Fort Davis National Monument
Located in the Davis Mountains and surrounded by views of the Chihuahuan Desert lies the small town of Fort Davis, Texas. The town is named for the military post established there in 1854 along the San Antonio-El Paso Road. Derek and I spent an afternoon touring the historic fort and hiking a short loop in the rocky mountains above it.
We started off in the Visitor Center watching a 14 minute film about the history of the fort. Get this, Kareem Abdul Jabbar narrated it! The military fort was tasked with protecting immigrants, freighters and mail coaches from raids by Apache, and Comanche Indians. I mean, we have to protect people looking for gold, so screw the Indians!
Starting in 1867 the fort was home to four companies of African American soldiers known as Buffalo Soldiers. The film talked about Second Lt. Henry O. Flipper who was the first black graduate of West Point and served at Fort Davis in 1880-81. He received high marks from his commanders but was tried and dismissed from the army amidst controversy. The story is that a superior asked Flipper to keep the quartermaster’s safe in his quarters. In July 1881, Flipper found a shortage of over $2,000.00 and realizing this could be used against him by officers intent on forcing him out of the army, he attempted to hide the discrepancy. When it was later discovered, he lied about it and was arrested for embezzling government funds. Racism? Yes.
After watching the video, we walked around the extensive grounds and toured the Enlisted Men’s Barracks, the Shared Lieutenants Quarters, The Post Hospital, the Commissary, and the Commanding Officer’s Quarters. Each of these exhibits was fully furnished in the way of the day and enlightening. Life wasn’t easy, that’s for sure.
Lastly, we hiked up North Ridge and around Hospital Canyon. The hike got us up above the Fort so we could look down and get a new perspective. This truly is one of the best surviving examples of a frontier post in the Southwest.