27. A Soldiers Life

Frontier Army Museum's exhibit displaying typical items in a 19th century soldier's barrack.

A soldier’s life on the frontier was a difficult one. Dangerous terrain, harsh weather, and isolation were just a few of the issues they faced. A soldier’s day was filled with drills and chores, with little time for personal relaxing.

Typical duties of the frontier Army included:

  • Protecting settlements and forts from hostile indigenous peoples

  • Developing and protecting communication lines between the east and west. This included constructing roads, telegraph lines, railroads and more.

  • Policing the frontier until local civil government was established.

In order to stave off boredom, soldiers found different ways to entertain themselves such as,. playing games, music, reading, putting on plays, and more. However, not all forms of entertainment were legal. Gambling, drunkenness, and fights were not an uncommon sight on the frontier.

Museum exhibit featuring a soldier pulling an Army dump cart. The blue and red coloring was standard regulation during the 19th century.
Fort Leavenworth soldiers relaxing 1910, Frontier Army Museum collection.
Playing cards was one way for soldiers to spend their downtime, 1888. Frontier Army Museum collection.
Coffee Pot 1864, Frontier Army Museum collection.