Is Camp Blanding important to Clay County? 750,000 soldiers have been assigned to Camp Blanding -- more than all citizens counted in all censuses since Florida became a territory.
By 1913, the Florida National Guard had amassed about 1,000 acres at Mulberry Grove, just north of Orange Park at the present site of NAS JAX. The area is described in detail in the extensive journal of the area's major owner, A. M. Reed (copy available at the Archives.) Camp Foster, as it was called, was used extensively for WW I training. In 1939, at the onset of WW II, the National Guard was outgrowing the property and the Navy wanted it for NAS JAX, so the Armory Board bought extensive tracts to create Camp Blanding. By 1941, 30,400 acres had been purchased. Between 1945 and 1954, Camp Blanding claimed an additional 88,000 acre maneuver area (see FL State Archives, Comptroller, Series 737, Carton 5, Railroads folder).
The CCC refused to help build the camp, but the WPA pitched in and constructed the rifle range and a recreation facility.
Several archaeological surveys have been completed and the Archives is in the process of receiving copies.
Two important works detail the history of Camp Blanding and both are available at the Archives: "Camp Blanding Florida Star in Peace and War by W. Stanford Smith," and Patricia Stalling's detailed historical narrative.
Besides all of the training and mobilization activites at the camp, it also served as a POW camp from 1942 through 1946, housing as many as 4,600 prisoners. (See "Hitler's Soldier's in the Sunshine Sate, by Robert D. Billinger, Jr.)
| You may also be interested in the Camp Blanding Museum |
Building Camp Blanding
Induction and Training
Books at the Archives
Camp Blanding/Florida Star In Peace & War, by W.Stanford Smith
Camp Blanding Photographic 1940-194
Camp Blanding, by Stanley A. Nordwall (Native Amer., 508th Parachute)
Hitler's Soldiers in the Sunshine State WWII-German POWs in Florida