From 1842 to 1873, Fort Scott protected and served as a significant part in the expansion of the west by protecting many of the settlers traveling the Santa Fe Trail. They controlled the peace between white settlers and native Indians. From 1846 to 1848, many of the soldiers located in Fort Scott fought in the Mexican American War. Fort Scott played a crucial role in controlling the peace during the time of Bleeding Kansas and was a strategic strong hold during the Civil War. After the Civil War, Fort Scott protected the expanding railroads from squatters and many other groups who opposed the expansion. Fort Scott played a significant role in the transformation of the United States from a young divided republic into a united and powerful nation.
Within the 31 years of operation, there were many times were the fort was closed down for a year and opened to the public. During one of these times and the Bleeding Kansas era two of the infantry barracks were transformed into hotels. One became the Fort Scott Hotel, nicknamed the “Free State” Hotel due to the political leanings of many of the quests. The other hotel directly across the square became the Western Hotel, a headquarters for proslavery men. The hotels faced each other and were separated by a 100 yard courtyard. This close proximity lead to, many brawls, mass killings, raids, and attempts by abolitionists from both sides to burn the hotels down.
In 1978, Fort Scott became a national historic site. Archaeological investigations determined the locations of many missing buildings along with the everyday life of a soldier who was based at the fort. Surprisingly many of the structures were still standing which were restored or reconstructed.
The history of Fort Scott reinforces the teachings from HIST 348. It provides information of the importance of Forts in the mid to late 18th century. It also provides a glimpse into the life of a soldier stationed on a fort. Fort Scott is not one of the popular forts in U.S. history, but it does play a critical role in a key location for controlling the peace during the hard times in Kansas.