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 the new Fort Bowie on a spacious plateau to the east, where it functioned for another 26 years.