Fort Bayard played an integral role in protecting settlers and miners in the Los Pinos and Silver City mining districts. Copper, silver, and gold mining spurred economic development of this region of southwestern New Mexico.
Soldiers from the fort battled many of the most famous Apache war leaders, including Victorio, Nana, and Geronimo. The first all-African-American regular army units made up of enlisted personnel, referred to as Buffalo soldiers, were organized in 1866 in the close of the Civil War. Fort Bayard was home to hundreds of African American soldiers, who fought Apaches with distinction and who participated in the chase for Geronimo. His capture by Brig. Gen. Nelson A. Miles in 1886 effectively ended the Apache wars.
Where is it?
Fort Bayard is one of the many nearby communities just outside Silver City, less than 15 minutes from downtown, south on Highway 180.
About the Fort's History
In 1865, General Carlton, commander of the District of New Mexico, requested that a new fort be established in the southwest region to protect the early settlers, miners and travelers from the Apache. Fort Bayard, located in the homeland of the Apache, was established in August 1866 by Company B of the 125th U.S. Colored Infactry, under the command of Lieutenant James Kerr. He established an encampment near the mining communities of Pinos Altos and Santa Rita.In 1899 the post of Fort Bayard was transferred to the Army Medical Department.
Fort Bayard was home to Native American Indian Scouts and several Buffalo Soldiers, including William Cathay (a.k.a. Cathay Williams), who was the only known female Buffalo Soldier. Military leaders such as General George Crook and "Black Jack" Pershing spent time at Fort Bayard, as well. Among its medical leaders were Major D.D.M. Appel and Major Dr. George E. Bushnell. Both completed outstanding research discoveries and procedures in the treatment of pulmonary tuberculosis. R.N. Dita Kinney, later director of the Army Nurses Corps, supervised the inclusion of female nurses in the Army Medical Department.
Please note that information regarding destination hours of operation, seasonal closings and other information is subject to change. Please contact the destination to confirm your travel plans.