Custer Lives!

Fort Leavenworth

 

Perhaps the most important thing to remember, before visiting, is that Fort Leavenworth is an active US Army base, not a museum piece. Expect a slight delay at the gate to be checked out by security personnel. If you are the person in your party who is driving in, you must produce a valid driving license, valid vehicle registration, and valid vehicle insurance. All others in your vehicle must produce a photo ID. You will need to state the purpose of your visit and open all the vehicle's doors, trunk, and possibly the hood. If further investigation is needed you will be asked to pull off into a separate lot, which happened to me. Make sure you have no firearms with you. You will at best be only denied entry. If you get to the gate with one somewhere in your vehicle, tell the guard and follow their commands to the letter. All the gate personnel, both US Army and civilian, were extremely professional and helpful. Every one I spoke to was a shining example of their profession and their country. Use of a cell phone while driving is prohibited unless you have a hands free device. Speed limits are strictly enforced. If the sign says 25 MPH, it means 25 MPH not 26 MPH.

I visited on a hot and steamy July afternoon but still had a great time. The streets are scenic and it was wonderful seeing some our country's military families relaxing at their homes and in parks on the Fort. The MP's and everyone on the Fort were very approachable and helpful anytime I had a question or asked for directions.

Fort Leavenworth has the distinction of being the oldest Fort in continuous operation, opening in 1827. There's a number of historical sites, memorials, and a museum to visit. All are well marked and easy to find. Fort Leavenworth, named after General Henry Leavenworth, was declared a National Historic Landmark in December 1960. General Leavenworth established the Fort on the west bank of the Missouri river instead of the east bank as he had been ordered. General Leavenworth knew the significance of using formidable terrain, like that on the now Kansas side of the river.

The Commanding Officer's residence is where General George Armstrong Custer was court martialed in 1867. General Custer was not stationed at Fort Leavenworth at that time, it's where the hearing was held. The house is still quite beautiful and sits behind the cannons overlooking a curve in the Missouri River. The cannons are relics from the Forts early days. The Sheridan House is just down the street and was occupied by General Phil Sheridan while he was stationed there.

The Fort Leavenworth National Cemetery is one of the first twelve national cemeteries established by President Abraham Lincoln on July 17, 1862. Eight Medal Of Honor recipients are buried there including Captain Thomas Ward Custer, brother of General Custer and the United States of America's first two time winner.

Fort Leavenworth's first Protestant chapel, Memorial Chapel, was built by the Fort's convicts in 1878 out of stone quarried on post. The chapel has a crooked window which is rumored to have been done on purpose by the convicts.

I had no desire to visit the United States Disciplinary Barracks was established in 1875. I did happen to drive by it while traveling across the Fort. It's a forbidding mass of stone and quite intimidating. I'm glad I'm not in there! This imposing facility took over eleven years to complete. Among the infamous criminals incarcerated there are Al Capone, Machine Gun Kelly and Robert Stroud better known as the Birdman of Alcatraz. This imposing facility took over 11 years to complete.

The Buffalo Soldier Monument was probably my favorite attraction on the Fort. It has it's own page here.

Sadly, the Frontier Army Museum was closed both days I was in Leavenworth so I never got a chance to visit.

 The entrance to Fort Leavenworth.

A close up of the sign at the entrance.

This plaque explains the origins of Fort Leavenworth.

I found it appropriate that these two streets intersect.

One of the cannons overlooking the river.

The Fort's old chapel built by convict labor.

The house where General Custer was court martialed in 1867.

The Sheridan House.

 

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