Camp Barkley

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Promotion: Nearby Taylor County

Camp Barkeley was located eleven miles southwest of Abilene in Taylor County. After the outbreak of war in Europe in September 1939, the U.S. Army began to rapidly expand as a precaution and needed temporary camps to train and house troops. The camp was named for David B. Barkley, a native Texan who received the Medal of Honor in World War I, but his name was misspelled. Construction started in December 1940 and was completed in seven months. It was initially a training camp for infantry and supply troops. The first to occupy the camp were 19,000 soldiers of the Forty-fifth Infantry Division under Maj. Gen. William S. Key on February 23, 1941. Before his later fame as a cartoonist for Stars and Stripes, Bill Mauldin was on the division’s newspaper’s staff. Camp Barkeley included the main camp of 2,500 acres, bivouac and maneuver areas of 58,000 acres, and combat ranges of 9,400 acres. Central Texas was favored because the climate allowed year-round training.

The camp’s role began to change because the Medical Department wanted to expand the network of Medical Replacement Training Centers (MRTCs). In addition to two camps already being constructed as MRTCs, the United States surgeon general pushed for three new camps in March 1941, including one in Texas. The War Department decided against this, but in July 1941 it did order the expansion of Camp Barkeley to include a third MRTC with capacity for 4,000 trainees. The MRTCs at Camps Lee and Grant, located in Virginia and Illinois respectively, provided the new MRTC at Camp Barkeley much of its training cadre. The rest of the training cadre were selected from among promising trainees. Nevertheless, training cadre remained in short supply for much of the war. The MRTC at Camp Barkeley was activated under Brig. Gen. Roy C. Heflebower on November 1, 1941, and, before construction on new facilities was even finished, the first training cycle of Medical Department enlisted men began on December 1, 1941.

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Grant Harward | © TSHA

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Adapted from the official Handbook of Texas, a state encyclopedia developed by Texas State Historical Association (TSHA). It is an authoritative source of trusted historical records.

Belongs to

Camp Barkley is part of or belongs to the following places:

Currently Exists


Place type

Camp Barkley is classified as a Town

Associated Names

  • [-Barkeley]

Has Post Office


Is Incorporated