Texas Military Forces Historical Sketch

Post World War I Period

In the Years from the days of the World War until just before 1939, the outstanding feature of the National Guard in Texas was its reorganization and its designation as the 36th Division to perpetuate the history of the famous fighting force that served overseas.

Although it had just come from the shell scarred fields and destroyed towns and villages of war-torn France, the Texas National Guard was found once again ready to serve its State, this time in peace, when a hurricane, accompanied by a great tidal wave, struck the Gulf Coast in Nueces, San Patricio and Aransas Counties, taking a toll of hundreds of lives, destroying millions of dollars worth of property and leaving thousands homeless. Cavalry and infantry units were rushed to the scene to aid the stricken people of the area and to maintain law and order. Their service during this emergency were as gallant and as effective as their services overseas.

The main problem facing the National Guard during this period, though, was its reorganization. During the spring and summer of 1920, the work of organizing the First Cavalry Division was carried on as rapidly as possible. The existing National Guard troops were inspected and reorganized, or disbanded, and many possible locations for new organizations were considered. At the same time, every effort was made to get in touch with all available officer candidates, especially ex-service men, in the State. In the late Autumn, however, it became known that the War Plans Division of the War Department General Staff had adopted definite plans for the reorganization of the National Guard, and that the allotment of National Guard troops to the State of Texas would be changed.

On November 5, 1920, a conference of the Adjutant General and other representatives of the National Guard of all the states in the Eighth Corps Area was held at Ft. Sam Houston for the purpose of discussing plans for the reorganization of the National Guard, and the allotment of troops to the several states. The principal change in the allotment of troops to Texas was the substitution of an infantry division for the cavalry division previously authorized. This was considered a very fortunate change, in view of the great expense necessary to maintain cavalry organizations. Although the tentative allotment for Texas was made known at this conference, it was not until December 3 that a letter was received from the Chief, Militia Bureau, authorizing the organization of the new units.

When it became known that an infantry division was authorized for Texas, request was made of the War Department to designate this unit as the 36th Division, in order to preserve the memories and traditions of the National Guard division which represented Texas so gloriously during World War I. This request was granted, and on December 14, the preliminary orders for the second reorganization of the Texas National Guard was issued. Major General John A. Hulen was assigned to command the 36th Infantry Division.

During 1921, the Texas National Guard was reorganized from the ground up. With the exception of the State Staff Corps and Departments, there was but one unit, a provisional company, which was soon to be disbanded, that existed, in the same status a year earlier; and while the 56th Cavalry Brigade Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, the 56th Machine Gun Squadron, the 112th Cavalry, and Companies A, D and E, 141st Infantry, had been formed by the conversion of organizations which existed prior to January 1, 1912, they were, practically speaking, new organizations, for the majority of the men who belonged to these units a year earlier had been discharged by expiration of service and their places had to be filled by new enlistments.

On January 1, 1921, the Texas National Guard consisted of 69 separate units, including the State Staff Corps and Departments, with an aggregate paper strength of 5,723 officers and men. However, with the exception of the State Staff Corps and Departments, one cavalry brigade headquarters and headquarters troop, one cavalry machine gun squadron of three troops, and one cavalry regiment consisting of nine separate troops and detachments, the majority of these units were inactive. They had been organized in 1918, under the pressure of war-time conditions and with no idea of peace-time service.

By letter, dated December 3, 1920, the Militia Bureau of the War Department had allotted the following National Guard troops to Texas: Division troops -- one infantry division (complete); corps troops -- one artillery regiment (155 mm. howitzer), one anti-aircraft regiment, two auxiliary engineer battalions, two balloon companies and one truck company, and army troops -- one cavalry brigade headquarters, one cavalry regiment, one cavalry machine gun squadron and three coast artillery companies.

The army troops, with the exception of the three coast artillery companies, had been formed by the conversion of existing cavalry units, and of the remaining troops, the infantry division was, of course, given preference in the order of organization. In accordance with the War Department policy of giving to units of the National Guard and organized reserves the numerical designations of World War units from the same states, the infantry division from Texas became heir to the glorious name and traditions of the 36th Division.

The roster of the Texas National Guard dated December 31, 1921, shows 28 infantry companies federally recognized, three which had been inspected and recommended for Federal recognition but were awaiting action by the War Department, two which had been reported complete and were awaiting inspection by an officer of the Regular Army to determine their fitness for Federal recognition, and some 10 other companies well along in the process of organization, making a total of 43 infantry companies complete or nearing completion.

Cavalry organizations of Texas were given the following permanent designations by the War Department on June 24, 1921: Headquarters, 56th Cavalry Brigade; Headquarters Troop, 56th Cavalry Brigade; Headquarters Troop, 56th Cavalry Brigade; 56th Machine Gun Squadron and 112th Cavalry Regiment. The War Department approved on June 24, 1921, the following designations for organizations allotted Texas:

Thirty-sixth Infantry Division -- Headquarters, Special Division Troops -- 36th Signal Company, 36th Military Police Company, 36th Tank Company, Motorcycle Company No. 111, 111th Ordnance Company (Maintenance), 71st Infantry Brigade (Headquarters and Headquarters Company), 141st Infantry, 142nd Infantry, 72nd Infantry Brigade (Headquarters and Headquarters Company), 143rd Infantry, 144th Infantry; 61st Field Artillery Brigade, 111th Ammunition Train, 111th Engineers (Combat), 111th Medical Regiment, 36th Division Train, QMC.

Texas Corps Troops

One Hundred and Eighty-eighth Field Artillery, 204th Artillery (AA), 155th Engineer Battalion (Auxiliary), 156th Engineer Battalion (Auxiliary).

Texas Army Troops

Fifty-sixth Cavalry Brigade, 56th Machine Gun Squadron, 112th Cavalry Regiment.

Previous Article | History Menu | Next Article