KanColl: The Kansas  
Historical Quarterlies

Plan of Cantonment Leavenworth, 1828
by Edward R. DeZurko

November, 1947 (Vol. 14 No. 4), pages 352 to 359.
Transcribed by lhn;
digitized with permission of the Kansas State Historical Society.

[The Following Is a Verbatim Copy of the Original Descriptive Matter Accompanying the Sketch Shown on Opposite Page]


A. Commanding Officers' Quarters (foundation walls complete) : two story building; wood frame construction filled in with brick; two rooms at either end 20 by 19 feet; two halls each 10 feet wide; four rooms in the center, each 18 by 18 feet; piazzas, front and rear, each 8 feet wide; cellar kitchens
B. Officers' Quarters (to be built): one story building 112 by 36 feet; hall at either end and two halls in center, each 10 feet wide; eight rooms, four adjoining, each 20 by 18 feet; piazzas, front and rear, each 8 feet wide; cellar kitchens
C. Soldiers' Quarters (completed): one story building 52 by 36 feet; center hall 12 feet wide, two rooms on either side, each 21 by 18 feet; piazzas, front and rear, each 8 feet wide; cellar kitchens
D. Hospital (completed) : two story building 64 by 36 feet; hall at either end, 12 feet wide; four rooms each 20 by 18 feet; piazza in front, 8 feet wide; cellar kitchens


a. Soldiers' Quarters Left Wing: tent 150 by 28 feet; four company rooms and one for guard, each 30 by 28 feet
b. Huts for Laundresses: 15 by 10 feet, 15 by 12 feet
c. Huts for Laundresses: 63 by 14 feet, 61 by 14 feet, 29 by 14 feet
d. Sink for Left Wing: 16 by 10 feet
e. Sutler's Store House: 41 by 20 feet
f. Sutler's Store House: 41 by 16 feet
g. Officers' Quarters: one story building, 124 by 31 feet; built of logs; rooms 16 by 151/2 feet and 12 by 151/2 feet
h. Officers' Yards and Kitchens
j. Soldiers' Quarters Right Wing: hut, 141 by 28 feet; four rooms for the companies, each 29 by 28 feet; one room for the guard, prisonary, and staff guard, 21 by 28 feet
k. Smith's Shop
l. Kitchens for the Four Companies of the Right Wing: 25 by 18 feet
m. Huts for Laundresses of the Right Wing: 10 by 12 feet, 11 by 12 feet, 16 by 12 feet, 13 by 12 feet, and 38 by 12 feet
n. Board Kiln: 16 by 10 feet
o. Bake House: 45 by 16 feet
p. Sink for the Right Wing: 16 by 10 feet
q. Commissary Store House: 138 by 28 feet and quartermaster
r. Commissary Store House: 45 by 28 feet
s. Hut for the Commissary Sergeant and Sergeant Major: 32 by 13 feet
t. Sand Pit: 80 by 17 feet
v. Ice House: 22 by 22 by 22 feet deep

     NOTE: The Commanding Officers' quarters are 300 Yards from the river and about 200 feet above low water mark.

[Cantonment Leavenworth plan]

Written on plan: "Plan of Cantonment Leavenworth 1828"


General Leavenworth was colonel of the Third U. S. infantry when he located and established a Cantonment Leavenoworth in 1827. The cantonment was renamed Fort Leavenworth in 1832.


     THE OLDEST available War Department inspection report on Cantonment Leavenworth is dated March 31, 1829. One or more inspections had been made prior to this time by Col. George Croghan, inspector general, but a written summary of his observations is not available.

     The report of 1829 is reproduced on the following pages without alteration, and I have selected more or less at random other remarks and letters. Colonel Croghan mentions the post at Cow Island, the first military station of some duration in what is now the state of Kansas. Cantonment Leavenworth was established in 1827 the year the first Fort Atkinson was abandoned, [1] and much of the equipment of the latter post was used at Cantonment Leavenworth. Fort Atkinson was established in 1819 as Camp Missouri. [2] Col. Henry Leavenworth had his headquarters there. He was lieutenant-colonel of the Sixth regiment. [3] Fort Atkinson was ordered abandoned by G. O. 14, 1827, and Cantonment Leavenworth was established. [4]

The plan of Cantonment Leavenworth in 1828 which accompanies the inspection report was not originally a part of it. I have traced the plan from a drawing in the quartermaster file, war records division, National Archives. To my knowledge, it is the earliest plan of the post.

