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This is a contributing entry for Fort Kearny State Historical Park and only appears as part of that tour.Learn More.
Quarters at frontier posts such as Fort Kearny, were never lush, especially in the beginning. The individuality of the forts was particularly evident in the building materials employed. The army authorized permanent forts to be built of stone or brick. Temporary forts–which was the designation of most forts in the Great Plains (like Fort Kearny), despite their decades-long utilization–could employ stone only if it were cheaper than alternatives. Troops built wood-framed buildings with board-and-batten or clapboarded walls.

Soldiers Quarters with Kitchen - abt. 1860

Monochrome photography, Black-and-white, Circle, Oval

Aerial view of the outline of the Soldiers Quarters

Green, Land lot, Line, Plain

The principal functions performed by the U.S. Army soldiers stationed on frontier forts like Fort Kearny were:

  • guarding the frontier settlements against hostile indigenous peoples;
  • aiding the settlement of the West by developing and protecting the communication between the older settlements and the frontier, by exploring the West, constructing roads and defending the overland trails, water routes, and later telegraph and railroad lines;
  • policing the frontier until the civil governments could maintain order.

The 1864 Post Inspection described the Soldier's quarters with the kitchen as follows:

"One story building in line with the last-named building (officers quarters), (forty feet due east) contains two large squad rooms, and seargeants (sic) mess room, is sufficiently large for fifty non-com (non-commissioned) officers, and men, is now occupied by part of B Co. 7th Iowa Cavy. This building is very greatly in need of repairs the sills (or foundation timbers) being underground are completely rotten, and the floors are worn out, have put two new sills of cedar in, to save the building, until suitable materials can be procured, for farther repairs. Except floors and sills, the building is in good condition. Would respectfully recommend immediate repairing." The barracks had an associated

soldiers kitchen in the form of a southward extending wing 50 feet long and 25 feet wide.

Post Inspection, Fort Kearny, N.T. June 28, 1864.

Mantor, Lyle E. "The History of Fort Kearny." Ph.D. diss., 1938.

Image Sources(Click to expand)

History Nebraska