By Judy Wade
A Texas flag flies proudly atop a high hill on the west side of Highway 283 between Throckmorton and Albany, welcoming you to what remains of the historic Fort Griffin.
In the 1800s, settlers streamed west to take advantage of land and opportunities in Texas and other western territories. This migration increased immensely after Texas’ statehood in 1845. After the Civil War, many Kiowa and Comanche people who had been forced onto reservations north of the Red River began returning to their homelands in West Texas. Settlers began demanding protection against these nomadic Indians.
The United States Army established a line of frontier forts, and as settlements pushed farther west, a second group was built including eight forts and one presidio. One of these was Fort Griffin.
July 31, 1867, Lt. Col. Samuel Sturgis and four companies of the 6th Cavalry arrived to begin establishing what was first known as Camp Wilson high on a plateau overlooking the Clear Fork of the Brazos River in north central Shackleford County. The name was soon changed to Fort Griffin.
If you think all forts are buildings surrounded by a stockade, you’ve been watching too many westerns on TV. Fort Griffin covers almost 100 acres with buildings widely scattered.
Of the more than 60 buildings at Fort Griffin, only six were constructed of stone. Among them were the administration building, bakery, sutler’s store and powder magazine, which sat a good distance from other buildings for safety purposes. The bakery and powder magazine have been reconstructed.
Other buildings were constructed of wood. The mess hall and some enlisted men’s quarters have been rebuilt. The kitchen and mess hall were located near the enlisted men’s barracks. In the mess hall, soldiers ate a limited diet of beef, bread and coffee. Dried beans, canned fruit and seasonal fruit and vegetables were added when available.
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