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Highlands Ranch High School - Mr. Sedivy
Highlands Ranch, Colorado

Colorado History

- Colorado History -
Fort Union

By David Sedivy

Sumner - Ninth Military Department
Sumner arrived in Santa Fe on July 19, 1851. His first act as commanding officer was to "break up the post at Santa Fe, that sink of vice and extravagance, and to remove the troops and public property to this place (Fort Union). I left one company of Artillery there... These evils are so great that I do not expect to eradicate them entirely until I can bring the troops together in considerable bodies..."4 Sumner believed that removing all the troops from town would improve discipline and moral. Sumner resented the townspeople of Santa Fe living in one way or another at government expense. He was determined to cut back the waste in government spending.

Fort Union
Fort Union, New Mexico Territory. In fifteen years, $40,000,000 was spent
keeping the Plains Indians under control and the Santa Fe Trail open.

The Ninth Military Department under command of Sumner first arrived at what would later be called Fort Union on July 26, 1851.5 Sumner began construction at a strategic location five miles from the Rio Mora on El Arroyo del Coyote near the Turkey Mountains. The sight was six miles north east of the confluence of the Cimarron and Mountain routes of the Santa Fe Trail, twenty-six miles from Las Vegas, and eighteen miles from Mora.6 One army summary stated that "the location was on the line of the great traveled route to Santa Fe, with a view to the protection of passing wagon trains and the isolated settlements from the Apaches who roamed over the wide district of country to the east and south".7

Temporary Buildings
When the army moved into the area of Fort Union in 1851, the first order of business was the construction of temporary shelters while the construction of the more permanent shelters could be made. A report prepared in August, 1851 summarized the resources of the area. Corn and hay were available for purchase, and the grazing around the post was very good during the summer and fall.

The report noted:
There is sufficient building materials near the post for all purposes, consisting of a very fine white sand stone, clay for bricks and adobes and pitch and spruce pine in the mountains from 9 to 30 miles of the post. All other articles required for building would have to come from the east, as they are not produced by this department... The greatest objection to this point as a military post is the want of running water for stock... The usual and only transportation used here are wagons, carts, and pack mules.8

Despite various Army regulations that governed building construction in the late 1800s frontier army construction was rag-tag at best. As one historian pointed out, the only thing uniform about the army in the ninetieth century was its uniform.9 With fall and winter approaching construction of quarters was the first priority. The new occupants lived in army tents while buildings were under construction. The rough, unpeeled log buildings went up slowly.

Progress Report
By December 1851, the quarters were still short of completion, but the availability of boards for roofs and floors had improved.

Hopkins Sibley
Hopkins Sibley

A progress report from Major Sibley noted:
The quarters for one company and the hospital are competed except the glazing of the windows, and the hanging of the doors. I am now busily occupied in sawing the lumber necessary to cover the other soldiers quarters. The officers quarters are all covered and, with a few exceptions, floors are laid in one room of each set and the quarters are occupied by officers and their families.10

Fort Union in 1857
Drawing of Fort Union soon after the military post was established.
This illustration appeared in "El Gringo" or New Mexico and Her People in 1857.

The First Fort Union
By April 1852, Sibley reported to his superiors that with the exception of a few shops and a storehouse, all of the buildings had been erected and were in a relatively habitable condition. By September 1852, the first Fort Union was operating efficiently.11

Fort Union
| The Sante Fe Trail and Fort Union |
| Sumner - Ninth Military Department / The First Fort Union |
| Early Arrivals to Fort Union, Daily Life at Fort Union |
| Captain Grover - The New Fort Union, the Confederate Threat |
| Fort Union Arsenal, William Shoemaker, End of Fort Union |
Bibliography is available by email request.

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- Colorado History In Depth -
Lecture Notes, Reading, and Information:

| The Cheyenne Migration to Colorado |
| The Gratlan Affair, Massacre, Fort Laramie Treaty |

The Cheyenne Social Club
| A Cheyenne War Story: Wolf Road, the Runner |
| Cheyenne Traditions and Beliefs, Sacred Stories |
| Horses, Warriors, War Pipe, Sweatlodge Ceremony |
| Cheyenne War Parties and Battle Tactics |
| The Scalp Dance and Other Cheyenne Dances |

Americans from the East
| Thomas Jefferson, the Louisiana Purchase |
| The Expedition of Zebulon Pike |
| Pikes Peak or Bust / Colorado Gold Rush |

Colorado's Role in the US Civil War
| The Civil War, Fort Wise / Fort Lyon |
| Mace's Hole, Colonel Canby, F.C.V.R. | Fort Weld |
| The Pet Lambs, John Chivington |
| General Henry Sibly, Battle of Valverde, Fort Union |

Cripple Creek District Labor Strikes
| The Western Federation of Miners / State Militia |
| The 1893 - 1894 Strike | The Strike of 1903 - 1904 |
| The Mine Owners Association |
| Crimes and Military Rule in the Cripple Creek District |
| Marshall Law in Cripple Creek District / End of the Strike |
Early Cripple Creek District
| Photos, Fire, and Life in Cripple Creek |
| Other Colorful Towns in the Cripple Creek District:
Gillett - Colorado's Only Bullfight, Victor, Independence
| A Guide to the Miners' Gritty Lingo |

More Colorado History Information
| Bent's Fort Photos, Personalities, Plans, and More |

| What Was Easter Like at Bent's Fort? |
| Colorado Trivia, Miscellaneous Old Photos,
Western Personalities, Forts, and More

| Lullabies for Jittery Cows - Cowboy Ballads |
| Heraldry of the Branding Iron |
| Project Aims to Clear Infamous Cannibal, Alferd Packer |
Lead Gives Alferd Packer's Story More Weight |
| Legendary Colorado Love Stories: Baby Doe Tabor & More |
| Colorado Pioneer Women: Elizabeth Byers |
| Early Denver Jokes / The History of April Fools' Day |

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Highlands Ranch High School 9375 South Cresthill Lane Highlands Ranch, Colorado 80126 303-471-7000

Mr. Sedivy's History Classes
| Colorado History | American Government | Advanced Placement Modern European History | Rise of Nation State England | World History |
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