Texas Military Forces Historical Sketch

Condition of the Guard to 1940

Annual Federal armory inspection reports for 1937 and 1938 showed the Texas National Guard had achieved a high degree of efficiency. In both of these years, each unit in the Texas National was rated as "Satisfactory" or "Very Satisfactory." Its allotted strength at the end of 1938 was 718 officers, 11 warrant officers and 8,611 enlisted men, or a total of 9,340. Ninety-nine percent of this allotment was enrolled.

Another indication of the improvement of the Texas National Guard was its participation in the Third Army Maneuvers in the vicinity of Camp Bullis, Texas, from August 6 to 20, 1938. Field training was held from August 6 to 12, inclusive, and August 18 to 20, inclusive, while the period August 13 to 17 was devoted to the Third Army Maneuvers. The maneuvers were held coincident with the field training of the 36th Division, the 56th Cavalry Brigade and the Oklahoma National Guard, together with regular troops from the Eighth Corps Area. War conditions were simulated, movements of troops and supplies were made by motor trucks under cover of darkness and without lights, concealment of troops, supplies and establishment was most effective due to the painstaking efforts of officers and men to play the game. This training for the National Guard gave the men an excellent opportunity to clearly visualize field operations as then contemplated.

During this period, Texas operated two training camps. Camp Hulen, located at Palacios, Texas, was used for training of the 36th Division, and Camp Wolters, located in the vicinity of Mineral Wells, Texas, was used for training of the 56th Cavalry Brigade. Camp Mabry, located at Austin, Texas, was used prior to 1926 as a training camp for units of the 36th Division but by 1938 was used as a central distribution point for supplying the National Guard with Federal property and supplies and housed the offices and warehouses of the United States Property and Dispersal Office., office and units of the 111th Quartermaster Regiment and Headquarters troop, 56th Cavalry Brigade. Various improvements were made at all three of these camps during 1937 and 1938 with the aid of Works Project Administration funds.

One of the most efficient and laudable services rendered by the Texas National Guard was in 1937. Martial law was declared during the New London disaster in Rusk County, due to a gas explosion at the New London High School, which caused the death and serious injury of several hundred students and teachers. Twenty-two officers and 194 enlisted men, under Major Gaston S. Howard, assistant adjutant general, who was designated as martial law commander for the effected area, performed their duties in a very efficient and expeditious manner to the extent that the period of martial law lasted only from March 18 to March 22, 1937.

The training and perfection of the Texas National Guard received an added impetus during 1939, when all organizations were ordered to drill twice a week instead of once and to hold an extra seven days of field training besides the annual two weeks summer encampment. The fine manner in which the officers and men accepted this added training was in the tradition set by their predecessors, such men as Austin, Houston, Crockett, Bowie, the many brave and gallant Texas Rangers and many other illustrious persons who bore arms under the banner of the Lone Star State.

The following year the Texas National Guard would be mobilized once again to fight in a World War.

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