QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS ABOUT FORT CONCHO
- When was Fort Concho founded?
The fort was established by troops of the 4th US Cavalry on December 4, 1867.
- Why was it put here?
After the Civil War the increase in westward traffic through Indian lands caused conflicts with area tribes. The army was instructed to establish many forts along the frontier in West Texas. The specific location for Fort Concho is quite strategic with the junction of the three Concho Rivers. Also, several mail/stage routes passed through the immediate area.
- How long did it take to build this post?
The first buildings (Quartermaster & Commissary) were erected over the winter of 1867-68. Building took place for the next ten years with the last structure (chapel) completed in 1879. Constantly changing post commanders, difficulty in obtaining building materials, and a general lack of construction skill among the troops all contributed to the difficulty.
Click here for a Chronology of the Fort
- How many troops were stationed here?
The post could accommodate eight companies of troops, about 350-400 enlisted men and 35-50 officers. The total numerical strength of Fort Concho could change on a daily basis as troops were coming and going. Average daily strength would be several hundred.
Download a list of units who served at the Fort
- What did the troops do here?
Much of the daily routine was taken up with maintaining the post. Wood and water supply, construction/repairing buildings, hay and food supply, care/cleaning of equipment, mounted and dismounted drill, and daily guard and ceremonial duties took up much of the soldiers' time. Troops were sent from the post from time-to-time for scouts and campaigns against native tribes and civilians who stole or destroyed government property. In general the troops were a mobile police force on the frontier, but military authorities were careful not to intrude where civil authorities were in control.
- Was this just a cavalry post?
No. Fort Concho had both infantry and cavalry throughout its twenty-two year existence. While the fort had artillery pieces on the site, it did not have artillery soldiers stationed here beyond the occasional visit of an officer or two passing through.
- Were there both black and white troops here?
Yes. At any given time Fort Concho had a mix of black and white troops. The 9th and 10th Cavalry Regiments and the 24th and 25th Infantry Regiments were all black units with white officers. Elements of those regiments were stationed at Fort Concho at one time or another in the 1870s and 1880s. The fort also had cavalry units from the 3rd, 4th, and 8th Regiments and infantry troops from the 10th, 11th, 14th, 16th, and 19th Regiments.
- Were there civilians and women here?
Yes. Women and children (usually the wives and children of the officers and some enlisted men) lived on or near the post. Civilian employees included teamsters, construction personnel and medical personnel in the hospital. Laundresses, women who served in the various companies to clean soldiers' clothes and do some cooking, received daily rations of food and fuel. Any frontier army post had a mixture of soldiers and civilians.
- Where is the wall?
There was never a protective wall at this post. Most western frontier posts did not need such a wall as few Indians would attack a post. Fort Concho did have a small stone wall surrounding the post that helped keep wandering buffalo off the Parade Ground.
- How big was Fort Concho?
The government reservation totaled 1640 acres. Today, that would reach to the Concho Rivers on the north, east, and south, with the west boundary being the Bryant thruway. The historic site comprises about 40 acres.
- Why did the army leave Fort Concho?
By the late 1880s the growing local population, the arrival of the railroad, and fewer Indian tribes in conflict with the settlers convinced the army to consolidate its posts into fewer but larger facilities. Thus, Texas saw most of its posts shut down in the 1880s with the exceptions of Fort Sam Houston (San Antonio) and Fort Bliss (El Paso), which still operate today.
- When did the troops leave Fort Concho?
For several years the army had been reducing the troop levels at this post. The last unit, Company K of the 19th Infantry, marched away on June 21, 1889.
- What happened to the fort?
All surplus supplies were either sold to the local civilians (San Angelo by 1889 had 2500 people) or were shipped to other posts. As the army had leased the land, the property and its buildings reverted to the civilian owners. Within twenty years the fort had become a residential area with some of the larger buildings used for commercial purposes.
- When did the preservation effort start?
As early as 1905 it was suggested that the fort be saved as a memorial to the earliest West Texas pioneers. In 1928, the West Texas Museum was founded in San Angelo and moved to Fort Concho's Headquarters building in 1930. Over the past eighty years property has been purchased, buildings restored and exhibits and programs produced.
- Who runs the museum and site today?
The Fort Concho Museum is operated by the City of San Angelo, Texas. The city provides 50% of the funding for museum operations; the fort board, staff, and volunteers--like you--help raise the other 50% of the annual budget. The museum has a staff of fourteen (12 full time and 2 part time) and hundred of volunteers who assist with education programs, special events and ongoing activities.
- How many buildings are original today?
Seventeen of the structures are original. The rebuilt structures include Barracks 5 & 6; Mess Halls 5 & 6, and the Post Hospital. The rest are original! The fort is considered the best preserved site of its kind in the nation.
- How can someone get involved with the fort?
A membership in the Fort Concho Museum Association will provide newsletters plus many special mailings and invitations, discounts on programs, and rental opportunities of fort buildings. Volunteers are always welcome to assist with the ongoing programs. Persons can call 325-481-2646 and have volunteer information sent to them.