Camp Claiborne facts for kids

Kids Encyclopedia Facts

Coordinates: 31°04′14″N 92°32′56″W / 31.07056°N 92.54889°W / 31.07056; -92.54889

Camp Claiborne was a U.S. Army military camp during World War II located in Rapides Parish in central Louisiana. The camp was under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Eighth Service Command, and included 23,000 acres (93 km²). The camp was just north of the town of present-day Forest Hill, near the intersection of U.S. Highway 165 and Louisiana Highway 112.

History

332nd Co E Training 1942 Jul 4
332nd Training at Camp Claiborne, LA

It was established June 10, 1930, as Camp Evangeline, named for the Evangeline District of the Kisatchie National Forest, where it was situated. It was later renamed for the Governor of the Territory of Orleans and first governor of the State of Louisiana, William C.C. Claiborne. In 1939, construction crews were sent to expand the camp, and it was activated in 1940.

From 1939 to 1946, over half a million men went through Camp Claiborne. The camp was mainly used for basic training and artillery practice, which included the nearby Winn District-Kisatchie Precision Bombing Range. It was also home to the Engineering Unit Training Command (EUTC). Special service forces training was also conducted there, including railroad battalion training. The 34th Infantry Division (United States) came to Claiborne for its basic training and would be the first American force sent to the European Theater of Operations (ETO).

In 1941, prior to the United States declaring war, the camp was used as part of the Louisiana Maneuvers, a 400,000-man training exercise involving two imaginary countries fighting each other. The two armies faced each other across the Red River, over 3,400 square miles (8,800 km2) of land, part of which was in East Texas. Near the end of the war, German prisoners of war (POW) were held at the camp.

Many of the men, like the ones from the 34th Infantry Division who were from Iowa, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wisconsin, had never been to the South. Not only did they have to get used to basic training, they had to get used to the climate (weather and altitude) of Louisiana.

The camp was deactivated in 1945, and returned to Kisatchie National Forest, as part of the National Forest System, administered by the U.S. Forest Service.

Units Serving

Many units were created or reactivated at Camp Claiborne to include the 84th Infantry Division, 5th Armored Group, 784th Tank Battalion, 82nd Airborne Division, 407th Brigade Support Battalion, 332nd Engineer General Service Regiment, 333rd Engineer Special Service Regiment, 372nd Engineer General Service Regiment, 101st Airborne Division, 327th Infantry Regiment, 205th Infantry Brigade renamed to 103rd Reconnaissance Troop, 325th Infantry Regiment, 412th Engineer Command, 761st Tank Battalion, 497th Transportation Company, 33rd Infantry Regiment, 18th Engineer Brigade, 1195th Engineer Base Depot Group Redesignated 1195th Engineer Combat Group HHC, 361st Special Services Engineers Regiment, 393rd Special Services Engineers Regiment, 712th Railway Operating Battalion, 725th Railway Operating Battalion (ROB).

Old Buildings

Clarence, LA, Baptist Church IMG 1896
Clarence Baptist Church, off Louisiana Highway 6 moved to Clarence in 1948.

When the camp was closed in 1948, many buildings were donated or sold in the area and were moved. Some can be found in Forest Hill.

The St. Catherine Church, at the junction of US 165 with Robinson Bridge Road, uses one of the military buildings.

The Camp Claiborne chapel was relocated to Clarence in Natchitoches Parish, where it is still used for worship services by the Clarence Baptist Church. The balcony, now a storage area, was used by African American troops who were segregated in worship from white soldiers who used the pews of the lower tier.

Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church in Marksville Avoyelles Parish purchased an old building from Camp Claiborne after World War II for conversion as a rectory.

Some buildings were purchased by Southeastern Louisiana University.

Today

The U.S. Forest Service (USFS) manages the property where the camp once was. Not much is left: part of a gate and a handful of scattered shells of buildings, some of which have been fenced off and sealed with sheets of metal. Many streets still exist, as well as parking lots and footings of the original buildings. The USFS also maintains Claiborne Trail, a 26-mile (42 km) trail system for hiking, walking and biking through the area.

Today the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) is in the process of evaluating the grounds of the former camp to see how feasible it would be to remove possible unexploded ordnance.


Camp Claiborne Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.