1851 – 1871 Part
of the string of forts established in 1848 to protect westward settlers, the fort
was named after Lt. George Mason, who had died at Fort Brown during the Mexican
War. Another source says that it was perhaps named after a popular General (Richard
Barnes Mason) who died just months before the fort was built.
prior to the organization of Mason County, the fort was included inside the boundaries
of what was then Gillespie County. From the early 1850 until the early 1860s,
Fort Mason’s presence kept Kiowas, Lipan Apaches, and Comanches away from the
Although the fort was abandoned for two brief periods,
it reached its maximum consignment of troops in 1856 while under the command of
Colonel Albert Sidney Johnston. In March,
1861, the fort became Confederate property.
In time, twenty junior and
field grade officers stationed at Fort Mason became generals in the Civil War.
Confederates generals included Hood, Lee and six others. Twelve of the twenty
became Union general staff.
The Confederate Army held 215 men prisoner
at Fort Mason in 1862 under suspicion of being Union sympathizers. During and
after the war, Indian attacks grew more frequent. In late 1866 the fort was re-occupied,
repaired and refurbished.
Lawlessness during Reconstruction reached the
distant post and instead of bringing order, the post was affected in a most un-military
way. Courts-martial were common and desertion was rampant. Cavalry was replaced
with Infantry and the post’s last official inspection was January 1869 when it
had a skeleton detachment of less than 70 personnel. By the end of March the fort
was officially closed. It reopened briefly in 1870 but closed forever in 1871.
The native stone buildings, which once numbered 25 were spirited away (stone
by stone) to reappear in town, transformed into residences. In the mid 1970s the
pattern was reversed when local citizens rebuilt a former officer’s quarters from
the well-used rock.
Created January 22, 1858, and organized August 2, 1858, this cunty was named for
its most important settlement, Fort Mason.
intermittently from July 6, 1851 to March 23, 1869, Fort Mason was named for Lt.
G.T. Mason of the united Stated 2nd Dragoons, killed in Mexican war action on
April 25, 1846, near Brownsville. Fort Mason was one of a chain of posts situated
a day's horseback ride apart. From Red River to the Rio Grande, for protecting
frontier against Apaches, Comanches, other Indians.
There is only a site left in Mason
for Fort Mason, but remains are everywhere, in the surrounding homes that were
built from the fort's rocks. - Sarah
Reveley, December, 2007
Subject: Fort Mason