Web Extra: Living History at Fort Concho
Here, writer/photographer/artist E. Dan Klepper expands on Fort Concho’s living history programs.“Living history” programs, defined as various activities recreating the living conditions of the past, feature prominently in the events calendar at Fort Concho National Historic Landmark. Not to be confused with “reenactments,” which generally recreate a battle or other historical event, living-history events provide a way to relive our heritage by witnessing the day-to-day enterprise of our ancestors.
For instance, a fiery, ear-splitting spectacle performed by the Fort Concho Artillery features the Fort’s cannon, a replica of the weapon assigned to the Fort between 1875 and 1889. The cannon has the power to blast a nine-and-a-half-pound solid shot across 1,800 yards using a pound of powder or, for a more broad spectrum target, an exploding tin can containing iron balls called a “canister.” Cannon blasts highlight a number of events scheduled throughout the year at the Fort.
You can also see Company A of the 10th Cavalry, also known as the Buffalo Soldiers, who make appearances throughout the year. The Company features volunteers who follow the late-19th-Century military rank and procedures, dressed in period uniforms and outfitted with authentic equipment, all part of the accurate portrayal of the era. Also present and accounted for are members of Company D of the 4th Cavalry, a unit stationed at Fort Concho between 1871 and 1873. The regiment’s commander, Ranald Slidell Mackenzie, was considered a well-known military officer in the South. Mackenzie, instrumental as a brevetted major general in the final campaign against Robert E. Lee, assumed command of the 4th Cavalry on February 25, 1871, spending a month at Fort Concho before moving the 4th’s headquarters to Fort Richardson. Company D, however, remained at Fort Concho.
Frontier military life wasn’t all work, however. Fort Concho’s Vintage Base Ball (two words - correct spelling for the times) Program features a winning team in period clothing using authentic equipment to play ball against local civilian teams. Volunteer players and competing teams are always needed but players should bone up on the 1887 base ball playbook, as the Fort’s vintage club plays by 19th-Century rules.
Scheduled events featuring Fort Concho’s living history programs vary. Check the Fort’s website for upcoming events.
From the October 2012 issue.