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Christmas at Fort Robinson, 1882

Fort Robinson provides the following holiday story of devotion and courage. It can be found in A Frontier Army Christmas, a new book published by the Nebraska State Historical Society. Martin J. Weber, an old soldier, remembered: "December 1882 then a corporal in Troop H, Fifth Cavalry, I was ordered to report to the quartermaster at Fort Sidney, the nearest railroad point, to get the Christmas goods for the Fort. A driver and a six mule team were detailed for the purpose."

Weber carried out his orders and headed back to Fort Robinson. "The weather had turned cold and frost began to fly through the air indicating a storm. The next morning the storm broke in all its fury, a regular blizzard raging. We had to head into the storm. We made Camp Clarke where the Sidney-Black Hills Trail crossed the North Platte River.

"The bridge tender and his wife advised us to stay until the storm passed. As much as we disliked to leave the snug quarters and hot meals, we bid them goodbye and headed into the storm.

"We got to the Running Water stage station the night of the 23rd. Here we had hay for mules and horses and a warm place to cook our supper. How good that hot coffee tasted. It gave us new life and courage for the last twenty miles of our journey.

"The stage had broken the trail to the top of Breakneck Hill; the storm had passed, the fort only five miles away. We got safely down the Breakneck, crossed White Clay Creek, and broke trail across the valley, arriving at the fort on the 24th.

"When I passed the officers' quarters, the kiddies were all out running up and down the walks. When they saw me, they began to shout, 'The Christmas wagon has come!' Hearing them the officers and men came out. They could hardly believe it until the teamster drove his six weary mules up and we began to unload the Christmas goods. Even the officers were willing to help.

"So old Santa arrived, and there was a Merry Christmas after all had given up hope of seeing either. I was snow blind and had to wear dark glasses for some time after that. One year later I was promoted to first sergeant of Troop H."

(December 1997)

 

 

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