Established in 1854, Fort Davis was important in guarding and establishing America’s western frontier. Troops stationed at this historic military post served to protect emigrants, families, freighters, and mail coaches from the American Indians and bandits who raided travelers on the San Antonio-El Paso Road. In the first seven years, the post’s initial occupants, six companies of the Eighth Infantry under Lt. Col. Washington Seawell, often spent their days pursuing Comanche, Kiowa, and Apache to ensure the safety of those traveling west.
Troops continued to perform this duty until the outbreak of the Civil War. Texas seceded from the Union and federal forces evacuated the fort in April 1861. Confederate troops occupied Fort Davis until August 1862. Then the post remained deserted until 1867, at which time the Ninth Cavalry, one of the new African-American regiments, arrived.