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Fort Davis National Park Archives - Life Recreated at Fort Davis and the Dedication Ceremony for Commanding Officer’s Quarters (1981)

Fort Davis National Historical Site

Silent | 1981

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TAMI Tags
  •  Sign for Fort Davis National Historic Site 
  •  Scenes of Fort Davis, including barracks, officer’s quarters, and the drill field 
  •  Exhibits at the visitor center’s museum 
  •  A NPS invitation for the Dedication of the Commanding Officer’s Quarters, dated 1981 
  •  The Dedication of the Commanding Officer’s Quarters on May 16, 1981. Around 400 guests gathered on the park’s drill field  to honor Fort Davis’ role in westward expansion. Historian and editor Bruce Dinges as well as NPS historian Robert M. Utley spoke at the ceremony with the assistance of NPS staff members from the Southwest Region, the Denver Service Center, and the Harpers Ferry Center. 
  •  Superintendent of Fort Davis, Douglas C. McChristian, begins  
  •  Historian, author, and acting editor of the publication, Arizona and the West, Bruce Dinges 
  •  NPS Historian and author Robert Utley  
  •  Inside a historical home  
  •  Historical reenactors depicting US soldiers sit by camp 
  •  An old general store 
  •  Soldiers at work or play? 
  •  Marching to target practice 
  •  Soldiers ride away from the fort 
  •  Life at camp 
 
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This 1981 footage captures from the Dedication Ceremony for the Commanding Officer’s Quarters at the Fort Davis National Historic Site, including guest speakers and historians Bruce Dinges and Robert M. Utley from the National Park Service. The film also provides images of park sites, some intact and some in ruins. Historical reenactors dressed as US army soldiers from the late 1800s perform duties at the fort, occupy their time at camp, and ride their horses off into the distance.
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.
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