“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Near Bowie in Cochise County, Arizona — The American Mountains (Southwest)

First Fort Bowie

The First Fort Bowie Marker image. Click for full size.
By James Nuti, March 14, 2011
1. The First Fort Bowie Marker
Inscription. To your right, a spur trail follows a military road 300 yards to the first Fort Bowie ruins.

On July 28, 1862, a 100-man detachment of the 5th California Volunteer Infantry began construction of the primitive fort, completing it two weeks later. A four-foot-high stone wall surrounded a collection of tents and a stone guard house. The camp was named after Col. George Washington Bowie, the 5th Infantry commander.

General James Carleton, commander of the Department of New Mexico, ordered the fort commander

to attack the Comanches whenever he finds them near his post, to escort all trains and couriers through the pass and well out into the mesa, and to take the liberty of sending out detachments strong enough to give protection to soldiers and killing when he deems it wise to do so.

The Apaches no longer controlled Apache Spring, but they continued raiding and killing travelers not escorted by the military. During the first fort's six-year history, sporadic patrols pursued the elusive Apaches with little success.

It was an undesirable duty post. Isolation, bad food, sickness, crude quarters, and the seldom-seen but ever-present Indians led to low morale and frequent troop rotation.

In 1866, regular soldiers relieved the Volunteers and, in 1868, finished construction of
View of the Foundation Ruins of the First Fort Bowie image. Click for full size.
By James Nuti, March 14, 2011
2. View of the Foundation Ruins of the First Fort Bowie
the new Fort Bowie on a spacious plateau to the east, where it functioned for another 26 years.
Erected by National Park Service.
Location. 32° 8.632′ N, 109° 26.478′ W. Marker is near Bowie, Arizona, in Cochise County. Marker is on Apache Pass Road. Click for map. Markers are located along the trail at the Fort Bowie National Historic Site. From Bowie, Az. drive south from the intersection of I-10B and Apache Pass Rd to the trail head (approximately 8 miles) or from Willcox, AZ drive southeast for 20 miles on State Road #186 to the Fort Bowie turn off, then drive another eight miles on the unpaved road to the Fort Bowie Trailhead. Be prepared to walk the three miles round trip to the ruins and back. Marker is in this post office area: Bowie AZ 85605, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 13 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Post Cemetery (approx. half a mile away); The Bascom Affair / Bascom-Cochise Meeting Site (approx. 0.6 miles away); The Ericksons: Pioneer Settlers (approx. 9.9 miles away); Erickson Family Cemetery (approx. 9.9 miles away); Faraway Ranch (approx. 10.2 miles away); Fort Bowie
The Trail to Fort Bowie Marker image. Click for full size.
By James Nuti
3. The Trail to Fort Bowie Marker
The marker is located just below the parking area on Apache Pass Road. Fort Bowie is 1 1/2 miles from this point.
(approx. 12.8 miles away); Old Fort Bowie (approx. 12.8 miles away); Centennial of Chiricahua Apache/U.S. Cessation of Hostilities 1886 (approx. 12.9 miles away). Click for a list of all markers in Bowie.
Regarding First Fort Bowie. See "Nearby Markers" Fort Bowie and Old Fort Bowie for additional information.
Also see . . .  Old Fort Bowie. The online Arizona Handbook offers a short history of the fort as well as information on visiting the area. (Submitted on April 27, 2011.) 
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by James Nuti of Bisbee, Arizona. This page has been viewed 736 times since then and 104 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on , by James Nuti of Bisbee, Arizona. • Syd Whittle was the editor who published this page. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.
Editor’s want-list for this marker. Wide area view of the marker and its surroundings. • Can you help?
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