Just northwest of San Antonio, TX, you will find the historic Camp Bullis, a US Army training camp that spans 27,990 acres. Located in Bexar County, it was named for Brigadier General John Lapham Bullis. Camp Bullis operates in partnership with Camp Stanley. Both of the training camps make up the Leon Springs Military Reservation. However, Camp Bullis is mainly used for US Army, Air Force and Marine combat units maneuvering campaigns. The camp also serves as a base for medical field training at the Brooke Army Medical Center located in Fort Sam Houston. Camp Bullis has a long history that started with the turn of the center in America and has seen millions of trainees pass through its gates.
Military activity in the San Antonio area started with the purchase of over 17,000 acres in 1906, which would become known as Camp Bullis. The land once belonged to six different ranches. It began as the Leon Springs Military Reservation area and was set aside for maneuvers and training for troops who came from Fort Sam Houston. The area was well known for its small population and terrain, and the new training area immediately saw action upon its opening in 1907.
Target ranges in what is now known as Camp Stanley were originally the site used for the Southwestern Rifle and Pistol Competition in July and August 1907. Major maneuvers started in 1908 and involved National Guard and Army infantry, field artillery and cavalry units. In the next year, the first documented firing of artillery would take place at the Leon Springs Military Reservation.
Mexico-US Uprisings in Early 1900s
There were several uprisings in Mexico in 1911 that required the attention of troops stationed at Camp Bullis. This led to more maneuvers, and as tensions rose up through 1916, troops from Fort Sam Houston were deployed to the border. More troops from Camp Bullis came to the aid of the border troops after the raid of Columbus, New Mexico by Pancho Villa. A large remount station was also built near Anderson Hill, which is now located in Camp Stanley.
The Beginning of World War I
In preparation for the first World War, new facilities were built in 1917 and named named Camp Funston after Major General Frederick Funston. The camp established the First Officers Training Camp (FOTC) in May 1917 in preparation for World War I. Drills and training began to organize troops. Target practice, trench warfare, practice marches and other training were required.
Since another base was also called Camp Funston, it was renamed to Camp Stanley in October 1917 and the land in the southern area of the camp was renamed to Camp Bullis. Training facilities at Camp Bullis comprised maneuver grounds, target ranges and cavalry camps. However, the only permanent facilities built at the time were the camp headquarters, administrative building and spaces of rows for mess halls and tents. There were also several rifle ranges and a pistol range that was located at Salado Creek and Hogan Ridge. These ranges allowed for up to 4,000 men at a time.
Camp Bullis grew incredibly in size by the end of World War I and jumped its number considerably by the start of World War II. More properties around Camp Bullis were purchased and the area once known as Leon Springs Military Reservation became apart of Camp Bullis as well.
World War II Training Begins at Camp Bullis
Throughout World War I, Camp Bullis became larger and more organized. Training and drills by the Citizens Military Training Camp (CMTC) were started in addition to Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC). Troops began practicing more for target and combat as well as firing Stokes mortars and maneuvering into regiment-sized units.
As World War II began in Europe, more troops were shipped to Camp Bullis. There was an increase for training space so that the camp could accommodate multiple divisions. The camp expanded considerably, and there were new buildings created to accommodate new technology, new weapons and tactics strategies. More tents were constructed and a POW camp was also built with the capacity for 200 prisoners.
Training continued at Camp Bullis until 1943. New divisions were not trained after this point. Eventually, like other bases, activity died down at Camp Bullis following the end of World War II. Ranges and maneuvers were stopped, and the postwar period required changes for the infantry division weaponry that did meet the size of the facility nor its location. While some weapons were moved away from Camp Bullis like antiaircraft military and artillery, it would become a testing ground for tires, fuels, vehicles, tanks and medical training.
After the war, as many as 500,000 soldiers were processed through separation centers at Camp Bullis. A fake Vietnam village was built at Camp Bullis to prepare soldiers for the conditions they’d face in the Vietnam War. It continues to the largest military base in Texas.
Changes for Camp Bullis and Present-Day Operations
There have been many structural changes and upgrades to the training facilities and administrative buildings in the past two decades. Mainly the facilities have undergone expansion to deal with increasing military operations in the Middle East. There have also been environmental and archaeological concerns that have changed parts of Camp Bullis. Some of the land was sold to the City of San Antonio.
Today, Camp Bullis and Camp Stanley are mainly used for medical unit field training at Brooke Army Medical Center, ammunition storage and testing, firing ranges and as maneuver areas for Air Force, Army and Marine combat.
Camp Bullis has strong ties with San Antonio and surrounding areas. Several residential areas are dedicated to military families with relatives stationed at Camp Bullis and Camp Stanley. Much of the jobs are also military-related in San Antonio and frequently involve taking on contract positions that work with the US military base. If living on-post, you will likely be staying in Lincoln Military Housing, which can be reached at 210-270-7638. Off-post housing communities are usually designated by their proximity to the base. Several of these communities are located along I-10 and Charles W. Anderson Loop near Cedar Creek Golf Course.