Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery is located in San Antonio, Texas, adjoining the Fort Sam Houston Military Post. As early as 1846, the residents of San Antonio attempted to establish a permanent military facility in their town. During the Mexican War, the U.S. Army established a quartermaster depot at San Antonio and a training camp at San Pedro Spring. In 1849, San Antonio was named the headquarters of the U.S. Army, Eighth Military District and the Alamo was leased from the Catholic Church to use as a storage facility.
A formal request for an Army post was made in 1870, but Secretary of War W. W. Belknap opposed it. As a result, funding was delayed until 1875 and construction of the fort on 93 acres donated by the city did not begin until June 1876. In 1885 and 1891, 43 acres and 60 buildings were added, respectively, to what would become the post. In 1890 the military post at San Antonio was re-designated Fort Sam Houston by President Benjamin Harrison. Prominent visitors to the post included Chief Geronimo, who was held there in 1886 before his exile to Florida and Theodore Roosevelt, who stopped with his men at the base to receive provisions before leaving for Cuba in 1898.
By 1917 the installation had been raised to general depot status and was supplying the Mexican frontier, including troops engaged in General John J. Pershing's pursuit of Francisco “Pancho” Villa. In 1940, it was the largest army post in the United States and it served as a major internment center for prisoners of war during World War II. By 1949, Fort Sam Houston had 1,500 buildings on more than 3,300 acres and was the headquarters for the Fourth U.S. Army.
Although the post was established in 1875, the land upon which Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery is located did not become a burial ground until approximately half a century later. Interments of men from the post were made in a portion of the city cemetery until 1867, when the United States acquired the tract by donation from the city government and designated it San Antonio National Cemetery. Even at that early date, the city completely surrounded the new national cemetery and the possibility for expansion was extremely limited. As the years passed, the number of military personnel grew with a corresponding increase in the number of post deaths. This created a need for more burial facilities.
In recognition of this need, in 1924 a portion of the military reservation was set aside to be used as a post cemetery. The first interment was made two years later in 1926. On Aug. 6, 1931, the War Department announced the transfer of 60 acres, including the post cemetery, from the military reservation and designated the tract an addition to San Antonio National Cemetery. It retained this status until 1937 when the War Department formally renamed it Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery. Remains from one-time frontier posts in Texas such as Fort Ringgold, Fort Clark, and Fort McIntosh were reinterred in Fort Sam Houston when those facilities closed in 1947.