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Texas Forts of the Old West - Page 2

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Cantonment Pena Colorada, TexasCantonment Pena Colorada (1879-1893) - Built on Peña Colorada Creek near a large spring and beneath a high bluff called Peña Colorada (Spanish for "red rock"), the post was established in 1880 as a means of preventing Indian raids into Mexico. The creek, spring, and the army post were named for the high bluffs, which were also called Rainbow Cliffs. The year-round spring long-provided fresh water to the Comanche and other nomadic native peoples, serving as a stop on the Comanche Trail.


In 1860 the United States Secretary of War under president James Buchanan directed Lieutenant Colonel Robert E. Lee, commanding officer of the Department of Texas, to plan a military road connecting Fort Clark to Fort Davis. The implementation of these plans was delayed by 19 years.

Under Colonel Benjamin Grierson, Commander of the District of the Pecos, headquartered at Fort Concho, troops attached to the 10th Cavalry and the 25th Infantry arrived at Rainbow cliffs (Pena Colorado) in August, 1879. The famous "Buffalo Soldiers, including "Seminole Negro Indian Scouts" of the 10th Cavalry were among the elite Indian fighting units assigned here during the 14-year existence of the Post. Other units of the military were rotated through the camp. Famous Buffalo Soldier Lt. Henry O. Flipper served here before the post closed in 1893.

Cantonment Pena Colorada, TexasThe mission was to protect and improve regional military communication, control a strategic water supply, and support the development of the Southern Pacific Railway. The location was not fortified; its official military designation was Cantonment Pena Colorado. The abundant spring had been a major landmark on the Comanche Trail, where annual raiding parties watered their war ponies before riding south the plunder isolated villates in Northern Mexico. During campaigns against Apache leaders Victorio in 1880, and Geronimo in 1885, troopers from Camp Pena Colorado patrolled the remote crossings of the Rio Grande to discourage raids.

By 1886, the camp featured a parade ground and six buildings built from native stone and adobe plastered with mud, with dirt roofs. These structures included two barracks, tow officer quarters, a storehouse and a granary. Grass was hauled in, and Irish-born troopers, thatchers by tradition, made shade over the stacked rock horse corrals.

Completion of the railroad, in February, 1883, brought the material superiority of a rapidly expanding United States, and soon the military necessity of Camp Pena ceased to exist. The post was officially abandoned on February 11, 1893. Today, the land where the post was established has become the "Marathon Post Park". There are no remaining buildings from the fort. It is located about 5.5 miles southwest of Marathon, Texas. Take Avenue D south out of Marathon for about five miles, then turn right onto Post Ranch Road for about 0.5 miles.


Mexican soldiers.Fort Anahuac (1830-1835) -  Located on a bluff called Perry's Point, the site overlooked the entrance to the Trinity River. It was one of six new outposts built by the Mexicans designed to to stop the flood of immigration from the United States to Texas. It was named Anáhuac, the ancient home of the Aztec. The Mexican soldiers lived temporarily in fortified wooden barracks about ½ north of the bluff in the center of present-day Anahuac. Beginning in March, 1831, bricks for the building of the permanent fort were made by convict soldiers on-site. When the fort was complete its exterior walls enclosed two redoubts on the southwest and northeast corners of the bluff. Initially staffed with about 45 soldiers, it grew to almost 300 men by May, 1832.


The fort became the site of the first armed confrontation between Anglo-Texans and Mexican troops on June 10-12, 1832 when Texans, led by Colonel Francis White Johnson attacked the fort. At the time, William B. Travis was being held in the old barracks located north of the fort that had been turned into a jail. Successful, the Texans dismantled the fort when they left in July, 1832. A few months later, fire burned much of the wood and area residents removed bricks and other materials to use for their own building purposes.




In January, 1835, Captain Antonio Tenorio was sent with about 40 soldiers to reopen the fort. However, upon arrival he found it in terrible disrepair. He soon requested wood to make improvements, but when it arrived in May, it was burned by Texans before it could be utilized. Led by William B. Travis, Texans attacked the site on June 29, 1835, but overmanned and under-gunned, Tenorio and his men had no choice but to flee.


