Fort Bowie, AZ

We went out to Fort Bowie for the Centennial of the U.S. Park Service. B Troop was there and we hiked in and around the fort. Fort Bowie was founded in 1862 by the California Column and name for one of their officers. Old Fort Bowie is on a hilltop above Apache Spring and was there to guard this important water source where the Battle of Apache Pass was fought for possession.

Fort Bowie 010Remains of the stone Overland Mail Stage Station where Lieutenant George Bascom held off Cochise for 14 days in 1861. The walk in to the fort is full of history.

Fort Bowie 011Nicholas Rogers was killed in April 1876 by Apaches. This incident led to the closing of the Chiricahua Reservation and the movement of Cochise’s Apaches to San Carlos. From the cross I learned that Rogers was a member of the Grand Army of the Republic and fought for the Union in the Civil War. He partnered with Tom Jeffords on the mining claim known as the Brunckow, which is known as Arizona’s Murder House on Charleston Rd. He ran the Sulphur Springs Stage Station which was a ‘sporting’ venue for soldiers from Fort Bowie. He made the mistake of selling whiskey to Apaches and then refusing to sell them more and paid for it with his life.

Fort Bowie 013O.O. Spence was Nick Rogers partner and died with him at Sulphur Springs. Spence was award the Medal of Honor after the Battle of Turtle Mountain in 1869 the day 32 MOH were awarded.

Fort Bowie 016Three soldiers of the California Column buried together.

Fort Bowie 018Colonel John Finckle Stone with four infantrymen and a driver was killed in September 1869 when Cochise ambushed a stage, actually a buckboard carrying mail, near Dragoon Springs Station. Stone Ave. in Tucson is named for him. He was in his 20s. He had a mining operation near Fort Bowie. His murder led to a month long pursuit of Cochise that ended in the Battle of Turtle Mountain where so many MOH were awarded. Of this action, Cochise said: “I’ll never raid the mail again. It just ain’t worth it.” Or words to that effect.

Fort Bowie 022Tom Jeffords’s fourth, and last, Apache agency. It’s believed that this was original built as John Finckle Stone’s mine headquarters.

Fort Bowie 025Helen’s Dome. Named for an Army wife’s most prominent feature.

Fort Bowie 026Old Fort Bowie from 1862.

Fort Bowie 033 Fort Bowie 035a Fort Bowie 040 Fort Bowie 049 Fort Bowie 053Fort Bowie 070The old cavalry barracks. When the post was abandoned in 1896 local ranchers claimed the windows, doors, and roof beams leaving the adobe to deteriorate. Wooden structures went completely.

Fort Bowie 072Geronimo and Naiche stood near this spot after their surrender in 1886.

Fort Bowie 096Fort Bowie

Fort Bowie 121Inside the Sutler’s store. Sydney DeLong was the sutler, trader. The store included storerooms, a trading room, officer’s club and officer’s billiard room, and enlisted bar.


About dhocking

Doug Hocking is an independent scholar who has completed advanced studies in American history, ethnology and historical archaeology. He grew up on the Jicarilla Apache Reservation and attended school among the Indios and paisanos of the Rio Arriba (Northern New Mexico). He retired from the military as an armored cavalry (scout) officer. His novels immerse the reader in the times, terrain and cultures of 19th century New Mexico. Doug lives near Tombstone with his wife, dogs and a feral cat. He writes both fiction and history and is currently working on a biography of Tom Jeffords and has two historical novels in print: Massacre at Point of Rocks and Mystery of Chaco Canyon. His articles have appeared in True West, Wild West, Buckskin Bulletin and Roundup.
This entry was posted in 19th Century Army, Bascom Affair, Battle of Dragoon Springs, Butterfield Overland Mail, Chiricahua Apaches, Cochise, Dragoon Springs, Geronimo, Tom Jeffords. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Fort Bowie, AZ

  1. Jerry Kelly says:

    Nice summary and photos Doug! Our ranch ( the old Shafer place) is a mile North of the Fort.I have learned a lot about the area thanks to running about with the Fort historian/head honcho Larry Ludwig…..If you are ever out this way drop by.Our little bedroom house basement may be the first dwelling in the area…used to store the collected honey from a mile east just past little immigrant canyon…..still see the gun ports in the walls! Jerry

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