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FORT COLORADO

FORT COLORADO. Fort Colorado stood on high ground on the north bank of the Colorado River just west of Walnut Creek within the bounds of what later became Travis County. The fort was a key post in the chain of defensive positions established by the Republic of Texas from the San Antonio River to east of the Trinity. Other links in the barrier against raiding Plains Indians included Little River Fort, Fort Milam, and Fort Houston (Houston County). Fort Colorado and its ranger garrison contributed materially to the lull in border warfare between white settlers and Comanches and Kiowas during 1837 and early 1838.

Fort Colorado, popularly known as Coleman's Fort or Fort Coleman and also officially known as Fort Houston, consisted of two two-story blockhouses and a number of cabins enclosed within a high stockade wall. It was built during the fall of 1836 by Col. Robert M. Coleman and first garrisoned by two or three companies of his ranger battalion. Soon after the fort's completion, however, Coleman was relieved of command by Maj. William H. Smith, but he did not turn over command of the fort until Capt. Micah Andrews arrived there in January 1837. In the summer or fall of 1837 Andrews was in turn relieved by Capt. William M. Eastland, who retained command until March 2, 1838. Lt. William H. Moore was the fort's last commander before it was abandoned, in April 1838. Settlers in the area, pleased to have a source of dressed logs, lumber, and hardware, soon stripped the fort, and today the site, 2½ miles northeast of the Montopolis Bridge in Austin, is marked only by a state historical marker. Noah Smithwick served as a ranger at Fort Colorado and left a fine description of life in a frontier fort in his notable memoir, Evolution of a State (1900).

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

George B. Erath, "The Memoirs of George B. Erath, 1813–1891," Southwestern Historical Quarterly 26–27 (January-October 1923; rpts., Austin: Texas State Historical Association, 1923; Waco: Heritage Society of Waco, 1956). "F. A. Sawyer to Colonel Robert M. Coleman, August 12, 1836," Texana 1 (Winter 1963). Gerald S. Pierce, Texas Under Arms: The Camps, Posts, Forts, and Military Towns of the Republic of Texas (Austin: Encino, 1969). Noah Smithwick, The Evolution of a State, or Recollections of Old Texas Days (Austin: Gammel, 1900; rpt., Austin: University of Texas Press, 1983).

Thomas W. Cutrer

Citation

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

Thomas W. Cutrer, "FORT COLORADO," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/qcf01), accessed October 31, 2014. Uploaded on June 12, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.