Fort Waul

By: James B. McCrain

Type: General Entry

Published: January 1, 1995

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.
Time Periods:
  • Civil War

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

James B. McCrain, “Fort Waul,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed July 06, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

January 1, 1995

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