Fort Sumner was established on November 30, 1862 and located in the Bosque Redondo on the east bank of the Pecos River. In 1863, 7,000 Navajos from Canyon de Chelly were forced to move there, where they were confined during a period of disastrous crop failures, until 1868. The post was then auctioned off. The other forts were mainly established in the mid-1800s, and were all abandoned by the mid-1890s.
The collection includes a portfolio of 18 handwritten documents, which pertain chiefly to the administration of Fort Sumner from 1863 to 1866. Other New Mexican army posts are represented by only one or two documents. These are Fort Stanton, Fort Union, Fort Marcy and Fort Cummings. The earliest document, 1851, concerns the military occupation of Santa Fe. The papers are mainly handwritten copies of reports from Boards of Survey and other officials concerning subsistence stores received. Quantities and weights of items are given and it’s noted if the overall condition is satisfactory or not. Items include building supplies like axes and nails and stationery supplies like paper, ink and sealing wax. More items included were groceries such as coffee, tea, sugar, bourbon, rye whiskey, bacon, beans and rice. Other necessities sent were soap and candles. Two documents specifically mention food for the Navajo: a shipment of corn and a shipment of beef cattle.