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Students learn about frontier Army life first-hand

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LAWTON, Okla._More than 300 elementary school students from Lawton experienced the late eighteen hundreds on Fort Sill for the fifth annual Frontier Army Days.

The students experienced the sights and sounds first-hand how frontier life was when they saw everything from how wounds were handled to how laundry was done before washers and dryers were invented.

"When they see a soldier fire a musket, or they see the cannon fire, or better yet they see a soldier on a horse, riding across the quad, they are going to remember that," said Frank Siltman, Director of Museums & Military History.

There were many people, much like today, doing many different roles to make the Army successful back then, as it is today. All facets of frontier Army life came to life, even laundry. There were four laundresses assigned to each company back then.

"Sunday we went to church, and guess what we did Monday? Laundry," said one of the company laundresses as she demonstrated how laundry was handled on the frontier. Every day making sure soldiers had clean clothes because most of the time they stunk.

If you got shot, well you would have to see a doctor and the kids learned there was no fun in that.

"What I'm gonna do is amputate Bob’s arm because Bob got shot down here. I'm going to amputate four fingers below Bob's elbow," explained the Army doctor.

Another lesser-known occupation back then was those that fixed the drums and bugles the soldiers took into battle.

"They didn't have radios to communicate with troops what to do on the battlefield, where to go on the battle field. So they used bugle boys and drummer boys. They didn't have adult drummers, they were drummer boys," explained the instrument repairer.

In fact the youngest Medal of Honor recipient was a drummer boy. He was eleven years old when he started. The Buffalo Soldiers played a pivotal role in the frontier Army.

"When you're talking about Buffalo Soldiers, you're not talking about black history, you're talking about history made by black men," explained the Buffalo Soldier.

Paid $13.00 a month and given a free bed to sleep in, these men fought Indians, patrolled the area and were jailors. At the guard house they made sure prisoners obeyed the rules at all times or else they would be strung up by their thumbs.

If you are interested in seeing it for yourself, the Frontier Army Days will still be going on Saturday and is open to the general public.

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