The Handbook of Texas is free-to-use thanks to the support of readers like you. Support the Handbook today.

Font size: A / A reset

Support Texas History Now

Join TSHA to support quality Texas history programs and receive exclusive benefits.

Become a TSHA Member Today »

Little River Fort

Thomas W. Cutrer General Entry

The Little River Fort's construction began in November 1836 under the supervision of Sgt. George B. Erath of Capt. Thomas H. Barron's company of Col. Robert M. Coleman's Texas Rangers. The fort covered half an acre near the junction of the Leon and Lampasas rivers in what is now Bell County. Six or seven cabins stood against the north wall of a nine-foot-high stockade, and a sixteen-foot-square blockhouse provided additional defense. The fort was first called Fort Smith after Maj. William H. Smith; it derived its official name from its proximity to the Little River settlement that it was built to protect. After 1841, however, its name was changed to Fort Griffin in honor of Moses Griffin, a local settler who maintained the fort after it was abandoned by the government. The fort was commanded successively by Sergeant Erath, Lt. Charles Curtis, and Capt. Daniel Monroe. Its Texas Ranger garrison probably never exceeded twenty men. Two skirmishes between the fort's garrison and the Comanches were fought during the winter and spring of 1837, leaving fewer than twenty dead on both sides. In June the rangers at the Little River Fort were withdrawn to bolster the defenses of forts Colorado and Milam and the town of Nashville. The Little River post was unoccupied for two years except for use by an occasional irregular volunteer company. When the fort was abandoned, the farming settlements in the area withdrew as well. On January 13, 1840, therefore, the War Department sent Capt. James P. B. January's Company F of the First Infantry Regiment from Camp Caldwell to garrison the Little River Fort. Failure to supply the troops there properly again forced the garrison to leave on February 28. The troops returned on July 1 and maintained the fort until the Army of the Republic of Texas was disbanded in March 1841. After that, the fort saw only sporadic use, serving as a stop for the Texan Santa Fe expedition in June 1841 and as a shelter for Capt. Shapley P. Ross's ranger company for a time in 1846. Little River Fort was eventually dismantled by Moses Griffin. The site has been marked by the Texas Historical Commission.

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). Gerald S. Pierce, Texas Under Arms: The Camps, Posts, Forts, and Military Towns of the Republic of Texas (Austin: Encino, 1969).

Time Periods:

  • Republic of Texas

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

Thomas W. Cutrer, “Little River Fort,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed August 06, 2021,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

November 29, 2019

Related Book(s)