In Kumeyaay traditional territory: San Diego County, Camp Lockett was home to the Buffalo Soldiers. Located at Campo in the Milquatay Valley, Camp Lockett was a World War II Mexican border cavalry post established in 1941. Camp Lockett’s site was chosen for a cavalry camp as far back as 1878 when sixteen troopers wearing the blue uniform of The US Cavalry bivouacked for several months in this small Mexican border valley. At that time it took a week to get to San Diego, the choicest acres of bottomland sold for $5 an acre, smugglers and belligerent, “Indians” were problems.
“E” Troop of the 11th Cavalry Regiment was stationed here in 1918 and since then there have been a succession of home soldiers stationed at this strategic junction where road and rail road return to the United States after dipping into Baja California en route from San Diego to Yuma.
Later the post housed prisoners of war. Late in December 1942 Camp Lockett was placed on stand by status for future use as a convalescent center. The entire camp was declared surplus on April 30, 1946.
In 1942, the 10th Cavalry Regiment (the famed Buffalo Soldiers) moved into Camp Lockett to replace the11th Cavalry Regiment that had been converted into an armored unit. In 1943 The 28th Cavalry Regiment made up of inductees joined the 10th to form the 4th Cavalry Brigade of the 2nd Cavalry Division (Horse)
At the same time The 27th Cavalry Regiment, also made up of inductees, joined the 9th Cavalry Regiment to form the 5th Cavalry Brigade. This brigade was stationed in Fort Clark, Texas. Their duty was to guard the Texas-Mexican Border. While the 10th and 28th guarded the California-Mexican Border. These troopers also guarded the many installations along the border such as, trestles, bridges, dams, and railroad tunnels and would be the first line of defense in case Germany or Japan attempted an invasion of the United States through Mexico.
In 1944 the 9th, 10th, 27th and 28th were dismounted and sent to North Africa. Soon after their arrival there all four regiments were inactivated and converted into service troops. This marked the end of the horse cavalry in the United States Army. The 28th, through an error was not officially inactivated until 1951.This makes Camp Lockett the last home of the last horse cavalry in the US Army.
The Buffalo Soldiers were all black, segregated units (all officers were white at first) of the US Army formed after the Civil War for service in the West. Two segregated regiments of cavalry, the Ninth and the Tenth United States Cavalry and the 24th, 25th, 38th, 39th, 40th and 41st Infantry Regiments were commissioned in 1866. In 1869 the infantry regiments were consolidated into two units, the Twenty-fourth United States Infantry and the Twenty-fifth United States Infantry. Although often given some of the worst assignments by the Army, the Buffalo Soldiers persevered, and the 9th and 10th Cavalries developed into two of the most distinguished fighting units in the army.
By east of San Diego, they mean, 55 miles east, and by north of the Mexican Border, yea, that would be 5 miles north.
Camp Lockett is about an hour’s drive from my home, it is nestled in the Laguna Mountains and was the last home of the famed Buffalo soldiers.
The state Historical Resources Commission in Sacramento voted unanimously for the designation, with final approval expected within days from the director of California State Parks. The historical designation was sought by the county Department of Parks and Recreation as part of its efforts to create a park in the East County community.
The Army camp, which opened just days before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941, had more than 500 buildings. It housed a cavalry unit of white soldiers until 1942, when they were sent to North Africa. It then became the home of the Buffalo Soldiers, who patrolled the border and protected the area’s water supply and railroad line.
More than 3,500 black cavalrymen were stationed at Camp Lockett, along with 300 white officers and soldiers. In 1944, the regiments were broken up when the Army decided that it no longer needed soldiers on horseback.
Camp Lockett was converted into a prisoner-of-war camp for 400 Italian and 100 German soldiers. Later it was used as a convalescent hospital until it closed in 1946.
Camp Lockett, besides being the last home of the Buffalo soldiers, was also the home of the United States Army’s last Horse cavalry unit. A little bit of American history more or less hidden in San Diego California’s back country. Should you find yourself in the neighborhood and fancy seeing a bit of American Frontier history the Campo Stone Store Museum is well worth the voluntary two dollar donation.
The new camps for the Regiment were constructed in San Diego and Imperial counties, near the Southern California/Mexican border. Camp Seeley, near El Centro, California and Camp Morena; near Campo were built simultaneously. Camp Seeley was used for desert training, training the horses to swim with rider up (mounted) and was the location of Regiment’s rifle and machine gun ranges. Camp Morena was for mountain and cold weather training. The Regiment would rotate Squadrons between the two throughout the year. It was later decided to establish a single camp suitable to house the entire Regiment at one site. Construction of Camp Lockett (named for James Lockett, 4th Colonel of the Regiment) in Campo, where “E” Troop had been posted in 1918, began in 1941. Built by the Quartermaster Corps, it is generally acknowledged that Camp Lockett was the last designated mounted cavalry camp constructed in the U.S. Army’s history. It remained a cavalry post for the 10th and 28th Regiments after the 11th gave up its horses.
You might also consider picking up a copy of “The Forgotten Gunfight”
Campo: The Forgotten gunfight is a historical novel carefully researched and written by Bryon Harrington. It is based on the true story of the Campo Gunfight that took place december 4, 1875, in the small California border town of Campo. This story takes many twists and turns as it follows the Gaskill Brothers, who settled the town of Campo along the mexican border and the bandidos who crossed the border to commit a daring daylight robbery of the entire town. It begins in the spring of 1875 after the hanging of Tiburcio Vasquez, the infamous and legendary California bandit, and follows Tiburcio’s second in command, Clodoveo Chavez, and the rest of the bandits on a bloody trail all the way to Campo. If you think the OK Corral was exciting, wait until you read this!
Or visiting http://www.campogunfight.com