History of Fort Leavenworth, Kansas
From: History of Leavenworth County, Kansas
BY: Jesse A. Hall and Leroy T. Hand
Historical Publishing Company
Topeka, Kansas 1921


Leavenworth County and City derive their names from Fort Leavenworth. On March 7, 1827, Col. Henry Leavenworth of the Third United States Infantry received orders to take four companies of his regiment and ascend the Missouri River. At the time the order was given Col. Leavenworth was on duty at Jefferson Barracks, St. Louis. A portion of the order in substance was as follows: "And when he reaches a point on the left bank near the mouth of the Little Platte River, and within a range of eighty miles above its confluence, he will select such a position as in his judgment is best calculated for the site of a permanent cantonment. The spot being chosen, he will construct, with the troops of his command, comfortable though temporary quarters sufficient for the accommodation of four companies."

He proceeded as instructed, carefully explored the region and finding no desirable site on the left bank of the river wrote to the department, stating that there was a suitable location on the right bank of the river within the distance designated and that he had concluded there was no other place that would answer the purpose. Early in June before the official approval reached him Col. Leavenworth began the erection of barracks and named the post Cantonment Leavenworth. On September 19, 1827, Major General Gains, commanding the Western Department, approved the site selected by Col. Leavenworth, which is the present site of Fort Leavenworth, and it grew to be the most important military post established by the government in the West. The name was changed to Fort Leavenworth February 8, 1832, as all army posts after this date were designated as forts.

The boundaries of the fort were given as follows in the office of the adjutant general:

"It extends from six to seven miles along the Missouri River and varies from one to two miles wide, containing about 6,840 acres, on the right bank of the river."

The land was claimed by the Delaware Indians. Later on some 939 acres of land were added to the reservation on the Missouri side of the river. There still exists the old stone wall with its port holes erected for a defense against the Indians. Extensive improvements have been made at Fort Leavenworth and on the reservation. A paved road connects the city of Leavenworth with the fort as also does an electric railway.

The fort is a magnificent natural park. To the east lies the Missouri River and to the west lies a long ridge of wooded hills. The grounds are dotted here and there with fine shade trees. To the southwest of the new barracks are golf links and drilling grounds. North of the new barracks and south of the old barracks are the west end parade grounds used for drilling purposes and athletic events. The National Cemetery lies at the foot of the hills on the west. It is a beautiful place covered with blue grass and shade trees. Here many illustrious dead lie. The graves are orderly arranged and many have monuments showing who are buried there. The body of Gen. Henry Leavenworth was removed from Delhi, New York, to the cemetery on Memorial Day, 1902. A road leads northwest toward Kickapoo at the western terminus of which is found a hog ranch, cattle barns and chicken houses owned and operated by the government. A fine herd of purebred cattle is kept by the government.

Besides the west end parade grounds there is a tract east of headquarters and south of the disciplinary barracks used for drill purposes. The fort is laid off in the same manner as a city. Along the streets are located officers' residences. They are fine structures generally built for two apartments so that two officers and their families can occupy the same building. There is a large hospital facing the west end parade grounds on the east. The old barracks are on the north and the one to the south, consisting of a double row all built of brick. Just northwest of the electric depot is a magnificent Y. M. C. A. Building, the gift of Helen Gould. Standing far cut on the golf links is a radio station.

The first water works consisted of a six mule team and wagon driven to the edge of the river and there barrels were filled and distributed to the fort. In 1865 a pumping station was erected on the bank of the river about a quarter of a mile north of the bridge. Water was pumped from there to a large tank situated on Scott Avenue south of Pope Hall holding 21,000 gallons. From this water was hauled to the various places in wagons. Cisterns and wells were also used. In 1883 mains were laid from Leavenworth City and Ft. Leavenworth Water Co. and since then the water supply has been obtained from this source.

Metropolitan Avenue is 100 feet wide along the entire length of the southern boundary of the reservation. Grant Avenue, commonly known as the Fort Road connects the fort with Leavenworth City at Seventh Street and Metropolitan Avenue. It formerly connected at Fifth and Metropolitan Avenue. Sheridan's Drive is along the summit of the bluffs forming the western boundary of the post and is used exclusively for pleasure. It was named after General Sheridan.

