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Fort Davis Cavalry Drill (1983)

Fort Davis National Historical Site

Sound | 1983

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This footage captures a cavalry drill at Fort Davis National Historic Site. Troops, reenacting operations of Civil War and post-Civil War soldiers, mount their horses and practice on the field and surrounding land. With an assortment of artifacts, preserved buildings, and historic reenactors, Fort Davis offers visitors a realistic glimpse into the western past.
Brevet Major General Persifor Frazer Smith established Fort Davis in October 1854. Named after Secretary of War Jefferson Davis, the fort is one of the last remaining frontier military posts in the Southwest. The primary goal of the post was to guide travelers through the San Antonio-El Paso Road and to fight the Comanche, Kiowa, and Apache Tribes along the way. However, the federal government ordered the evacuation of the fort at the start of the Civil War. 
 
For the next six years, Fort Davis underwent periods of Confederate occupation, Union occupation, and total desertion. In 1867, Lieutenant Colonel Wesley Merritt and the 9th Cavalry took over the fort and built new accommodations and structures. At its height, it held over 100 structures and housed over 400 troops. However, in 1880, Colonel Bemjamin Grierson of the 10th Cavalry led the last raid against the Apaches and their leader Victorio into Mexico, signaling the end of the Indian Wars in Texas. By 1891, Fort Davis outlived its purpose and was left abandoned. Today is it on the National Registry of Historic Places and remains a frequently visited tourist attraction.