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Texas | Forts

FORT CLARK

Brackettville, Kinney County

A Frontier Fort
Off U.S. Route 90

National Register of Historic Places

29° 18' 16" N, 100° 25' 23" W
(29.304444, -100.423056)
Brackettville TX - Fort Clark Barracks
Fort Clark Barracks
(See Historical Marker)

TE photo, March 2002
A former Cavalry Post. Established in 1852, deactivated in 1947. Today "Fort Clark Springs", a private resort. The main attraction continues to be the spacious spring-fed pool. (Las Moras Springs). The museum and many well preserved buildings make it easy to imagine life here in the 1860s. The Post Theater remains as it was in 1946, the year the Post was decommissioned.

Old Fort Clark Guardhouse Museum:
Displays includes artifacts from the Black Seminole Indian Scout and Buffalo soldier units. www.fortclark.com
TX - Fort Clark Spring
The pool at Fort Clark (Las Moras Springs)

Historical Marker
(Inside Ft. Clark. near entrance off Highway 90. On Bowie Street. Intersection of Bowie and Main Streets, Brackettville, Kinney County):

Fort Clark

A strategic installation in the U.S. Army's line of forts along the military road stretching from San Antonio to El Paso, Fort Clark was established in June 1852. Located near natural springs and Las Moras Creek, its site was considered a point of primary importance to the defense of frontier settlements and control of the U.S. Mexico border. Many infantry regiments and almost all cavalry regiments were at one time based at Fort Clark, as well as companies of Texas Rangers and Confederate troops during the Civil War. The Army's Seminole-Negro Indian Scouts also were assigned to Fort Clark, and with black troops of the 10th Cavalry and 24th and 25th infantry played a decisive role in the Indian campaigns of the 1870s.

Prominent military leaders who served here include Col. Ranald S. Mackenzie, Gen. Wesley Merritt, Gen. William R. Shafter, Gen. John L. Bullis, Gen. Zenas R. Bliss, Gen. Jonathan M. Wainwright, and Gen. George S. Patton, Jr.

Fort Clark remained a horse-cavalry post for the U.S. Army through World War II and finally was inactivated in 1946. The fort property, including many native stone buildings constructed by civilian craftsmen in the 1870s, was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1979.
(1994)
Fort Clark historical marker
Fort Clark Historical Marker
Wikipedia

Texas Centennial Marker (Highway 334 E, in front of Kinney County Courthouse, Brackettville, Kinney County):

Fort Clark, U.S.A.

1852-1946
Founded June, 1852.
Guarded California road, rebuffed Indians, outlaws.
Named for Maj. J. B. Clark, killed in Mexican War.
Companies of infantry, artillery, cavalry stationed here. Clothing issued proved too warm for summer. Buildings were too cold for winter until chimneys were built in 1856. Troops routed Indians to Pecos River mouth, helped expel bandit Cortinas from Brownsville, 1859. Union gave up Clark, 1861, after Texas seceded -- re- occupied it 1866.
Used Seminole Scout Company.
Indian reservation established near post.
Duty here, decade after Civil War, was said to be equivalent to honorable mention.
Practically all U.S. Cavalry regiments served here.
5th Cavalry served 1920-41.
In World War II, 2nd and 11th Cavalry trained here.
Post inactivated Feb. 9, 1946.
Erected by the State of Texas 1963

Historical Marker (1 McClernand Road, Brackettville, Kinney County):

2nd Cavalry Division at Fort Clark

In response to the U.S. experience during World War I, the army organized the 1st and 2nd Cavalry Divisions in 1921. However, the 2nd Cavalry Division was not activated until 1941 at Fort Riley, Kansas. Among the units assigned were the 9th and 10th Cavalry regiments, the famed buffalo soldier units of the Indian Wars era, and two white cavalry regiments, the 2nd and 14th, thus constituting the army’s first integrated division. The War Department inactivated the division in 1942 to transfer personnel to armored regiments. In November 1942, the War Department directed reactivation of the 2nd Cavalry Division, assigning two new black regiments, the 27th and the 28th Cavalry. It was also announced the division would be divided between Fort Clark, Texas and Camp Lockett, California. The division activated on February 25, 1943 with headquarters at Fort Clark; command of the division was given to a native Texan, Major General Harry H. Johnson.

