Camp Wood

By: John Minton

Type: General Entry

Published: 1952

Updated: December 1, 1994

Camp Wood was on the Nueces River near the site of the present-day town of Camp Wood in far southwestern Real County. It was established as a United States military outpost on May 20, 1857, when it was occupied by Lt. E. D. Philips and a company of the First Infantry assigned to protect the San Antonio-El Paso route and the Rio Grande valley from Indian raids. The camp was located near the ruins of San Lorenzo de la Santa Cruz Mission; its water was supplied by the same spring that had earlier served the mission and that later provided water for the town of Camp Wood. The installation was named for Bvt. Maj. George W. F. Wood.

The camp was temporarily abandoned on October 29, 1857. Lt. John Bell Hood, later commander of Hood's Texas Brigade, reestablished the post in 1858 with a company of the Second Cavalry and remained until November 1860. The post was abandoned by Union troops in the spring of 1861 and was afterward occupied by Confederate forces. Walter Paye Lane's rangers arrived on June 14, 1861, and W. W. Heartsill, a member of this detachment, described its stay in his journals, later published as Fourteen Hundred and 91 Days in the Confederate Army (1876). Edward Dixon Westfall, an early settler of Southwest Texas, also lived at Camp Wood during this period, raising cattle and acting as a guide for the Confederates. After the Civil War the site was periodically used by United States troops and Texas Rangers, and the influx of settlers began. Jim Hill, who served as a scout for Gen. John Bullis, moved to the area with his mother and brothers in 1873. According to local residents, buildings and the camp cemetery, the latter of which continued to be used after the post was abandoned, were still extant at the site in the early twentieth century. The buildings have since disappeared, however, and the headstones from the cemetery were eventually taken up and used to line a flower bed.

A. B. Bender, "Opening Routes Across West Texas, 1848–1850," Southwestern Historical Quarterly 37 (October 1933); cont. as "The Texas Frontier, 1848–1861: Government Explorations in Texas, 1851–1860," ibid. 38 (October 1934). John Bell Hood, Advance and Retreat: Personal Experiences in the United States and Confederate States Armies (New Orleans: Beauregard, 1880). Andrew Jackson Sowell, Early Settlers and Indian Fighters of Southwest Texas (Austin: Ben C. Jones, 1900; rpt., Austin: State House Press, 1986). Allan A. Stovall, Breaks of the Balcones: A Regional History (Barksdale, Texas, 1967). Allan A. Stovall, Nueces Headwater Country: A Regional History (San Antonio: Naylor, 1959). University of Texas Department of Anthropology, Data Concerning Texas Forts (MS, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin).

Time Periods:
  • Antebellum Texas
  • Civil War
  • Reconstruction

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

John Minton, “Camp Wood,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed May 21, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

December 1, 1994

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