Prior to 1901 the educational facilities of the post were limited. By an act of the Kansas State Legislature all of the military reservation was organized into a school district and called District No. 81. The Board of County Comissioners compose the school board and it is under the jurisdction of the County Superintendent of Leavenworth County. The revenue derived for defraying the expenses of the school is obtained by taxes on the corporations in the district. The burden falls principally upon the railroads and the Leavenworth Water Company. The valuation of all the taxable property is about $500,000. Tax on this amount together with the State School Fund furnishes ample funds to carry on the school. There are five teachers including the principal. There is a well equipped school building erected by the government just east of Pope Hall on the incline overlooking the Missouri River.

In 1838 Congress enacted a law authorizing the appointment of chaplains in the United States Army and provided that they serve as school teachers. The Rev. Henry Gregory was appointed chaplain at Fort Leavenworth and he established what is known as the first school for white children on Kansas soil.

St. Ignatius Chapel, a Catholic Church edifice, was erected in the fall of 1889. The Post Chapel was erected in 1878. The Y. M. C. A. building was built and completed in 1907. It is a most beautiful structure without and handsomely furnished within. Helen Gould furnished the money to erect the building and was present at the dedication. Pope Hall was dedicated in the fall of 1894 and named in honor of Capt. James W. Pope. It is an amusement hall used for entertainments. Union Hall was constructed in 1871. It was built for a Catholic Church. The Post Hospital is a magnificent structure costing about $120,000. The Post Steam Laundry was opened for business in September, 1905. The Mess Hall was established in March, 1877. The postoffice was erected in 1828.

In 1917-1918 during the World War new temporary cantonments were erected along the Fort Road leading to the post proper. Many troops were quartered here and at the regular barracks. Most of the temporary buildings are still used for troops. There are at present 960 soldiers at the post.

Fort Leavenworth has been a base of supplies and rendezvous for troops and expeditions from the time of its establishment. Gen. Kearney's expedition to Santa Fe in 1845 started from here. So also were the expeditions of Gen. Joseph Lane to Oregon in 1848; Capt. Stansbury to Utah in 1849; Col. Fremont in 1849. All through the Civil War, the Spanish-American War and the World War troops were assembled, sent out and returned to be mustered out at Fort Leavenworth. It was the seat of government for the Territory of Kansas in 1854, being the only place in the territory having buildings convenient for government purposes.

