Heritage, Summer 2005 Page: 16
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Restoration of the Robert E. Lee House
at Fort Ringgold in Rio Grande City,
directly across the river from Mexico, is a
milestone for preservation of historic
Texas buildings. While parts of the house
were falling to the ground only a few years
ago, the home has now arisen to become -
The General Robert E. Lee/ B -i
Commandant's Quarters Museum. And
it's only one of the many fine historic
restorations taking place in the Lower Rio
Grande Valley, where the cultures of two
countries merge to influence the tradition,
people, and the built landscape. The
Valley is also a place where people are few :tI
and resources scant, but these hurdles
have not stopped the industrious people of
South Texas who have worked hard to
preserve their very special part of this
In 1848, the U.S. Army established
Ringgold Barracks on a sandy bluff facing
south toward the Rio Grande and Mexico.
The commandant's quarters were situated
on a hill to catch the prevailing southeast
breeze and to serve as an observation post.
It was a plain, wooden structure of two
rooms separated by a hallway. Records do
not indicate when the porches were
added, but they have long been integral
parts of the house.
Walls, floors, and ceilings were made
of longleaf yellow pine brought by steamboat
from New Orleans. A brick fireplace
with pine mantel occupied one
wall of the west room. The commandant Why is the small house named f(
probably used this room as an office Robert E. Lee? In 1856, Lieutenar
because preservationists uncovered a Colonel Lee spent about a month
map (now sealed by a protective coating Ringgold Barracks while attending a cou
and left in place) attached to a wall martial. He returned to the post in 186(
there. Across the hallway, the east room during a campaign to stop Juan Cortir
served as living quarters. from raiding Texas ranches along the bo
By Karen Gerhardt Fort
By Karen Gerhardt Fort
der. Lee negotiated with Mexican authorities,
who agreed to curb the bandit raids.
There is no proof that Lee slept inside
the commandant's quarters, since he preferred
his tent, but he may have used the
office for writing letters and consulting
with Army officers, Texas Rangers, and
H E R I TAGE W SUMMER 2005
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Texas Historical Foundation. Heritage, Summer 2005, periodical, Summer 2005; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth45369/m1/16/: accessed June 27, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas Historical Foundation.