The Frontier Army and the U.S. Mail
The cavalry company are used entirely for escorting the mails between this post and Fort Dodge 55 miles west and Fort Zarah 33 miles east. The mails come and depart twice a week.
William Forwood, captain, Fort Larned post surgeon, 1868
Imagine the West as it was in the late 1850s, before any telegraph lines or intercontinental railroads had been built. Between the Mississippi River states and the Pacific coast, only a handful of small settlements and Army posts lay scattered amidst millions of square miles of lonely prairies, high mountains, canyons, and deserts.
All information—whether for private business or for purposes of the federal government—moved by handwritten paperwork. Newspapers, reports, requisitions, bills, and letters typically crossed the Plains at the speed of a horse-and-rider or wagon—some 15-to-20 miles a day.
By 1859 the United States Post Office was demanding that mail crossing the Great Plains move faster. Letters leaving Independence, Missouri had to arrive in Santa Fe, New Mexico in 15 to 20 days. That requires moving at 45 miles a day. To make that possible, Hall & Porter, mail contractors, set up a new relay station here in August 1859. But within only a few weeks, hostile Kiowas had killed two Hall & Porter employees.
The 1st Cavalry came to investigate—and
Soldiers here at Fort Larned could expect to spend many weeks of every year on mail escort duty on the Santa Fe Trail. The mail from the East arrived through the open prairie you see just ahead.
Erected by National Park Service.
Marker series. This marker is included in the Santa Fe Trail marker series.
Location. 38° 11.271′ N, 99° 13.011′ W. Marker is in Fort Larned National Historic Site, Kansas, in Pawnee County. Click for map. Marker is at the picnic area, near the park entrance. Marker is at or near this postal address: 1767 Kansas Highway 156, Larned KS 67550, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. A Soldier Town (here, next to this marker); Santa Fe Trail (here, next to this marker); Fort Larned (here, next to this marker); The Great Wagon Road to the Southwest (approx. 0.2 miles away); Soldiers Who Died At Fort Larned (approx. ¼ mile away); Third Infantry Honored Dead (approx. 0.3 miles away); Well, Adobe Hospital and Hospital Steward's Quarters (approx. 0.3 miles away); Doesn't Every Fort Have a Wall? (approx. 0.4 miles away). Click for a list of all markers in Fort Larned National Historic Site.
Also see . . .
1. Fort Larned National Historic Site. (Submitted on July 14, 2016, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.)
2. Santa Fe National Historic Trail. (Submitted on July 14, 2016, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.)
3. The Mail Station and the Military at Camp on Pawnee Fork, 1859-1860. (Submitted on July 14, 2016, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.)
Categories. • Communications • Forts, Castles • Patriots & Patriotism • Wars, US Indian •
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania. This page has been viewed 99 times since then and 12 times this year. Photos: 1, 2. submitted on , by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania. This page was last revised on July 14, 2016.