description

Photo: Ceremony to honor the first site of Fort Bliss.

FORT BLISS. After the end of the Mexican War the need to defend the new border, to maintain law and order, to protect settlers and California-bound migrants from Indian attacks, and to survey for a new transcontinental railroad compelled the United States government to establish a military post on the Rio Grande in the area of El Paso del Norte (now Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua). On November 7, 1848, the War Department instructed the Third Infantry to take up quarters at the pass, and Bvt. Maj. Jefferson Van Horne led 257 soldiers, including the regimental staff, six infantry companies, and a howitzer battery, west from San Antonio. They arrived in the area on September 8; on September 14, four companies were quartered on Coons' Rancho, formerly Ponce's Ranch, in downtown El Paso. About one-third of the troops occupied the presidio at San Elizario, an old Spanish garrison twenty miles southeast of El Paso.

The War Department closed the post and presidio in September 1851 and withdrew the troops to Fort Fillmore, forty miles to the north. A military post was reestablished on the Rio Grande in January 1854 when Lt. Col. Edmund Brooke Alexander, with four companies of the Eighth United States Infantry, rented quarters at Magoffinsville, a hacienda three miles east of Coons' Rancho. On March 8, 1854, the official name of the post became Fort Bliss, in memory of Lt. Col. William Wallace Smith Bliss, Gen. Zachary Taylor's chief of staff during the Mexican War and later his son-in-law.

Lt. Col. Isaac V. D. Reeve was in command of Fort Bliss on March 31, 1861, when it was surrendered to the Confederate authorities of Texas. Confederate lieutenant colonel John Robert Baylor then occupied the post with elements of the Second Regiment of Texas Mounted Rifles. Brig. Gen. Henry Hopkins Sibley used Fort Bliss as a base from which to invade New Mexico but was repulsed in mid-1862 and driven from West Texas. Elements of the California Volunteers commanded by Col. James H. Carleton reoccupied Fort Bliss for the Union. Under Carleton's protection Mexican president Benito Juárezqv survived in El Paso del Norte in 1865–66 and received supplies from north of the border before driving the French from Mexico.

In 1867 the post at Magoffinsville was swept away by a Rio Grande flood. The troops moved three miles north and named their post Camp Concordia in March 1868. On March 23, 1869, the camp was renamed Fort Bliss. The War Department closed the post in January 1877, just before the Salt War of San Elizario flared. A military board, however, convened to investigate the reopening of the post as a result of the violence; the board recommended in 1878 that Fort Bliss be reestablished, and the post was moved to downtown El Paso, which soldiers called Garrison Town.

In late 1879 the government purchased land at Hart's Mill, three miles west of downtown El Paso, and Fort Bliss became a way station for troops pursuing renegade Indians. After Geronimo surrendered in 1886, the government began to abolish small, isolated posts and replaced them with new facilities near railroads. Fort Bliss was almost supplanted by Fort Selden, eighteen miles north of Las Cruces, New Mexico, but was kept in El Paso by community leaders, who contributed about $7,000 for the purchase of land on Lanoria Mesa, five miles east of town. Congress then committed $300,000 for new facilities. Fort Bliss moved to its sixth and final home in late 1893.

http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/qbf03

Uploaded on 06.19.2014 by El Paso Museum of History

Central / Magoffin, (2000 - 2009), Commemoration

  • Fort Bliss
  • Magoffin

Your comment will be visible after the El Paso Museum staff has reviewed it. This usually happens within 24 hours.

Thank you for your comment

Fort Bliss - Magoffin

Report this entry

Choose the most important reason for this report

Your name

Your email address

Optional detail

Thank you for your report

More from the same community-collection

Cantina Los Tarros

Cantina Los Tarros is a restaurant in the Magoffin district. Image was taken in El Paso, Texas circa 2015.

Capt. Joseph Magoffin - El Paso, Texas

Joseph Magoffin, El Paso mayor and civic leader, was born in Chihuahua, Mexico, on January 14, 1837, the son of...

Wedding

This may be Kate Moore's wedding to W.R. Brown.

Jose Berroteran - El Paso, Texas

Jose Berroteran in front of the Toltec Building, El Paso, Texas waiting to register for the draft.

Joseph Magoffin

Joseph Magoffin, El Paso mayor and civic leader, was born in Chihuahua, Mexico. He was a four-term mayor of El...

Advertisement - El Paso, Texas

This man advertises products of one of the stores close-by.

Members of the McGinty Club, El Paso, Texas

Dan Reckhart, the McGinty's one and only president, is seated fourth from the right. This may be a reunion photograph.

First Baptist Church - El Paso, Texas

This church was located at San Antonio and Magoffin

Two Ladies

Mrs. W. R. Brown is on the right. Kate Moore Brown was a spectacular woman with a big impact on...

Mrs. W.R. Brown, about the time of her wedding.

Mrs. W.R. Brown's wedding took place at the Magoffin Home. Kate Moore Brown was a spectacular woman with a big...

Mural Honoring Fire Station - El Paso, Texas

There once was a fire station next to the wall, hence this mural salutes firefighters. This part of the mural...

Mural Honoring Fire Station

There once was a fire station next to the wall, hence this mural salutes firefighters. The station is now gone...

Cristo Rey Monastery of Perpetual Adoration - El Paso, Texas

The Cristo Rey Monastery of Perpetual Adoration is situated at 145 N. Cotton Street in El Paso Texas. It belongs...

Toltec Club - El Paso, Texas

From 1911 through 1930, the vast majority of political and business decisions affecting El Paso were made in the Toltec...

El Diario de El Paso

This is the headquarters of El Diario, the Spanish language newspaper in El Paso Texas. The paper was founded on...