Gordon Blaker, Field Artillery Museum curator, is a guide for the Candlelight Stroll on Fort Sill’s Old Post Quadrangle Dec. 5, 2021. Blaker and several other guides took groups of about 30 visitors on a tour of the Guardhouse, the Cavalry barracks, Sherman House and the Old Post Chapel.
1 / 3 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Gordon Blaker, Field Artillery Museum curator, is a guide for the Candlelight Stroll on Fort Sill’s Old Post Quadrangle Dec. 5, 2021. Blaker and several other guides took groups of about 30 visitors on a tour of the Guardhouse, the Cavalry barracks, Sherman House and the Old Post Chapel. (Photo Credit: Monica Wood) VIEW ORIGINAL
Col. Benjamin Grierson and his wife Alice (Frank Siltman and his wife Lori) talk about the Fires Center of Excellence and Fort Sill commanding general’s residence, Sherman House, during the Candlelight Stroll Dec. 5, 2021.
2 / 3 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Col. Benjamin Grierson and his wife Alice (Frank Siltman and his wife Lori) talk about the Fires Center of Excellence and Fort Sill commanding general’s residence, Sherman House, during the Candlelight Stroll Dec. 5, 2021. (Photo Credit: Monica Wood) VIEW ORIGINAL
A deputy U.S. Marshal (Dr. Scott Neel, Fort Sill Historic Landmark and Museum director/curator) tells visitors about the conditions in the Guardhouse and prisoner treatment in the 1870s during the Fort Sill Old Post Quadrangle Candlelight Stroll Dec. 5, 2021.
3 / 3 Show Caption + Hide Caption – A deputy U.S. Marshal (Dr. Scott Neel, Fort Sill Historic Landmark and Museum director/curator) tells visitors about the conditions in the Guardhouse and prisoner treatment in the 1870s during the Fort Sill Old Post Quadrangle Candlelight Stroll Dec. 5, 2021. (Photo Credit: Monica Wood) VIEW ORIGINAL

FORT SILL, Oklahoma (Dec. 5, 2021) – Fort Sill’s Old Post Quadrangle was transformed back into a frontier Army post during the annual holiday Candlelight Stroll Dec. 5.

About 115 visitors took the free guided tour of the Guardhouse, Cavalry Barracks, Sherman House and the Old Post Chapel.

Museum staff from the Field Artillery Museum and Air Defense Artillery Museum, along with volunteers re-enacted the history of these four buildings in the 1870s. Visitors heard about the treatment of prisoners during that time, what cavalry Soldiers’ living conditions and food were like, Indian attacks and the community activities held in the Old Post Chapel.

At the Guardhouse, visitors met a deputy U.S. Marshal from Fort Smith, Arkansas. He said he typically comes to the territory to pick up prisoners from Fort Sill and other courts in the Indian Territory and takes them back to Fort Smith, to be tried in the courtroom of Judge Isaac Parker, known as The Hanging Judge.

The deputy U.S. Marshal (Dr. Scott Neel, Fort Sill Historic Landmark and Museum director/curator) said typically, if he came with a warrant for your arrest, you went before Judge Parker, and “nine times out of 10 you would end up hung until dead. But that wasn’t the worst part of being arrested in Indian Territory.”

“Typically. I put the prisoner(s) in shackles and walk them to my wagon at Medicine Creek. Once we get down to the wagon at Medicine Creek, I will tie them to the rest of the prisoners I picked up and you will walk all the way back to Fort Smith,” he said. “My wagon is for my supplies only -- not for prisoners to ride in. I will give you food, hardtack, beans and water and that will be your food all the way back to Fort Smith.”

Fort Sill to Fort Smith is 265 miles.

Inside the Buffalo Soldiers’ Cavalry Barracks, visitors learned that the hardtack, corn meal and beans weren’t just for prisoners. Although the Chisholm Trail cattle drives were close by, Soldiers in the garrison ate a lot of beans and salt pork because beef was a rarity and was only served in winter when it could be kept outside in the cold weather.

Col. Benjamin Grierson, the post’s original commander, was at Sherman House, the Fires Center of Excellence and Fort Sill commanding general’s house, with his wife Alice (A.K.A. Frank Siltman, Fort Sill director of museums, and his wife, Lori).

Alice talked about living in tents when they first got to Fort Sill and she was pregnant with their sixth child. The Buffalo Soldiers built them a picket house, which is a house built like a picket fence with the boards standing upright, until 1871. In 1871 the Grierson’s moved into Sherman House which was constructed by the Buffalo Soldiers of the 10th Cavalry.

Alice said that in addition to taking care of her six children part of her duties included entertaining visitors – sometimes for months at a time.

Col. Grierson spoke about Gen. William Sherman staying at their house while tracking down the responsible parties in an Indian massacre of seven teamsters and the theft of 41 mules. Sherman met with the Kiowa chiefs on the porch of the house and Grierson thwarted an attack on Sherman.

“Of course, it probably would not have been good for my career for the commanding general of the Army to be murdered on my front porch,” said Grierson.

The last building the visitors saw during the Candlelight Stroll was the Old Post Chapel, which was the community activity center in the 1870s.

“After church services were over, the community would push the pews against the walls and hold a dance in the building. The chapel was also used as a school during the day,” said the re-enactor Dylan Sutton, portraying Chaplain Allen Ellensworth, 24th Infantry.

He said the work on the chapel began in June 1875 with $2,500 for materials and labor. “It was constructed by one carpenter and one stone mason.”

Chaplain (Capt.) Mitchell Sutton, and his wife, Holly, said it was their first time participating in the Candlelight Stroll and they thought it was a great tour and that the candlelight aspect of the event added to the atmosphere and made them feel they had stepped back in time to what it would have been like in the 1870s.

“There is just so much living history associated with Fort Sill and the people that are here preserving that, you know, really, it means so much to the community and to the folks that are stationed here,” said Mitchell. “I just pray that those who find themselves stationed here will take the time to actually learn the history behind it because there's so much amazing history here.”

“I never knew until we started watching westerns on TV just how often Fort Sill is mentioned in the western movies,” said Holly.

Check out all the photos of the Candlelight Stroll on flickr at https://flickr.com/photos/fortsillcannoneer/albums/72157720221803137.