     EDWARD R. DEZURK0, formerly of Kansas State College, Manhattan, is assistant professor of architecture at The Rice Institute. Houston, Tex. Mr. DeZurko was in Washington, D. C., engaged in naval ordnance laboratory work during part of the war, and spent many after-work hours searching through old War Department records gathering data of historical and architectural interest in connection with the early military posts in Kansas.





Eight Companies 3rd Infantry, Bvt. Maj. Bliss, Comdg
Company A, Capt. Dean, Lieut. Walker, Comdg.
Company B, Capt. Belknap
Company D, Capt. Bliss, Lieut. Hunt, Comdg.
Company E, Capt. Lewis, Lieut. Montgomery, Comdg.
Company F, Capt. Harrison, Lieut. Archer, Comdg.
Company H, Capt. Webb, Lieut. Wheeler, Comdg.
Company I, Capt. Clark, Lieut. Birdsall, Comdg.
Company K, Capt. Garland, Lieut. Cotton, Comdg.


     PREPARATION OF MESS-The requisite attention seems to be paid to this subject, and more than usual care has been taken to procure for the several companies mess furniture of the same pattern and of the neatest and most durable material.

     ARM RACKS AND BUNKS-Bunks comfortable, and both they and the arm racks as conveniently arranged and as conformable to regulations as the shape and fashion of the quarters will allow.

     APPEARANCE UNDER ARMS-The grenadiers B-Capt. Belknap, is particularly fine looking, being composed of men selected from the other companies of the Regiment. The Regiment throughout however has a fine appearance.

     ARMS AND EQUIPMENTs-Arms new and good. Cartridge boxes generally unfit for service in the field, being much injured by the use of varnish.

     CLOTHING-Not marked as required by regulation unless in very few instances. Note, if they be not marked why then may the officer not say I have no ink, and both I and my men are too poor to buy. I remarked upon this in a former report.

     HOSPITAL-Every attention is paid by surgeon Gale that can possibly conduce to the comfort and speedy recovery of the sick. Of this all in hospital are so convinced, that there is quite a sensation created by a report that he is to be ordered to Jefferson Barracks. The building itself is a good one, but in the opinion of Doctor Gale, not well distributed, too much room being allowed for the halls of entrances as you will perceive by looking at the ground plat of it. Supply of medicines abundant with the exception of the article quinine which will be very soon exhausted. Cases in hospital chiefly convalescents of the intermittent fever-the almost exclusive disease.

     SUTLER-Supply abundant-Prices fixed by the Council of Administration. In looking over the several accounts I find not a single charge against Company B for whiskey, a fact highly creditable both to Capt. Belknap and his men.

     DISCIPLINE-To judge from appearances it must be pronounced correct, but to affirm positively on the subject would require more than the necessarily hurried observation of two or three days inspection. Maj. Bliss says that his discipline has been a little lax in consequence of the ill health of his garrison,


but of this I have nothing in proof but his own declaration, no facts in confirmation having passed under my eyes.

     INSTRUCTION-I did intend a minute inquiry under this head at least insofar as the rifle and infantry drills are concerned, but a heavy rain to which I would not expose the many convalescents under arms on this occasion has prevented my doing so; enough however has been seen to make it evident that no ground has been lost since my last inspection in Sept. 1827. To retain what it had acquired under the discouraging circumstances of constant fatigue service and very general sickness is an evidence that Col. Leavenworth and his successor in command must have been throughout attentive to the instruction of the Regiment and that it be not more advanced it must be ascribed to the disadvantages with which they have to contend.

     SERVICE-Correct as far as an opportunity for judging has been afforded.

     ORDNANCE DEPT-No inventory prepared. The stores on hand are a part of the same that were remarked upon in my report of Fort Atkinson in 1826. The residue of stores from that place have long since been forwarded to St. Louis.

     Q. M. DEPT.-A proper inventory would exhibit a great variety of articles the most of them brought from Fort Atkinson on the abandonment of the post and these very generally damaged and unserviceable.

