Texas Presidios

Spain constructed many presidios, or forts, throughout Texas, most often in connection with missions. The presidios provided housing for Spanish soldiers, who were responsible for defending the missions and for providing escorts for travelers and supplies. Both presidios and missions were often built with a high wall surrounding the compound where the buildings were located. Presidios often had small chapels to serve the needs of the soldiers.

presidio-la-bahiaPresidio La Bahia. The chapel can be seen at the left of this photo.

Relations between the missionaries and the soldiers were sometimes very difficult. In 1755, the San Xavier missions were abandoned after a friar was murdered by a soldier.

Best-Known Texas Presidios

Here are a few of the most famous or best preserved presidios in Texas:

Presidio La Bahia

The presidio at La Bahia was built to defend Mission Nuestra Señora del Espíritu Santo de Zúñiga (and later Mission Nuestra Señora del Rosario).  It was originally situated on Matagorda Bay near La Salle’s Fort Saint Louis on Garcitas Creek, to secure the Texas coastline from the French.  It was moved in 1749 to its present location on the San Antonio River (near the present-day town of Goliad).

La Bahia also served an important role during the Texas fight for independence; it was the site of the Goliad Massacre, in which almost 400 Texans were captured and executed by the Mexican army on orders from General Santa Anna.

The structure has been extensively restored; it is considered the best-preserved presidio in North America.  It is situated in the Goliad State Historical Park, which has recreational and camping facilities.

Location:  108 Park Rd 6, Goliad, TX 77963

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Presidio San Saba

Presidio San Saba, once known as Presidio San Luis de las Amarillas, was built in 1757 to defend Mission Santa Cruz de San Sabá.  However, in 1758, the presidio was besieged while 2,000 Comanches attacked and destroyed the mission.

The presidio was abandoned in 1772.

In 1936, portions of the presidio were reconstructed.  Visitors today can see the ruins and reconstructed walls.

Location:   Menard, Texas 76859

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San Elizario Presidio Chapel

The San Elizario Presidio was constructed in 1789.  The chapel was used until 1877 when the present church was built.  The chapel was intended to serve the garrison of the presidio and their families; it was not a mission.

The presidio was abandoned in 1772.

In 1936, portions of the presidio were reconstructed.  Visitors today can see the ruins and reconstructed walls.

Location:  1521 San Elizario Road, San Elizario, Texas 79849

Google Map