Established in 1867, along the banks of the Concho River, Fort Concho was built to protect frontier settlements, patrol and map the vast West Texas region, and quell hostile threats in the area. Constructed for the most part of native limestone, Fort Concho consisted of at least forty buildings and covered more than 1600 acres.
Fort Concho served as regimental headquarters for some of the most famous frontier units like the 4th and 10th Cavalry. Notable military commanders such as Ranald Mackenzie, Benjamin Grierson, and William 'Pecos Bill' Shafter commanded here. Elements of all four regiments of the Buffalo Soldiers were stationed at the post during its active period. At full strength Fort Concho supported 400-500 men made up of companies of infantry and troops of cavalry, staff officers and support personnel.
In June 1889 the last soldiers marched away from Fort Concho and the fort was deactivated. After almost twenty-two years Fort Concho’s role in the settling of the Texas frontier was over. Today, Fort Concho National Historic Landmark encompasses most of the former army post and includes twenty-four original and restored fort structures. The old frontier army post is now a historic preservation project and museum which is owned and operated by the City of San Angelo, Texas.
The Buffalo Soldiers at Fort Concho, 1869-1885
Created by an Act of Congress in 1866, the all-black regiments of infantry and cavalry represented a noted advance by African-Americans in the post-Civil War nation. Blacks had served in all American armies since the Revolutionary War, but these new units represented the first service in the nation’s “regular” peacetime military. At Fort Concho they served for most of this site’s active history and over time represented exactly half of the soldiers who were assigned to this post.
The “buffalo soldier” nickname stems from the warriors of the Great Plains who equated the black troops’ courage and dark matted hairstyle to that of their sacred buffalo. Thus, this compliment grew stronger and more prevalent after the Indian Wars era and is often used to describe any black troops of the 1866-1951 era when they served in these segregated units. Most of the officers were white, but several notable African American officers served in these units including Lt. Henry O. Flipper, the first black to graduate from the military academy at West Point. Flipper served at Fort Concho in 1880 before his transfer to Fort Davis.
This section of our web site will feature historic photos, articles, and illustrations of some original artifacts in our collection that relate to Buffalo Soldiers of Fort Concho and many other forts across the west. By and large, the men of the 24th and 25th Infantry Regiments and the 9th and 10th Cavalry Regiments served with distinction at this post and others west of the Mississippi. Fort Concho had units from all four regiments and it served as the regimental headquarters for the 10th Cavalry between 1875 and 1882.
Fort Concho, through its library/archives and collections cares for a wealth of resources that illustrate the life and times of these troops. Equally important and quite visible, the site’s twenty original and re-constructed buildings stand as a permanent tribute to their good service a century and a half ago.