     SUBSISTENCE DEPT.-The building a temporary one and ill-suited to the preservation of the stores, it is besides, too small for a proper arrangement of them. 300 barrels have been condemned as sour by a proper board of survey and they will be shipped to St. Louis for sale by the earliest opportunity. The pork and beef are furnished and slaughtered at the post. The other parts of the ration are transported up the river under a contract.

     REMARKS-The same mistake has been committed here that I have elsewhere more than once complained of-too much has been undertaken- everything is upon too vast a scale to warrant a belief in its completion agreeably to the original plan of the projector (at least within any reasonable time). A great deal has been done, much more in truth than could have been expected of a garrison so reduced by sickness; still the work is not half accomplished either as to labor or disbursements of money. A good hospital has been erected, and four houses originally intended to quarter one company each (though now occupied by officers) have been put up and very nearly completed, but there yet remains to be provided for: Officers quarters, store houses, guard house, magazine, etc., etc. Before this report is handed in I may obtain a plat of the ground to be occupied together with a plan and elevation of the several buildings already erected and to be erected which will be appended and perhaps with some additional remarks. I have been particular in my examination and inquiries in relation to the unhealthiness of this place, but I am as yet as much at a loss as ever as to the operating causes of its sickness. There is certainly nothing apparently in its location to render it unhealthy, on the contrary, the site might be considered an admirable one. It is upon a high rocky bluff rising rapidly from the very edge of the Missouri and furnishing springs of fine water perfectly accessible to the garrison whilst all along on the land side there lies at no great distance a dry and ridgy prairie. On the opposite bank of the river there is, it is true, a swamp or


rush bottom, of perhaps a mile in width, but it is so thickly wooded as to be impervious to the sun which might otherwise induce the escape of miasms, and to the S. E. distant three and a half miles lies Cow Island (Isle Vache) which, although low and subject to an overflow can originate nothing deleterious to health, for it is in itself healthy as has been clearly proven. The Rifle Regiment stationed upon it for 12 months in 1818-19 lost not a man by sickness during the time, although numbering 400 persons on an average. In further confirmation of my belief that no danger is to be apprehended from the vicinity of these low lands, I would offer the meteorological diary kept by the surgeon of the post, as it will be found by it that during the most unhealthy quarter of the last year the wind prevailed but for three days with any Easting (viz. two days at S. E. and one day at E.). On every other day of the quarter it swept across the prairie bringing with it as must be supposed a pure and healthful atmosphere. This place has certainly suffered much from sickness, but whether greatly more than ought to have been expected from the establishment of Northern Troops upon any of our western fresh water rivers admits of question. On comparing the hospital register of this post for 1828 (that for 1827 I have been unable to procure) with that of Fort Atkinson for 1826 (the year of its abandonment) [5] I remark no material difference. The average number present at Fort Atkinson during the year stated ending 30th June was 418, and the grand total in hospital for that period 2419. At this post during the year ending 31st December 1828 the average number present being 230 the grand total in hospital for the period was 1565, that is to say Cantonment Leavenworth numbered on the hospital register more sickness for the year 1828 than Fort Atkinson during the healthy season of 1826 by one sixth only.
     The two reports or registers I will compare with that of Jefferson Barracks for 1828 that it may be the more clearly seen how far Cantonment Leavenworth is deserving a character for exclusive unhealthiness. If after all Cantonment Leavenworth be abandoned in consequence of its reputed unhealthiness, what other point in this quarter can be taken up that exhibits more promising features? Retire from the river you may-what then? Health will not therefore be insured to your Northern troops, for we are told that the town of Liberty and its neighborhood suffered much from sickness during the last year even more than the garrison at this post.

