Fort Clark, Bracketville, Texas - Historic Home of The Seminole-Negro Indian Scouts
Reprinted and posted by permission from Mr. Emet Huntsman, Fort Clark Historical Society, Brackettville, Texas.
Fort Clark was established June 24 1852 by Major Joseph H. LaMotte on land long favored as camp grounds for Comanche, Mescalero, Lipan and other Indians. This ground was at Las Moras (The Mulberries) Spring, a beautiful oasis shaded by huge oak and pecan trees. Two Companies (C 6r E) of the First Infantry encamped near the Springs. Later, the complete garrison was moved up the hill from the Spring. By 1853 quarters for the soldiers were nearly completed, and in 1854 three grass-covered officers' quarters were built. In 1855 a stone hospital and a two-story storehouse were erected.
At first all materials and supplies were hauled from Corpus Christi by wagons a 30aay trip. Later they were landed at Indianola and hauled by government wagon trains via San Antonio, still a 30 day trip. Prior to erection of storehouses, provisions were stored in jacales (staked logs and adobe huts) and covered with canvas.
With the onset of the Civil War and secession of Texas, the Federal soldiers left Fort Clark March 19, 1861, and returned December 12, 1866. Until August 1862 the Fort was occupied by the Second Texas Mounted Rifles, later served as a supply depot and hospital for Confederate troops and civilians in surrounding areas.
War Department records indicate that construction started for the fort in 1853 with the major portion of the Historic District being erected in period of 1870-1875. The internal portion of the shell stone building, Post Headquarters, was built in 1857. A twenty acre post was developed with the construction of quarters, barracks, hospital (now the Adult Center), bakery, stables, and guardhouse. By 1874 Fort Clark had quarters built of stone for 200 men and nine officer quarters, four from previous log quarters. A storehouse, the second, known today as the Old Commissary and a granary capable of holding 3000 bushels of grain was built in 1882. During the major construction period of 1874 there were 104 civilian masons on the payroll. The first stone construction (1855-1856) stone came from local quarry, which is now the Amphitheatre. But, due to poor quality of stone, it was also hauled by wagon from other quarries.
Fort Clark is perhaps most famous as the home for the Seminole-Negro Indian Scouts. After twenty years of protecting Mexico's northern states from hostile Indians for the Mexican Army they came to Fort Duncan in 1872 and to Fort Clark to serve the army as scouts. Lt. John L. Bullis, later a general, was to serve as their commander from 1873-1881. Fort Clark is also noted as the Headquarters for Colonel Ranald S. Mackenzie's raiders. He led raids into Mexico to punish renegade Indians, playing a decisive roll in bringing to an end the Indian depredations in Texas. Comanches on horseback swept down from the north moonlight nights, raiding, killing, taking horses, mules, and cattle, and escaping across the Rio Grande into Mexico. Lipans and Kickapoos from Mexico slipped across the border into Texas, destroying, stealing, murdering, and returning quickly to safety. Outlaws of every nationality fled from one side of border to safety on the other. Hundreds of pioneers were forced to abandon their homesteads.
Appeals to Washington brought Secretary Of War W. W. Belknap and General Philip Sheridan to Fort Clark for secret talks with Mackenzie. On May 17, 1873, Mackenzie, accompanied by Lt. Bullis and the Seminole-Negro Indian Scouts, led troops of the 4th US. Cavalry into Mexico on a punitive expedition against the Lipans. Other sorties followed. Again in 1878, Mackenzie was recalled to Fort Clark to stop the Kickapoo's war on Texas. Mackenzie with Bullis and Seminole Scouts, and a large peace-time army, crossed the border to effectively stop the Mexican Army and end the Mexican Indian hostilities forever. The last Indian depredation in the Military District of the Nueces was in 1881.
Many infantry units and virtually all cavalry units, including three 9th and 10th black "Buffalo Soldiers," were stationed at Fork Clark. Some famous officers were; General Wesley Merritt, Commander of the Philippine Expedition; General William R. Shafter, Commander of Cuba Expedition; George C. Marshall, U. S. Chief of Staff in WWII; Jonathan M. Wainwright, hero of Bataan and Corregidor; and George S. Patton, Jr., famous for his mighty mobile armored operations in North Africa, Sicily and from France through Germany. Many combat decorations and honors were awarded to Fort Clark veterans, including four Congressional Medals of Honor awarded to the Seminole Scouts. The Seminole-Negro Indian Scout Cemetery where all four of Medal of Honor recipients have special marked graves, may be visited on FM Road 3348 west of the Fort and 3.1 miles south of U.S. 90. In 1941 the 5th Cavalry was transferred to Fort Bliss and Fort Clark then manned by 112th Cavalry, Texas National Guard Unit, until their deployment for combat duties in Pacific. Later, more than 12,000 troops of the Second Cavalry Division, the last horse mounted Cavalry division, trained here until deployment in February 1944. The war also added another feature to history of Fort Clark, that of having a German Prisoner of War subcamp on the 4,000 acre reservation.
In June of 1944 the closing of Fort Clark was announced, and in 1946 it was sold to Brown 6~ Root Company for salvage and later use as guest ranch.
In 1971 it was purchased by a private corporation and developed into a private recreation community. Today Fort Clark encompasses about 2700 acres. The Springs feeds Las Moras Creek and a dam feeds the water also into a very large swimming pool, with 68 degree temperature. Below the dam, fishermen, bird watchers, hikers, picnickers, and campers enjoy the beautifully wooded Las Moras Creek banks. The Historic District of the Fort remains much as it was planned and built in the 1800's. The history is displayed by six dioramas created by members of Fort Clark Arts for the Old Fort Clark Guardhouse Museum maintained by the Fort Clark Historical Society. Visitors at the museum are welcomed by volunteer hosts and hostesses.
Copyright © 1985
Fort Clark Historical Society
of Kinney County, Inc.
Brackettville, Texas 78832
Fort Clark and Brackettville are located on U.S. 90, 120 miles west of San Antonio and 31 miles east of Del Rio, Texas. The Seminole Indian Scouts Cenetery is 3.1 miles south of Brackettville on FM Road 3348.