Fort Clark was established on June 20, 1852, at Las Moras Springs in Kinney County by companies C and E of the First Infantry under the command of Maj. Joseph H. LaMotte. The name Las Moras ("the mulberries") was given by Spanish explorers to the springs and the creek they feed. The site was long favored by Coahuiltecan Indians and later by the Comanches, Apaches, and other tribes. During the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries the big spring was a stopping place on the eastern branch of the great Comanche Trail into Mexico. In 1849 Lt. W. H. C. Whiting, during his reconnaissance for a practicable wagon route between San Antonio and El Paso, recognized its military potential and recommended the location as a site for a fort. The post was originally named Fort Riley in honor of the commanding officer of the First Infantry, but on July 15, 1852, at Riley's request, it was renamed in honor of Maj. John B. Clark, a deceased officer who had served in the Mexican War. A formal military lease for Fort Clark was made on July 30, 1852, when Lt. Col. D. C. Tompkins signed an agreement with Samuel A. Maverick, who owned the land, for a period not to exceed twenty years. The fort was strategically located as anchor to the cordon of army posts that had been established along the southwest Texas border after the Mexican War. The fort's purpose was to guard the Mexican border, to protect the military road to El Paso, and to defend against Indian depredations arising from either side of the Rio Grande. By November 1852 Fort Clark had two companies of the First Infantry under the command of Capt. W. E. Prince, and for the next three years officers of the First Infantry and Mounted Rifles served as post commanders.
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