A New Blog: Fort McRae
Fort McRae served travelers along the dangerous Jornada del Muerto for 13 years. The Post was the only protection from the Apache who frequently would try to raid the Fort. "Jornada del Muerto" means 'Journey of the Dead'...this road ran from Dona Ana and extended over the country adjacent to the San Diego, Caballo and Fra Cristobal Mountains. Everyone feared any journey over this road.
For many years, Fort McRae was the final resting place of Corporal Frank Bratling, a recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor. Corporal Bratling was tracking Indians who had stolen livestock from a local ranch. As he was kneeling to take aim, he was shot through the heart and died instantly. The Corporal was pronounced dead, July 14, 1873 and was buried at the Post that day. Until 2001, it was presumed that his remains were still interred at the fort. In November 2001 a document was identified in Washington D.C. that ordered the relocation of the Fort McRae cemetery to Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. The order was signed by President Grant in 1886. Bratling's Medal of Honor was one of only 18 earned in the Territory/State of New Mexico.
In addition to the importance of having had a Medal of Honor recipient buried at the site, the fort was also garrisoned by companies of African-American infantry (38th and 125th) and cavalry (9th). The important efforts of these pioneer soldiers has become legendary, as they have come to be referred to as "Buffalo Soldiers".
My thanks for the above information from a thesis by Matthew A. Sterner and an essay taken from "Fort McRae", New Mexico State Register of Cultural Properties, July 2002.