Camp Mayers Spring, located in southeastern Terrell County, about ten miles northeast of Dryden, Texas, served as a United States Army sub-post of Fort Clark from 1880 to 1884. The post was perched on a hilltop about a quarter mile from a reliable water source known today as Meyers Spring in Meyers Canyon. Meyers Spring had numerous spelling and name variations, including Meyer’s Spring and Myers Spring. Nearly all U.S. Army records call it Mayers Spring, Mayers Springs, Mayer’s Spring, or Painted Rock Springs for the numerous pictographs (see INDIAN ROCK ART) on the cliff near the spring.
Lt. John Lapham Bullis, who commanded the Black Seminole scouts from 1873 to 1882, bought the property in August 1877 from the Texas Western Narrow Gauge Railroad Company and allowed the army to occupy it as an outpost. He eventually leased the land to the Pecos Land and Cattle Company.
The U.S. Army developed an interest in Meyers Spring during Col. Benjamin H. Grierson’s 1879–80 campaign against the Mimbreño Chiricahua Apache leader Victorio, who was raiding in Mexico, New Mexico, and Texas. As a part of his field campaign, Grierson’s operational art was to guard and deny the West Texas waterholes necessary for Apache survival. Additionally, in 1880 the army wanted to protect a new road and mail route from the mouth of the Devil’s River to the Chinati Mountains through Camp Pena Colorado. The new route shortened the distance on the trip from San Antonio to Fort Davis. In the early 1880s the army remained at Camp Mayers Spring to guard the construction of the Galveston, Harrisburg, and San Antonio Railway line.
On September 3, 1880, Capt. Robert G. Heiner and twenty-nine soldiers of Company A, First Infantry, established Camp Mayers Spring as a sub-post of Fort Clark. During its four-year lifespan, one company of First Infantry, eight different troops of Eighth Cavalry, and the Black Seminole scouts all rotated duty at Camp Mayers Spring, usually for four to six months. According to the Fort Clark Post Returns, the Seminole scouts were stationed at Camp Mayers Spring four times: August–November 1881, under the command of Lt. Frank B. Jones; November 1882–May 1883, under Lt. John Guest and then Lt. Francis H. French; November 1883–February 1884, under Lt. Francis H. French; and finally April 1884 to its closing in July 1884, under Lt. John M. Cunningham.
Army records indicate Camp Mayers Spring had no permanent structures; the soldiers lived in tents. Apparently around 1882 in the center of the camp, they constructed a company kitchen in the form of a twenty-seven-by-eighteen-foot roofless, waist-high, mortared, double-course, cut limestone structure with a tall fireplace on one end. The structure may have had a canvas roof as was common among the field army. With waist-high stone walls and excellent fields of fire on all four sides, it would also have served very well as a fortified position to defend the camp. Cesario Torres of Langtry had a forage contract to supply Camp Mayers Spring with hay, corn, grain, and oats, which he, or his brother, delivered to the camp by wagon.
The troops had no combat engagements during the four-year lifespan of the post, but one Eighth Cavalry first sergeant committed suicide, and one trooper died of congestive fever. The outpost closed on July 16, 1884, when Texas Department Commander Brig. Gen. David S. Stanley ordered the abandonment of the sub-post and moved the troops to Langtry, Texas.