Camp Beauregard

Charles Forrest, LSUA English faculty, and author of an authoritative history of Camp Beauregard, written as a Major in the National Guard for that organization, provided this description:

Camp Beauregard dates from World War I and was authorized by the War Department on July 15, 1917, along with more than thirty other such training camps over the country.

Originally, Camp Beauregard included the property that is now Pinecrest State School and a large tract directly behind the Procter and Gamble property on U.S. Highway 165 as well as the present Post. Within these areas, respectively, were located an artillery and ammunition cantonment, a cavalry auxiliary remount depot and an infantry and services cantonment. Also included in this establishment was the Camp Beauregard Base Hospital which in 1919 became a U.S. Public Health Hospital and in 1920 a U.S. Veterans' Administration Hospital.

Considering the Veterans Hospital site which is one of the most historic spots in Louisiana, the history of Camp Beauregard goes back to 1852 when the Legislature authorized the purchase of the 438 acres of land on which were located successively The Louisiana State Seminary and Military Academy from 1858 til 1869, Camp Stafford from 1905 til 1917, Camp Beauregard Base Hospital from 1917 til 1919, the U.S. Public Health Service Hospital in 1919-1920, and the Veterans Administration Hospital since 1920.

Of these institutions the most direct fore-runner was Camp Stafford, established in 1905 by Major General D. T. Stafford, the Adjutant General of Louisiana. Camp Stafford was offered as a training camp in 1917 but was too small and Camp Beauregard was built. During World War I more than $5,000,000 was allocated to the construction of the camp. In 1919, the Army abandoned the camp and turned the property over to the State of Louisiana which returned it to the United States in 1940 for use as a World War II training area which included the now-abandoned Camps Claiborne and Livingston and what has become Esler Regional Airport.

After World War II, Camp Beauregard reverted to the State and was used as a summer training area for the Louisiana National Guard in 1947 and 1948. In 1949 and for twenty-five years thereafter, active training was held at Fort Polk, Louisiana; Fort Chaffee, Arkansas; or at various other military centers over the country. Beginning in 1973, Camp Beauregard was reactivated as an annual Guard training facility. Since then, many new facilities have been constructed on Post to accommodate unites that train here.

Though there was a quarter-century lapse in the use of Camp Beauregard as a troop training center, it has been an active and continuously growing maintenance and storage facility. Located in the Post cantonment are Louisiana National Guard support maintenance shops, United States Purchasing and Fiscal Office warehouse, the military units of the LaNG, two organizational maintenance shops, the Louisiana Military Academy, and the Work Release Center of the Louisiana Department of Corrections.

Post World War I

The Roaring Twenties, the mechanization of farms, the increased technology, the introduction of the radio and Model-T's provided the bases for changes that would come decades later. The stock market crash and the Great Depression meant soup kitchens and WPA projects, government subsidies provided in the Agricultural Adjustment act, and the camps of the Civilian Conservation Corps in the parish, along with other New Deal innovations.

By the end of the Depression Rapides Parish was the center of military operations and training of troops for World War II.

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