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Christmas at Fort Robinson, 1880

The Army and Navy Journal, a publication for officers and enlisted men, often published letters by correspondents from military posts throughout the West. Occasional letters came from Fort Robinson, Nebraska, including one describing Christmas there in 1880:

"Christmas eve has come in true wintry shape at our charming little post. The ground, as far as the eye can reach, is clothed in a mantle of snow. Retreat has sounded. The boys in blue, in their comfortable quarters, after a hard day's work, are chatting and laughing as they prepare themselves . . . for the coming festivities. Having given the finishing touches to their simple toilets, they form in small groups . . . to await the first notes of church call. Hark! Here come the notes on the cold night air; the doors of the soldiers' barracks are thrust open; a moment later the parade ground is alive with eager crowds as they hurry to the scene of festivities.

"As the expectant throngs push into the warm building, they are met by chaplain Simpson, who with kindly face and outstretched hands, is welcoming all who enter. When all are comfortably seated, the accomplished daughter of chaplain Simpson takes her place at the organ. Only respect for the sanctity of the place prevents an outburst of applause. After several hymns by the choir . . . the chaplain, in a few brief and appropriate remarks, calls to mind that this joyous gathering is held in honor of the birth of our Lord and Savior.

"Then he invites all present to partake of the bounteous repast which, with the generous assistance of the officers and ladies of the post, he has been able to provide. Pleasure is depicted on the countenance of every guest."

Other Fort Robinson activities during the 1880s holidays included sporting events and sleigh riding.

(November 1997)



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