The Story of Fort Garland
1858 - 1883
Built in 1858, Fort Garland
just six miles to the north. Fort
Massachusetts proved vulnerable to attack and to extreme winter
was build of adobe in a plaza format as was typical of the
surrounding villages. It was named for Brevet Brigadier
General John Garland, then in command of the Department of New
Mexico. Built on land that was part of the Sangre de Cristo
Grant, leased by the United States government, the fort was
established primarily to protect settlers from Indian
resistance. It had accommodations for two companies of an
approximate strength of two officers and one hundred enlisted
During the Civil War, troops from Fort Garland marched
south to bolster Union forces against the Texan Confederates, who
were attempting to capture the West. With the defeat of the
Texans near Santa Fe at Glorieta Pass in 1862, the West was saved
for the Union.
After the Civil War, several of the volunteer
regiments which had been stationed at Fort Garland were returned in
the federal service pending the return of the regular army to
garrisons the frontier posts.
Heading these units of the
mostly Hispano New Mexico volunteers was the famous frontier scout
Christopher Kit Carson, who took command of Fort Garland in 1866.
In his year as post commandant Carson successfully negotiated
with the Utes and relative peace reigned in the San Luis
The Ninth Cavalry of the famed Buffalo Soldiers was
stationed here between 1876 and 1879 after having served in Texas.
In 1876, troops marched to the La Plata region to prevent
conflict between the Utes and white prospectors. The following
year, they helped remove white settlers from Ute reservation
From 1867, when Carson
left Fort Garland, until the Meeker Massacre in northwestern
Colorado in 1879, life at Fort Garland was calm and peaceful.
After the Utes
Nathan Meeker and his employees at the White River Agency in 1879,
the garrison at Fort Garland was considerably enlarged, and the fort
served as a base of operations against Indians. With the end
of the uprising and the removal of the Utes to Utah, the number of
troops was reduced, and Fort Garland was officially abandoned in