Tuesday, June 30, 2015

#SupernaturalTexas: Fort Davis Buffalo Soldiers

Supernatural Texas: Fort Davis

Welcome back to Supernatural Texas. Last week I introduced you to the four regions of Texas. The Lady of Wild Rose Pass , book 1 of my EspĂ­ritu de Tejas short story series, takes place in the Big Bend Region of West Texas between Fort Davis and Balmorhea, Texas. 

Fort Davis, Texas is a small town located deep within the Davis Mountains with a rich Texas history. 
The story of Fort Davis, Texas begins with the Texans fight for Independence. 

Texas won their independence after Sam Houston defeated Santa Anna at the Battle of San Jacinto on April 21, 1836. General Santa Anna, the Mexican dictator, was forced to sign a peace treaty with the Texans recognizing their claim of sovereignty. Soon afterwards, Great Britain, France and the United States recognized the new nation of Texas. All three nations warned Mexico not to go to war with the Texans. The Republic of Texas was much larger than the present day Texas. 

The Mexican government did not quietly accept defeat for very long. 

During the 1850's hundreds of families and adventurers wanting to strike it rich in the California Gold Rush descended upon the western portions of the United States. The main route to California went through mountains and areas where there were plenty of snow. Travelers who wanted to come west during the winter months needed a different route to take in order to avoid the hazards of snow and ice. In 1849, the United States established the San Antonio - El Paso Road that connected central and west Texas. Travel along the route was dangerous because the Comanches, Kiowas and Mescalero- Apaches would frequently attack anyone who travelled on the road. The Comanches and Apaches each had their own trails leading from their raid routes in Mexico to the San Antonio - El Paso Road. The frequency of the Comanche and Apache raids on travelers demanded the United States provide more protection for settlers. 

During the 1850's the United States Army established several forts along the trade routes in order to provide a consistent military presence throughout Texas. Fort Davis was established in October of 1854. The Comanches and Apaches continued to raid travelers until the Civil War. Fort Davis was abandoned by the US Army at the beginning of the Civil War. In 1861,  the Confederate Army reclaimed the western fort under the leadership of Col. John R. Baylor. The Confederate Army used their position to try to claim New Mexico as confederate territory. Their efforts failed. A year later they abandoned the fort and retreated to San Antonio. Fort Davis laid abandoned for the next five years. During this time, the Comanches and Apaches salvaged any wood they could find from the site for firewood. 

The United States Army returned to Fort Davis in June of 1867 where under the direction of Lt. Col. Wesley Merritt the military began constructing a new post. More buildings and facilities were added to the land in order to accommodate 600 men, officers and their families. From 1867 - 1885, Fort Davis was used primarily as the post for the ninth and tenth United States Calvary units. These units were comprised of black soldiers known as Buffalo Soldiers. Their main purpose was to fight the Comanches and Apaches. These units were very successful in their military exploits against the native populations. 

Fort Davis was abandoned in 1891. 

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