     It is said that during the occupancy of old Fort Osage (which continued for several years) it was never visited by any material sickness. [6] This may be true, but there may be circumstances attending the fact as to the character of the troops taken as Northern or Southern men which it would be well to know before establishing the credit of the place. But grant it be healthy, it ought not to be reoccupied. Cantonment Leavenworth is full near enough to the settlements, and if it be abandoned as too sickly, let health be found somewhere further up-advance, do not retrograde an inch if you wish for the quiet of the frontier. A position taken up a dozen miles from a navigable river would serve as a check upon the Indians as well as though it were upon


the river itself; for it is not here as upon the upper Mississippi and its tributaries-there much use is made of the canoe, here one is newer since the travelling is altogether by land. G. Croghan


     The following was appended to the inspection report of Colonel Croghan dated December 9, 1833, on his inspection tour during the summer and fall of that year. It contains some general observations of the Indians in the region about the post:

     FORT LEAVENWORTH: The occupancy of this point does not secure to us all the advantages that were derived from the establishment at Council Bluffs, nevertheless it forms an important link in the chain of posts (as may be seen on a reference to a map of the country) even without taking into consideration the circumstances of its location in the very neighborhood of several tribes of Indians. The Indians upon this S west frontier, of which this post may be said to form the extreme right, are not to be operated upon by those moral agencies which have been found to have effect over those of the N west and are only to be kept under control by the actual presence of a military force so constituted as to convince them of its ability to punish at all times and promptly, such as might dare to commit outrages, either upon our citizens or upon each other. It will prove no easy matter to hold in check the Indians lying between the Missouri and Arkansas rivers without the establishment of a post midway between the two, say on the Neosho river at or near the village of the Osage chief White Hair. The Pawnees are the deadly enemies of all the Indians along this line, and especially of the Osages with whom they are constantly at war, and in proportion as the Osages are pressed will they in turn trespass upon the whites, and in self-defence, for as they can neither protect their villages against attack nor hunt the buffalo without horses, they must seize upon the horses of the whites to supply the losses occasioned by the Pawnees. During the occupancy of Council Bluffs we had it in our power to prevent the incursions of the Pawnees, for some of their villages being at no great distance we had but to say to them, strike the Osages or any other Indians in the direction of our settlements, and we will strike you, and they were afraid, but they no longer fear. They believe that convinced of our weakness we have shrunk back from their imposing strength and they now act without regard of consequences from us and will continue to do so until the Regiment of Dragoons now being organized shall prove to them that we have still power to punish those who deserve it at our hands.

G. Croghan

     Writing to the General in Chief of the Army at Washington, Colonel Croghan, in a letter dated Louisville, Ky., January 25, 1836, said:

. . . I have just heard and with regret, that Mr. Linn has introduced a resolution in the Senate to enquire into the expediency of making a road from Fort Des Moines to Fort Leavenworth, and thence to Forts Gibson and Towson. There is now too much travelling between the several posts for the


quiet of the Indians and good roads will only increase the evil by opening their whole territory to the ravenous appetites of lawless vagabonds and more greedy land speculators. Already does this description of persons begin to talk about the fine lands on the Ioway and Des Moines rivers and perhaps before two years are gone by they will be crying aloud for new territory on that side of the Mississippi. First will come a memorial to Congress from Missouri to extend her northern line until it shall strike the Missouri river; and then a new territory having been created, an urgent effort will be made to have the Indians sent to the south side of the Missouri. From the changes that I have witnessed since my first visits to that section of country, and from my perfect acquaintance with the character of those frontier men and of the immigrants who are daily adding to their number, I hazard nothing in predicting that in a very few years we will positively need and perhaps may garrison all but the two posts of St. Peters and Council Bluffs upon that whole frontier.

The following letter prefaced the inspection report of August 26, 1836:

To Maj. Gen. Macomb
General In Chief
Washington City
     This report which I now have the honor to present for your perusal would have been forwarded ere this and have proved more worthy of your acceptance but for the top of my trunk which was stolen from on board the steam boat Columbian on the passage from St. Louis and with it my notes which I had prepared with much care. Trusting then to my memory alone, I may have omitted many subjects that I had intended to discuss, but I am nevertheless certain that there are no material mistakes in what is now stated.

