open: Tue.-Sun. 10am-4pm
tel: 512-782-5659

Brigadier General John C. L. Scribner Texas Military Forces Museum

The 45,000-square foot Texas Military Forces Museum explores the history of the Lone Star State’s militia and volunteer forces from 1823 (date of the first militia muster in Stephen F. Austin’s colony) to 1903 when the Congress created the National Guard. From 1903 to the present the museum tells the story of the Texas Army and Air National Guard, as well as the Texas State Guard, in both peacetime and wartime. The museum displays dozens of tanks, armored personnel carriers, self-propelled guns, trucks, jeeps, helicopters, jet fighters, observation aircraft and towed artillery pieces. Permanent exhibits utilize uniforms, weapons, equipment, personal items, film, music, photographs, battle dioramas and realistic full-scale environments to tell the story of the Texas Military Forces in the Texas Revolution, the Texas Navy, the Texas Republic, the Mexican War, the Battles along the Indian Frontier, the War between the States, the Spanish-American and Philippine-American Wars, World War I, World War II, the Korean War, the Cold War, Peace Keeping Deployments and the Global War on Terror. Living history programs, battle reenactments and other special events take place throughout the year. Admission to the museum is always FREE.

Donations

The Texas Military Forces Museum has embarked upon an ambitious Master Plan to bring our facility into the 21st Century. Phase 1 is complete, and we have started a Capital Campaign to raise 4 million dollars to complete the remaining phases of the master plan and create a 1 million dollar operational endowment to ensure the museum’s ability to continue to operate as a state-of-the-art institution well into the future.
We accept donations of time and artifacts as well!

Research

The library and archives are open by appointment for research to all members of the public. The museum maintains an incredible archive of various materials including:carrigan
  • World War I Service cards for every Texan who served
  • Extensive research library
  • World War II card file for the 36th Infantry Division
  • Thousands of original documents from the Texas National Guard from 1910 to the present day
  • Photo archive of pictures related to the Texas Military Forces


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The museum was proud to provide a jeep escort for Rowan to ride in on his journey today to join the Texas National Guard. We hope he had a wonderful, special day. ...

8-year-old Rowan Windham, who was diagnosed with a rare disease known as Shwachmann-Diamond Syndrome, which affects the pancreas, gi tract, immune system, blood and bone marrow, always dreamed of joining the military. Today, Rowan became an honorary enlistee in the Texas Military Forces, Texas Army National Guard. Congratulations Pfc. Windham!

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Tomorrow is the anniversary of the Battle of Glorieta Pass in 1862. From our exhibit on the New Mexico Campaign:

The Conquest of Arizona

Following the capture or removal of the Federal forces in Texas, Lieutenant Colonel Robert Baylor was sent to occupy the frontier forts abandoned by the U.S. Army. On May 1, 1861, the colonel led 350 men of the 2nd Texas Mounted Rifles out of San Antonio toward Fort Bliss, which he reached on July 1 after a difficult march through 700 miles of desert.

Just north of Fort Bliss, 600 Federal troops at Fort Fillmore, near the town of Mesilla, had orders to prevent a Confederate invasion of Arizona. On July 25, after Baylor marched 258 men from Fort Bliss to Mesilla in just 24 hours, the Yankees launched a half-hearted attack on the town, which the Rebels easily repulsed. The beaten Federals decided to abandon Fort Fillmore and withdraw 154 miles northeast to Fort Stanton.

The Federal withdraw was slow and Union troops suffered terribly for want of water. 200 Northerners fell behind and were easily captured. On July 27, the Rebels caught up with the enemy main body. Broken down by heat, thirst and exhaustion, 400 Yankees had no choice but to surrender. On August 1, Baylor proclaimed all of New Mexico south of the 34th Parallel to be the Confederate territory of Arizona and announced himself its governor.

Sibley’s Brigade

Even as Baylor’s campaign unfolded, President Jefferson Davis authorized Brigadier General Henry Sibley to recruit troops in Texas for the purpose of conquering the rest of New Mexico and extending the Confederacy westward to California. Between August and late October, 1861, three regiments were raised – the 4th, 5th and 7th Texas Mounted Volunteers – in addition to two batteries of artillery. On October 23, the lead elements of Sibley’s Brigade marched out of San Antonio, the remainder following in staggered formation over the next several weeks.

