Fort Ewell was located on the south bank of the Nueces River at the crossing of the San Antonio-Laredo Road in what is now La Salle County. Gen. Persifor F. Smith, commander of the Eighth Military Department responded to American Indian raids and filibustering actions by Jose María De Jesús Carbajal in the South Texas borderlands by establishing a new fort between the Rio Grande and Nueces River. Gen. Smith and his party left Fort Merrill on April 25, 1852; his party consisted of an escort of Capt. Andrew J. Lindsey and Bvt. Capt. Gordon Granger and thirty men of the Mounted Rifles accompanied by Bvt. Lt. M. L. Smith of the Topographical Engineers. Gen. Smith described the new post as unconventional due to terrain and purposes. He described the location of the fort as hard ground that approached within a few yards of the Nueces River with a grove of Elm trees at the bottom. Fort Ewell’s position commanded the crossing of the roads from Eagle Pass, Laredo, Corpus Christi, San Antonio, and Fort Inge. The post was named for Lt. Thomas Ewell, who president of a small school in Tennessee, later served during the Mexican War in the newly formed Regiment of Mounted Rifles. Ewell was killed in the Battle of Cerro Gordo on April 18, 1847, while leading Company F, which later founded the fort that bore his name.
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