Commandants of Fort Leavenworth.
1827-1829, Col. Henry Leavenworth 3d Infantry
1829, Capt. Bennett Riley. 6th Infantry
1830, Major William Davenport. 6th Infantry
1832, Capt. Bennett Riley. 6th Infantry
1833, Capt. Wm. N. Wickliff. 6th Infantry
1834, Capt. Bennett Riley. 6th Infantry
1834-1836, Col. Henry Dodge. 1st Dragoons
1836-1841, Col. Stephen W. Kearney. 1st Dragoons
1842. Lieut. Col. R. B. Mason. 1st Dragoons
1843, Col. Stephen W. Kearney. 1st Dragoons
1844-1845, Maj. Clifton Wharton. 1st Dragoons
1846-1847, Lieut. Col. Clifton Wharton. 1st Dragoons
1848, Capt. W. S. Ketchum. 6th Infantry
1848, May 2, Lieut. Col. E. V. Sumner 1st Dragoons
1850. June 30, Capt. Chas. S. Lovell. 6th Infantry
1850, Aug. 20, Lieut. Col. Joseph Plymton. 1st Dragoons
1850, Sept. 6, Maj. Benj. L. Beale. 1st Dragoons
1850, Oct. 8, Lieut. Col. E. V. Sumner. 1st Dragoons
1851, March 12, Maj. B. L. Beale. 1st Dragoons
1853, March 29, Col. T. T. Fauntleroy. 1st Dragoons
1854, Capt. F. E. Hunt. 4th Artillery
(McCown Hunt, of 421 Chestnut Street, is his son.)
1855, Lieut. Col. Phil. St. George Cooke. 2nd Cavalry
1856, Col. E. V. Sumner. 1st Dragoons
1856, July 12, Capt. Thomas J. Wood. 1st Cavalry
1856, July 28, Lieut. Col. Joseph E. Johnston 1st Cavalry
1856, Aug. 21, Capt. S. D. Sturgis. 1st Cavalry
1856, Sept. 21, Capt. Thomas Hendrickson. 6th Infantry
1856. Oct. 13, CoL E. V. Sumner.
1857, Oct. 12, Gen. W. S. Harney.
1857, Oct. 27, Col. Francis S. Belton.
1858, Jan. 31, Gen. W. S. Harney.
1858, May 15, Maj. Thomas W. Sherman. 3rd Artillery
1858, May 16, Lieut. Col. John Munroe. 4th Artillery
1859, June 15, Col. T. Dimmick.
1859, Nov. 14, Capt. Horace Brooks. 2nd Artillery
1859, Dec. 19, Lieut. Col. John Blankhead Magruder 2nd Artillery
1860, Sept. 3, Capt. W. F. Barry. 2nd Artillery
1860, Oct. E, Cant. Horace Brooks. 2nd Artillery
1860, Oct. 27, Col. John Blankhead Magruder.
1860, Oct. 31, Capt. Horace Brooks. 2nd Artillery
1861, Feb. 3, Capt. William Steel. 2nd Dragoons
1861, April 30, Dixon S. Mills. 2nd Infantry
1861, May 23, Capt. Alfred Sully. 2nd Infantry
1861, May 31, Maj. Delos B. Sackett. 1st Cavalry
1861, June 12, Maj. S. D. Sturgis. 1st Cavalry
1861, June 21, Maj. William E. Prince. 3rd Infantry
1862, June 11, Lieut. Col. J. T. Burris 8th Kansas Cavalry
1863, Dec. 24, Col. C. R. Jennison. 15th Kansas Cavalry
1864, July 7, Col. J. A. Goodwin. 138th Ill. Vol. Infantry
1864, Sept. 27, Lieut. Col. W. R. Davis. 16th Kansas Cavalry
1865, April 27, Lieut. Col. Heinrichs. 16th Kansas Cavalry
1865, June 27, Col. A. P. Carahar. 2nd U. S. Vol. Cavalry
1865, Sept. 14, Lieut. Col. Rufus E. Fleming 6th. W. Va. Cavalry
1865, Sept. 23, Ma. Wm. Clinton. 13th Infantry
1865, Nov. 20, Col. Isaac V. D. Reeve. 13th Infantry
1866-1867, Col. Win. Hoffman. 3rd Infantry
1868, April 9, Maj. Alfred Gibbs. 7th Cavalry
1868, 1868, Sept. 10, Maj. Henry S. Huntington.
1868, 1868, Oct. 7, Capt. H. C. Hasbrouck. 4th Artillery
1869, March 26; Capt. W. M. Graham. 4th Artillery
1869, April 22, Capt. Simon Snyder. 5th Infantry
1869, June 13, Lieut. Col. W. H. Lidell. 10th Infantry
1869, Oct. 22 to April 2, 1871, Col. S. D. Sturgis. 7th Cavalry
1871, April 2, Capt. Dangerfield Parker. 3rd Infantry
1871, April 7, to July 12, 1876, Col. Nelson A. Miles 5th Infantry
1876, July 22, Capt. W. Lyman. 5th Infantry
1876, July 22, Capt. A. C. Wildrick. 2nd Cavalry
1876, Dec. 20, to Feb. 5, 1878, Col. Jefferson C. Davis____23rd Infantry
1878, Feb. 5, Lieut. Col. R. I. Dodge. 23rd Infantry
1878, May 19, Col. Jefferson C. Davis. 23rd Infantry
1878, Jan. 27, Capt. George W. Randall. 23rd Infantry
1878, Feb. 20, Col. C. H. Smith. 19th Infantry
1881, to June, 1885, Col. E. S. Otis. 20th Infantry
1885-1886, Col. Thomas H. Ruger. 18th Infantry
1886, to June, 1890, Col. A. McDowell McCook. 6th Infantry
1890, to Sept., 1894, Col. E. F. Townsend. 1Eth Infantry
1894, to April, 1898, Col. H. S. Hawkins. 20th Infantry
1898, Maj. J. A. Augur. 4th Cavalry
1899, Maj. J. J. O'Connell. 1st Infantry
1900, Lieut. Col. J. M. Lee. 6th Infantry
1902, Col. Charles W. Miner. 6th Infantry
1903, Brig. Gen. J. Franklin Bell.
1904, Col. J. W. Duncan. 6th Infantry
1905, Col. Charles B. Hall. 18th Infantry
1906, Lieut. Col. Wm. Paulding. 18th Infantry
1907, Col. R. H. R. Loughbourough. 13th Infantry
1907, Col. Thomas F. Davis. 18th Infantry
1909. Jan. 1 to Aug. 23, Col.L It. H. R. Loughbourough.
1909, Aug. 24 to Oct. 11, Lieut. Col. Nichols.
1909, Oct. 11 to Dec. 31, 1910 to March 8, 1911, Col. R. H. R. Loughbourough.
1911, March 9 to April 20, Capt. James R. Lindsey.
1911, April 1 to July 8, Maj. M. J. Lenihan.
1911, July 9 to Sept. 30, Col. Loughborough.
1911, Oct. 1 to Dec. 31, Jan. 15, 1912, Maj. M. J. Lenihan.
1912, Jan. 16 to Feb. 23, 1913, Col. Daniel Comma
1913, Feb. 24 to Oct. 6, Capt. Johnston.
1913, Oct. 7 to Nov. 8, Capt. Martin.
1913, Nov. 9 to Dec. 10, Capt. P. Mawry.
1913, Dec. 11 to Dec. 22, Capt. J. F. Barnes.
1913, Dec. 22 to April 28, 1914, Capt. C. C. Smith.
1914, April 29 to Aug. 21, Lieut. W. P. Burnham.
1914, Aug. 22 to March 29, 1916, Colonel Roberts.
1916, March 30 to June 23, Capt. H. E. Comstock, Q. M. C.
1916, June 24 to May 26, 1917, Capt. A. B. Warfield.
1917, May 27 to June 4, Capt. Emerson Eng.
1917, June 5 to June 22, Lieut. Col. M. L Walker.
1917, June 23 to June 4, 1919, Col. Wm. A. Shunk.
1919, June 5 to July 31, Col. Charles Gerhardt
1919, Aug. 1 to Aug. 27, 1920, Maj. Gen. C. H. Muin.
1920, Aug. 28 to Sept. 1, Brig. Gen. H. E. Ely.
1920, Sept. 2 to Sept. 4, Col. F. L. Munson
1920, Sept. 5 to Sept. 20, Col. L. R. Holbrook
1920, Sept. 20 to present time, Brig. Gen. H. A. Drum.