The Texan march, made across inhospitable terrain in the midst of bitter winter winds, cold and rain, was long and slow. The head of Sibley’s column reached Mesilla in late December but it was not until February that the entire force was in Arizona. Once the full column was at hand Sibley merged Baylor’s troops with his own to create the Army of New Mexico.

The Invasion of New Mexico

After Baylor’s victory at Mesilla, the Federals had abandoned forts Thorn and Stanton, leaving Fort Craig as the sole Union stronghold below the 34th Parallel. Since then, the only fighting that had occurred was between Confederates and the Apache Indians. With the addition of Sibley’s men, however, the Rebels now had the strength to march north. On February 7, 1862 Sibley moved toward Fort Craig with 2,500 men and three batteries of artillery.

Waiting for the Confederates were 3,800 Federal troops under the command of Colonel Edward Canby. The backbone of his force was 11 companies of the 5th, 7th and 10th U.S. infantry, two batteries of artillery, elements of the 2nd and 3rd U.S. cavalry, the well-drilled 1st New Mexico Infantry under Colonel Kit Carson and an excellent company of Colorado volunteers. The other half of his troops were barely trained militia of dubious battlefield value.

The Rebel movement toward the fort was difficult. A shortage of proper forage for horses and mules meant Sibley had to leave half his supply wagons behind. The animals that were taken north were weak and in poor condition. Both men and livestock suffered dreadfully for lack of water, the weather was bitterly cold and it snowed on several occasions. Nonetheless, by February 19th the Confederates were within striking distance of the fort.

The Battle of Val Verde

Canby expected the Confederates to besiege Fort Craig and attempt to starve it into surrender. But Sibley was short on supplies and unable to mount such an operation. Deciding to cut Canby’s line of communication with Fort Union, the Rebels swung around behind Fort Craig. Canby made a sortie with part of his force on February 20 but was easily foiled by the Texans. That night the Rebels moved six miles north with the goal of crossing the Rio Grande at Val Verde Ford, where they could get water and better position themselves for an attack on fort.

To their surprise, when the Texans moved on the ford they found a force of dismounted Yankee cavalry waiting for them on the east side of the river, with Federal infantry and cannon in position on the opposite bank. The battle that began at 8 a.m. in a light snowfall would last all day. Neither Canby or Sibley were present at the start – the former was bringing up reinforcements from Fort Craig, while Sibley, who suffered from chronic kidney stones, the pain of which he tried to lessen with alcohol, was incapacitated.

Both sides kept funneling men into the growing battle, but the North had the advantage for most of the day. Union troops armed with rifled muskets outranged the shotguns carried by most of the Texans. The Yankees also had better artillery and longer-ranged cannon. The Rebels managed to hold their own by sheltering in a dry riverbed, but suffered badly from enemy fire. Bullets and shells that missed Texan soldiers killed and wounded large numbers of horses and mules behind the lines. At 1 p.m. an attack by Yankee infantry was defeated. Trying to take advantage of this repulse a company of Texans lancers charged a unit of Colorado militia. The assault was brave but futile and the lancers were shot to pieces and routed.

Canby brought some of his artillery and more infantry over the river in preparation for an attack. At the same time Colonel Tom Green, assuming overall command of the Texans, concentrated 1000 men on the Confederate right flank for an attack of his own. Canby launched his assault first, crumpling the Southern end of Green’s line. Green responded by ordering parts of the 4th, 5th and 7th Texas to charge the artillery anchoring Canby’s left. The Texans surged forward on foot, laying down when the Yankee guns fired, then jumping up to continue the attack. In just 8 minutes they overran the battery. A Federal counterattack failed and Canby was forced to retreat back to Fort Craig. The victory at Val Verde cost the Confederates 150 wounded and 36 men as well as 1000 horses killed. The Federals lost 110 dead, 240 wounded and 35 missing.

