On September 1, 1859, Lieutenant Eli Long and Company H, 1st US Cavalry departed Fort Riley. On September 27, they arrived at Beach's Ranch, an area in modern-day Rice County. Their duty was to escort mail to a crossing of the Arkansas River.
Over a week later, on October 7, 1859, Captain George H. Steuart and Company K, 1st US Cavalry were dispatched from Fort Riley to relieve Lieutenant Long. They completed their task and, after meeting with the Lieutenant, proceeded further west. A soldier's diary says that on October 22, 1859, the company arrived at the Pawnee Fork of the River. The location for a fort was selected and a camp was set up on the sight. The camp was called, "Camp on Pawnee Fork."
Captain George H. Steuart became the first Commanding Officer of what was to be known as Fort Larned.