HORN FROM FORT PEMBINA - A POWDER HORN TO BE?

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Quantity Available: 1

Item Code: 1052-644

The wet soil conditions of the dig at Fort Pembina have produced all sorts of things discarded by the garrison that would normally perish, casting some light on the daily life of the garrison. These include a couple of horns that seem to have been appropriated by soldiers for alteration to powder horns, if not for actual use, as souvenirs or made in imitation earlier frontiersmen’s hunting horns or a grandfather’s military horn. In any case, it would be a good way to while away the time off-duty at a small, frontier post. In this case, the soldier did not get very far. He either decided the project was beyond his skill level and artistic sense, or because the end of the horn fractured in preparing it. The wide end of the horn shows some breaks and the rest of the horn, while smooth, has not been worked on. The color shows as an off-white, with dark brown and gray residue and staining.

Situated in the Red River Valley in North Dakota near the Canadian border, Fort Pembina was established in 1870 and in operation until 1895. Trading posts existed earlier in the area as part of the fur trade, and the first U.S. military post there was temporary- manned by a detachment of Minnesota troops in 1863-1864 following the 1862 Sioux uprising. In March 1870 a new fort was established south of the Pembina River and about 200 yards west of the Red River, completed by July and named in honor of Gen. George H. Thomas. The name was changed to Fort Pembina in September and the initial garrison consisted of two companies of the 20th US Infantry. Their main duty was to provide security for settlers worried about Sioux returning south from Canada, but the troops were more occupied with escorting boundary surveys along the Canadian border and preventing Fenian raids heading north into Canada.

The fort included enlistedmen’s barracks, officers’ quarters, guard house, ordnance storehouse, company kitchen, root house, laundress’s quarters, quarters for civilian employees, hospital and hospital servant’s house, a barn for the “hospital cow,” quartermaster and commissary offices and storehouse, stables, wagon shed, etc. The garrison reached peak strength in 1878 af 200, but the average was about 125 enlisted men and 8 officers. An October 1885 return listed 97 men, 2 field pieces, 1 mountain howitzer, 100 rifles, 19 pistols, 23 mules, and 9 wagons. By 1890 the post had just 23 men, and after an 1895 fire destroyed some 19 buildings it was decided to abandon the fort rather than rebuild, the last detachment left in September. The property was turned over to the Interior Department and later sold in 1902.     [sr][ph:L]

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