Fort Davis (1)

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Fort Davis (1854-1862)(1867-1891) - Established on the order of General Persifor F Smith on 23 Oct 1854 and named after the then Secretary of War, Jefferson Davis. The fort provided protection for the San Antonio-El Paso Road which was a major link on the southern route to California. Also known as Painted Camp on the Limpia.

Fort Davis Panorama 2009


The First Fort Davis (1854-1862)

The first Fort Davis was initially commanded by Ltc. Washington Seawell (Cullum 411) and manned by 6 companies of the 8th U.S. Infantry. Ltc. Seawell commanded the first Fort Davis for most of the years between 1854 and 1860. The fort was a large and important post in the southwest and often contained more than 400 officers and enlisted men. In 1861 the fort was abandoned by Union forces and occupied by units of the 2nd Texas Mounted Rifles. In Aug 1862 Union forces regained control of the fort but did not occupy it until 1867, well after the conclusion of the U.S. Civil War.

The Second Fort Davis (1867-1891)

Fort Davis, Oct 1867

The fort was reoccupied in Jun 1867 by four troops of the 9th U.S. Cavalry under Ltc. Wesley Merritt (Cullum 1868). At that point in time the 9th U.S. Cavalry was composed of white officers and Negro enlisted men. Colonel Merritt began the construction of a new stone fort on a plan that envisioned a row of 19 officers quarters facing a row of 6 barracks across a 500 foot long parade ground with supply and administrative buildings on either end. The new fort was located closer to the mouth of the canyon that had contained the original fort.
Construction on the new fort was halted in March of 1869 and only 2 barracks and 10 sets of officers quarters were built and occupied. Few stone buildings were constructed. Additional facilities were built during the 1880's to house increasing troop levels and by 1890 more than 60 buildings and such amenities as an ice plant, gas street lamps and a water system were in place.
Between 1867 and 1881 fort personnel were engaged in operations against hostile Indians in West Texas. During these years the fort was garrisoned by four regiments consisting of Negro soldiers and white officers. These units distinguished themselves in these operations and became known as "Buffalo Soldiers" to the Indians they fought. With the end of Indian hostilities in 1881 Fort Davis settled into a routine of drill and instruction. Operational duties included patrolling, road building and protection of railroad construction crews. Both the Southern Pacific Railroad and the Texas and Pacific Railroad bypassed Fort Davis and the importance of the post declined and the inevitable closure order came in Jun 1891. Company F, 5th U.S. Infantry turned the post over to a caretaker and marched to Marfa to catch the train to San Antonio.

Current Status

Quarters surviving the years
Officer's row after restoration by NPS, 1963

Civilians occupied the quarters on Fort Davis for a number of years after the post closed and maintained the properties in reasonable condition thus saving it from the fate of most abandoned posts. In the 1930's the property was purchased by D.A. Simmons who performed additional maintenance and repair preserving it in the family until the 1960's. The property was acquired from his heirs in the 1960's and Fort Davis National Historic Site was established on July 14, 1963 and is administered by the National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior.


Fort Davis Commanders¹

Name

Rank

Regiment

Period served

Washington Seawell Lt. col. 8th U.S. Infantry Oct. 7, 1854—Aug. 30, 1856.
Arthur T. Lee Capt. 8th U.S. Infantry Aug. 30, 1856—Mar. 31, 1857.
Washington Seawell Lt. col. 8th U.S. Infantry Mar. 31, 1857—Nov. 17, 1859.
Theodore Fink 1st lt. 8th U.S. Infantry Nov. 17, 1859—Apr. 26, 1860.
William McE. Dye 1st lt. 8th U.S. Infantry Apr. 26, 1860—May 17, 1860.
Washington Seawell Lt. col. 8th U.S. Infantry May 17, 1860—July 10, 1860.
James V Bomford Capt. and bvt. lt. col. 8th U.S. Infantry July 10, 1860—Sept. 18, 1860.
James J Van Horn 2d lt. 8th U.S. Infantry Sept. 18, 1860—Nov. 10, 1860.
John G Taylor 2d lt. 8th U.S. Infantry Nov. 10, 1860—Jan. 23. 1861.
Edward D Blake Capt. 8th U.S. Infantry Jan. 23, 1861—Apr. 13, 1861.

