The Arrival of the Army (1918 to Present)
The United States entered World War I in April 1917. The war had been raging in Europe since 1914. The US Army began to search for land for a new field artillery range and camp. They needed a temperate climate, level ground, a reliable water supply, and access to the railroad. They found what they were looking for in Hoke and Cumberland counties, North Carolina.
Camp Bragg, named in honor of North Carolinian, General Braxton Bragg, was established on September 4, 1918. The camp encompassed 100,000 acres of leased and purchased land. Seven million dollars were spent constructing roads, buildings, and other facilities to support 16,000 garrison troops and trainees. World War I ended in November 1918, well before camp construction was completed in the winter of 1919.
In 1917, the government began the process of purchasing land for Camp Bragg. At that time there were approximately 170 families living in the area. To acquire the 614 individual properties, the government created a Cadastral map identifying the boundary and owner of each property. Next the value of each property was determined and the government made an offer to the owner. Not every landowner accepted these initial offers; one or two owners took the government to court.
Temporary Camp Bragg became permanent Fort Bragg on September 30, 1922. Throughout the 1920s and 1930s, permanent new buildings including barracks, officers housing, a hospital, chapel, theatre, commissary, and guard house were constructed. The layout of the base was designed by Major General B. Frank Cheatham and First Lieutenant Howard Neuse of the Quartermaster Corps. Their designs for the base were influenced by a new urban planning movement that sought to balance beauty and function. Together they designed a base that provided healthful conditions, positive social interaction, and proper soldier training.
A third building program began in 1940 in response to the expanding World War II in Europe. As the largest field artillery range in the country, Fort Bragg took a leading role in the war preparations. Here are a few interesting facts about the Fort Bragg expansion in 1940:
- A construction force of 31,000 men
- A daily payroll of $100,000.00
- Lumber was supplied by 700 mills
- Construction went on 24 hours a day, seven days a week
- 65 railroad cars of supplies were delivered daily
- Approximately 2,739 buildings were constructed at a cost of $44 million
- Buildings were erected at a rate of one building every 32 minutes
- By 1941 there were 67,000 men stationed at Fort Bragg
Construction of Camp Hoffman began on November 8, 1942, on approximately 62,000 acres southwest of Fort Bragg. The camp was renamed Camp Mackall in 1943 to honor Private John T. Mackall who died during Operation Torch in the Allied invasion of North Africa. Mackall died on the day camp construction began. When completed (in just four months), Camp Mackall included 65 miles of paved roads, a 1,200-bed hospital, 1,758 buildings, and three 5,000-foot runways.
In 1946, the 82nd Airborne Division returned from Europe and was stationed at Fort Bragg. The Army reactivated the XVIII Airborne Corps and stationed their headquarters at Pope Air Force Base in 1947. The 10th Special Forces Group formed at Fort Bragg in 1952 and the 77th Special Forces were formed in 1953. In the 1960s, the John F. Kennedy Special Forces Warfare Center was constructed at the post.
Today 297 buildings constructed during the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s are preserved in Fort Bragg’s Old Post Historic District. Most of these buildings are historic family housing facilities and are designed in the Spanish Eclectic and Georgian Revival styles popular in the early 20th century.