Historic Structure Report
Special Collections and Interviews
Fort Union National Monument, Fort Union, New Mexico,
Fort Union Fact File.
This fact file, assembled by the park staff through
the years, includes well-documented file cards arranged topically on
everything from the first fort to army strategy. Most of the sources
cited in the fact file are primary sourcesout of the National
Archives directly, out of the National Archives by way of the Arrott
Collection, or out of site observations. The main contributor was
National Park Service historian Nick Bleser. Other contributors include
former Superintendent Homer Hastings.
Fort Union National Monument, Fort Union, New Mexico,
Private Letter Book, William Rawle Shoemaker.
This collection of Shoemaker's letters primarily date
from the late 1870s and 1880s. Most deal with losing valuable livestock
to the railroad from the locomotives that ripped through his ranch in
Cherry Valley. Some of the letters discuss his breeding operations
(superior saddle horses and race horses), and his design of a gun that
he was ordering from Remington Arms that was about to be adopted for
field use by the army. Some of the letters are illegible.
Interview with Robert M. Lister conducted by the
author, February, 1989.
Las Vegas, New Mexico, Highlands University, Donnelly
Library, Arrott Collection.
James W. Arrott was a local rancher who funded
researchers in the National Archives and other places to provide
typewritten copies of primary documents dealing with Fort Union history.
Arrott's researchers covered most of the principal record groups. Arrott
also was able to obtain from family member Gwladys Bowen copies of the
letters that Katie Bowen wrote home to their family during the early
days at Fort Union. Other copies in the Arrott collection include the
Eveline Alexander diary of her journey across the plains to Fort Union
with the dragoons, and "Boldly They Rode: A History of the Second
Abel, Annie, compiler. The Official Correspondence
of James S. Calhoun While Indian Agent at Santa Fe and Superintendent of
Indian Affairs in New Mexico. Washington: Government Printing
Alexandria, Virginia, National Archives and Records
Service, Cartographic and Architectural Branch.
Fort Union National Monument has copies of all of the
documents available here which, by the way, are a very measly
assortment. This branch also holds all of the scouts' books and maps,
but none pertained to Fort Union.
Clary, David A. These Relics of Barbarism: A
History of Furniture in Barracks and Guardhouses of the United States
Army, 1800-1880. Harpers Ferry, West Virginia: National Park
This fascinating history of furnishings of army
barracks also touches on other subjects including army building. Most
importantly, Clary gives a good context on the entire armyits size
and social history from the revolutionary war through the late 19th
century. This volume helps in understanding the processes of army
building, general orders, the organization of the Quartermaster Corps,
and successful and failed experiments in army life.
Schackel, Sandra. Historic Vegetation at Fort
Union National Monument. Santa Fe: National Park Service, 1983.
The author analyzes changes to vegetation at Fort
Union from the 19th century (overuse/overgrazing) to the present
(recovery to climax grassland) and makes recommendations about
United States Army. The Ordnance Manual for the
Use of the Officers of the United States Army. Third Edition,
Entered in the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the United
States, in and for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, 1861.
How to run your very own arsenal in ten easy lessons.
This volume includes descriptions of various types of ordnance, and how
to care for them including storage and architectural requirements.
Utley, Robert M. Fort Union and the Santa Fe
Trail: A Special Study of Santa Fe Trail Remains At and Near Fort Union
National Monument, New Mexico. National Survey of Historic Sites and
Buildings. Santa Fe: National Park Service, 1959.
This volume puts Fort Union into perspective in its
relationship with the Santa Fe trail.
Utley, Robert M. Fort Union National Monument.
Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1962.
This interpretive publication is another classic
piece of work by Utley. He presents concisely information about the
development and significance of Fort Union. He takes a well-rounded
approach because he includes information on the everyday life at Fort
Union as well as on the major campaigns conducted from there. Also, he
has in an appendix a handy list of the commanding officers of the fort
and their tenures, and a list of the units stationed there. A copy of
this is available at Fort Union National Monument.
Washington, D.C., National Archives and Records
National Archives Microfilm Microcopy 617: Returns
from U.S. Military Posts 1800-1916, Roll 1305, Fort Union, July
The Fort Union portion of this microfilm contains a
chronology of the Fort. The Chronology was put together by the War
Department Adjutant General's office in September, 1929. It seems to be
very accurate. Additional post returns in this microfilm contain little
helpful information for this type of research.
National Archives Microfilm 1609 and 1610, Returns of
Fort Union Arsenal through 1882.
National Archives Microfilm Microcopy 661: Historical
Information Relating to Military Posts and Other Installations ca.
1700-1900, Roll 8, Volumes U-Z.
This contains only a very general description of Fort
Union probably written during the 1880s.
Record Group 92, Entry 225, Records of the
Quartermaster General, Consolidated Correspondence File, 1794-1915.
This group is a gold mine on Fort Union. The group
contains a linen drawing of the water system plan for the third fort in
Box 1166. Also it includes requisition for materials to work on the
arsenal barracks in 1889which must refer to the small arsenal
connected with the Quartermaster Depot. The file also contains
considerable information on the water system at the Third Fort and how
it was used to power the sawmill, etc. Even through the Fort Union
correspondence file is primarily for Third Fort things of the later
years, the box does contain correspondence from the 1850s and 1860s.
