The National Park Service is offering visitors an opportunity to “step back in time” and glimpse the sights, sounds, and smells of life as it might have been 172 years ago at the 2019 Bent’s Fort Military Encampment.
In the year 1847, things went badly for Bent, St. Vrain, & Company, starting with the assassination of Governor Charles Bent during the Taos Revolt, followed later in the year by the deaths of William Bent’s wife Owl Woman, and his brother George. Due to increased military traffic, game growing scarce,and the rapid spread of diseases among the Plains Tribes, hostilities had exploded along the trail.
That year also brought former trapper and trader Tom “Brokenhand” Fitzpatrick’s appointment as the first Indian Agent for the Upper Platte and Arkansas Indian Agency, which would be headquartered at Bent’s Fort. His task often put him and his subordinates at odds with the goals of the troops, resulting in a great deal of friction.
On Saturday, August 24, the fort will be occupied by its regular laborers, clerks, cooks, traders and hunters; there will also be volunteer soldiers nearby representing Gilpin’s Volunteers. Authorized by the War Department and recruited in Missouri, Gilpin’s men were organized to patrol the Santa Fe Trail while the regular army and other volunteers were still fighting in Mexico. The unit was ill equipped and poorly supplied, and assigned to a thankless job of trying to protect commerce on the frontier.
Come learn about these truly citizen soldiers that served in what became Colorado. Participants will be speaking to visitors as if they are living in 1847. Feel free to interact with the soldiers in their camp and the fort’s civilian residents as they go about their daily tasks. See what it took to be a soldier on the frontier. Ask one of the civilians what it was like to have the military nearby. Most of all enjoy your time at the fort as you learn about the fascinating people that once made history here.
On Saturday, August 24, the park will be open from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Admission cost is $5. For more information and location, call 719-383-5026 or visit the National Park Bent Fort’s website at https://www.nationalparks.org/explore-parks/bents-old-fort-national-historic-site.