The Army Service School. - The Army Service School was organized in 1881. It is a large stone building consisting of four halls, namely: Grant, Sherman, Sheridan and Wagner. It is located near the river bank north and west of the bridge. Wagner Hall is the library over which Col. Ezra B. Fuller has charge. The other three halls are devoted to offices, recitation rooms and other purposes connected with the school. A large clock is located hi the tower over Grant Hall. Among the subjects taught are: Military Organization, Field Engineering, Tactics, Solution of Problems, Combat Orders, Discussion of Problems, Map Manuevers, Strategy, Military History, Care of Troops, Care of Animals, Military Intelligence, Leadership, Laws of War, Methods of Training.

The first class was graduated in 1883 and consisted of thirty five members. The class of 1916 consisted of thirty two members. The Army Staff College is located in the Service School as is also the Army Signal School. Theses bring to the post every year a large number of army officers for training and as instructors. The following is a list of the Cornmandants of the school:

Otis, E. S., Col., 20th Infantry Nov., 1881 to June, 1885
Ruger, T. H., Col., 18th Infantry June, 1885 to May, 1886
McCook, A. McD., Col., 6th Infantry May, 1886 to Aug., 1890
Townsend, E. F., Col., 12th Infantry Aug., 1890 to Oct., 1894
Hawkins, H. S., Col., 20th Infantry Oct., 1894 to Apral, 1898
Miner, C. W., Col., 6th Infantry Sept., 1902 to June, 1903
Bell, J. F., Brig. Gen., U. S. Army July, 1903 to June, 1906
Hall, C. B., Brig. Gen., U. S. Army Aug., 1906 to April, 1908
Morrison, J. F., Maj., 20th Infantry April, 1908 to Aug., 1908
Funston, Fred, Brig. Gem, U. S. Army Aug., 1908 to Jan., 1911
Potts, R. D., Brig. Gen., U. S. Army Jan., 1911 to Feb., 1913
Burnham, W. P., Lieut. Col, Infantry Feb., 1913 to Aug., 1914
Greene, H. A., Brig. Gen., U. S. Army Sept., 1914 to Aug., 1916
Swift, Eden, Brig. Gen. U. S. Army._ Aug., 1916 to ___, 1917
Shunk, Wm. A., Col. ___, 1917 to___, 1919
Muir, C. H., Maj. Gen. July 1, 1919 to Sept 1, 1920
Drum, H. A., Brig. Gen. Sept. 1, 1920 to date

