Fort Bayard was established by General Carleton's
California Volunteers at the base of the Santa Rita Mountains in
New Mexico in 1866. That same year saw the beginnings of the
great cattle drives northward from
Texas to the railroads in
many of those cattle came from New Mexico's grazing lands. The fortís
mission was to protect those lands as well as the Pinos Altos Mining
Apache attacks. The fort was named after General George D.
Bayard, who died after being wounded at the Battle of Fredericksburg in the
Fort Bayard was initially home to
Scouts and "Buffalo Soldiers,"
(a.k.a. Cathay Williams), who was the only known female Buffalo
Soldier. Military leaders such as
General George Crook and "Black Jack" Pershing
also spent time at Fort Bayard.
The fort suffered its first
attack when it was only a year old, and was a key post in the Apache
Wars (1861-86), particularly the 1879-80 campaign against Victorio.
Geronimo's surrender in 1886, the post's importance
declined and the post was deactivated as a troop garrison in 1900.
However, Army Surgeon General
George M. Sternberg, noting the good health enjoyed by Fort Bayard
troops, successfully worked to maintain the post as an Army hospital Ė
primarily for tuberculosis patients..
In 1922 the fort was transferred
to the Veteranís Administration, who then utilized the site as a
Veterans Administration hospital, obliterating the old fort through
expansion and rebuilding. Modern hospital buildings flanked the
former parade ground and houses were rebuilt along what was officerís
row, and designated doctorís row, were built on the foundations of the
officers' quarters. The only major vestige of the old post was the
cemetery, on a hill overlooking the site, with graves dating back to
the early the fortís early establishment.
The fort was partially reactivated
as a military installation during World War II when a number of German
prisoners of war were held at the fort from 1943 to 1945.
The Veteranís Administration
continued to utilize the site until 1965. The following year, they
transferred all but the cemetery to the State of New Mexico who
utilized the site as a state hospital and long term nursing care
Fort Bayard Cemetery became part
of the National Cemetery system and was placed on the National
Register of Historic Places on July 7, 2002.
The hospital continues to be
utilized by the State of New Mexico but many of the old buildings are
falling into disrepair.
The site is located in Grant
County, New Mexico.
of America, updated March, 2017.