Also, Box 1168 contains a wonderful description of the Second Fort.
Excellent collection of correspondence.
Record Group 156, Entry 20, Records of the Office of
the Chief of Ordnance, Register of Letters Received, 1851-1874.
This register has a listing of the letters that
Shoemaker and others sent to the Ordnance Department in Washington. The
early ones are organized alphabetically (by the name of the author of
the letter) and then numerically (by the order in which the Ordnance
Office received it). In subsequent years, they are listed alphabetically
by the area (Fort Union) and the order received. The later years are
listed only in the order received, so they are extremely time-consuming
to go through.
Record Group 156, Entry 21, Records of the Office of
the Chief of Ordnance, Letters Received, 1851-1874, 1882.
These are the actual letters from the listing above.
The letters contain lots of information about the buildings and about
Shoemaker himself and his meticulous approach to construction. The
information that I was turning up in the 1870s was of such an ordinary
nature and possessing such little relevant data that I skipped the years
between 1874 and 1882 to save time to get on to other files at the
Record Group 159, Entry 3, Records of the Office of
the Inspector General, Extracts of Inspection Reports, War Department,
Inspector General's Office, Washington, D.C., April 1864, Monthly
Reports. Volume I, 1864-65. Volume II, 1865-68.
The First volume has several reports on Fort Union,
including a proposal to acquire Loma Parda to stop the vice going on
there, an inspection of the Union Arsenal and comments on the McClellan
saddle, and a report on construction at the Fort (probably
1865Third Fort) saying that foundation stones will only be
rough-dressed, and that they need a 25 horsepower steam engine to run a
saw mill, grist mill, and planing machine. The second volume does not
seem to contain anything on Fort Union at all.
Still Pictures Branch
Woods, Henry, "Fort Union: The History of New
Mexico's Most Famous Military Post." Fort Union National Monument,
Simple, early study about the history of Fort
Woodward, A.W., "Fort Union, New MexicoGuardian
of the Santa Fe Trail." National Park Service, Santa Fe, 1958.
Good background and anecdotal information on the
development of the Santa Fe trade and trail and Fort Union.
Barry, Louise. The Beginning of the West: Annals
of the Kansas Gateway to the American West, 1540-1854. Topeka,
Kansas: Kansas State Historical Society, 1972.
Louise Barry was an employee of the Kansas State
Historical Society for years. In this volume, she combined the best of
the primary sources in the holdings of the society, arranged the
chronologically, and indexed the document. This background was extremely
helpful on Santa Fe Trail information.
Billings, John D. Hardtack and Coffee: The
Unwritten Story of Army Life. Chicago: R.R. Donnelley & Sons
This document contains great description of Army life
during the 19th century from the soldier's point of view. It also
includes a wealth of information about the types of temporary shelters
afforded to the common soldier.
Boyd, Mrs. Orsemus (Introduction by Darlis Miller).
Cavalry Life in Tent and Field. Lincoln, Nebraska: University of
Nebraska Press, 1982.
Mrs. Boyd, the wife of a West Point graduate provides
this account of life at various army posts throughout the west. She
travelled there as a bride with her new husband. Because she visited or
lived at so many posts, this book does provide good comparative data:
living conditions were bad throughout the west.
Davis, William W. H., El Gringo; or New Mexico and
Her People. New York: Harper, 1857.
Emmett, Chris. Fort Union and the Winning of the
Southwest. Norman, Oklahoma: University of Oklahoma Press, 1965.
This book gives a fair amount of context about Fort
Union and how it fit into the larger scheme of things in the west, but
it tends to be somewhat lopsided and expounds a great deal in certain
areas and avoids discussions of other areas. Also, the system of
footnotes is erratic. Some of the items that really need citations lack
Emory, W.H., Brevet Major, Corps of Topographical
Engineers. Notes of a Military Reconnaissance from Fort Leavenworth
in Missouri to San Diego in California Including Parts of the Arkansas,
Del Norte, and Gila Rivers. Washington, D.C.: Wendell and Van
Benthuysen, Printers, 1848. Located in the National Park Service,
Southwest Regional Office Library, Santa Fe, New Mexico.
This document is a fascinating one that provides
information on the environs of Fort Union (Santa Fe and Ocate).
Foote, Cheryl. Women of the New Mexico Frontier
1846-1912. Niwot, Colorado: The University Press of Colorado,
Foote includes portions of the letters of Katie
Bowen, and she looks at life in general for frontier wives of various
Frazer, Robert W. Forts and Supplies: The Role of
the Army in the Economy of the Southwest, 1846-1861. Albuquerque:
University of New Mexico Press, 1983.
In this book Frazer studies the interaction between
the Army and the civilian communities in the southwest, particularly in
regard to crops and subsistence.
