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New Mexico Flag - High Country LegendsNEW MEXICO LEGENDS

New Mexico Forts of the Old West

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North Mexico Forts


Fort Bascom

Fort Bayard

Fort Burgwin

Fort Craig

Fort Cummings

Fort Fillmore

Fort Marcy

Fort Seldon

Fort Stanton

Fort Sumner

Fort Union

Fort Wingate



Fort Union, New Mexico today

Fort Union today, June, 2006, Kathy Weiser.

This image available for photographic prints and  downloads HERE!




Fort Bascom  (1863-70) - Founded on the south bank of the Canadian River in eastern New Mexico during the Civil War, Fort Bascom has a short but distinguished history. It helped control the Kiowa, Comanche, and other tribes inhabiting the Red and Canadian River region; watched over the Goodnight-Loving Cattle Trail, as well as the Santa Fe Trail; and policed the activities of the "Comancheros," American and Mexican renegades who traded illegally with the Indians. The fort fielded several expeditions against the southern Plains tribes. Colonel Kit Carson led one of them, dispatched in 1864 by General Carleton, because of harassment of the Santa Fe Trail. Carson clashed with a village of Kiowa in the Battle of Adobe Walls, Texas.


Located on the Canadian River just west of the Texas border in San Miguel County, it was one of a series of forts established by General James Henry Carleton, then acting commander of the military Department of New Mexico, to control the Comanche and Kiowa Indians who frequented the Staked Plains of Texas and the Rio Grande River Valley. It was built on land leased from the owners of old Pablo Montoya Grant and named for Captain George Bascom, who died heroically at the Battle of Valverde in February, 1862. Though the post played an important role, it never was very large, consisting of a sandstone officers' quarters and a few adobe buildings.


Fort Bascom was also the base of one of the three columns deployed by General Philip Sheridan in his 1868-69 Indian campaign. In November and December, 1868 troops moved down the Canadian River before turning northward to win a resounding victory in the Battle of Soldier Spring, Oklahoma on Christmas Day.


The post was abandoned by the military in 1870 and the land reverted back to the owner, John S. Watts, from whom the government had leased the site. The soldiers were then moved to Fort Union. The poorly constructed post was never fully finished and today, no remains have survived. It is located on private land in a horseshoe bend on the south side of the Canadian River, 12 miles north of Tucumcari. Though it is accessible via unimproved roads from Logan and New Mexico Highway 39, permission must be obtained from the ranch owner to visit the site.




Fort Bascom, New Mexico

What was left of Fort Bascom in 1907. Over the next century, the old post continued to deteriorate and

 there is nothing left today.


Fort Bayard - See full article HERE.


Fort Burgwin - See full article HERE.


Fort Cummings - See full article HERE.


Fort Fillmore (1851-1862) - Located along the Rio Grande River not far from the Mexican border and about six miles southeast of the town of Mesilla, this tiny adobe fort was founded to control local Apache and protect the traders and settlers traveling to California. It was established by Colonel Edwin Vose Sumner in September, 1851 and named for President Millard Fillmore. During this time, a number of forts were established by the Federal Government to protect and encourage westward expansion. Fort Fillmore specifically protected several migration routes that converged between El Paso, Texas and Tucson, Arizona.


By the end of the 1850's the post had declined and fallen into serious disrepair. In 1861; however, spurred by rumors of Confederate invasion of New Mexico, the Army reinforced it with Major Isaac Lynde at the command.


On July, 24, 1861, 250 troops of the 2nd Texas Mounted Rifles, led by Lieutenant Colonel John R. Baylor, crossed the Rio Grande River into Mesilla, which had already declared itself a Confederate city. The Texas soldiers were quickly joined by a company of Arizona Confederates.


Fort Fillmore, New Mexico, 1854

Fort Fillmore by Carl Schuchard, 1854

Hearing of their arrival, Major Lynde planned an attack upon the city the next day, resulting in the First Battle of Mesilla, which resulted in a Confederate victory. Failing in their attempt to take Mesilla, the Federal garrison abandoned the fort and marched toward Fort Stanton, New Mexico, but were captured east of Las Cruces. Fort Fillmore was then claimed by the Confederates and there was no attempt by the Union to reoccupy it.  The next summer, California Volunteers temporarily occupied the post before moving into Mesilla.

The fort was officially closed by the Union in October, 1862, but, the site remained a way point along several major routes throughout the period of western expansion. Over the years, the small fort continued to deteriorate and fell into ruins. Decades later, the owner of the land made an attempt to sell, trade, or possibly donate the site to the State of New Mexico, if they would make it a park. However, the Parks Department was budget strapped and other projects had more visible ruins and higher historic profiles. In the end, the site was leveled and planted with pecan trees. The site of the fort, is situated on Fort Fillmore Road, about
1  miles east of New Mexico Highway 478. A State marker is located in the vicinity but not at the actual site.



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