Fort Riley Military Post
Backstory and Context
The early expansionism of the United States to the Western stretches of the continent, meant the travel through lawless and unsettled frontier territory. In the 1850's travelers and traders from Oregon to California and Santa Fe trails were at the mercy of being raided on the open plains. To combat this raiding, a series of strategic forts were erected in efforts to secure the trails and ensure the safety of the travelers. In 1852 a surveying party led by Capt. Robert Chiton of the 1st U.S. Dragoons had chosen a location of land located between the Republican and Smoky Hill Rivers for one of these strategic forts. Originally the fort was named Camp Center due to the belief that the particular location of the camp was located in the center of the United States. A force of 3 companies of the 6th Infantry Division manned the camp and began further construction. On June 27, 1853 Camp Center was renamed Fort Riley named in honor of Major General Bennett C. Riley; leader of the first escort mission along the trails to Santa Fe. At first, Fort Riley functioned as a outpost that hosted military escorts for the people, traders, and mail trains traveling the trails across the plains.
During the Civil War the federal troops stationed at Fort Riley were sent East to participate in the war. However, to fill their place at the post, Kansas Militia units occupied Fort Riley to continue protection of the trails for travelers and also to house Confederate prisoners of war. After the Civil War Fort Riley continued its strategic protection, but to the newly added rail lines through the area. The famous 7th Cavalry Regiment under the command of Brevet Major General George A. Custer was mustered at Fort Riley for operations into the high plains of Western Kansas and Eastern Colorado.
As the Pacific Rail Line continued Fort Riley lost its initial strategic importance. However, throughout the course of the late 1800's and the 20th century; Fort Riley maintained its existence providing to be a military asset to the US government. It functioned as a training center and garrison for the 1st Infantry Division created in 1917, and many other sub units during the wars and conflicts of the 20th Century. To this day Fort Riley remains and is full of museum with plethora's of historic value on its post.
Visitor Access Location: Henry Gate Access Control Point - Exit 301 of I-70.
History of Fort Riley and 1st Infantry Division, U.S. Army Fort Riley. October 24th 2019. Accessed March 21st 2020. home.army.mil/riley/index.php/about/history.
1st Infantry Division, U.S. Army Fort Riley. February 27th 2020. Accessed March 21st 2020. home.army.mil/riley/index.php/tenants/1st-ID.
Visitor and Access Information, U.S. Army Fort Riley. March 4th 2020. Accessed March 21st 2020. home.army.mil/riley/index.php/about/visitor-info.