From the Annals of the U.S. Army – In 1942, Camp Hood near Killeen was activated as a temporary camp in preparation for active operations in World War II. The temporary camp, was named for Confederate general John Bell Hood. The Army initially acquired about 180,000 acres, and it was estimated that the camp would cost $22.8 million for the land, facilities, and development of utilities. The date of completion was set for 15 August 1942. Almost 300 families were displaced by the acquisition. The communities of Clear Creek, Elijah and Antelope were demolished during construction. The base was designed with large open spaces for the training of mobile anti-tank units to be deployed in Europe and elsewhere.
Fort Hood is now one of the largest military installations in the world in terms of size and the number of Army and civilian personnel stationed at the site. Fort Hood had a total population of 53,416 as of the 2010 U.S. Census making it the most populous U.S> military installation in the world. Fort Hood covers 214,000 acres making it one of the largest military bases in the world by area.
From the Annals of the Frontier – In 1849, Captain Seth Eastman and his unit established Camp Leona in Uvalde County. The encampment was on the Leona River and was ultimately called Fort Inge. The Fort was intended to provide protection to settlements and travelers in the western Hill Country and was part of a federal line of forts in Texas. The Fort was a base for U.S. Army regulars and Texas militia. Fort Inge operated primarily as a small one-company post with about 50 soldiers. The Fort allowed additional settlement in the area and by the late 1850s farmers had established the nearby community of Uvalde. Fort Inge was closed in 1869 and the site today serves as part of Fort Inge County Park.
From the Annals of the Army – In 1917, construction was begun on Camp Bowie. The U.S. Army base was named after Jim Bowie. The camp was located in the Arlington Heights neighborhood about three miles west of downtown Fort Worth and was established by the United States War Department as a training site for the Thirty-Sixth Infantry Division. Including the rifle range and trench system, the Camp covered more than 2,100 acres.
Over 100,000 troops trained at Camp Bowie. On April 11, 1918, the Thirty-sixth went on parade in Fort Worth. The parade lasted four hours and was attended by an estimated 225,000 spectators, likely making it the biggest parade in Fort Worth’s history. The Thirty-sixth left for France in July 1918, after which the camp was used as an infantry replacement and training facility.
After the Armistice on November 11, 1918, Camp Bowie was designated a demobilization center. Once the demobilization was concluded, the Camp was closed on August 15, 1919. The only remaining vestige is in the name Camp Bowie Boulevard which runs through the site. After the camp closed it was quickly converted to a residential area, as builders took advantage of utility hookups left by the army.
From the Annals of the Horse Troopers – In 1852, Fort Clark was established by two companies of the First Infantry under the command of Major Joseph H. LaMotte along with an advance and rear guard of U.S. Mounted Rifles. The U.S. Army post was located at the site of Las Moras Springs just outside of present-day Bracketville. The site was a favorite camp ground for Comanche, Mescalero, Lipan and other Native Americans. The enormous spring was a stopping place on great Comanche War Trail leading into Mexico. The Fort was an important link in the line of defense against raiding war parties. It also served as a base for the famous Seminole-Negro Indian Scouts and served as an active post through World War II.
Today the site is most famous for its fabulous spring fed swimming pool – the third largest pool in Texas. Legend has it that the commander of the fort sent a requisition to create the pool at the request of his wife and was turned down. He resubmitted it as a requisition for a horse-watering trough and was approved. The 100 yard long pool is an ideal spot for summer recreation under the towering cottonwood and oak trees and a must-do for Texas swimming hole aficionados.
From the Annals of the Dromedaries – In 1856, 53 camels disembarked at the Port of Indianola. The camels were part of a 10-year U.S. Army transportation experiment initiated by then U.S. Secretary of War Jefferson Davis to deal with the harsh conditions in the arid southwest regions acquired in the Mexican-American War. Secretary Davis and his military advisers believed that if camels could be used in Sahara Desert and arid regions that they might be answer for the arid semitropical regions of Texas and the desert southwest. Accordingly, Congress passed “The Camel Appropriation Act” authorizing the purchase and transport of the beasts. The US Navy was tasked with transporting the camels from the Middle East to Texas, while the US Army would take charge of the camels for the experiment.
After a harsh sea voyage in which the camels became violently seasick, the animals were turned over to Major Henry C. Wayne who was pleased at the reaction the camels had to the lush vegetation afforded them on the Texas coast. On June 6, 1856, Wayne gave the order to initiate the “Texas Camel Drive” from Indianola to San Antonio. The camel caravan arrived in San Antonio within two weeks and Wayne reported to Washington that the utility and the cooperation of the camels was excellent. Wayne was ordered to find a permanent camp for the camels and quarters for the personnel.
In July, Wayne left San Antonio and made his way to Fort Martin Scott near Fredericksburg. From there Wayne scouted for a new camp site ultimately settling on a spot near Kerrville called Verde Creek close to the Guadalupe River. On August 30, he named the site Camp Verde and the camels now had a permanent home. The camp was to be a US Cavalry post under the direction of Lt. Colonel Robert E Lee who had just been to Fort Mason in 1856 with the primary task of protecting frontier settlers from raids by the Comanche, Kiowa and other tribes. However, Lee was also charged with protecting the camels.
From the Annals of the Depredations – In 1871, more than 100 Kiowas, Comanches, Kiowa-Apaches, Arapahoes, and Cheyennes from the Fort Sill Reservation in Oklahoma attacked Henry Warren’s wagontrain on the Butterfield Overland Mail route. The attack ended with the wagonmaster and six teamsters dead while five others managed to escape. The raiding party suffered one killed and five more wounded. One of the escaped teamsters related his story of the attack to Gen. Sherman and Col. Ranald MacKenzie at Fort Richardson. As a result the leaders of the raid, Chiefs Satank, Satanta, and Big Tree, leaders of the raid, were arrested. Satank attempted to escape and was killed. Satanta and Big Tree were tried for murder in Texas which was reputed to be the first use of Texas courts to try Indian for criminal acts. They were found guilty and sentenced to death, but had their sentences commuted to life by Gov. Edmund Davis. The raid restarted U.S. military operations against the Comanches and their allies who remained at large.