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Texas State Flag - Lone Star Legends IconTEXAS LEGENDS

Texas Forts Trail

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Fort Chadbourne, Texas

Fort Chadbourne, established in 1852, is located between Abilene and San Angelo.

It also served as a stop for the Butterfield Overland Stage.

Image available for photo prints & editorial downloads HERE.

 

Forts 


Fort Belknap

Fort Chadbourne

Fort Concho

Fort Griffin

Fort McKavett

Fort Mason

Fort Phantom Hill

Fort Richardson

Presidio de San Saba

 

 

 

Scattered across the state from the Red River to the Rio Grande River, are the remains of a once a formidable military presence on the frontier -- Texas' nineteenth-century forts. Though the Texas Forts Trail can't possibly cover the more than four dozen old forts and presidios across the vast Lone Star State, this 650 mile Scenic Byway certainly provides a glimpse into many of these lonely outposts that were once situated on the  dangerous hills and dales of central Texas.

 

From 1848 to 1900, the U.S. Army built 44 major posts and set up more than 100 temporary camps in Texas. In addition to the many military forts established by the U.S. Army, a number of earlier Republic-era forts, private bastions, and Spanish Presidios were built and abandoned across the Lone Star State. Today, these many sites range from ghostly ruins, to historically accurate reconstructions, to nothing but a historical marker to identify their locations. 

 

During the 19th Century, settlers streamed west on to the advancing frontier, invading the territorial lands of the Native Americans who had long called this area home. Resentful of the influx of white settlers upon their domain, the Kiowa, Comanche, and other Plains Indians fought back in raids and attacks on caravans and settlements. But, the encroaching settlers were not to be deterred and continued to invade Texas, assisted and protected by the many soldiers stationed at the frontier posts.

 

When the Civil War began, Texas seceded from the Union and all federal garrisons were ordered to evacuate all the posts and surrender them to Confederate authorities. When the war ended, the U.S. Army returned to Texas, this time to stay until the frontier was tamed.

 

The duties of the soldiers at the many posts were to escort wagon trains and the mail, patrol their segments of the road, to keep track of the Indians' whereabouts, and pursue and punish any Indian raiders. Over the next 15 years, these tasks would be continued, eventually eliminating the Indian resistance to white settlement in Texas.

 

In September, 1874, one of the latest engagements of Indian fighters began when Colonel Ranald S. Mackenzie led his Fourth United States Cavalry from the south in a plan to trap the Indians in their refuge at Palo Duro Canyon in the Texas Panhandle. Mackenzie’s troopers formed part of the Red River Campaign of 1874-75, who were organized to force the Kiowa, Cheyenne, and Comanche to return to the reservations.

 

On September 28th, Mackenzie’s scouts followed the Indian trail to the edge of Palo Duro Canyon, before the soldiers descended the steep slopes to the valley floor 700 feet below. Taken by surprise, the Indians abandoned their villages, allowing Mackenzie to capture more than 1,100 horses that were later slaughtered to prevent recapture. Although few Indians or soldiers were killed, the unrelenting pursuit of the troopers and the cold weather ultimately forced the Indians to surrender, thus bringing to a close the Red River War.

 

During the five years after Mackenzie's victory, white hunters converged upon the Plains and systematically slaughtered the great southern buffalo herd for the animals' hides and for sport. Fort Griffin and the nearby raucous village called "The Flat" became the center of the buffalo hunters, as well as gamblers, prostitutes, gunmen and thieves bent on relieving the hunters of their money. By 1881, both the Comanche presence and the buffalo were gone, so the army closed Fort Griffin.

But, in the Trans-Pecos region, the army was still fighting, mostly against the Apache, who were raiding across the Rio Grande River from strongholds in the mountains of Chihuahua and Coahuila. In September, 1879, a large band of Mescalero and Warm Springs Apache, under the leadership of chief Victorio, began a series of attacks west of Fort Davis. Troops from around the region were ordered to guard the region's few watering holes. After several hard-fought battles, Victorio and his thirsty men crossed back into Mexico. This was the last major conflict between Indians and the U.S. Army on Texas soil.
 

With the Indians gone, the remaining forts settled into quiet garrison routine. Eventually, one by one, the forts were shut down.

 

Today the Texas Forts Trail follows a path that provides visitors with a peek into the lives of pioneers, soldiers, and Native Americans that helped to establish the Lone Star State. The trail provides a virtual road to eight of the state’s remarkable frontier forts of West in Central Texas, where today's visitors can walk in the paths that were once traveled by the likes of Robert E. Lee, John Butterfield, Buffalo Hump, Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday and more. Along the trail, the byway also provides a number of other interesting destinations, including state parks, some 20 lakes, seven state parks, and dozens of museums.

 

 

 

More Information:

Texas Forts Trail

 

 

Texas Forts Trail

3702 Loop 322
Abilene,
Texas 79602
325-795-1762

 

 

Sources:

 

Texas Almanac

Texas Beyond History

Texas Forts Trail

 

Texas Forts Trail Map, courtesy Texas Forts Trail

 

 

Fort McKavett, Texas

Fort McKavett today, Kathy Weiser, November, 2009.

This image available for photographic prints and  downloads HERE!

 

Fort Griffin, Texas

Fort Griffin Administration Building, June, 2007, Kathy Weiser

This image available for photographic prints and  downloads HERE!

 

From Legends' Photo Shop

Legends Photo Prints and DownloadsPhoto Print Shop - Travel the trails of American History with our many photographs!  Just take a look at our galleries or purchase prints or downloads at very reasonable prices! Here, you'll see images of Route 66, Ghost Towns, scenic and historic views, roadside stops, and lots more. We also provide hundreds of vintage images that can be used for personal or commercial purposes.

Photo prints and downloads from Legend's Photo Shop

 

 

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