Here on Fort Clark, over 5,000 horses trained alongside M3 Stuart Light tanks and both were featured in a June 1943 20th Century Fox movietone newsreel. Troopers endured hard training and the racial injustices of the times. The War Department determined that there was no need for a Second Cavalry Division and planned to again inactivate it. During January 1944, the 2nd Cavalry Division was dismounted and shipped back east for deployment abroad, arriving at Oran, North Africa, on March 9, 1944; the division was inactivated the next day. Fort Clark was closed after the last soldiers stationed here were deployed, and the approximately 1,500 buildings which housed the 2nd Cavalry Division were later razed. Although the 2nd Cavalry Division’s service was short lived, it remains the only all-black cavalry division in U.S. Army history and the largest mounted formation ever to serve in Texas.
(2009)

[See Texas Black History]

Historical Marker (On NE corner of McClernand and Baylor Street, Fort Clark Springs, Brackettville, Kinney County):

Fort Clark Guardhouse

Established in 1852, Fort Clark was manned by varying troop strengths over the years. This guardhouse was built in the 1870s during a period of fort expansion. A new stockade was built in 1942 to relieve overcrowding, and the guardhouse became headquarters for the military police. Built of limestone blocks, the building reflects an adoption of military design to local materials and climate, and retains its 1930s appearance.
Recorded Texas Historic Landmark - 1962

Historical Marker (123 McClernand Road, Brackettville, Kinney County):

New Cavalry Barracks

The earliest quarters for soldiers at Fort Clark were tents along Las Moras Creek near the spring. During the forts 1870s building boom, stone cavalry barracks were constructed, but by the late 1920s. They had become too deteriorated for continued use. Three two-story stone cavalry barracks were constructed in 1931-1932 two replace the three barracks that were razed. This new, fourth barracks was constructed on the site of the first post Commissary which had burned in March, 1892, leaving the site vacant for 40 years. When the building was completed, it contained state-of-the-art facilities, including three 30 by 60-foot open bays for bunks and wall lockers, a mess hall, troop offices, supply and arms rooms, and a latrine. The building was so modern and impressive that it was singled out in order to justify the retention of Fort Clark as a permanent military post.

The first occupants of the barracks were the soldiers of “F” Troop, 5th US Cavalry. In 1941 the 5th Cavalry left the post and the barracks were used by the 112th Cavalry of the Texas National Guard. The Buffalo Soldiers of the 9th Cavalry, African-American troops, moved into the barracks in fall, 1942. Lastly, for the remainder of World War II, the barracks are occupied by 182 African-American enlisted women of the Women's Army Corps Detachment of the 1855th Service Unit.

The two-story rectangular plan barracks is built atop a raised concrete basement. Loadbearing walls are of limestone web wall construction, with cast stone windowsills and steel lintels. The main elevation is divided into 15 days by square wooden columns, with a cross braced railing across the second-story porch.
Recorded Texas Historic Landmark – 2009

Brackettville TX - Fort Clark Post Theatre
The Fort Clark Post Theatre
SW corner of Fort Clark Rd. and Patton Rd., Fort Clark Springs
Photo courtesy Barclay Gibson, August 2011
Historical Marker:

Fort Clark Post Theater

Constructed in 1932, this building replaced an earlier Fort Clark Post Hall that served as a church, courtroom, theater, and recreational center. A utilitarian military design of clear span construction, brick walls, and a stucco veneer, the building also exhibits classical style influences in its pilasters, arched windows, and pediment. A popular movie theater until the fort was closed in 1944, it later became a town hall for the Fort Clark Springs community.
Recorded Texas Historic Landmark - 1997
Brackettville TX - Fort Clark Post Theatre box office
Post Theatre Box Office
Photo courtesy Barclay Gibson, August 2011
More Texas Theatres

Historical Marker (154 Fort Clark Road, Brackettville, Kinney County):

Army Service Club

Occupying the site of Fort Clark’s first guardhouse, this 1938 structure served as a morale and welfare facility until 1944, when the U.S. Army closed the fort. The building was a recreation center for soldiers, and served as a non-commissioned officers’ club during World War II mobilization.

The building has also been a country club and community center. The one-story structure is a rectangular plan frame building with horizontal siding atop a limestone webwall foundation. Banks of casement windows and wood louvered vents originally provided ventilation and light.

