Established in 1855, Fort Lancaster Texas housed approximately 150 men and 3 officers. In 1857, a wagon train was ambushed by Indians about 25 miles away, but the soldiers were able defeat the Indians, with the loss of only one sergeant.
This was not aways the case though. In 1856 an Army Inspector visited the fort and found that the troops were so untrained, he did not want them to demonstrate rifle firing. He also found that there were 76 prisoners in the guardhouse, 15 of them for drunkenness. The Inspector reported, "they desire nothing better than to get drunk and lay in the guardhouse." The problem stemmed partly because of lack of officers at the fort, and also because of poor conditions.
The men were living in what was called "hackadales," portable frames covered with canvas. The living quarters were soon improved, and elaborate ruins may be found at Fort Lancaster today.
The fort was surrendered to the Texans in 1861 who maintained it with companies of "Minute Men." It was inspected by Confederate General Sibley in fall of 1861. The post, although abandoned in 1867, was reactivated briefly as a sub-post during the Kiowa-Comanche troubles of 1871.
Plat of fort from "Old Forts of the Southwest," Herbert M. Hart, ©1964.
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