Historic Structure Report
NPS Logo



Third Fort Union was designed by Captain John C. McFerran, Chief Quartermaster of the District of New Mexico, and revised somewhat by Captain Henry J. Farnsworth, Quartermaster of the Depot of Fort Union. The design was worked out in mid-1862, and construction began on a large storehouse and the Quartermaster Corral by September, 1862 (Oliva, "Frontier Army," pp. 547-48), although full approval of the new plans did not happen until November, 1862. The initial construction was completed by late 1867, but several areas were redesigned that year, and rebuilding was not complete until almost 1870. The fort was abandoned in 1891.

HSName and Use

Officers' Quarters (Third Fort Union, p. 25-28). Privies and other structures, such as coal and wood houses, stood in various places along the walls of the back yards. Some of these have been plotted on the maps, and traces of most of them are visible on the ground and in aerial photographs. A very simple archeological probing project would allow the location of virtually all these structures.

The coal houses were probably added after 1879, when the railroad reached Watrous and Las Vegas, making coal shipments feasible (Oliva, "Frontier Army," p. 605). Many of the fireplaces in the Officers' Quarters show signs of being closed up and stovepipes inserted, indicating that the buildings were converted from open hearth wood fires to coal-burning iron stoves about the same time.


Officers' Quarters (Third Fort Union, p. 25-28).


Officers' Quarters (Third Fort Union, p. 25-28).


Officers' Quarters (Third Fort Union, p. 25-28).


Commanding Officers' Quarters (Third Fort Union, p. 25-28).


Officers' Quarters (Third Fort Union, p. 25-28).


Officers' Quarters (Third Fort Union, p. 25-28).


Officers' Quarters (Third Fort Union, p. 25-28).


Officers' Quarters (Third Fort Union, p. 25-28).


Flagstaff (Third Fort Union, p. 30).


Company Quarters (Third Fort Union, p. 31-33).


Company Quarters (Third Fort Union, p. 31-33).


Company Quarters (Third Fort Union, p. 31-33).


Company Quarters (Third Fort Union, p. 31-33).


The first plan of the Fort Union Corrals and Stables was designed by John McFerran in late 1862; it was to be 390 feet deep, east to west, and 643 feet long, north to south, the same length as the set of four Company Quarters (HS-11 to 14) on its west side. Work on the Post Corral began in late 1866. By January, 1867, the western side of the compound was under construction, and at least the foundation trenches for the east side, and therefore probably the north and south sides, too, had been excavated, as shown by their clear presence on aerial photographs and ground inspection; however, the plan, although somewhat revised, was already considered inadequate. In May, 1867, a new plan of the Corrals and Stables was drawn by John Lambert under the direction of Captain Henry Inman, Depot Quartermaster, which added a number of rooms and extended the corral to a total depth of 445 feet. The Lambert and Inman redesign divided the Corrals and Stables into two equal sections; the southern half was the Cavalry Corrals and Stables, while the northern half was the Post Quartermaster Corral and Stables. Much of the new plan was built by the end of 1867 (see figure 17, p. 110). In 1875-76 the decision was made to add two companies to the garrison, and the various workshops, offices and storerooms of the Post Corrals were converted to barracks space for one of the companies.

HSName and Use

Company Quarters (Third Fort Union, p. 35-36). In the original plan of McFerran, these rooms were to be Commissary Stores and Quartermaster Stores. In the new plan, these rooms were a large privy and associated lime room, a coal storage room and adjacent blacksmith shop, a granary, a harness shop, and four offices for the Quartermaster Sergeant and Commissary Sergeant. When the row of rooms was converted to company quarters in 1875-76, the privy was converted to a kitchen, and the other rooms became a dining room, a squadroom, office and quarters for a first sergeant, and two storerooms.


Laundresses' Quarters (Third Fort Union, p. 37). In the original plan of the Corrals and Stables, there were sixteen laundress rooms on each side of the west gate of the corral, each about 16 feet long, north to south, and 21 feet wide, east to west. A revised version of this row was under construction but incomplete as of January, 1867; in this version, the laundress rows were broken by small gateways opposite and the same size as the gateways into the company quarters compounds west of them, reducing each row of laundresses quarters by two rooms. The Inman and Lambert plan of May, 1867, had ten rooms in each of two continuous rows (HS-16 and HS-23); this plan was built during the next few years. The laundresses quarters were largely completed by the end of 1867, and probably in use by early 1868. The laundresses were moved to these quarters from temporary housing in unused barracks in the redans of Second Fort (see HS-203; Oliva, "Frontier Army," pp. 575, 594).


Prison (Third Fort Union, p. 39). Added to the original design of the Corrals and Stables by Lambert in 1867. Construction finished in June, 1868.


