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Fort Davis National Park Archives - Abandoned Structures at Fort Davis (1932)

Fort Davis National Historical Site

Silent | 1932

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  •  Commanding officer’s barracks 
  •  Two-story officer’s quarters 
  •  A sign for something delicious 
  •  An old vehicle 
 
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This footage captures what is now the Fort Davis National Historic Site during the 1930s. Amongst the structures recognized are the commanding officer’s barracks and two multi-story officer’s quarters at the edge of a cliff. Fort Davis was a frontier military post active from 1854 until 1891 with the primary purpose of protecting emigrants and travelers along the San Antonio-El Paso road. Today it is a national historic site, attracting visitors year round with artifacts, ruins, and historical reenactments.
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.