Fort Davis State Historical Site

Fort Davis State Historical Site

Fort Davis National Historical Site was a definite surprise. After driving through West Texas many…many times, I assumed most of it was flat, dusty and unappealing. Fort Davis is anything but that.

The actual site offers a wealth of information on the military history of the site, gives you an idea of how they lived their daily lives (back from the 1850’s to the early 20th century), and much more. I had never heard of Lt. Henry O. Flipper before visiting the site, but his story is absolutely worth reading (first African American graduate of Westpoint and was stationed at the post).

We also hiked a few trails here and the scenery was beautiful! I can tell that we’re slowly but surely getting into a little bit better shape!

Fort Davis is a historic military installation located in Jeff Davis County, Texas. It was established in 1854 as one of a series of forts designed to protect the Trans-Pecos region of Texas from hostile Native American tribes.

The fort was named after then Secretary of War, Jefferson Davis, who would later become the President of the Confederacy during the Civil War. The construction of the fort was an ambitious undertaking, as it required the importation of large quantities of building materials from as far away as San Antonio.

Fort Davis played a significant role in the Indian Wars of the late 19th century, serving as a base of operations for the United States Army during campaigns against the Apache and Comanche tribes. In 1861, at the outbreak of the Civil War, Confederate forces occupied the fort briefly before being driven out by Union troops later that year.

During the latter half of the 19th century, the fort served as a supply depot and headquarters for the 9th and 10th United States Cavalry, two all-black regiments known as the Buffalo Soldiers. The Buffalo Soldiers played an important role in protecting American settlers and infrastructure in the region, as well as fighting in conflicts such as the Spanish-American War and the Philippine-American War.

Fort Davis was decommissioned in 1891, and much of the original fort has since been restored and is now part of the Fort Davis National Historic Site. Today, visitors can tour the restored barracks, officer’s quarters, and other buildings and learn about the history of the fort and the role it played in the settling of the American West.

The story of Lieutenant Flipper

Lt. Henry Ossian Flipper

Lt. Henry Ossian Flipper was the first African American to graduate from the United States Military Academy at West Point, and he was assigned to the 10th Cavalry Regiment, one of the famed Buffalo Soldier units, stationed at Fort Davis in 1877.

Despite facing racial discrimination and hostility from some of his fellow officers, Flipper performed his duties with distinction and earned praise for his work as an engineer and mapmaker. However, he soon found himself the subject of an investigation into allegations of embezzlement, misuse of government funds, and conduct unbecoming an officer.

Flipper was court-martialed in 1881 and found guilty on several charges, including the unauthorized disposal of government property. He was acquitted on more serious charges, such as embezzlement, but was dismissed from the Army, making him the first African American officer to be dishonorably discharged.

Flipper always maintained his innocence and fought for years to clear his name. In 1999, more than a century after his court-martial, the U.S. Army posthumously pardoned Flipper, recognizing that he had been the victim of racial prejudice and acknowledging his contributions to the military.

Today, Flipper is remembered as a trailblazer and a symbol of perseverance in the face of adversity. Fort Davis National Historic Site features an exhibit on his life and career, and visitors can also see the restored officer’s quarters where Flipper lived during his time at the fort.

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