Monday, February 20, 2017

Texas Border Outposts: Part One

I just got these award badges from the Paranormal Romance Guild and MUST share them with you. thanks to everyone who voted for Decoding Michaela!


Now for Texas Forts!
Texans have long fought border wars of one kind or another. Early settlers often fought for their lives on their own, but later they came to depend on military forces for protection. The soldiers needed a home base where they could live and train for battle. Their posts, with the grand name of "Fort," were often sorry affairs at first, but they formed a line of defense against Indian raiders and Mexican troops.

A few individual Texas forts have been featured on Sweethearts of the West in the past. Today, I’d like to lay out for you the progression of forts across the state as pioneers moved west into country formerly home to the Comanche, Kiowa and Apache tribes.

The first to erect forts were the Spaniards, who built missions and towns in south and southeast Texas. They protected their settlements with walled fortresses (presidios.) Most famous was San Antonio, once called Bexar, with its legendary Alamo.

However, as more and more American colonists flooded in, they established far-flung ranches and small towns that were vulnerable to Indian attack. Formal military protection didn’t exist at first, and colonists had to protect themselves as best they could. This is why the Texas Rangers originally came into existence.

Some early colonists built their own forts. One example is Fort Parker, established in 1834 near the Brazos River by Reverend Daniel Parker and his followers. Fort Parker is infamous because of a Comanche raid in 1836 that resulted in many deaths and the abduction of several white women and children. Among them was 9-year-old Cynthia Ann Parker who grew up to marry Chief Peta Nacona and give birth to Quana Parker, last of the Comanche chiefs to surrender.

Fort Parker; public domain, Wikipedia commons

During and shortly after the Mexican-American War (1846-48) U.S. forts were built along the Rio Grande River. Oldest of these was Fort Brown, sometimes called the “Grande Dame” of Texas Forts. Established in 1846 across from Matamoros, Mexico, it was named after Major Jacob Brown, who died there after losing a leg to Mexican artillery. Fort Brown remained in service for almost a century.

Siege of Fort Brown; Wikipedia commons; public domain

From 1848 to 1849, a chain of forts were built between the Rio Grande and north Texas to ward off attacks by Comanche, Kiowa and their allies. First, several companies of state militia were assigned to temporary camps. These were Connor’s Station in southern Navarro County, Ross’ Station on the North Bosque River, likely in McLennan County, McCulloch’s Station on Hamilton Creek in present day Burnett County, Medina Station in Medina County, Fredericksburg in Gillespie County, and in Austin, where two companies were stationed.

These camps proved woefully inadequate to protect settlers, prompting the United States Army to build the first forts manned by federal troops. They are as follows:

n      Fort Worth on a bluff above the confluence of the Clear Fork and West Fork of the Trinity River, giving rise to the city of Fort Worth (where I live)
n      Fort Graham on the east bank of the Brazos River in Hill County
n      Fort Gates on the north bank of the Leon River in Coryell County
n      Fort Croghan on Hamilton Creek in Burnett County
n      Fort Martin Scott in Gillespie County, 2 miles south of Fredericksburg
n      Fort Lincoln on the west bank of Seco Creek in Medina Cnty.
n      Fort Inge on the east bank of the Leona River in Uvalde Cnty.
n      Fort Duncan on the east bank of the Rio Grande at today’s Eagle Pass

Also in 1849, the Army erected Fort Bliss in far west Texas, where El Paso now stands. to defend against the Apaches. More posts were built on Texas’ southern border: Fort McIntosh at Laredo and Fort Ringgold (or Ringgold Barracks) at Rio Grande City (also called Davis’ Landing.)

Next month, I will talk about the second line of defensive forts as settlers move ever westward across Texas.


  1. Lyn, what an interesting post. I look forward to next month when you explain further.

  2. Thank, Caroline. I had planned to add the next phase of forts to this post but decided to split it up because I need to make another map (from old ones on the net) showing the second line of defense. It takes quite a while!

  3. Thank you Lyn for the informative post. I too look forward to the next installment.

  4. My pleasure, Gini. Thank you for stopping by. I appreciate you taking time to read and comment on my post.

  5. Great post, Lyn. I take particular interest in historical forts since I was born in Kearney, Nebraska named after Ft. Kearny (spelling did not have the "e" back then). I also researched forts for my first historical book. Look forward to next month's installment.

    1. Cool, Cheri! I hope at least part of Fort Kearny is still standing and that you got to visit it. Thanks for dropping in.

  6. Wow, you've written a huge amount of information here, none of which I knew prior to your post. After I read your list of forts, I realized each fort was at some river. Until I saw that similarity, I hadn't been aware of the need to build a fort near a water source--how silly is that? I enjoyed reading about this chuck of history and how all these forts were named.
    Marvelous post, Lyn. I'd also like to congratulate you on your 2 awards from the Paranormal Romance Guild for best novel and best series. Awesome!

    1. Sarah, I never thought about where soldiers got water either. Building the forts near a river makes sense. Good to know for future books, right?

      Thank you! The PRG has long been one of my favorite sites for reviews because of the paranormal elements in my stories. Linda Tonis is the person who usually reviews my books. She has often given them 5 stars, and is the one who places them in the contest. (I assume.) Bless her!

  7. Also congrats on your awards, you had my votes!

    1. Thanks, Cheri. Your votes helped a lot.

  8. Wow--congratulations, Lyn! I know you're pleased and we are proud of you, too.
    I like the topic of forts in Texas. I knew about many of them, but had never seen a map showing the locations. That really showed the forts presented a good line of defense.
    I was born in Palo Pinto County, near Parker County. Our family has relatives in the Parker County Cemetery.
    Fort Parker, I believe, would be the one that is most well-known.
    Thanks so much for adding your award to your post--I'm jealous!

    1. Thank you, Celia! Maybe Decoding Michaela will start to sell a little more now. I hope! I'm jealous of those whose books really sell.

      Parker County is just west of Fort Worth, as I'm sure you know. I've been out that way several times, hope to go to the peach festival one of these years.


Thank you for visiting Sweethearts of the West!