In 1910, political instability in Mexico impelled President William Howard Taft to increase the number of Army troops who could deploy rapidly to the Mexican border. Two businessmen who were involved in the early development of Texas City, A. B. Wolvin and Hugh B. Moore, successfully lobbied War Department officials to establish a temporary Army encampment in Texas City for this purpose. In February 1913, the unnamed Army camp was established just north of the young city of Texas City with the capacity for housing up to 10,000 troops, far more than the civilian population of the city at the time.
According to information published at the time of the camp's establishment, the Fifth Brigade of the Second Army Division was ordered to Ft. Crockett at Galveston on Feb. 22, 1913. The Fourth and Sixth Infantry Brigades, the Fourth Field Artillery, the Sixth Cavalry, Engineers Companies G, H and M, Field Hospital No. 3, Ambulance Company No. 3, twelve ovens of Field Bakery No. 2 and the Aviation Squadron of the Second Army Division were deployed to Texas City under the command of Major General William H. Carter, commander of the Second Division.
The camp was located north of present day Twelfth Avenue, extending westward from the bay. General Carter's command headquarters were located in the office building of the Texas City Terminal Railway Company. Wooden buildings were constructed in the camp, but many enlisted soldiers and officers lived in tents. Soldiers from the Army camp helped develop the infrastructure of the young city by paving and grading city streets, digging sewer and drainage ditches, and stringing telegraph and electrical lines. Provost guards and military police routinely patrolled the streets and maintained order in the community.
The Army encampment and the large influx of soldiers brought rapid economic growth to the newly incorporated city of Texas City for almost two and a half years. However, Army personnel maintained persistent concerns about locating the camp in an area with such heat, continual threat of disastrous storms and swarms of mosquitoes.
In August 1915, a damaging hurricane caused total destruction of the Army camp and severe property damage in the community. Although Hugh B. Moore tried hard to persuade Army officials to rebuild the camp after the storm, the official decision to shut down the camp came quickly. Some soldiers remained a short time to assist with disaster recovery efforts in Texas City, but most were quickly reassigned, transferred to other military locations, and the encampment was shut down permanently.
The presence of the Army camp greatly accelerated the development of the infrastructure of the young city and its local economy. The closing of the camp with the resulting rapid and broad-based loss of income resulted in a financial downtown for Texas City that lasted over a decade.