Since its original printing in 1952, the publication of the Handbook of Texas has been made possible through the support of its users. As an independent nonprofit, TSHA relies on your contributions to close the funding gap for the online Handbook and keep it a freely accessible resource for users worldwide. Please make a donation today to preserve the most comprehensive encyclopedic resource on Texas history. Donate Today »


Art Leatherwood

FORT EWELL. Fort Ewell was on the south bank of the Nueces River at the Nueces River crossing of the road from San Antonio to Laredo in what is now La Salle County. It was established on May 18, 1852, and was garrisoned by Companies E, G, and I of the regiment of Mounted Riflemen. Capt. John Smith Simonson was the commanding officer of the fort, which was named for Capt. Richard S. Ewell, a veteran of the Mexican War.

According to Col. W. G. Freeman's inspection report in June 1853 the fort was in a poor location. The river was seventy-five feet wide and only four feet deep, and it frequently overflowed its banks, covering the nearby bottoms and salt marshes and making the fort inaccessible. There was no suitable timber for construction within ten to fifteen miles, nor was there good grazing for the animals. The buildings had been constructed by troop labor of soft adobe, which was not strong enough to support a roof without bracing. Most buildings were covered with canvas. Attempts to grow kitchen gardens for food were unsuccessful due to lack of rainfall. Food and clothing were sometimes at a premium, and troops were often sick. For two years after July 1852 every officer and man was sick on the average of once every three months. Scurvy was frequent. Many soldiers deserted the fort and went to Mexico. In December 1853 the base was ordered abandoned, and in October 1854 it was deserted.

The post office for Fort Ewell continued to serve the area from the settlement of Guajoco, a mile from the old fort. By 1886, when the Fort Ewell post office was decommissioned, the community too had faded away.

Arrie Barrett, Federal Military Outposts in Texas, 1846–1861 (M.A. thesis, University of Texas, 1927). M. L. Crimmins, "W. G. Freeman's Report on the Eighth Military Department," Southwestern Historical Quarterly 51–54 (July 1947- October 1950). Annette Martin Ludeman, La Salle: La Salle County (Quanah, Texas: Nortex, 1975). Ray Miller, Ray Miller's Texas Forts (Houston: Cordovan, 1985).

Image Use Disclaimer

All copyrighted materials included within the Handbook of Texas Online are in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 related to Copyright and “Fair Use” for Non-Profit educational institutions, which permits the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA), to utilize copyrighted materials to further scholarship, education, and inform the public. The TSHA makes every effort to conform to the principles of fair use and to comply with copyright law.

For more information go to:

If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.


The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Handbook of Texas Online, Art Leatherwood, "FORT EWELL," accessed December 10, 2018,

Uploaded on June 12, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

Get this week's most popular Handbook of Texas articles delivered straight to your inbox