Mexican soldiers never returned to the old post, which soon became private property. The Chambers County acquired the property in 1946 and any remaining rubble was buried for safety reasons. The site is a Chambers County Park today, located on State Highway 563 one mile south of Anahuac.


Fort Bend (1822-1837) - Built in a large bend of the Brazos River in November, 1822 by Stephen F. Austin's Old Three Hundred, this log blockhouse was established to protect area settlers from Indian raids. A settlement soon grew up around the post, which became important during the Texas Revolution.


The Fort Bend crossing was briefly defended in April 1836 by a rear guard detachment led by Wiley Martin. After Martin was maneuvered out of the position, General Antonio López de Santa Anna transported a portion of his Mexican army across the Brazos River. After Santa Anna's defeat at the Battle of San Jacinto, the site was used briefly by the Texas army.


Troops under Thomas Jefferson Green, who were in pursuit of retreating Mexican forces led by General Vicente Filisola, halted for a short time in mid-May 1836 at Fort Bend. Because Fort Bend had been the center of activity in the area its name was given to the county when it was established in 1837. The next year, nearby Richmond was selected as the county seat and soon absorbed the smaller Fort Bend settlement. In 1936 the Texas Centennial Commission erected a monument to commemorate Fort Bend's role in the Texas Revolution.


Fort Bliss, 7th Cavalry Barracks, El Paso, TexasFort Bliss (1848-Present) - Still an active post today, Fort Bliss was first established in 1848. Since its creation, the post has been located at five different locations, all in the city limits of El Paso except the present one. Over the years the post has had almost as many different names as it has locations. It was initially called the Post of El Paso and Post at Smith's Ranch, when it was located at Smith's Ranch from 1849-51; Fort Bliss, at Magoffinsville (1854-68), including Confederate occupation in 1861-62; Camp Concordia and Fort Bliss, at Concordia Ranch (1868-77); and Fort Bliss, at Hart's Mill and the current location (1878-present). The fort is named for Mexican-American War soldier William Wallace Smith Bliss.


The fort was founded across the Rio Grande River from El Paso del Norte (Ciudad Juarez), Mexico, to establish and maintain U.S. authority in the area after acquisition in the War with Mexico (1846-48), to defend the El Paso area from Indian depredations, and to protect the Southern Transcontinental Trail to California. The troops participated in various Apache campaigns in Texas and New Mexico in 1857, and in the 1870's and 1880's. But the troops spent even more time controlling local lawless elements and arbitrating border conflicts. Activities at the fort peaked in World Wars I and II, and it is now the Army Air Defense Center.


Nothing has survived of the first three posts (Smith's Ranch, Magoffinsville, and Concordia Ranch). At the Hart's Mill site (1878-93), on the western edge of El Paso at the intersection of the U.S. 80 overpass and Doniphan Street, are several officers' quarters, now used as apartments, and an adobe barracks. At modern Fort Bliss (1893-present), on the northeastern edge of the city, is an adobe replica of the Magoffinsville fort, donated by the El Paso Chamber of Commerce.


Fort Bliss, Texas

Adobe replica of the Fort Bliss when located at Magoffinsville, courtesy Wikipedia.


It now serves as a chapel and museum. Other buildings of interest at the modern post include the old brick mess hall, remodeled and now serving as the post exchange; 14 sets of officers' quarters, still in use; and 2 original barracks buildings, on either side of the old mess hall, housing administrative offices. Fort Bliss National Cemetery is also located on the post.


Today, it is the Army's second-largest installation behind the adjacent White Sands Missile Range. It is situated La Noria Mesa, north of El Paso.


Fort Brown - See Full Article HERE.


Fort Buffalo Springs (1867) - This short lived fort was situated 30 miles north of Jacksboro, Texas. It was occupied by two companies of the Sixth Cavalry deployed from Jacksboro in 1867, with orders to erect substantial buildings. However, inadequate water and timber forced the troops to abandon the site. They soon returned to Jacksboro, where they established a new post to called Fort Richardson.



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