History of Fort
In the decade following the 1848 Treaty of
Guadalupe Hidalgo that established the US/Mexico border, the
military installed a defensive line of forts lying just ahead of the western
limits of settlement in
. Opened in 1852,
is one in a series of these
remote western forts established to protect frontier settlers and traffic on the
Upper El Paso Road
The Fort closed for the first time in 1859 when
activity on the frontier quieted. Throughout
its second operation from 1868 to 1883, both black and white infantry and
cavalry troops and their families were stationed at
. The fort hosted all four
regiments of the famed Buffalo Soldiers.
While stationed at the fort, First
Sergeant Emanuel Stance became the first post-Civil War African-American
to receive the Medal of Honor for valor in battle.
Many more soldiers at
received this top honor including six
from Company A 4th Cavalry.
Many of the Fort’s officers continued to
serve their country after the Indian Wars including Major General William R.
Shafter, the Commanding General of all troops sent to
during the Spanish American War.
McKavett grew from the settlers,
contractors, laundresses, and red light district surrounding the fort. After the
fort was abandoned for the final time, residents of the town moved into the fort
structures. A few town structures still exist on the park grounds.
Today’s silent walls are a reminder of a
violent part of American history when cultures clashed, and when the nation grew
from the ashes of a Civil War to become a world power.
and Wildlife Department opened Fort McKavett SHS to the public in 1968. On
January 1, 2008, Fort McKavett State Historic Park was transferred to the Texas
Historical Commission. General
William T. Sherman once called the fort “the prettiest post in
.” Looking out across the rolling hills from the high ground at
, the visitor today sees the same landscape that soldiers scanned 150 years ago.
The site totals 79.5 acres and is located 23 miles west of Menard
at the edge of the Texas Hill Country. Visitors can explore restored buildings
including the 1874 hospital which currently houses the interpretive center;
officers' quarters dating from the 1850s to the 1880s; an 1870s barracks; the
post headquarters; bakery; dead house; and sinks or latrines.
Apart from the post hospital and current furnishing projects, the
buildings are empty.