Fort Bliss, U.S. army post, 1,122,500 acres (454,300 hectares), W Tex., E of El Paso; est. 1849 and named for Col. William Bliss, Gen. Zachary Taylor's adjutant in the Mexican War. Originally strategically located near the only ice-free pass through the Rocky Mts., it guarded the U.S.-Mexican border and protected West-bound gold seekers from hostile Native Americans; task forces against Cochise and Geronimo were based there. The fort's location has changed several times as a result of flooding; its present site, on a mesa, was established in 1890. In 1916, post commander Gen. John J. Pershing led an unsuccessful expedition into Mexico to catch the bandit Francisco (Pancho) Villa. Fort Bliss is now the Army Air Defense Center, training missilemen, artillerymen, and air-defense units.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.