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Ruidoso, New Mexico

Fort Stanton

Fort Stanton's cemetary

The history of a marine hospital in the middle of New Mexico
Fort Stanton was named for Captain Henry W. Stanton who helped lead an expedition against the Apaches in January of 1855 near the Rio Penasco, or modern day Mayhill, where he was led into an ambush and killed by the Mescalero Apaches along with twelve of his men. The name Fort Stanton was only meant to be a temporary designation, which obviously was never changed.

With Confederate advancement and overtake of Fort Fillmore, Captain B.S. Roberts, who was at the time in charge of Fort Stanton, ordered that Fort Stanton be abandoned and burned down to ensure that the Confederate forces would not overtake them as well, thus gaining the materials that Fort Stanton had to offer them. Unfortunately for Roberts, a New Mexico gully washer came in behind the retreating forces and put the fire out, allowing local Hispanoes, and Apaches to salvage all that the semi- destroyed fort had to offer. Roberts' plan was not a complete failure however, since their materials ultimately did not fall into the hands of the Confederate forces. When the Confederate troops arrived at Fort Stanton, they were met in the ruins by Indian forces. Fighting broke out immediately. Although the Confederates were able to gain to control of the fort, the single company stationed there was unable to control the Mescalero Apaches who ultimately forced the troops to abandon the fort. With the Confederate failure to take New Mexico, Indian raids abated, and the U.S. Army was able to re-occupy Stanton under the command of Colonel Kit Carson. At this time, Fort Stanton


was considered a very good post, with excellent living conditions. By the time of the Lincoln County wars, "gold fever" in the area was at its height, and many of the soldiers spent their spare time prospecting and hunting in the nearby mountains. Fort Stanton also served as a training ground for generals in the Spanish - American War and World War I. General Pershing started his first tour of duty there after he graduated from West Point. In 1899 the fort was transformed into the Marine Hospital Tuberculosis Sanatorium, under executive orders.

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