Fort Clark (1852-1946) - Unlike many other
forts prominent in the
Indian Wars, this fort in south-central
remained an active post through World War II. It was founded in 1852 and
inactivated in the mid-1940's. The southern anchor of the
Texas defense line
in the 1850's, it guarded the San Antonio-El Paso Road and policed the
In 1849, when Lieutenant William H. C. Whiting was
surveying a practical route between San Antonio and El Paso, he recognized the
site of Las Moras Springs, at the head of Las Moras Creek, as an ideal location
for a fort.
The U.S. Army took his advice, and established Fort Clark on June 20, 1852 with an objective of protecting the
San Antonio-El Paso Road and protecting area settlements from both Indians
and threats from Mexico.
The land was leased for the
fort and Companies C and
E of the First Infantry under the command of Major Joseph H. LaMotte, who, along with
an advance and rear guard of U.S. Mounted Rifles, began to construct the
1853, the soldier's barracks were nearly completed and in 1854, three officers'
quarters were built. In 1855 a stone hospital and a two-story storehouse were
Within no time, a settlement sprang up around the
fort, beginning when Oscar B. Brackett
established a stage top and opened a dry-goods store. When the settlement was
first founded in 1852, it was called Brackett, but, was later renamed
Brackettville. Even though the
fort was just south of the community, the
town grew slowly because of the constant Indian threats.
In 1861, at the onset of the
Civil War and the secession
soldiers abandoned the
fort in March, 1861. The
Confederates moved in, and was occupied by the Second Texas Mounted
Rifles until August, 1862. It was then used briefly as a hospital for
Confederate troops and area civilians.
soldiers returned in December, 1866, next involved in numerous
In 1872, Fort Clark was home of numerous black
Indian Scouts, who
would serve the
fort from 1872
until 1914. Many infantry units and virtually all cavalry units, including
the 9th and 10th "Buffalo
Soldiers," were stationed at Fort Clark at various times. During these
Comanche and Apache Indians often swept through the area, raiding,
killing, stealing horses, mules and cattle before escaping across the Rio Grande
Mexico. At the same time, outlaws were busy working their dastardly deeds in the
area, before fleeing the border to safety of Mexico. During these violent
times, hundreds of pioneers were forced to abandon their homesteads.
In 1873, the
fort was the headquarters of Colonel Ranald S. Mackenzie when he created an international incident by
crossing the border and attacking the Kickapoo and Lipan
Apache raiders who
were using Mexico as a sanctuary. The troops also played a small role in
the Red River War of 1874-75.
Indians in the region
were subdued, the
fort was threatened with closure, but, turmoil along the border due to the
Mexican Revolution revitalized the military need for the
fort. During the
Spanish-American War, Fort Clark was garrisoned by the Third Texas
Infantry in 1898.
The fort remained active as an infantry and
cavalry post, with troops serving in World War I. During the second World
War, the fort was a cavalry training center, manned by the 112th Cavalry and the
Texas National Guard Unit.
More than 12,000 troops of the second Cavalry
Division trained at Fort Clark until their deployment in February, 1944. During
the war, the post also served as a German POW camp. Soon, technological
advancements signaled the end of the horse cavalry. Fort Clark was one of the
last horse-cavalry posts in the country. The post was officially deactivated in
early 1946, and later that year was sold to the Brown and Root Company for
salvage and later used as a guest ranch. For the preservation of Fort Clark, its
use as a guest ranch, ensured its preservation.