Fort Mason (Texas)

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Fort Mason, Texas
Fort Mason Officer's Quarters
Fort Mason Officer's Quarters
Fort Mason, Texas is located in Texas
Fort Mason, Texas
Fort Mason, Texas
Location within the state of Texas
Coordinates: 30°44′25″N 99°14′52″W / 30.74028°N 99.24778°W / 30.74028; -99.24778Coordinates: 30°44′25″N 99°14′52″W / 30.74028°N 99.24778°W / 30.74028; -99.24778
Country United States
State Texas
County Mason
Time zone Central (CST) (UTC-6)
 • Summer (DST) CDT (UTC-5)
Area code(s) 325
FIPS code 48-[1]
GNIS feature ID [2]

Fort Mason was established on July 6, 1851, in present-day Mason County, Texas. It was named in honor of George Thomson Mason, a United States Army second lieutenant killed in the Thornton Affair during the Mexican–American War near Brownsville, April 25, 1846. At various times from 1856 to 1861, this was the home fort for Albert Sidney Johnston, George H. Thomas, Earl Van Dorn, and Robert E. Lee. The fort was abandoned by the military in the 1870s, and restored by a group of local citizens in 1975.[3] Visitors can tour the reproduction officers' quarters at the Fort Mason Museum.[4]

The fort is designated a Recorded Texas Historic Landmark in 1936, marker number 11275.[5]


Fort Mason, Texas, was established by the United States War Department as a front-line defense against Kiowa, Lipan Apache, and Comanche, on July 6, 1851. The site on Post Oak Hill near Comanche and Centennial Creeks was chosen by Lieutenant Colonel William J. Hardee and surveyor Richard Austin Howard.[6] Bevet Major Hamilton W. Merrill,[7] along with companies A and B of the Second Dragoons, established the fort itself. Originally part of Gillespie County, Mason County was named for the fort when it was established in 1858. Comanche chief Katemcy at one point turned over two white captives aged 11 and 12, and again bringing them back when the captives ran away from the fort to reunite with the Comanches.[8][9]

The fort was closed in January 1854, after which horse theft by Native Americans was reported and pursued by the military.[10] It was reoccupied in 1856 by Company A, First Dragoons, from March to May and was occupied by companies B, C, D, G, H, and I of the Second United States Cavalry from January 14, 1856, with Col. Albert Sidney Johnston in command.[11]:166 Among those in the Second Regiment of Cavalry before the Civil War, George H. Thomas, Innis N. Palmer, George Stoneman, R. W. Johnson, Kenner Garrard, and Philip St. George Cooke became generals for the Union Army, while those who became generals for the Confederate States Army included Earl Van Dorn, Nathan George Evans, Charles W. Field, William P. Chambliss, Charles W. Phifer, Fitzhugh Lee, E. Kirby Smith, Robert E. Lee, John Bell Hood, and William J. Hardee.[11]:165

Fort Mason was Robert E. Lee's last command with the United States Army.[12] In a letter dated January 23, 1861, Lee wrote:[13]

"I can anticipate no greater calamity for the country than a dissolution of the union. Secession is nothing but revolution."

Fort Mason was evacuated by federal troops on March 29, 1861, and reoccupied after the Civil War until 1869.


The Confederate States Army took control of Fort Mason on March 29, 1861. In 1862, the CSA held 215 men prisoner, who were transferred to Austin in 1862.[14]

United States Army reoccupation[edit]

The United States Army reoccupied the fort on December 24, 1866, under the command of General John Porter Hatch.[15] During this period, the fort was renovated with both civilian and military labor. Indian depredations had increased during the Civil War and were worse when the army returned. The Reconstruction era of the United States left its imprint on the fort's personnel, often leading to abandonment of duty and the resulting military discipline. By January 13, 1869, 25 buildings, either unoccupied or in poor shape, remained, with less than 70 soldiers. The order to close the fort was carried out on March 23, 1869. During 1870, the state of Texas organized several companies of frontier forces. Fort Mason was reopened in September of that year as headquarters for Companies A and B, Frontier Forces, under Capt. James M. Hunter, later county judge of Mason County.[16] The fort was closed for good in 1871.[17]


Mason citizens recycled material from the fort when building their own homes. A restoration of the fort began in 1975. Today, the fort belongs to the Mason County Historical Society.



  1. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on 2013-09-11. Retrieved 2011-05-14. 
  2. ^ "US Board on Geographic Names". United States Geological Survey. 2007-10-25. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  3. ^ "Fort Mason". Mason Chamber of Commerce. Retrieved 27 October 2014. 
  4. ^ "Fort Mason". Texas Forts Trail. Retrieved 27 October 2014. 
  5. ^ "Site of Fort Mason, Mason County, Texas". Texas Historic Landmarks. William Nienke, Sam Morrow. Retrieved 24 November 2010. 
  6. ^ Downing, Charles D; Swift, Roy L. "Richard Austin Howard". Handbook of Texas Online. Texas State Historical Association. Retrieved 24 November 2010. 
  7. ^ Bierschwale, Margaret. "Hamilton Wilcox Merrill". Handbook of Texas Online. Texas State Historical Association. Retrieved 24 November 2010. 
  8. ^ "Later from Texas". The New York Times. 11 December 1851. 
  9. ^ Rhoades, Alice J. "Mason County, Texas". Handbook of Texas Online. Texas State Historical Association. Retrieved 24 November 2010. 
  10. ^ "Late News from Texas". The Sydney Morning Herald. 23 December 1854. 
  11. ^ a b Neighbors, K.F., 1975, Robert Neighbors and the Texas Frontier, 1836-1859, Waco: Texian Press
  12. ^ "Texas Forts Trails". Texas Monthly: 72. June 1991. 
  13. ^ Inscoe, John C; Kenzer, Robert C (2004). Enemies of the Country: New Perspectives on Unionists in the Civil War South. University of Georgia Press. p. 208. ISBN 978-0-8203-2660-3. 
  14. ^ "Texas Escapes-Fort Mason, Texas". Texas Escapes – Blueprints For Travel, LLC. Retrieved 24 November 2010. 
  15. ^ Rocap, Pember W. "John Porter Hatch". Handbook of Texas Online. Texas State Historical Association. Retrieved 24 November 2010. 
  16. ^ "History Fort Mason (1851–1871)". Texas Forts of the Old West. Legends of America. Retrieved 24 November 2010. 
  17. ^ DeVos, Julius E. "TSHA-Fort Mason, Texas". Handbook of Texas Online. Texas State Historical Association. Retrieved 24 November 2010. 

External links[edit]