Fort Stockton was originally an adobe fort built in 1859 by the United States Army as a means of protecting travelers, freighters and the mail service. It was located near what was known as Comanche Springs, the source of Comanche Creek. It served as a way point on the Old San Antonio Road, the Butterfield Overland Stage route and the Comanche Trail to Chihuahua, Mexico.
Some sources formerly stated that the fort was named for Robert Field Stockton who was a Commodore in the United States Navy. Though it may seem odd that a western fort of the United States Army would be named for a naval officer, Robert Stockton had a long career and during the Mexican American War, his troops were involved in several land battles, participating in the taking of Alta, California and seizing control of Pueblo de Los Angeles after the departure of the Mexican commander General Castro. His forces also supported the previously outnumbered General Stephen Kearny at the Battle of San Pasqual, possibly saving Kearny from defeat. His troops also participated in the battles of Rio San Gabriel, San Diego and La Mesa and remained in California until the end of the war. He succeeded John C. Freemont as military governor of California. Four ships in the US Navy have been named for him, along with the towns of Stockton, Missouri and Stockton, California.
However, more current scholarship indicates that the fort may have been named for Lieutenant Edward Dorsey Stockton. Edward Stockton was born May 30, 1828 to Dorsey K. and Mary Spires Stockton and died in San Antonio on March 13, 1857. He had been married to the former Mary J. Cozzens for almost a year and the couple was expecting their first child, a daughter, born in August, 1857. Stockton was a West Point graduate and at the time of his death, he was serving in the First United States Infantry stationed in San Antonio, Bexar County, Texas.
Constructed by troops of the 1st and 8th Infantry, Fort Stockton in Texas served as a US Army fort after construction was complete. It was occupied by Company H of the 1st Infantry until the outset of the Civil War, when these troops were deployed elsewhere. During the war, it was also briefly occupied by Confederate forces until they abandoned it as well. In the 1860s, the US Army again took command under Colonel Edward Hatch (for whom Hatch, New Mexico is named) of the 9th Cavalry, one of the two segregated cavalry regiments that were comprised of the Buffalo Soldiers. Under Hatch, the fort was expanded and new buildings were constructed of limestone and adobe.
(Image credit: historicfortstocktontx.com)
The town of Fort Stockton eventually developed around the fort, which served to house the 10th United States Cavalry during the Indian Wars. The fort was decommissioned in the summer of 1886. About four of the original three dozen buildings remain. More have been reconstructed based upon original blueprints. The fort, located in Pecos County, is owned by the City of Fort Stockton and managed by the Fort Stockton Historical Society. Tours are available and the site includes exhibits depicting the history of the fort and honoring the service of the Buffalo Soldiers. Each year, usually in the fall, the area hosts living history and tours of the old fort.
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