Frazer, Robert W. Forts of the West: Military
Forts and Presidios and Posts Commonly Called Forts West of the
Mississippi River to 1898. Norman, Oklahoma: University of Oklahoma
Excellent background summary on Fort Union from start
Frazer, Robert W., ed. Mansfield on the Condition
of the Western Forts 1853-54. Norman, Oklahoma: University of
Oklahoma press, 1963.
This document contains nearly the complete text of
Mansfield's description of the Department of New Mexico in 1853
including his summary and map of Fort Union, which he visited between
August 1 and August 6, 1853.
La Farge, Oliver. Santa Fe: The Autobiography of a
Southwestern Town. Norman, Oklahoma: The University of Oklahoma
La Farge compiled a series of articles from the
New Mexicanthe newspaper of Santa Fewhich show life
in the New Mexico Territory from the civilians' point of view.
Lamar, Howard Roberts. The Far Southwest
1846-1912: A Territorial History. New Haven: Yale University Press,
Excellent broad history of the southwestern
territories. Included in the book is a bibliographical essay that
summarizes and evaluates the quality of all of his principal references;
and they were legion.
Mahan, D.H. A Treatise on Field Fortifications,
Containing Introductions on the Methods of Laying Out, Constructing,
Defending, and Attacking Entrenchments, With the General Outlines Also
of the Arrangement, The Attack and Defense of Permanent
Fortifications. New York: John Wiley, 1852.
1852 summary of fortification construction with an
explanation of terms.
Miller, Francis Trevelyan, ed. The Photographic
History of the Civil War. New York: Castle Books, 1957. Available at
the Fort Union National Monument library.
This volume has good narrative and graphic
explanations of ordnance, ammunition, and fort construction
Oliva, Leo. Soldiers on the Santa Fe Trail.
Norman, Oklahoma: The University of Oklahoma Press, 1967.
Oliva write about the trail, and the eventual
involvement of the U.S. Army along the trail. He concentrates on the
time from 1829 through the 1880s, when the trail became obsolete. Good
general background on the military.
Rittenhouse, Jack D. The Santa Fe Trail: A
Historical Bibliography. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico
Rittenhouse wrote a fine introduction to this good
source book, and provides a solid bibliography on the Santa Fe
Robinson, Willard B. American Forts: Architectural
Form and Function. Chicago: University of Illinois Press for the
Amon Carter Museum of Western Art, 1977.
Robinson studies the architectural background of
forts and their construction, including engineering and material.
Bender, A.V., "Frontier Defense in the Territory of
New Mexico, 1846-1853," New Mexico Historical Review, 9:3 (July,
This article discusses the subsistence experiment in
Army life on the frontier.
Bender, A.V., "Government Explorations in the
Territory of New Mexico, 1846-1859," New Mexico Historical
Review, 9:1 (January, 1934), 242.
The article explains the military organization of New
Mexico from 1846 through the Civil War.
"Death of an Old Army Officer," Las Vegas
Optic, Friday Evening, September 17, 1886, 4.
Obituary of Captain William Rawle Shoemaker.
Krakow, Jere, "Hispanic Influence on the Santa Fe
Trail", Wagon Tracks: Santa Fe Trail Association Quarterly, 6:2
(February, 1992), 16-17.
La Tourette, Genevieve, "Fort Union Memories," New
Mexico Historical Review, 26:4 (October, 1951), 277-286.
This article, with its wonderfully Victorian bent,
discusses primarily the social aspects of life at Fort
Unionespecially marriages. The author, daughter of the fort's
chaplain, also talks about Captain Shoemaker in his later years, and she
mentions the star fort.
Utley, Robert M., "Fort Union and the Santa Fe
Trail," New Mexico Historical Review, 36:1 (January, 1961),
A fine summary of Fort Union in its context of the
Santa Fe Trail.
Wilson, Rex, "Archeology and Everyday Life at Fort
Union," New Mexico Historical Review, 40:1 (January, 1965),
This article contains some good leads.
Arrott, James W. "Arrott's Brief History of Fort
Union," 1962. On file at Fort Union National Monument.
This short pamphlet was prepared from a tape
recording of a speech that James Arrott, the founding father of Fort
Union, presented at the Fort in 1957.
Cleveland, Alice Ann. "Bricks in New Mexico," April,
1965. Manuscript donated to the Fort Union National Monument library by
This document discusses early brick-making in New
Geise, Dale Frederick. "Social Life at Fort Union,
New Mexico in the 1880s." Master's Thesis, New Mexico Highlands
University, 1964. Available at Fort Union National Monument.
This document presents only a few items of interest
in this report, but it does discuss the water supply for the fort.
Reiter, Robert Louis. "The History of Fort Union, New
Mexico." Master's Thesis, University of California, 1963. Available at
Fort Union National Monument.
This thesis presents considerable background
information on the fort, complete with stories and anecdotes for local
color. Some of the information is, however, presented in an extremely
Townsend, Steve. "The Earthwork Complex at Fort
Union: An Interim Report." Report prepared for the Fort Union National
Monument by park volunteer, January, 1988.
The report analyzes some of the background
information on the earthwork and includes field-checking of the
fortification. The report concludes that Nick Bleser's work on the
fortification during the 1960s was basically correct.
Last Updated: 13-Feb-2006