Fort Union (3)

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Fort Union (3) (1851-1894) - A U.S. Army complex established in 1851 by Lt. Colonel Edwin V. Sumner, 1st U.S. Dragoons, in present day Mora County, New Mexico. Abandoned in 1894. Parts also known as Star Fort, Fort Union Depot, Post of Fort Union and Fort Union Arsenal.

Fort Union Quartermaster Storehouse Interior.
Fort Union Commanding Officers Quarters Ruins.
Ruins of the Fort Union Depot Officer's Quarters circa 2005.

Fort Union History

Fort Union First Commanding Officers Quarters.

Established on 26 Jul 1851 near two branches of the Santa Fe Trail on the site of a previous camp. Lt. Colonel Sumner, 9th Military Department Commander, established the post as a supply station on the Santa Fe Trail and principle quartermaster depot for military posts in the southwest. He also sought to remove his command from towns that he viewed as bad influences on the troops.

On the 1st of August 1853 Colonel Joseph K.F. Mansfield, (Cullum 287), inspected the new post and found it garrisoned with three companies of troops; one company of infantry, one company of artillery and one company of Dragoons with a total of 3 officers and 164 men present. He found the post in "a high state of discipline and every department of it in good order" but he was concerned that each company had only one officer present for duty and that there was a severe shortage of shoes, especially size 7, 8 and 9. Colonel Mansfield included both a plan of the fort and a sketch of the strategic location on the Santa Fe Trail.


U.S. Civil War (1861-1865)

Fort Union From the Air, Star Fort at the Bottom, Post at Center, Quartermaster Depot Top Left.
Fort Union Arsenal.

At the beginning of the U.S. Civil War Colonel Edward R.S. Canby, (Cullum 1015), ordered the construction of an an additional earthworks fort across the creek from the original Fort Union. The new fort was built in a star shape and became known as the Star Fort.

In 1863 construction began on a brick and adobe fort north of the Star Fort. This new fort was really two separate facilities, The Post of Fort Union and Fort Union Depot. Construction on the Post of Fort Union and Fort Union Depot continued for six years. The new post was designed by Captain John C. McFerran, (Cullum 1200), Chief Quartermaster of the district of New Mexico, and refined by the depot quartermaster Captain Henry J. Farnsworth, the complex was said to be the largest fort west of the Mississippi at the time.

When completed the Post of Fort Union was an open plan western post with a line of nine officer's quarters on the southwest side of the parade facing a line of four U-shaped single company barracks on the northeast side. Beyond the barracks were two corrals, a guard house, a bakery, stables, shops, and laundresses quarters.

The Fort Union Depot was located on the north side of the Post of Fort Union with six officer's quarters and offices on the southwest side and across the parade on the northeast side was the mechanics corral and five large storehouses.

The original wood built fort was razed in 1867 and in it's place the adobe Fort Union Ordnance Depot and Fort Union Arsenal was built.

The post was engaged in conflicts during the U.S. Civil War that included Confederate forces and hostile Indians. Confederate forces under Major General Henry H. Sibley, (Cullum 971), approached the fort in 1862 but were defeated in the battle of Battle of Glorieta Pass, 26-28 Mar 1862, forcing Sibley to retreat.

Conflicts with raiding hostile Indian groups continued through the 1870s including:

  • Jicarilla Apaches (1854)
  • Utes (1855)
  • Kiowas and the Comanches (1860, 1864, 1868, 1874)
  • Mescalero Apaches (1861-1867)
  • Navahos (1864)


Post U.S. Civil War

Fort Union Officers Row.

The Santa Fe Railroad came to New Mexico in 1879 and the need for the supply depot at Fort Union was eliminated. The supply depot and arsenal were deactivated in 1882 and the fort was abandoned on 21 Feb 1891 leaving the post with a small caretaker detachment. The reservation reverted to the original owners on 1 Apr 1894.


Current Status

Must See! Fort Union National Monument, Mora County, New Mexico. Adobe ruins.


Location: Fort Union National Monument, Mora County, New Mexico.

Maps & Images

Lat: 35.9072222 Long: -105.0116667

Sources:


Links:

Visited: 11 Apr 2015

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