I have the honor to be
Very Respectfully
Your Obedient Servant
G. Croghan
Inspector General

     The following remarks were appended to the inspection report of August 26, 1836:

     REMARKS-There is about as much propriety in calling this Post Fort Leavenworth as there would be in calling an armed schooner a line of battleships, for it is not only not a fort but it is even devoid of the regularity of a common barrack-of defenses it has none. Col. Kearney having very wisely recommended the erection of block houses, has under the authority of Brig. Gen. Atkinson, contracted for the building of two, or rather, for the entire completion of one and the necessary timbers for the other to be put up by his own men-both of them will be finished it is believed, by December.
It seems that the Quartermaster of the post has been instructed from Washington to contract for the building of an hospital agreeably to a plan furnished by the Medical Dept. Why such instructions have been given I am at a loss to conjecture; they surely must have been presumed upon a mis-


conception of the character of the building now used as an hospital, and also of the reputation of the post for unhealthfulness. Should it be the intention of the government to keep up this post for any length of time, I would recommend that it have at all seasons some companies of infantry in garrison. This I deem important if not indispensible, as without such provision, this post and neighborhood would be left without a guard whenever the Dragoons should be called away upon any occasion of emergency, or upon their customary summer campaign. Too much reliance ought not to be reposed upon the good faith and friendship of the tribes of Indians in this vicinity. We can not expect to keep a force sufficient to resist them effectually should they rise en masse, but we might at all events by some show of preparation and watchfulness prevent partial outbreaks. If my suggestion be approved and adopted, additional quarters for both officers and men should be erected, the several store houses should be enlarged, the magazine which is damp ought to be properly fixed, good stables built within the square flanked by the block houses, and the house occupied by the Commanding Officer be converted into a hospital; the present hospital although good, being badly located for defence in the event of an attack.

G. Croghan
Inspector Gen.

     The following remarks were appended to the inspection report of August 16, 1842:

     REMARKS-I wish that Capt. Lamotte's company of infantry could be ordered from here to Jefferson Barracks or elsewhere and this post be left exclusively to the Dragoons. The two arms can not serve together in garrison without great dissatisfaction on the part of the infantry be the course of the commanding officer as it may, unless the force of infantry be many times greater than that of the Dragoons, say 10 to 1, when all details might properly be made from the Infantry without any reference to the Dragoons. I speak but of what I have witnessed both here and at Fort Atkinson, [7] and submit to your better judgement the determining of the question or causes of dissatisfaction and frequent desertions.
     I am told that upon the urgent representations of the Indian Agent a garrison of one company is to be established at Council Bluffs. If such be the case I can only say that the agent is not fit for his place, at all events knows nothing of Indian character. Neither the late agent Hamilton nor his predecessor Dougherty would have dreamed of such a thing. I was opposed to the abandonment of Council Bluffs and would now urge its reoccupancy, but with something beyond a mere bodyguard for an Indian agent.

I have the honor to be Very respectfully

Your Obedient Servant
G. Croghan
Inspector General


1. United States, Department of War, Adjutant General's Department, Subject Index of the General Orders of the War Department, From January 1, 1809, to December 31, 1860 (Washington, 1886), p. 87. The site of Fort Atkinson was in present Nebraska near the Council bluffs on the Missouri river.-House Documents, 20 Cong., 1 Sess. (Serial 169), Doe. No. 2, p. 44; Francis B. Heitman, Historical Register and Dictionary of the United States Army (Washington, 1903), v. 2, p.478; Transactions and Reports of the Nebraska State Historical Society (Lincoln, 1892), v. 4, pp. 22, 23.
2. Ibid., p. 23; J. Sterling Morton, History of Nebraska (Lincoln, Neb., 1906), v. 2, pp. 140, 141.
3. While yet a lieutenant-colonel, Colonel Leavenworth was transferred to the Sixth infantry regiment on October 1, 1821. He became commandant at Fort Atkinson and was in charge of the post until 1825. On December 16, 1825, Leavenworth was made colonel of the Third infantry.-Ibid., p. 141; Heitman, op. cit., v. 1, pp.92, 622.
4. Elvid Hunt, History of Fort Leavenworth, 1827-1927 (Fort Leavenworth, 1926), pp. 15-21.
5. This Fort Atkinson was abandoned in June, 1827.-"List of Military Forts, Arsenals, Camps, Barracks, &c.," in Thomas H. S. Hamersly's Complete Army and Navy Register of the United States of America . . . (New York, 1888), p. 123.
6. Fort Osage was on the Missouri river nineteen miles east of present-day Kansas City .Dictionary of American History, v. IV (1940), p. 189.
7. Another outpost bearing the name Atkinson. This Fort Atkinson, located on Turkey river near the mouth of Spring creek in northeast Iowa, was established May 31, 1840. It was abandoned in 1849.-Hamersly, op. cit., p. 123.

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