United States Disciplinary Barracks. - The United State Disciplinary Barracks is a post separate and distinct from Fort Leavenworth and is managed by a Commandant, an officer of the United States Army. It was formerly called the Military Prison. The first buildings were erected in 1874-1875. The walls, which inclose about seven acres of ground, are from fifteen feet to thirty feet high, five and one half feet thick at the base and two and one half feet at the top. There are confined within the walls 1,559 prisoners and 110 on parole. Those who are convicted of violating the military law and all who have been convicted of charges not greater than a felony by the laws of the Federal Government are confined at this prison. The prison was discontinued in 1895 and continued again in 1906, during which time the Federal Penitentiary was located here. In 1906 the Federal Penitentiary was moved to its present location as is shown elsewhere. The farm is operated by the prisoners as is also the hog ranch, dairy, chicken ranch, brick plant and many and various trades inside the prison. It was here that many conscientious objectors, slackers and alien enemies were confined during the World War. Trades and occupations of all kinds are taught the prisoners. There is a dry cleaning plant, dye house, harness shop, shoe shop, tailor shop, laundry, salvage department, building department, farm, rock quarries, saw mill, brick plant, machine and blacksmith shop, carpenter and paint shop, broom shop, plumbing shop, electric shop, tin shop, road construction, ice plant. In these various departments the men are employed. On being restored prisoners are allowed to re-enlist in the Army. Any valuables he may have had are returned to him at his discharge together with a small amount of money and transportation to his former home. About all the building work around the prison is done by the prisoners with the aid of overseers. While under strict discipline they receive manly and considerate treatment. They are drilled in the manual of arms and calisthenics. Any Friday they may be seen drilling on the parade rounds. It has been said that they are the best drilled men outside of West Point.

The Prisoners Conference Committee was in effect in 1919. This committee incited the prison body to make extraordinary demands on the Commandant on July 22, 1919. Among them were the following:
1. A general amnesty for all military prisoners and that a telegram be sent to President Wilson demanding same.
2. Better Mess, that the prisoners take over the mess.
3. Better living conditions, more time for mess and two issues of tobacco per week.

There was a general mutiny following. The committee was abolished and the prisoners locked in their cell wings on bread and water diet. The prisoners set fire to the Barracks Exchange and about all the buildings were destroyed. The fire started at night and there was ample opportunity for the prisoners to escape but when morning came not one was missing.

The following have been Commandants of the Prison or Disciplinary Barracks:
Gen. Thomas Francis Barr, U. S. Army 1871
(Known as the father of the U. S. Military Prison.)
Major James M. Robertson (first Commandant) 1875 to 1877
Major Asa Peabody Blunt June, 1877 to Dec. 1, 1887
Col. James Worden Pope Jan. 1, 1888 to June 30, 1895
Lieut. Col. George S. Young Feb. 1, 1906 to June, 1908
Major Thomas H. Slavens June, 1908 to Jan. 12, 1914
Col. H. J. Slocum Jan. 13, 1914 to Aug. 31, 1914
Frank A. Barton, Cavalry Sept. 1, 1914 to Dec. 19, 1914
Col. Sedgwick Rice Dec. 20, 1914 to Aug. 26, 1919
Brig. Gen. J. H. McRae Aug. 26, 1909 to Sept. 4, 1920
Col. Malvern-Hill Barum Sept. 4, 1920 to present time

Return to [ Kansas History ] [ History at Rays Place ] [ Rays Place ] [ Illinois Biographies ]

Kansas Counties at this web site - Anderson - Atchison - Butler - Leavenworth - Lyon - Sedgwick - Shawnee

Also see the local histories for [ CT ] [ IA ] [ IL ] [ IN ] [ KS ] [ ME ] [ MO ] [ MI ] [ NE ] [ NJ ] [ NY ] [ OH ] [ PA ] [ WI ]

All pages copyright 2003-2013. All items on this site are copyrighted by their author(s). These pages may be linked to but not used on another web site. Anyone may copy and use the information provided here freely for personal use only. Privacy Policy