Santa fe trail
Fort Larned was one of a series of Army outposts located near the Santa Fe Trail from which troops were dispatched to escort traffic when and where Indians threatened. Troops did not accompany travelers the whole duration (two months) and length (800 miles) of the end-to-end trip between the Missouri River and Santa Fe in New Mexico Territory (U.S. National Park Service, Santa Fe Trail) but were assigned to patrol between Fort Union and Fort Larned roughly every two weeks. They alternated between the Mountain Route and the Dry Route (Oliva).
Fort Larned was located near the eastern junction of the Dry and Mountain Routes of the Santa Fe Trail.
Today, the site has been renovated and is open to the historically inquisitive. It houses a collection of antiques and period-correct reproductions, including an Army bunkhouse complete with uniforms, tack, and supplies. There is also a rare specimen of an original Conestoga wagon.
In the spring of 1867, General Winfield Scott Hancock, who had been wounded during Pickett's Charge at Gettysburg in 1863, led a large detachment of troops from Fort Larned to sack a deserted Cheyenne and Sioux village nearby. All the families in the village had fled at the Army's approach, fearing a recurrence of the Sand Creek Massacre. The presence of the Army on the High Plains provoked a summer-long series of battles known as Hancock's War (U.S. National Park Service, Hancock's War). Details of the inconclusive campaign were circulated in the press by General George Armstrong Custer while he was on disciplinary suspension from Hancock's outfit (Hart). Nine years later, Custer was dead, and, four years after that, Hancock was the Democratic Presidential Candidate.
Because it was politically incorrect, not to say infeasible, to station segregated units of black U.S. Army soldiers in states comprising the former Confederacy during Reconstruction, these were instead deployed in the West where they were engaged during the Indian Wars. These troops adopted the name Buffalo Soldiers. Company A of the 10th Cavalry was billeted at Fort Larned from 1867 to 1869 (U.S. National Park Service, 10th Cavalry at Fort Larned).