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,
The 1st Cavalry came to investigate—and stayed. From October 1859 until this post closed in 1878, the most vital regular mission for troops at Fort Larned was to make sure communications from the East to the West kept flowing.
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.
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Communications • Forts and Castles • Wars, US Indian. In addition, it is included in the Postal Mail and Philately, and the Santa Fe Trail series lists. A significant historical year for this entry is 1868.
Location. 38° 11.271′ N, 99° 13.011′ W. Marker is in Fort Larned National Historic Site, Kansas, in Pawnee County. Marker is at the picnic area, near the park entrance. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 1767 Kansas Highway 156, Larned KS 67550, United States of America. Touch for directions.
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
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.)
Credits. This page was last revised on September 8, 2020. It was originally submitted on July 14, 2016, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania. This page has been viewed 295 times since then and 31 times this year. Photos: 1, 2. submitted on July 14, 2016, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.