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Texas Forts of the Old West - Page 8

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 Fort Maison RougeFort Maison Rouge (1817-1821) - The home and citadel of pirates Jean and Pierre Laffite, the block-long site was once armed with 36-pound cannons inside and a battery of 42-pounders outside. Jean Laffite's home was luxuriously furnished with booty from captured ships. The pirates; however were run out in 1821, but before leaving they burned their homes, buildings, and the fort itself, before sailing to Yucatan. What was left was destroyed by a hurricane in the 1800s. In 1870, a new structure was built over old cellars and foundations of Maison Rouge. today, that building, too, is in ruins. The site is designated by a Texas Historical marker. It is located in Galveston, Texas.


Fort Martin Scott (1848-1866) - Initially called Camp Houston, the post was one of the first federal forts on the frontier of Texas. Established in December, 1848 by Captain Seth Eastman and two companies of infantry, the post was located two miles southeast of Fredericksburg on Barons Creek. Its objective was to protect travelers and settlers along the Fredericksburg-San Antonio Road from Indian attacks. The post was renamed in December, 1849 for Major Martin Scott, who was killed at the battle of Molina del Rey in 1847. The German settlers who had established nearby Fredericksburg, had privately established a lasting treaty with the local Comanche Indians in 1847, but the treaty did not apply to settlers living outside the community.


Indians, who actively traded with the German settlers, were often involved in skirmishes as they traveled to and from the Fredericksburg. As more and more white families immigrated to and traveled through the region, it very nearly led to open warfare in 1850. To avoid this, several tribes, along withIndian agent, John Rollins, escorted by the Second Dragoons from Fort Martin Scott, met near the San Saba River. The meeting resulted in the Fort Martin Scott Treaty, which improved the situation enough to prevent open hostilities. In the next several years, it became less and less necessary to protect civilians from Indian attacks and the fort was closed in December, 1853. During the Civil War, the post remained unoccupied, but afterwards, in September, 1866 was filled again with federal troops under orders from General Philip Sheridan. The occupation was brief; however, and was abandoned by the end of the year.


In 1986, the Fredericksburg Heritage Federation began to develop the site into a park and reconstructed several of the buildings including the post commander’s quarters, six buildings of officers’ housing, sutler’s store and warehouse, laundry, bakery, hospital, three barracks, quartermaster’s warehouse, a stable with barn, and a blacksmith shop. The guardhouse, made of cut limestone, is the only surviving building from the original fort. The site is located two miles east of Fredericksburg on U.S. 290.


Fort Mason, TexasFort Mason (1851-1871) - In 1848, the government authorized a line of army forts from the Rio Grande to the Red River, one of which would later become Fort Mason. The site was located on Post Oak Hill near Comanche and Centennial Creeks in present-day Mason County. The fort was established in July, 1851 by Brevet Major Hamilton W. Merrill and two companies of the Second Dragoons. It was named for either Lieutenant George T. Mason, who was killed at Brownsville during the Mexican War, or for General Richard Barnes Mason, who died only a year before the fort was established. For the next decade, the post protected area settlers from Indian attacks and gradually drove the Kiowa, Lipan Apache, and Comanche farther away. During the Civil War, it passed into the hands of the Confederates. It was briefly operated as a prison camp in 1862, when the Confederate Army held more than 200 men -- mostly civilians accused of being Union sympathizers.


While the soldiers were busy fighting the war, the Indians returned in full force and attacks and raids on settlers became more common than at any time before. when the Civil War was over, Federal troops reoccupied the fort in December, 1866. The post was repaired and improved, and the soldiers tasked with not only fighting Indians but also the rampant lawlessness created by Reconstruction. However, by 1869, the fort was only marginally staffed with about 70 men. It was closed in March, 1869 and its some 25 buildings left vacant. The following year, when the State of Texas organized several companies of frontier forces, the fort was reoccupied under Captain James M. Hunter. The occupation lasted only a year, and in 1871, it was closed for the last time. The buildings and land were sold to private citizens and the rock buildings dismantled.



In 1975 a local group of citizens began reconstructing one of the officers' quarters at the site. The building sits on its original foundations and the rock used was from the original building materials of the fort. It is about five blocks south of the Mason County courthouse in Mason, Texas.

Fort McIntosh (1849-1946) - Founded on the banks of the Rio Grande at Laredo in 1849, right after the Mexican War, it policed the international boundary and defended settlers from hostile Apache and Comanche Indians.  Originally, it was named Camp Crawford, but renamed Fort McIntosh in 1850 in honor of Lieutenant Colonel James Simmons McIntosh, a Mexican-American War hero.


Federal troops abandoned the fort at the outbreak of the Civil War and was soon taking over by Confederates. The Battle of Laredo took place near the fort on March 19, 1864, when seventy-two men repelled three attacks from a force of 200 Federal soldiers.


On October 23, 1865, the post was re-occupied by federal troops of the 2nd Texas Cavalry, who relocated the fort ˝ mile down the river and erected a more conventional frontier post. In the late 19th century, Several African American units among them the Tenth Cavalry, known as "Buffalo Soldiers." were stationed at Fort McIntosh.


During World War I, the fort was used as a training base and continued in service through World War II.  The fort was deactivated in 1946, and the land is now part of the campus of Laredo Community College. The Laredo United States Army Reserve 340th Quarter Master Company is located within the fort.


The fort's complex of stone, brick, and frame buildings, are still used today. The newer buildings and the parade ground are near the entrance. Brick and frame officers' quarters line two sides of the parade ground, and two-story brick barracks a third. The older buildings are north of the parade ground. The guard house is now a warehouse, and the U.S. Border Patrol occupies the headquarters building. All that remains of the first fort, in the northwestern corner of the Fort McIntosh Reservation, are mounds of earth.


The site is located about 15 blocks west of downtown Laredo, via Victoria Street.


Fort McKavett (1852-1883) - When the troops arrived in 1852 to establish the post, it was first called Camp San Saba because it overlooks the headwaters of the San Saba River Valley. Numerous buildings remain at the site, some of which have been rebuilt or restored, and others in ruins. See full article HERE.


Fort Stockton (1859-1886) - Established to provide protection for the many travelers along the many trails in the area, the post was garrisoned until all threat of Indian attacks were over in 1886. Portions of the original fort as well as reconstructions still stand today. See full article HERE.



© Kathy Weiser/Legends of America, updated April, 2017.





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