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FORT ANAHUAC

FORT ANAHUAC. Fort Anahuac is located in a Chambers County park on State Highway 563 one mile south of Anahuac. It was the site of the first armed confrontation between Anglo-Texans and Mexican troops, on June 10–12, 1832. In November 1830 Col. Juan Davis Bradburn chose the site for the fort and its town on a bluff, called Perry's Point since 1816, overlooking the entrance to the Trinity River. The garrison was one of six new outposts located at strategic entrances to Texas and designed to enforce the Law of April 6, 1830. All the garrisons carried Mexican names. Anáhuac, the name of the ancient home of the Aztecs, was borrowed for the Chambers county fort. Bradburn brought plans and a cardboard fort with him.

The garrison lived temporarily in a fortified wooden barracks a half mile north of the bluff in the center of the site of modern Anahuac. The barracks was later used as the jail that held William B. Travis and others. Bricks for the walls and buildings of the permanent fort were made by convict soldiers on-site, beginning in March 1831. A Masonic and military ceremony marked completion of the foundation on May 14, 1831. The exterior walls were 100 by seventy feet and enclosed two redoubts diagonally opposite on the southwest and northeast corners. Inside the perimeter was a reinforced-brick building about fifty by thirty-five feet. The southwest redoubt, overlooking Trinity Bay, was named Fort Davis (for Bradburn); it was manned by a maximum of fifty men and defended by a six-pound cannon, while its twin on the northeast guarded the land approach. The cavalry tethered its horses between the two redoubts. An excavated passage connected the enclosure with the powder magazine on the east side, where two bulwarks named Hidalgo and Morelos (for martyrs of the Mexican independence movement) near the sites of the brick kilns, each with a sixteen-pound cannon, guarded the compound.

The garrison grew from forty men and four officers in November 1830 to a maximum of 285 men and ten officers in May 1832. After March 1832 about 100 of the men were stationed at Velasco, at the mouth of the Brazos, under Col. Domingo de Ugartechea. The troops were from the Eleventh and Twelfth battalions; the boatmen came from the battalion of Pueblo Viejo de Tampico; La Bahía supplied twenty-five cavalrymen and one officer.

Texan insurgents under Col. Francis White Johnson attacked the fort on June 10–12, 1832, to rescue Travis. The troops dismantled the fort when they left in July 1832, and a fire in November gutted the wooden parts. The wooden calaboose was burned in December 1832, and practical residents removed bricks for fireplaces and foundations.

In January 1835 Capt. Antonio Tenorio arrived with about forty troops to reopen the fort, but it was in such disrepair that he asked his superiors for wood to make repairs. The wood arrived in May but was burned by irate Texans. Tenorio had no artillery when Travis and his volunteers attacked on June 29, so his troops fled into the woods. He capitulated the next day, and the small garrison sailed to Harrisburg and retreated to Bexar.

The fort was never used again; the land became private property. In 1938 the county surveyor made field notes of the existing foundations. Erosion caused by rechanneling the Trinity River sometime after the 1930s caused the remains of the southwestern redoubt to fall into the water. Chambers County acquired the site for a park in 1946, and officials ordered it cleared and the rubble buried for safety reasons and to prevent vandalism. An amateur excavation was made in 1968 before preservation laws went into effect, but no in-depth archeological study has been made of the site. See also ANAHUAC DISTURBANCES.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

Margaret S. Henson, Anahuac in 1832: The Cradle of the Texas Revolution (Anahuac, Texas: Fort Anahuac Committee of the Chambers County Historical Commission, 1982). Margaret S. Henson, Juan Davis Bradburn: A Reappraisal of the Mexican Commander of Anahuac (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1982). James Wright Steely, comp., A Catalog of Texas Properties in the National Register of Historic Places (Austin: Texas Historical Commission, 1984).

Margaret Swett Henson

Citation

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

Margaret Swett Henson, "FORT ANAHUAC," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/qbf01), accessed December 19, 2014. Uploaded on June 12, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.