• Post has legacy of equestrian training

  • Many buildings on Fort Leavenworth are related to the 5,000-year-old relationship between the military and the horse.

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  • Quentin Schillare | Special to the Fort Leavenworth Lamp
    Many buildings on Fort Leavenworth are related to the 5,000-year-old relationship between the military and the horse. A walk around post reveals wood and brick stables, gun sheds, polo fields, turnout pastures, paddocks and riding halls. Most, but not all, have been diverted from their original use. Most don’t have names. Some that have names hark back to an earlier day when the horse, or at least the ability look good while riding one, was considered a part of officership.
    In days gone by, no army wanted its officers to look uncomfortable on a horse, either in the field or on parade. Army officers of the late 19th and early 20th centuries considered equitation, the art of riding on horseback, a basic requirement for their job. Indeed, in many non-cavalry units, the men marched while the officers rode. Junior officers who were poor equestrians received remedial training when they got to their first unit. Before World War II, creating good equestrians was a learning objective of the Command and General Staff School. Horsemanship was a part of the curriculum and much of it was supported by African-American soldiers.
    Those looking for evidence of the Buffalo Soldiers naturally focus on the Buffalo Soldier Monument and its associated Circle of Firsts that do honor to the 9th and 10th Cavalry Regiments, and by extension to all black units and those soldiers of African descent who served in the Army since the Civil War. These memorials are recent additions to post, the first established in 1992, and are too new to have felt the footsteps of their honorees. However, often overlooked just to the north across Smith Lake are five named buildings that witnessed honest-to-goodness Buffalo Soldiers.
    The buildings, Gruber and Muir Halls on Reynolds Avenue, Flint Hall on Gibbon Avenue, together with Funston and McNair Halls on Sedgwick Avenue, and other buildings now demolished — including a wooden stable and blacksmith’s shop on the south side of Flint Hall — composed the Buffalo Soldier area. The area was once the home of the General Services School Detachment (Colored) and its 10th Cavalry successors that directly supported the school equitation program.
    Little recognized today because they have long been put to other uses, facilities to support the horse were built in groups. With one exception, the surviving structures of the equitation program were all constructed within two years.
    Gruber Hall (1908) is an imposing structure built as an indoor riding hall to replace an equally imposing structure still in place on McClellan Avenue. Gruber Hall was sited to support equitation for officer students. It was supported by two stables. Muir (1908) and Flint (1910) halls were stables of standard design, each with the stalls, feed and bedding storage, veterinary care facilities and a stablemaster’s office necessary for proper care of valuable Army assets — its horses. Muir had stalls for 138 horses and Flint for 200 horses. The stables were served by a rail spur used to deliver bulk items to the facilities.
    Page 2 of 4 - Another structure remaining in the area is building 107, built in 1900. It served the equitation program as a guard house. Mostly unnoticed today, it is just south of Muir Hall. A horse was one of the most valuable moveable objects on a military installation and protecting them from unauthorized use or misappropriation (horse theft) was an important task.
    Soldiers needed barracks and McNair (1908) and Funston (1910) halls were constructed to support the nearby stables with administrative space for officers and non-commissioned officers, messing facilities, supply rooms, recreation areas, and sleeping quarters for NCOs and enlisted men.
    Then as now, fire was a constant threat to post and it touched the Buffalo Soldier Area. In 1925, Flint Hall burned and was partially destroyed. It was rebuilt as a service club for African-American soldiers.
    What did the Command and General Staff School students think of the equitation program supported by all these facilities? A review of the literature indicates that some student officers liked equitation and some did not. Dr. Lou Dimarco, a Command and General Staff College history professor and the author of a book on military horses, relates that a survey given to CGSS students before graduation of the 1940-1941 class listed equitation as the least favorite part of the curriculum — by a large margin. Equitation was discontinued in 1940 in the run up to World War II when the school curriculum was shortened to three months.
    Today Gruber Hall is a fitness center and Flint, Funston, McNair and Muir halls provide office space for the Command and General Staff College and the Training and Doctrine Command Analysis Center. Future articles will discuss the actual namesakes for Flint, Funston, Gruber, McNair and Muir halls.
    For information on his book: Fort Leavenworth: The People Behind the names, visit here. - See more at: http://www.ftleavenworthlamp.com/article/20151119/NEWS/151119238/0/SEARCH/?tag=2#sthash.rjB3UO4F.dpuf
    For information on his book: Fort Leavenworth: The People Behind the Names, visit here.
    For the 1st installment of the People Behind Post Places series visit here.
    For the 2nd installment of the People Behind Post Places series visit here.
    For the 3rd installment of the People Behind Post Places series visit here.
    For the 4th installment of the People Behind Post Places series visit here.
    Page 3 of 4 - For the 5th installment of the People Behind Post Places series visit here.
    For the 6th installment of the People Behind Post Places series visit here.
    For the 7th installment of the People Behind Post Places series visit here.
    For information on his book: Fort Leavenworth: The People Behind the names, visit here.
    For more information on his book "Fort Leavenworth: The People Behind the Names" visit here. - See more at: http://www.ftleavenworthlamp.com/article/20151105/NEWS/151109629/?tag=2#sthash.32p2kEHD.dpuf
    For the 1st installment of the People Behind Post Places Series, visit here.
    For the 2nd installment of the People Behind Post Places Series, visit here.
    For the 3rd installment of the People Behind Post Places Series, visit here.
    For the 4th installment of the People Behind Post Places Series, visit here.
    For the 5th installment of the People Behind Post Places Series, visit here.
    For the 6th installment of the People Behind Post Places Series, visit here.
    For information on his book: Fort Leavenworth: The People Behind the names, visit here.
    For more information on his book "Fort Leavenworth: The People Behind the Names" visit here. - See more at: http://www.ftleavenworthlamp.com/article/20151105/NEWS/151109629/?tag=2#sthash.32p2kEHD.dpuf
    For the 1st installment of the People Behind Post Places Series, visit here.
    Page 4 of 4 - For the 2nd installment of the People Behind Post Places Series, visit here.
    For the 3rd installment of the People Behind Post Places Series, visit here.
    For the 4th installment of the People Behind Post Places Series, visit here.
    For the 5th installment of the People Behind Post Places Series, visit here.
    For the 6th installment of the People Behind Post Places Series, visit here.
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