Recorded Texas Historic Landmark - 2009

Historical Marker (367 Fort Clark Road, Brackettville, Kinney County):

1873 Infantry Barracks

FORT CLARK BY 1873 HAD GROWN TO REGIMENTAL SIZE, COMPELLING CONSTRUCTION OF SIX SINGLE-STORY INFANTRY BARRACKS AND THREE TWO-STORY CAVALRY BARRACKS BY THE U. S. ARMY QUARTERMASTER DEPARTMENT. THIS ONE-STORY RECTANGULAR PLAN BARRACKS WAS BUILT OF COURSED RUBBLE LIMESTONE WITH A GABLE WOOD SHINGLE ROOF, STONE FIREPLACES, CENTRAL ROOF VENT AND SHED FRONT PORCH. THE OPEN INTERIOR HOUSED BUNKS FOR SIXTY-FOUR SOLDIERS WITH A SINGLE GUN RACK IN THE CENTER OF THE OPEN BAY. THE COMPANY BARRACKS FACED THE OFFICERS’ QUARTERS TO THE WEST ACROSS THE PARADE FIELD.

TODAY THIS BUILDING IS THE BEST SURVIVING EXAMPLE OF ITS KIND AT FORT CLARK, AND ONE OF A HANDFUL OF INDIAN WARS PERIOD BARRACKS LEFT ON ANY POST IN THE NATION.
Recorded Texas Historic Landmark

Historical Marker ( 2-3-4 Colony Row, Brackettville, Kinney County):

Officers Quarters 2-3 and 4

These two buildings date from 1854-55, soon after the U.S. Army established Fort Clark. The antebellum fort then included officers quarters and barracks for enlisted men, as well as a two-story quartermaster storehouse, powder magazine, hospital, guardhouse and post headquarters around a parade ground. During this period, such notable army officers as John Bell Hood, J.E.B. Stuart, Fitzhugh Lee and James Longstreet served here and likely lived in these quarters.

Horizontal logs and vertical posts were notched and interlocked to create these buildings. Limestone chimneys are also historic. The army closed the fort in 1944, by which time the buildings were clad in lath and plaster and wood siding.
Recorded Texas Historic Landmark - 2007

Historical Marker (8 Colony Row, Brackettville, Kinney County):

Married Officers' Quarters 8-9

This single-story duplex once served as housing for married officers and their families at Fort Clark. The U.S. Army fort, established in 1852 to defend the western frontier of Texas and the border with Mexico, saw significant growth in the 1870s. To accommodate a regimental size garrison, the Army constructed living quarters such as this particular house.

Built by 1875 out of uncoursed, rough-cut limestone, the building features a cross-hipped roof, interior chimneys with double fireplaces and a distinctive U-shape. The fort closed in 1944 and later owners transformed the quarters into a single family home.
Recorded Texas Historic Landmark - 2006

Historical Marker (Colony Row Road between Nos. 8, 9 and 10, Ft. Clark Springs, Brackettville, Kinney County):

Officers' Row Quarters

Fort Clark was established as a U.S. Army garrison in 1852. The original quarters were crude log huts and houses of palisade construction. In 1857, a new program began to replace badly dilapidated structures with buildings of quarried stone. Designed and constructed in 1873-74 as duplexes to accommodate two officers' families each, these eight residences closely resemble those built on other military posts during that time period. The buildings reflect an evolutionary adaptation of military design suited to local construction materials and the regional climate. Each duplex has three large rooms on each floor, two fireplaces and a fifty-five foot front porch. An 1885 remodeling project changed the houses from rectangular to T-plan. The army contracted with Central Power and Light Company for electricity in 1918. Fort Clark was deactivated in 1946 and sold to the Brown and Root Corporation.

In 1971, the fort property became "Fort Clark Springs", a private recreational community. The officers' houses were rented to members and guests until 1974, when they were offered for sale to members of the Fort Clark Springs Association.
Recorded Texas Historic Landmark - 1991

Historical Marker (20 Colony Row, Fort Clark Springs, Brackettville, Kinney County):

Adjutant's Quarters (Quarters # 20)

Erected during the 1873-1875 expansion of Fort Clark to accommodate and support an entire regiment, this structure differs from other quarters on the line in that it is a single dwelling rather than a duplex. The Fifth Regiment of the U. S. Cavalry was garrisoned here from 1921 to 1941 and during that time the regimental adjutant, who performed essential clerical duties for the regimental commander, lived within these walls.

