While our physical offices are closed until further notice in accordance with Austin's COVID-19 "stay home-work safe" order, the Handbook of Texas will remain available at no-cost for you, your fellow history enthusiasts, and all Texas students currently mandated to study from home. If you have the capacity to help us maintain our online Texas history resources during these uncertain times, please consider making a 100% tax-deductible contribution today. Thank you for your support of TSHA and Texas history. Donate Today »


Ernest Wallace
Fort Stockton
Fort Stockton. Courtesy of Fort Stockton Historical Museum. Image available on the Internet and included in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107.

FORT STOCKTON. Fort Stockton, constructed of adobe and named for Lt. Edward Dorsey Stockton, an officer in the First Infantry who had died in San Antonio in 1857, was established by the United States Army on January 17, 1859, at Comanche Springs, which was within the site of the present city of Fort Stockton, for the protection of the mail service, travelers, and freighters. Comanche Springs was on the Comanche war trail into Mexico, the upper and lower San Antonio-El Paso-San Diego roads, the Butterfield Overland Mail route, and the San Antonio-Chihuahua Trail, and near the Pecos River-New Mexico road. Capt. Arthur T. Lee, commanding Company C, Eighth Infantry, on order of Col. Carlos A. Waite, who commanded all federal troops in Texas, abandoned the post in April 1861. On June 26 the post was reoccupied by Capt. Charles L. Pyron, in command of Company B, Second Regiment, Texas Mounted Rifles. It was abandoned by the Confederates in August 1862, after Gen. Henry H. Sibley's defeat in New Mexico.

Fort Stockton (circa 1884)
Fort Stockton (circa 1884). Courtesy of Fort Stockton Historical Museum. Image available on the Internet and included in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107.

On July 21, 1867, Fort Stockton, in ruins after the Civil War, was reoccupied by Gen. Edward Hatch, who made it the headquarters for the Ninth United States Cavalry, a regiment of black troops. Hatch built a new post nearby at a cost of $82,000 on land the federal government neither owned nor had leased. Except for the stone guardhouse, the buildings had stone foundations, adobe walls, and dirt roofs. The troops quartered at the post were used for patrols, escorts, and scouts, largely against the Apaches. In 1882, after the Apaches had been defeated, the army began withdrawing the troops. The last contingent, a company of the Third Cavalry and two companies of the Sixteenth Infantry, commanded by Maj. George A. Purington, left on June 26–27, 1886.

By providing protection to travelers and settlers, a market for stockmen, irrigation farmers, and merchants, and employment for freighters, mechanics, and laborers, Fort Stockton promoted the establishment and development of a thriving community. Since their abandonment by the military, some of the officers' quarters have been used continuously for residences. In 1936 the state erected a marker at the site of the fort on the grounds of the Pecos County Courthouse .


Clayton W. Williams, Texas' Last Frontier: Fort Stockton and the Trans-Pecos, 1861–1895 (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1982). Clayton W. Williams, Never Again: Texas, 1848-1861 Volume 3 (San Antonio: Naylor, 1969).

Image Use Disclaimer

All copyrighted materials included within the Handbook of Texas Online are in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 related to Copyright and “Fair Use” for Non-Profit educational institutions, which permits the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA), to utilize copyrighted materials to further scholarship, education, and inform the public. The TSHA makes every effort to conform to the principles of fair use and to comply with copyright law.

For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml

If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.


The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Handbook of Texas Online, Ernest Wallace, "FORT STOCKTON," accessed August 03, 2020, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/qbf46.

Uploaded on June 12, 2010. Modified on January 11, 2018. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
visit the mytsha forums to participate

View these posts and more when you register your free MyTSHA account.

Call for Papers: Texas Center for Working-Class Studies Events, Symposia, and Workshops
Hi all! You may be interested in this call for papers I received from the Texas Center for Working-Class Studies at Collin College...

Katy Jennings' Ride Scholarly Research Request
I'm doing research on Catherine Jennings Lockwood, specifically the incident known as "Katy Jennings' Ride." Her father was Gordon C. Jennings, the oldest man to die at the Alamo...

Texas Constitution of 1836 Co-Author- Elisha Pease? Ask a Historian
The TSHA profile of Elisha Marshall Pease states that he wrote part of the Texas Constitution although he was only a 24 year-old assistant secretary (not elected). I cannot find any other mention of this authorship work by Pease in other credible research about the credited Constution authors...