reputation for coarse behavior. Dr. Elliot West summed them up best, writing that their “fantastic oral literature of vile joke and curses were so gloriously profane that awed bystanders gazed upward, expecting the heavens to crack open.” In charge of the freight wagons was the wagon master, paid up to $150 a month, an impressive wage for the period.
The freighting firm of Russell, Majors, and Wadell required 3,500 wagons, 40,000 oxen, 1,000 mules, and over 4,000 drivers to fulfill their government contract in 1858. The Nebraska News described the scene of freight wagons on the trail, “ . . . a thousand whips are cracking; sixteen thousand tails are gaily snapping the flies of June away, two thousand drivers shrieking, eight thousand wagon wheel squeaking . . . ”
Erected by National Park Service.
Location. 42° 12.186′ N, 104° 33.305′ W. Marker is in Fort Laramie Click for map. Marker is located at Fort Laramie National Historic Site. Marker is in this post office area: Fort Laramie WY 82212, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Handcarts – The New Plan (here, next to this marker); Crossroads of a Nation Moving West (within shouting distance of this marker); Embassy on the Northern Plains (within shouting distance of this marker); The Post Bakeries (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Commissary Storehouse (about 400 feet away); Site of Army Bridge (about 400 feet away); The Queens of Soap Suds Row (about 500 feet away); Guardhouse (about 500 feet away). Click for a list of all markers in Fort Laramie.
More about this marker. The bottom of the marker contains a photograph of the “Quartermaster’s supply room, Fort Ringgold, Texas, 1893 – 1897”. A second photograph at the top right of the marker depicts a “Black Hills bull train near Fort Meade, South Dakota, 1885.”
Also see . . . Fort Laramie National Historic Site. (Submitted on August 12, 2015, by Bill Coughlin of North Arlington, New Jersey.)
Categories. • Forts, Castles •
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Bill Coughlin of North Arlington, New Jersey. This page has been viewed 116 times since then and 63 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3. submitted on , by Bill Coughlin of North Arlington, New Jersey. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.