Saturday, April 23, 2022

Visiting Fort Davis National Historic Site

Partially restored building

This site, run by the National Park Service, is just north of the town of Fort Davis.  At its peak, Fort Davis was a major installation with over 100 buildings and more than 400 soldiers.  The main mission of the fort was to safeguard travelers against the Comanches and Apaches, especially along the San Antonio – El Paso road.

BarracksI started my visit with a stop at the ranger station which is located in a building that used to one of the enlisted barracks.  The next building is also one of the old enlisted barracks.

The barracks have several exhibits that show how the soldiers lived, as well as some of the equipment and weapons that were used at the site.

Inside Commissary-1Further down the path, is the commissary, which is also furnished.  There is a good description of the logistics that the officer in charge of the commissary had to consider to keep the commissary running.  While many of the issues that he had to deal with are similar to supply chain factors that we have to consider today, their remote location made the job of planning, shopping, and shipping to keep the commissary full challenging.

Gatling Gun Cannon-1 Covered Wagon

Restored KitchenThe next building that has been restored is the Officer’s Kitchen and Servant’s Quarters.  As was common back then, the kitchen was separated from the living quarters for safety from fire.  Also of consideration was the heat during summer months and any unpleasant cooking odors.

MedicinesAfter the kitchen, the Post Hospital is the next building that I visited.  This one has also been restored, and has many interpretive exhibits to show how the base personnel (and travelers) were treated for illnesses or injuries.  Every time I see displays like this, it makes me really appreciate the improvements in health care that have happened over the past couple of hundred years.

Doctors Office-1There are a couple of more restored buildings at the historic site, and each has interpretive exhibits to illustrate how the soldiers and officers lived on this base when it was active.

At the end of the tour, I went back to the ranger station and talked for a little while to the ranger.  I was curious, because of the size of the fort, if they had a palisade wall or something similar.  He said that they did not, and for two reasons.  The first is that the Comanches and Apaches didn’t attack the fort (they would have been significantly out manned).  The tribes in the area did make raids, but there were no battles at the fort.  Another reason is simply because their isn’t very much wood nearby.  He pointed out that a lot of old west movies show forts with palisades, and said next time to notice the countryside around the fort and ask the question “where did they get the wood”?

Commissary Servant quarters Hospital Beds-2
Motars and Pestles Inside The Grierson's Home-2 Inside The Grierson's Home-3
Inside the shared house-1 Inside the shared house-3 Wickiup

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