As the army and the rest of the United States, prepared to enter World War II, the active posts of the United States Army were inadequate for training the numbers of draftees necessary to fill the army's wartime ranks.
Several infantry replacement training centers were constructed, particularly in Texas, to accommodate the large number of new soldiers. Camp Howze was one such camp, and development began in December 1941. Camp Howze consisted of 59,000 acres of cooke county land. By 1942, trainees began arriving by train and bus from all over the country and the population of both Camp Howze and Gainesville quickly increased.
It was named to honor Major Robert E. Lee Howze, who had won the Congressional Medal of Honor and had served during the Indian campaigns, the Philippine Insurrection following the Spanish-American War, and World War I.
The base was activated in August of 1942 and the first commander was Major General John H. Hilldring. With a capacity of 39,963 soldiers, the camp was one of the largest training centers in the country. It was responsible for the preparation of several hundred thousand soldiers for both the European and Pacific campaigns.
Divisions that were trained at Camp Howze included the 84th whcih was the Railsplitters, the 86th Blackhawks, and 103rd "Cactus" Divisions of the U.S. Army. The camp also housed as many as 3000 Prisoners of War including Italian artist Alberto Burri.