Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Wednesday in Wyoming - September 25, 2019

Fort Fetterman - Fragments of the Past exhibit
This was one of my favorite exhibits at Fort Fetterman. While it may look like nothing more than bits of broken crockery and metal, it's actually a collection of items that visitors found on the grounds and brought to the curator.

Among other things, there are square nails, which are characteristic of the fort's construction, and a bottle with a round bottom. Why round? The stoppers were corks, and they needed to be kept moist. The round bottom meant that the bottles could not be stood on end, which could have resulted in dry corks.

Who would have guessed that?

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Wednesday in Wyoming - September 18, 2019

Fort Fetterman medical exhibit

One of the unfortunate aspects of military life in the nineteenth century was the frequency of injuries and illnesses. And, while I shudder at some of the techniques they used, particularly the older physicians who practiced what was called Heroic Medicine, doctors did their best to save lives.

This exhibit from the Fort Fetterman museum shows some of the tools that military doctors used there. Can you identify most of them?

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Wednesday in Wyoming - September 11, 2019

Fort Fetterman front of museum/ officer's duplex
Remember the officer's quarters in last week's post about Fort Fetterman? They're located in this restored duplex, which is now the fort's primary museum. (A former ordnance building houses the second museum.)

One of the most interesting aspects of this building, at least for me, was its modular construction. If you look at the following picture, you can see that there are four distinct sections to the building.
Fort Fetterman - back of museum/ officer's duplex

Another thing to note is that, while this is a duplex, the two halves are not identical. The one on the left has an extra window, suggesting that it would be assigned to a more senior officer.

Rank was extremely important in that era, particularly where housing was concerned. When a new officer was assigned to the fort, he was given the housing his rank merited, displacing the current lower-ranking occupant, who then displaced someone else. It was the military version of musical chairs.

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Wednesday in Wyoming - September 4, 2019

Fort Fetterman entrance sign
Have you ever heard of Fort Fetterman? If you're not a western history buff or a Wyomingite, you may not have, but it was a key staging point during the nineteenth century Indian Wars.

So, where is this fort? It's just a few miles outside of Douglas, Wyoming, which is right on Interstate 25. (I'm picturing you pulling out your maps or -- more likely -- using a mapping app to see where that is.)

Like many forts of that era, once Fetterman was decommissioned, the buildings were sold and dismantled, leaving little for future historians. But two of the original buildings have been restored and are open to the public from Memorial  to Labor Day.

One of them, a former officer's housing duplex, includes this example of an officer's quarters. As you might expect, the precise placement of everything reflects the resident's military training.
Fort Fetterman officer's quarters

If you're interested in learning more about the fort's history, here's a link you may find interesting. And be sure to come back next week to see more pictures of the fort.