While our physical offices are closed until further notice in accordance with Austin's COVID-19 "stay home-work safe" order, the Handbook of Texas will remain available at no-cost for you, your fellow history enthusiasts, and all Texas students currently mandated to study from home. If you have the capacity to help us maintain our online Texas history resources during these uncertain times, please consider making a 100% tax-deductible contribution today. Thank you for your support of TSHA and Texas history. Donate Today »


James B. McCrain

FORT WAUL. Fort Waul, located on Waldrip Hill, a high, wide hill on the northern edge of Gonzales in Gonzales County, is one of the few remaining Confederate earthwork fortifications in Texas. The fort was intended to be a supply depot for the Confederate Army in the Western Subdistrict of Texas, as well as a defensive post on the Guadalupe River. This site was chosen because of its central location between Austin, San Antonio, Houston, and Victoria. In addition, it is at the confluence of the Guadalupe and San Marcos rivers, both of which could be used to transport goods and supplies. Col. Albert Miller Lea, chief engineer for the Confederate Army, and Capt. H. Wickeland, topographical engineer, were responsible for the construction of the fort, which was designed to have outside walls eight feet high, four to six feet thick at the top, and twelve feet thick at the bottom. The entire compound was to have a defensive entrenchment, eight feet wide by four feet deep, surrounding it. A large, square bastion for cannons was to be situated on each of the four corners, with a redan in the middle of the western wall. The blockhouse was designed to be underground in the center of the fort. In December of 1863 Colonel Lea was instructed to use slave labor from the surrounding counties to aid in the construction, which continued throughout 1864. But as the threat of a Union invasion of Texas declined, so did the defensive need of the Gonzales post and its importance as a central supply depot. Construction had ceased by November of 1864, and the fort was soon abandoned. It had never been completed or officially named.

The unfinished fort fell into decay, and the stones from the blockhouse were used to rebuild the Gonzales College dormitory. Not until the late 1870s was the site named Fort Waul, in honor of Confederate general Thomas N. Waul, who had lived in the area. The city of Gonzales currently owns the site but has made no use of it. Most of the land has been put under the protection of the Gonzales County Historical Committee. The outer walls of the original fort and a portion of the defensive ditch along the western wall are still plainly visible. In 1991 an unofficial attempt was made to rebuild the northern portion of the fort.

Compiled Service Records of Confederate Soldiers Who Served in Organizations from the State of Texas, National Archives and Record Service, Washington. The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies.

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: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml

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, James B. McCrain, "FORT WAUL," accessed July 09, 2020, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/qcf25.

Uploaded on June 12, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
visit the mytsha forums to participate

View these posts and more when you register your free MyTSHA account.

Call for Papers: Texas Center for Working-Class Studies Events, Symposia, and Workshops
Hi all! You may be interested in this call for papers I received from the Texas Center for Working-Class Studies at Collin College...

Katy Jennings' Ride Scholarly Research Request
I'm doing research on Catherine Jennings Lockwood, specifically the incident known as "Katy Jennings' Ride." Her father was Gordon C. Jennings, the oldest man to die at the Alamo...

Texas Constitution of 1836 Co-Author- Elisha Pease? Ask a Historian
The TSHA profile of Elisha Marshall Pease states that he wrote part of the Texas Constitution although he was only a 24 year-old assistant secretary (not elected). I cannot find any other mention of this authorship work by Pease in other credible research about the credited Constution authors...