Saturday, May 17, 2014

Fort Davis National Historical Site, Fort Davis, Texas

Imagine a fort without walls.   When we visited Fort Davis we were surprised to learn that generally military posts in the west did not have walls surrounding them.   Indians avoided attacking a well-armed post.

Fort Davis was one of several military posts along the 600 mile San Antonio-El Paso Road.   From 1854 until 1891 troops stationed at the post protected emigrants, freighters, mail coaches, and travelers -- including those on their way to California seeking gold.

The restored Commissary is just to the left of the center of the photo.
In the foreground are some of many remaining foundations.
The fort was established on the eastern side of the Davis Mountains in a box canyon near Limpia Creek, where wood, water, and grass were plentiful.  The elevation of Fort Davis is 4,900 feet above sea level.

Left and center:  Officers homes.
Right:  Two-story Officers Quarters.

Of special interest is the role that the Buffalo Soldiers played at Fort Davis.  The Buffalo Soldiers were the African American enlisted men in the army after the civil war.  Both African American and white soldiers manned Fort Davis at different times during its history.
  • 1854-1862: All white
  • 1867-1881: All African American
  • 1882-1885: Both
  • 1885-1891: All white
With the end of the Indian Wars in west Texas, Fort Davis was ordered abandoned in 1891, having "outlived its usefulness."  Civilians resided in the quarters for a number of years.  The National Park Service website reports: "In the 1930's the owner performed much repair and maintenance work thus sparing the rapid deterioration that befell most abandoned forts. Fort Davis is today one of the most complete surviving examples of the typical western military fort to be found."