Fort Davis National Historic
P.O. Box 1379
Fort Davis, Texas 79734
(432) 426-3224 ext. 20
Explore Fort Davis
Begin your visit at the visitor center and
museum and see the 15-minute video on the history of the fort.
Take a self-guided tour of the five buildings
that are restored and refurnished to the 1880s or explore the other
100 ruins and foundations. Interpreters dressed in period clothing
are stationed at some of these buildings during the summer months
and spring-break (mid-March).
A key post in the defense system of western
Texas, Fort Davis played a major role in the history of the
Southwest. From 1854 until 1891, troops stationed at the post
protected emigrants, freighters, mail coaches, and travelers on the
San Antonio-El Paso Road.
Today, Fort Davis is considered one of the
best remaining examples of a frontier military post in the American
Southwest. It is a vivid reminder of the significant role played by
the military in the settlement and development of the western
frontier. Named for Secretary of War Jefferson Davis, the fort was
first garrisoned by Lieutenant Colonel Washington Seawell and six
companies of the Eighth U.S. Infantry.
The post was located in a box canyon near
Limpia Creek on the eastern side of the Davis Mountains--where wood,
water, and grass were plentiful. From 1854 to 1861 , troops of the
Eighth Infantry spent much of their time in the field pursuing
Comanches, Kiowas, and Apaches.
With the outbreak of the Civil War and Texas�s
secession from the Union, the federal government evacuated Fort
Davis. The fort was occupied by Confederate troops from the spring
of 1861 until the summer of 1862, when Union forces again took
possession. They quickly abandoned the post and Fort Davis lay
deserted for the next five years.
The original post consisted of primitive
structures. (It was located west of the present day Officers� Row.
The foundations of several buildings from this earlier fort can
still be seen today.) Not many of the fort�s structures remained
in June 1867, when Lieutenant Colonel Wesley Merritt and four
companies of the recently-organized Ninth U.S. Cavalry reoccupied
Fort Davis. The building of a new post, just east of the original
site, began immediately.
By the end of 1869, a number of officers�
quarters, two enlisted men�s barracks, a guardhouse, temporary
hospital, and storehouses had been erected. Construction continued
through the 1880s. By then, Fort Davis had become a major
installation with more than 100 structures, and quarters for more
than 400 soldiers.
Fort Davis�s primary role of safeguarding
the west Texas frontier against the Comanches and Apaches continued
until 1881. Although the Comanches were defeated in the mid-1870s,
the Apaches continued to make travel on the San Antonio-El Paso road
Soldiers from the post regularly patrolled the
road and provided protection for wagon trains and mail coaches. The
last major military campaign involving troops from Fort Davis
occurred in 1880. In a series of engagements, units from Fort Davis
and other posts, under the command of Colonel Benjamin Grierson,
forced the Apaches and their leader Victorio into Mexico.
There, Victorio and most of his followers were
killed by Mexican soldiers. With the end of the Indian Wars in west
Texas, garrison life at Fort Davis became more routine. Soldiers
occasionally escorted railroad survey parties, repaired roads and
telegraph lines, and pursued bandits. In June 1891,
as a result of the army�s efforts to
consolidate its frontier garrisons, Fort Davis was ordered
abandoned, having "outlived its usefulness. "Seventy years
later, in 1961, the fort was authorized as a national historic site,
a unit of the National Park Service.
Post Hospital Restoration Project
Park staff, along with the Friends of Fort
Davis National Historic Site and local volunteers, are currently
restoring and refurnishing portions of the 1876 Post Hospital. When
completed the Post Hospital at Fort Davis will be the first such
19th Century structure built as a hospital in the National Park
Service to be restored.
Did You Know?
Units of the 9th and 10th Cavalry and 24th and 25th Infantry served
at Fort Davis from 1867 through 1885. Organized after the Civil War
with African American soldiers with white officers, these units
compiled a notable record on the Indian frontier.
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