• Photo by: Max Kandler

    Fort Davis

    National Historic Site Texas

There are park alerts in effect.
show Alerts »
  • Museum Closure

    The Visitor Center contact station is functioning out of the park auditorium. This is because the official Visitor Center is closed while it undergoes major rehabilitation. Completion date; summer 2014. Everything else is open, as usual, at the park.

Frequently Asked Questions

The majority of the questions that are asked at Fort Davis NHS pertain to the historical aspects of the park.

When was Fort Davis established and what years was it in operation?
The First Fort Davis was active from 1854-1862. The Second Fort Davis was in existence from 1867-1891.

Why was Fort Davis built at this location?
It was built at this location to protect the mail carriers, freighters, and travelers using the San Antonio - El Paso Road, also known as the Lower Road or the Butterfield-Overland Trail. The area also provided the essential elements to support a military post: water, wood, and forage.

Did Fort Davis have a wall surrounding it?
No. Indians avoided attacking a well-armed military post.

Did other military forts have walls?
Generally, military posts in the west did not have walls surrounding them. Trading posts, however, did because owners had a substantial amount of trade goods to protect. Fort Phil Kearney, a military post, did have a wall around it because it was centrally located in hostile Sioux territory - the Sioux being one of the more numerous tribes.

Who were the Buffalo Soldiers and were they stationed here?
The Buffalo Soldiers were the African American enlisted men in the army after the civil war. Originally there were six regiments of African American soldiers - four infantry and two cavalry. Elements of the 9th and 10th Cavalry and 24th 25th, and 41st Infantry served at Fort Davis.

Did Buffalo Soldiers always man Fort Davis?
No. 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

How many men were stationed at Fort Davis?
The fort generally had about 200 men stationed here at any given time. The high-water mark came in February 1884 when Companies I and K of the 16th Infantry and Troops A,B,C,D,H,I,K,and M of the 10th Cavalry were assigned to the post. These added up to over 600 officers and enlisted men; of which over 250 were away from post on patrols, escort duty, or on detail at the pinery.

Were there any women and children at Fort Davis?
Yes. Probably half of the officers had their families living on post with them. Women also worked as laundresses, servants, and hospital matrons. The number of women and children varied with the size of the garrison. In 1880 there were twenty five children attending the post school. Twenty two were the children of military personnel and three were the children of civilians.

Did Fort Davis have a cemetery?
Yes. The post cemetery was located north of the two-story officer's quarters. After the fort was abandoned in 1891, the remains of those buried in the post cemetery were removed and re-interred in the San Antonio National Cemetery.

What was the grade of the highest ranking officer to command Fort Davis?
The highest ranking officer to command Fort Davis was a colonel and several colonels commanded the post during its years of operation. Included in this number were Colonel Edward Hatch of the 9th Cavalry, Colonel Benjamin Grierson of the 10th Cavalry, Colonel Albert Brackett of the 3rd Cavalry, and Colonel George Andrews of the 25th Infantry.

What was the closest fort to Fort Davis?
The closest fort to Fort Davis was Fort Stockton, located approximately 90 miles to the northeast. At various times, however, Fort Davis had a number of sub-posts. Camp Pena Colorado, located just south of Marathon, and Eagle Springs, near Sierra Blanca, were sub-posts of Fort Davis.

Where did Fort Davis get its water?
Limpia Creek, located about 3/4 of a mile north of the post, served as the major source of water for the garrison. A small spring located on the fort grounds at the south end of the present cottonwood grove also supplied the post with water.

Did Fort Davis have a garden?
In the spring of 1868, an outbreak of scurvy swept through the garrison and the Post Surgeon, Daniel Weisel argued that if scurvy was to be controlled, fresh vegetables must be included in the diets of the men. Upon his strong recommendations both a post and hospital garden were established and in operation by the spring of 1869. Gardens were cultivated from then until the fort was abandoned in 1891.

What happened to Fort Davis after it was abandoned in 1891?
After the abandonment of Fort Davis civilians resided in the quarters for a number of years. 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.


Did You Know?

9th Cavalry on parade Fort Davis in the 1870s.

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.