Monday, May 11, 2009

Ft. Stanton Cemetery

Hi, We took a drive yesterday, and visited the merchant marine cemetery up at Ft. Stanton, up in the Sacramento Mountains between Ruidoso and Capitan. Ft. Stanton is an old fort that began in 1855 and has had many lives. It began as a fort to protect the settlers against attacks from the Mescalero Apaches. It later became a Union fort, and briefly for a few weeks, a Confederate fort. It housed many famous people. Lew Wallace, the territorial governor of NM wrote part of his famous book Ben Hur at the fort. He also was involved with the Lincoln county war and Billy the Kid. Kit Carson and the Buffalo Soldiers were stationed here as well as John J. "Blackjack" Pershing. It is a fascinating fort and worth the visit. The fort later became a hospital for TB and sanitorium. The Cemetery is what attracted my attention as it is a Merchant Marine Cemetery with headstones from WWI and WWII. They were brought here with TB for the dry climate. I wonder how these men felt so far from any home or ocean and the arduous journey that brought them here. The survivors from the German Luxury liner Columbus that Hitler ordered scuttled were brought here and held at Ft. Stanton which became the first internment camp on US soil. There are a few lonely graves off to themselves for those men. In recent years local veterans have been allowed to be buried here along with the merchant marines.

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