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  • 11. Guardhouse

    The guardhouse in front of you served two purposes. It functioned as a jail or prison for soldiers who violated military laws and regulations and as a shelter for guards who played a vital role in the fort’s protection and security. Duties of the guards included patrols of the fort, enforcement of rules and watching prisoners. Discipline at any post of the 1800s was strict; punishments were harsh and often cruel. Punishments handed out ranged from reduction in rank, stoppage of pay, and confinement in the guardhouse for minor offenses to "bucking and gagging," "spread eagle," standing on a barrel, confinement in a choke box or the solitary cells, mounting the wooden horse, and even wearing iron collars or balls and chains. One soldier at a different post wrote that the United States Army had "acquired a very odious notoriety for the diabolically inhuman treatment of the enlisted men by their officers” Men were kicked, cuffed, cursed, and even mauled without cause, as suited "the caprice or anger" of the officers. Although laws existed to protect the soldiers, they were loosely enforced.