“The marches show as much or more heroism than the battles.” – William Davidson, Quartermaster Sergeant, 5th Texas Mounted Volunteers

Apache Canyon and Glorieta Pass

Following Val Verde, Canby took shelter at Fort Craig and refused to surrender. Sibley decided to ignore the fort and march on Albuquerque and Santa Fe in hopes of capturing Federal supply depots for a continuation of the campaign. Canby did not follow and by mid-March Sibley had taken both towns. The Yankees destroyed the supply depots, but the local population proved friendly and the Southerners managed to find sufficient provisions. The conquest of New Mexico and Arizona seemed complete. In reality the Confederates, situated between two large Union forces – one at Fort Craig and another at Fort Union – were in a very dangerous position.

Having taken the Santa Fe, Sibley deployed a battalion at Apache Canyon to guard the southwestern exit of the Santa Fe Trail, which ran through a rugged mountain defile called Glorieta Pass – the only practicable approach to the town from Fort Union. Then he surrendered the initiative by pausing to rest and reorganize his command even as Federal reinforcements approached New Mexico from California and Colorado.

On March 26, the Texans guarding Apache Canyon were surprised by the 1st Colorado Infantry and defeated. 146 Texans were killed or wounded and 71 captured. The Federals lost 19 men. Both sides brought in reinforcements. On March 28 the Texans advanced and attacked the enemy at Glorieta Pass. In bitter fighting, the Rebels overran three successive Union positions, but during the battle part of the 1st Colorado got behind the Texans and destroyed 84 wagons full of supplies and killed or ran off 600 horses or mules. It was a devastating blow to Rebel hopes.

The Long Retreat

By concentrating at Glorieta Pass, Sibley allowed Canby to march north from Fort Craig and unite with the Federals at Fort Union. Badly outnumbered, his troops and animals worn out, short of ammo and supplies lost, Sibley was forced to retreat back to Texas. To escape Federal pursuit he led his men through the Magdalena Mountains back to Mesilla. The 80-mile march wrecked what was left of his command. In June 1862, the Texans, short on food, water, horses and wagons, began a 700 mile retreat to San Antonio. The withdrawal was an epic of misery and endurance. By September the last Texans were home and New Mexico was firmly and permanently in Union hands.

“The Territory of New Mexico is not worth a quarter of the blood and treasure expended in its Conquest.” – Brigadier General Henry H. Sibley
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Anyone out there familiar with "Where's George"? It is a website which tracks the circulation of American currency. When the museum gets a bill which has a "Where's George" stamp on it we enter the bill into the system and we can see where it has been. We then put it back in circulation and hope someone else who receives the bill will enter it online and see their bill has been at the Texas Military Forces Museum. A couple of weeks ago we received a bill in our donation box and entered it into the system only to find that it's first ( and only) entry was on December 1, 2003 at the Baghdad Airport in Iraq! This was during Operation Iraqi Freedom when US forces were in control of the airport. Saddam Hussein was captured just 12 days later. So this bill is a little piece of history as well. ...

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The Texas Military Forces Museum updated their cover photo. ...

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 a great shot of a tent city We’re on tumblr


Contact Us

Phone: 512-782-5659
Email: txmilmuseum@gmail.com
Mailing Address:
P.O Box 5218
Austin, Tx 78763

Come Visit

Here are detailed directions on how to get to the museum.

Living History/Reenactment

Nothing brings military history to life like hearing the sound of a machine gun, the boom of cannon, the rattle of musketry, the drone of aircraft engines or feeling the earth shake under you while a tank drives by. All of these experiences are available to visitors courtesy of the Texas Military Forces Museum Living History Detachment which conducts a series of battle reenactments, demonstrations, displays, parades and living history programs throughout the year to make history “come alive” for young and old alike.

The primary focus of the detachment is the 36th Infantry Division in World War II and the famous Texas Brigade during the War Between the States. However, the detachment also participates in World War I and Vietnam War events as well as other time periods.

The museum’s living historians travel around the country to take part in historic events, but the backbone of their schedule are three programs that take place on Camp Mabry each year: the Close Assault 1944 living history program which occurs over Memorial Day weekend and Veterans Day weekend and the annual Texas Military Forces Open House – Muster Day event during April.

To get involved with the museum’s living history program, check out the G Company brochure or The Civil War brochure.

To find out about upcoming events visit our events page.

From Our Newest Exhibit