The core of this building is a three-room hall and parlor plan composed of adobe, featuring a symmetrical front and stone chimney at each end. Additions were made in 1904 and 1944.
Recorded Texas Historic Landmark - 1999

Historical Marker (Colony Row between quarters Nos. 22 and 25, Ft. Clark Springs, Brackettville, Kinney County):

Staff Officers' Quarters

The U.S. Army built nine stone officers' quarters at Fort Clark beginning in 1873. The need soon arose for additional housing for senior staff officers, and this building was constructed in 1888. Built in a T-plan, the two-story stone duplex features a full width front porch and is a good example of military standard housing adapted to the materials and climate of the region. Among the house's residents was General George S. Patton.
Recorded Texas Historic Landmark - 1990

Historical Marker (No. 29 Colony Row, Ft. Clark Springs, Brackettville, Kinney County):

Commanding Officer's Quarters

Fort Clark was established as a U.S. Army garrison in June 1852. Nine structures designed by U.S. Army engineers were built in 1873-1874 to house the fort's officers. This house served the fort's commanding officers, including Col. Ranald S. Mackenzie and Gen. Jonathan M. Wainwright.

Architectural features include a central entry, wood-frame porch, six-over-six windows, second floor dormers, and four large chimneys with sculpted caps.
Recorded Texas Historic Landmark - 1963

Historical Marker ( 202 McClain Road, Brackettville, Kinney County):

U.S. Army Signal Corps Building

This building served as the communications center for Fort Clark from 1932-1944. The Building is of tile brick construction with a veneer of irregular cut field stone. The original footprint was enlarged c. 1940 to accommodate barracks for enlisted soldiers. During World War II mobilization, the 3rd Signal Troop of the 2nd Cavalry Division and the Signal Detachment of the 1855th Service Company shared this building and maintained the post telephone system, Army training film library, post photo lab, and other essential equipment. The Signal Corps detachment were the last troops to leave Fort Clark when it was closed on August 28, 1944.
Recorded Texas Historic Landmark, 2008

Historical Marker (Local road, 2 miles S of US 90 in Fort Clark Springs, Brackettville, Kinney County):

Seminole Scout Camp on Fort Clark

Under Spanish rule, Florida was a haven for freed or escaped slaves in the 1700s. Once there, many integrated into the Seminole tribe, intermarrying and adapting to the culture. Florida became a U.S. territory in 1821, and after approximately 30 years of warfare, the majority of the Seminoles were forced to relocate to the Indian Territory (Oklahoma). Tribal leaders Coacoochee (Wild Cat) and John Horse gathered a group of Seminoles in 1850 and left the Indian Territory for Mexico. There, under an agreement with the Mexican government, they Settled and fought against raiding tribes along the Rio Grande. In 1870, the U.S. Army offered the group pay and rations to move to Fort Clark, established in 1852 to protect settlers along the border.

The black Seminoles became scouts for the Army, serving under Lt. John L. Bullis and other noted officers during Texas' Indian wars. The Seminole-Negro Indian scouts, as they were known, lived on the fort in a settlement referred to as "the camp." They built homes in the Mexican jacal style, using wattle and daub construction and thatched roofs. The scouts and their families also built dams and irrigation systems along Las Moras Creek for farming.

The Seminoles lived on the fort until 1914, when the scouts were disbanded. Some returned to Mexico, many stayed in the Brackettville area and some moved to Oklahoma, where the Seminole nation was granted sovereignty. Still others remained, buried in the scouts' cemetery (1.5 mi. Sw), which was established in 1872. Among those buried there are four scouts who earned Congressional medals of honor: Adam Payne (Paine), Isaac Payne, John Ward and Pompey Factor.
(2002)

[See Buffalo Soldiers by Jeffery Robenalt]
[See Texas Black History]

Fort Clark Chronicles:
  • "Saloons on Every Corner and Plenty in Between..." by Mike Cox

  • Fort Clark Barely Misses Being Start of Civil War by Mike Cox ("Texas Tales" Column)

  • The Whirlwind Lt. John Lapham Bullis and the Seminole Negro Scouts by C. F. Eckhardt
    "One of the least-known heroes of the Texas frontier was a man known to his followers as The Whirlwind and to his enemies as The Thunderbolt..... John Bullis didn't do it all alone. He had a lot of help. The help, mostly, was the Seminole Negro scouts. What became of them?..."

  • Ft Clark Tx - Gazebo
    Photo courtesy Barclay Gibson, August 2011
    A Trip to Fort Clark:
    Swimming to Mexico
    (Swimming to Mexico, Part IV - Ft. Clark Springs)
    TX Kinney County 1940s Map
    1940s Kinney County map showing Brackettville
    (From Texas state map #4335)

    Courtesy Texas General Land Office

    More Texas Forts

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