I had not been back to the Grand Canyon to see friends since I had left January 1, 2018, so I decided to take a few days and make a little road trip before leaving Phoenix for Kings Canyon National Park to work for the season.
On the way to the Grand Canyon, I stopped off in Cordes Junction for lunch to see my friend Peggy that I worked with at the Grand Canyon, Desert View in 2017.
My next stop was Camp Verde to check out Camp Verde Historic Park – The fort consists of the original administration building, which is the main “museum” part and small gift shop. There are also three complete houses in “officers row” down one side of the parade ground…….the houses are accessible and decorated in the style of the period including the kitchen, living quarters and children’s room. There is also the army doctor’s quarters, which includes his “surgery” in the front room. The museum is well done giving you a good idea of life on the frontier and one of the only remaining Indian War time forts left in the West.
Settlers began migrating into the Verde Valley because of the mining industry in the early 1860s. The settlers grew corn and other crops with the hope of getting good prices from Prescott, which was the territorial capital, and from the miners. The rapid increase in the mining population disrupted the hunting and gathering environments of the local Tonto-Apache and Yavapai tribes so they started raiding the settlers for their crops and livestock. As the settlers fought back hostilities escalated and military protection was requested from the U.S. Army. The first military establishment was a temporary post overlooking the farms at West Clear Creek. In 1865, the next post, Camp Lincoln was established. In 1868 the name was changed to Camp Verde. The post was moved to its present-day site in 1871 due to the onset of malaria. In 1873 when construction was completed there were 22 buildings arranged around a parade ground which housed one company of cavalry and infantry (which only 4 survived until 1956). In 1878 the name was changed to Fort Verde and in April of 1890, the post was officially closed and sold at public auction in 1899. Over the following years, the community recognized the value of protecting and preserving this historic site and was established as a Historic State Park in 1970.
Commanding Officers Quarters
This one and a half story building consists of 10 rooms and is of the Second Empire architectural style with a mansard roof. Its outer walls are pise adobe construction covered with board and batten. Pise adobe is a technique of casting massive adobe in a temporary wooden form, similar to rammed earth. This was simpler and faster than making adobe bricks, and the resulting structure was less susceptible to water damage. The upper story is wood framed with dormer windows and a shingle roof.
Fort Verde’s commanding officer was typically the senior company captain. His monthly salary of $166.00 was enough for his wife to have gradually assembled the respectful household furnishings necessary to assume their roles in the center of military society.
Each permanent military command was required to have a physician. The post surgeon was allowed these rather spacious accommodations because patients were treated and surgery was performed here. The post-hospital was located at the northwest corner of the parade grounds and was operated by the hospital matron. It was used strictly for quarantine and convalescence. Many of the surgeons serving at Fort Verde achieved recognition as natural scientists. Doctors Mearns, Coues, and Palmer were but a few surgeons who made outstanding contributions to ornithology, botany, and archaeology during their service.
Administrative Building – Now houses the museum and small gift shop
Indian Scouts, Weapons, Uniforms
In 1871, General George Cook who had established himself as an Indian fighter was named commander of the Department of Arizona. He soon realized that his soldiers were no match for the fierce Apache that he was sent to subdue. He recruited from the reservation at Fort Apache about 50 men to serve as Apache Scouts, who played a key role over the next 15 years in the success of the army in the Apache Wars.
Eleven Arizona Indian Scouts were awarded Medals of Honor for their service between 1870 and 1892. The Medal of Honor is the highest award of bravery and gallantry given by the U.S. military. Between 1863 and 1904 it also was the only medal awarded for bravery.