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The future Fort Lancaster is established

August
20
1855

On this day in 1855, Camp Lancaster was established. The camp became Fort Lancaster on August 21, 1856, and was commanded by Capt. Steven D. Carpenter. It was first manned by companies H and K of the First United States Infantry. Its mission was to protect the lower road from San Antonio to El Paso. The soldiers escorted mail and freight trains, and pursued marauding Comanches and Mescalero Apaches. The Butterfield Stage began using the lower road in 1859. Federal troops were removed in 1861, after secession. During the Civil War the fort was occupied by Walter P. Lane's rangers. After the war it was reoccupied in 1871 by a company of infantry and a detachment of cavalry. The original camp was constructed of picket canvas and portable Turnley prefabricated buildings. When it was abandoned in 1873 or 1874 all the buildings were of stone or adobe. Subsequently much of its masonry was used for buildings in Sheffield. The site of old Fort Lancaster was deeded to Crockett County in 1965 and donated to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department in 1968. Archeological exploration had located many of the original buildings, and many artifacts have been recovered. Much of this material is displayed at the visitors' center at Fort Lancaster State Historical Site. The state yielded management of the fort to Texas Rural Communities, Inc., in 1993.

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