Cavalry Corral and Stables (Third Fort Union, p. 41). Stalls for about 180 horses were originally intended to be located along the back, or eastern, edge of the corral complex by McFerran. The construction crews began work on the stables; the lines of the foundation trenches are clearly visible in aerial photographs. By January, 1867, the plan had been changed slightly, so that the guard house and two privies had been removed from the back row, and provision made for twenty extra stalls, making spaces for 200 horses. However, as of that date, the stables were still unfinished. Work was stopped when the new design was worked out, and construction began on the revised plan in late 1867. Inman and Lambert's design placed the stables in five parallel rows extending east to west from the back wall of the new complex, making space for 250 horses; however, a further change was made in the design, so that as built, the northernmost row, with spaces for 50 horses, was left off and the other four were shortened by three stable spaces each, so that their final lengths were 240 feet. The final plan provided spaces for only 188 horses.


Laundresses' Quarters (Third Fort Union, p. 43). This row of rooms was added to the McFerran plan of the Post Corral by Inman and Lambert. Originally intended as quarters for civilian employees, they were converted to laundresses' quarters during the addition of two companies to the post in 1875-76.


Wheelwright, Blacksmith, and Carpenter Shops (Third Fort Union, p. 45). This building was part of the Inman and Lambert redesign. It was completed probably in the summer of 1867, with the wheelwright shop squeezed into the spaces originally intended to hold only the blacksmith and carpenter's shops, because the wheelwright space was converted to the Post Chapel (see HS-21, below). The building was in disrepair and in use as a storeroom in 1885, and was torn down by 1889.


Chapel (Third Fort Union, p. 46). This room was to be the wheelwright's shop, according to the Inman and Lambert plan; it was, however, made the Post Chapel as of its completion in 1867. Its basement was to be used as a schoolroom for enlisted men and the children of those stationed at Fort Union. By 1869 the chapel was also used as the library. After 1872 the post chapel was moved to HS-25 for a period, and this room was thereafter known as the Library, although the chapel usage returned to the space occasionally over the remaining years of the life of Fort Union.


Guard House (Third Fort Union, p. 48). In McFerran's original plan, the guardhouse was two rooms at the back, or east, gate of the Corral; it was still shown at this location in 1866. By January, 1867, however, this location was shown as small storage or tack rooms for the stables. The redesign in May, 1867, relocated the guardhouse at the front, or west, side of the Corrals. The new building was completed in 1868.


Laundresses' Quarters (Third Fort Union, p. 50). See above, HS-16.


Bakery (Third Fort Union, p. 52). Originally the north end of the laundress's row was to be a room for coal and lime storage. The Inman and Lambert redesign placed the Bakery in the second room south, and the north room was to be the "Band Kitchen and messroom." An increasing demand for bread required the redesign of the Bakery in May, 1877 (Oliva, "Frontier Army," p. 672), when the original oven was rebuilt somewhat larger, and facing north into the northernmost room, which was changed from the Band kitchen and mess into the Bakery. The Band was moved to HS-25, below.


Company Quarters (Third Fort Union, p. 54). On the McFerran plan of 1862, this row of rooms was to be a storeroom, Mechanics' Shops, and a granary. The Inman and Lambert plan changed the usage of the area into two privies and a lime storage room, a granary, Commissary Stores with an issuing room, and Commissary and Quartermaster offices. The granary was subsequently divided and the east half became the Post Chapel about 1872, moved from HS-21. At the same time, the Depot quartermaster and commissary began supplying the Post, and the Post quartermaster and commissary operations were discontinued. These rooms of HS-25 became vacant. The Band used part of the building as barracks through 1875, but the entire row was remodelled in that year to provide quarters for a new company assigned to the Post. The Band quarters became the last few rooms on the east end of the row. By 1883 the building was in poor condition, and by 1889 it was used only for ordnance stores.


Quartermaster Corral and Stables (Third Fort Union, p. 56). The original McFerran design for the Stables did not include any mule stables in the plan. Inman and Lambert's design of May, 1867, provided four rows of stalls 160 feet long. Each stall was 20 feet wide and 15 feet deep, giving spaces for 32 mules. Only one of these structures was built in 1867-68, and was apparently changed to be a horse stable, with stalls about 9 feet wide and 15 feet deep, giving a total of 34 stalls in the single building. In 1872 four stalls and a carriage house 15 feet wide and 30 feet across were added to the end of the stable building, giving it a total length of 198 feet. This gave spaces for 38 horses. In 1875-76 a second stable building of the same length was added north of the first, approximately matching the original Inman and Lambert design, and making a total of 76 stalls for horses.

<<< Previous <<< Contents>>> Next >>>

Last Updated: 13-Feb-2006