Reveille Till Taps
Description of soldier life from 1780 to 1895, detailing the often difficult and isolated existence at this remote outpost.
From the book: “Throughout Fort Mackinac’s 115 year history the soldiers stationed there were part of Mackinac Island society. To their good fortune a sizable and active community thrived just several hundred yards below the fort. The village of Mackinac Island was a fur trade center throughout the last two decades of the 18th and first one-third of the 19th centuries. After that fishing was the prime activity for a few decades, and by 1875 thousands of tourists visited the island during the summer months. This community played an integral part in most of the soldiers’ lives. It was here where they played, worshipped, got drunk, got into trouble, met girls, and visited with civilians.
Although the village was important, these men were soldiers, and the wishes and commands of the army took precedence over their personal desires. They drilled, cut firewood, built fort buildings, walked their posts, policed the fort, and performed countless other activities. The army made great demands upon its men and paid them little in return, but it did provide for their basic bodily needs. Food was procured, prepared, and served to the men.
A post surgeon stationed at the fort cared for the sick and injured. To satisfy some intellectual curiosities, books and periodicals were purchased for the men’s use. Since only a few men had wives and children, they spent much time entertaining each other playing cards and assorted games, among other recreational activities.”