Reuben E Mays Lt. 2nd Texas Mtd Rifles June 1861—August 1861.
W. P. White Lt. 2nd Texas Mtd Rifles August 1861—August 1862.

Wesley Merritt Lt. col. and bvt. maj. gen. 9th U.S. Cavalry July 1, 1867—Nov. 29, 1867.
James F Wade Maj. and bvt. col. 9th U.S. Cavalry Nov. 29, 1867—March 1868.
George A Purington Capt. and bvt. col. 9th U.S. Cavalry March 1868—May 1868.
James G Birney 1st lt. and bvt. capt. 9th U.S. Cavalry May 1868—June 1, 1868.
Wesley Merritt Lt. col. and bvt. maj. gen. 9th U.S. Cavalry June 1, 1868—Sept. 3, 1869.
William BayardD Capt. and bvt. maj. 9th U.S. Cavalry Sept. 3, 1869—Oct. 10, 1869.
James F Wade Maj. and bvt. col. 9th U.S. Cavalry Oct. 10, 1869—Nov. 26, 1869.
Edward Hatch Col. and bvt. maj. gen. 9th U.S. Cavalry Nov. 26, 1869—Dec. 15, 1870.
John W French Capt. 25th U.S. Infantry Dec. 15, 1870—Feb. 12, 1871.
Andrew Sheridan Capt. and bvt. maj. 24th U.S. Infantry Feb. 12, 1871—May 18, 1871.
William R Shafter Lt. col. 24th U.S. Infantry May 18, 1871—June 18, 1871.
John W French Capt. 25th U.S. Infantry June 18, 1871—July 9, 1871.
William R Shafter Lt. col. 24th U.S. Infantry July 9, 1871—Oct. 5, 1871.
Charles C Hood Capt. 24th U.S. Infantry Oct. 5, 1871—Nov. 1,1871.
William R Shafter Lt. col. 24th U.S. Infantry Nov. 1, 1871—Nov. 12, 1871.
Charles C Hood Capt. 24th U.S. Infantry NOV. 12, 1871—Jan. 1, 1872.
William R Shafter Lt. col. 24th U.S. Infantry Jan. 1, 1872—May 26, 1872.
George L Andrews Col. 25th U.S. Infantry May 26, 1872—July 31, 1872.
Prank T Bennett Capt. 9th U.S. Cavalry July 31, 1872—Aug. 8, 1872.
George L Andrews Col. 25th U.S. Infantry Aug. 8, 1872—Mar. 4, 1873.
Zenas R Bliss Maj. and bvt. lt. col. 25th U.S. Infantry Mar. 4, 1873—Aug. 23, 1873.
David D Van Valzah Capt. 25th U.S. Infantry Aug. 23, 1873—Sept. 1873.
David D Van Valzah Capt. 25th U.S. Infantry Apr. 14, 1874—Sept. 8, 1874.
George L Andrews Col. 25th U.S. Infantry Sept. 8, 1874—Apr. 25, 1876.
Zenas R Bliss Maj. and bvt. lt. col. 25th U.S. Infantry Apr. 25, 1876—Oct. 29, 1876.
John W French Capt. 25th U.S. Infantry Oct. 29, 1876—Nov. 26, 1876.
George L Andrews Col. 25th U.S. Infantry Nov. 26, 1876—Aug. 30, 1878.
Name

