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Texas Tropical Trail Region

Participant in the Texas Historical Commission's
Texas Heritage Trails Program

Rio Grande City: Fort Ringgold


GARRISON TO GRADE SCHOOL

For 96 years, Fort Ringgold watched over Rio Grande City and its Rio Grande River crossing. Built just after the end of the war with Mexico and named for Samuel Ringgold, who died from injuries he received in the battle of Palo Alto, Fort Ringgold served as garrison against border violence as well as economic driver for the river town of Rio Grande City. Although occupancy began in 1848, the fort wouldn't see well-built permanent structures until after the Civil War, gaining wood-frame and brick buildings along a palm-lined parade ground. Fort Ringgold was considered one of the best looking posts along the border and hosted leading military figures in its heyday, including Robert E. Lee and John J. Pershing. The fort's service ended in 1944 and five years later the Rio Grande Independent School District purchased the property.

Today, visitors may drive or walk the campus to enjoy a number of the surviving, and handsome, barracks along with the hospital, armory, and mortuary buildings. The restored R.E. Lee House is a must-see. Stop at the gate for visitor information and drive the site or park and walk, but, just in case you see your math teacher traversing the promenade, you'd better bring your homework along, too.


Location

  • 1 South Ringgold Street
  • Rio Grande City, Texas
  • 78582

Contact

  • Phone: 956-716-6700

Hours & Fees

  • Call for hours of operation.

  • Free


Map & Directions

US 83 at Fort Ringgold grounds


Established during the U.S.-Mexico War, this fort became the site of a racial confrontation in 1899. Buffalo Soldiers of the 9th U.S. Cavalry, fresh from victories in Cuba during the Spanish-American War, came to Fort Ringgold refusing to tolerate racial segregation in the local community and harassment by its civilian population. Tensions between the troops and local residents resulted in a disturbance on the night of Nov. 20, when Lt. E.H. Rubottom ordered his men to open fire with their Gatling guns. One person was injured and, although official investigations into the incident did not result in any charges, the U.S. Army relocated the Buffalo Soldiers to avoid further conflict. Today, the remaining buildings of the fort belong to the local school district and are still in use.

 

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Read more about Fort Ringgold in the Handbook of Texas Online.