Buffalo Soldiers LbNA # 22274
|Placed Date||May 18 2006|
|Location||Fort Davis, TX|
Fort Davis - Texas Frontier Forts Series #2
Fort Davis is one of America's best surviving examples of an Indian Wars' frontier military post in the Southwest. Fort Davis was strategically located to protect emigrants, mail coaches, and freight wagons on the Trans-Pecos portion of the San Antonio-El Paso Road and the Chihuahua Trail, and to control activities on the southern stem of the Great Comanche War Trail and Mescalero Apache war trails. Although the Comanches were defeated in the mid-1870s, the Apaches continued to make travel on the San Antonio-El Paso road dangerous. Soldiers from the post regularly patrolled the road and provided protection for wagon trains and mail coaches. The last major military campaign involving troops from Fort Davis occurred in 1880. In a series of engagements, units from Fort Davis and other posts, under the command of Colonel Benjamin Grierson, forced the Apaches and their leader Victorio into Mexico. There, Victorio, and most of his followers, were killed by Mexican soldiers.
Fort Davis is important in understanding the presence of African Americans in the West and in the frontier military because the 24th and 25th U.S. Infantry and the 9th and 10th U.S. Cavalry, all-black regiments established after the Civil War, were stationed at the post. On July 1, 1867, companies C, F, H, and I, of the Ninth U. S. Cavalry under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Wesley Merritt, officially reoccupied the post at Fort Davis, Texas, that had been abandoned by federal troops since 1861. The troopers were called “Buffalo Soldiers”, a moniker they earned from the plains Indians who noted the similarity of the black soldier’s hair with that of the buffalo. Merritt and the Ninth Cavalry had a sizable job ahead of them, and they distinguished themselves in both rebuilding the fort and in fierce battles against the Indians.
Today, twenty-four roofed buildings and over 100 ruins and foundations are part of Fort Davis National Historic Site. Five of the historic buildings have been refurnished to the 1880s, making it easy for visitors to envision themselves being at the fort at the height of its development.
DIRECTIONS TO THE LETTERBOX:
Enter Davis Mountains State Park and take Skyline Drive to the top of the hill. At the first Y on top of the hill, if you go right it will take you to an observation point and there are two letterboxes along the trail starting from that point (“Davis Mountains” and “McDonald Observatory”). To find “Buffalo Soldiers” you need to go left (or straight) at that first intersection and follow the Park Road to its end point, which will be the boundary of Ft Davis National Historic Site. About 100 yards before the end of the road you will see a large tree on the right surrounded by a bed of mortared native stone. Stop at this tree. From the base of this tree head southwest (220 degrees) down a slope on a lightly defined trail for about 20 yards. Watch out for the acacia (catclaw) bushes. You will see a large oak tree ahead. Circle to the left of this tree and work your way back uphill from the south to it's trunk (easiest access). 10 feet northeast of the trunk will be a cairn of rocks with one large flat rock leaning against the others at an angle. Tilt this rock away and the box is nestled within and surrounded by other rocks. Poke with a stick to be sure there are no sleeping critters that will be startled awake by your search. Please replace box so that it will be safe from being washed away by runoff from the road above.