Rank

Regiment

Period served

Louis H Carpenter Capt. and bvt. col. 10th U.S. Cavalry Aug. 30, 1878—May 29, 1879.
Michael S Courtney Capt. and bvt. maj. 25th U.S. Infantry May 29, 1879—June 13, 1879.
Louis H Carpenter Capt. and bvt. col. 10th U.S. Cavalry June 13, 1879—July 27, 1879.
David B Wilson 1st lt. 25th U.S. Infantry July 27, 1879—Aug. 7, 1879.
Charles D Viele Capt. 10th U.S. Cavalry Aug. 7, 1879—Sept. 14, 1879.
Louis H Carpenter Capt. and bvt. col. 10th U.S. Cavalry Sept 14, 1879—Oct. 20, 1879.
Napoleon B Mc Laughlen Maj. and bvt. brig. gen. 10th U.S. Cavalry Oct. 20, 1879—June 18, 1880.
John E Yard Lt. col. 24th U.S. Infantry June 18, 1880—Oct. 15, 1880.
Napoleon B Mc Laughlen Maj. and bvt. brig. gen. 10th U.S. Cavalry Oct. 15, 1880—Mar. 12, 1881.
William R Shafter Col. 1st U.S. Infantry Mar. 12, 1881—May 13, 1882.
Alfred L Hough Lt. col. and bvt. col. 16th U.S. Infantry May 13, 1882—Aug. 5, 1882.
Anson Mills Maj. and bvt. col. 10th U.S. Cavalry Aug. 5, 1882—Nov. 20, 1882.
Benjamin Grierson Col. and bvt. maj. gen. 10th U.S. Cavalry Nov. 20, 1882—Sept. 20, 1883.
Frederick Van Vliet Maj. and bvt. lt. col. 10th U.S. Cavalry Sept. 20, 1883—Nov. 3, 1883.
Benjamin Grierson Col. and bvt. maj. gen. 10th U.S. Cavalry Nov. 3, 1883—Oct. 30, 1884.
Anson Mills Maj. and bvt. col. 10th U.S. Cavalry Oct. 30, 1884—Nov. 3, 1884.
Frederick Van Vliet Maj. and bvt. lt. col. 10th U.S. Cavalry Nov. 3, 1884—Dec. 21, 1884.
Benjamin Grierson Col. and bvt. maj. gen. 10th U.S. Cavalry Dec. 21, 1884—Apr. 2, 1885.
William H Clapp Capt. 16th U.S. Infantry Apr. 2, 1885—May 12, 1885.
Albert G Brackett Col. 3rd U.S. Cavalry May 12, 1885—Oct. 9, 1885.
David R Clendenin Lt. col. 3rd U.S. Cavalry Oct. 9, 1885—Nov. 2, 1885.
Albert G Brackett Col. 3rd U.S. Cavalry Nov. 2, 1885—Jan. 28, 1886.
Caleb H Carlton Maj. and bvt. lt. col. 3rd U.S. Cavalry Jan. 28, 1886—Feb. 2, 1886.
Albert G Brackett Col. 3rd U.S. Cavalry Feb. 2, 1886—July 22, 1886.
Caleb H Carlton Maj. and bvt. lt. col. 3rd U.S. Cavalry July 22, 1886—Aug. 2, 1886.
David R Clendenin Lt. col. 3rd U.S. Cavalry Aug. 2, 1886—Oct. 18, 1886.
Albert G Brackett Col. 3rd U.S. Cavalry Oct. 18, 1886—Mar. 22, 1887.
Albert G Brackett Lt. col. 3rd U.S. Cavalry Mar. 22, 1887—Oct. 20, 1887.
Elmer Otis Col. 8th U.S. Cavalry Oct. 20, 1887—May 9, 1888.
William Williams 1st. lt. 19th U.S. Infantry May 9, 1888—June 28, 1888.
Melville A Cochran Lt. col. 5th U.S. Infantry June 28, 1888—Nov. 13, 1889.
Philip H Remington Capt. 19th U.S. Infantry Nov. 13, 1889—Dec. 15, 1889.
Frank D Baldwin Capt. 5th U.S. Infantry Dec. 15, 1889—Feb. 25, 1890.
Melville A Cochran Lt. col. 5th U.S. Infantry Feb. 25, 1890—Aug. 10, 1890.
Samuel Ovenshine Maj. 23rd U.S. Infantry Aug. 10, 1890—Oct. 14, 1890.
William R Kellogg Lt. col. 5th U.S. Infantry Oct. 14, 1890—Nov. 28, 1890.
Samuel Ovenshine Maj. 23rd U.S. Infantry Nov. 28, 1890—Dec. 25, 1890.
William R Kellogg Lt. col. 5th U.S. Infantry Dec. 25, 1890—May 18, 1891.
George P Borden Capt. 5th U.S. Infantry May 18, 1891—June 30, 1891.

¹from Utley

Location: Located just north of the town of Fort Davis in west Texas off Hwy 17 and 118.

Maps & Images

Lat: 30.598616 Long: -103.892233

Links:

Sources:

Visited: 7 Nov 2009, 23 May 1986

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