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Fort Myer Pet Cemetery


Hail to the Pets – The Fort Myer Pet Cemetery

Posted By John Michael

Hidden History - The Pet Cemetery

Once queried about the pet cemetery on the post, it was a puzzle that deserved to be solved. Among the acres of Fort Myer, there are hidden secrets often paved over or built over as time marches forward.  Carved from the 1,100 acres of the Custis-Lee estate, those which provide the boundary of the gem in the US Army's crown of posts ...  this one of great historic import.  In its early days when it was known as Fort Whipple,  named after General Amiel Weeks Whipple, it formed a key part of the ring of forts and artillery batteries of the Defenses of Washington.   Put in place to defend the Capital City, that is still part of its mission over 150 years later.

Post Name Change to Fort Myer

With the name changed to Fort Myer in honor of General Albert J. Myer, the first Chief Signal Officer of the US Army, the post became a cavalry showcase when General Phillip Sheridan had the vision of one of the fine branches of the US Army.  Yet today, gone are the drill fields where the cavalry practiced their mounted charges with sabers drawn...gone are the trenches used to train for World War I ... gone are the Three Sisters that the US Navy erected to communicate with the fleet  and gone is the pet cemetery where the beloved animals that brought delight and more to their owners. Located on the South side of the post with the wall of Arlington National Cemetery to the east, the plot of land was where the pets were laid to rest.

Finnigan buried with military rites.

Fort Myer Pet Cemetery The photograph shows one of the sad scenes at the funeral of Aloysius Smith Neff Finnigan, buried with military honors at Fort Myer, Va. Finnegan, in case you don't know who he was, he was the mascot of the guardhouse at Fort Myer. He left a colonel's home six years ago to live with the unwilling guests of the guardhouse and every morning since then the little Aberdeen terrier rode the ash wagon as it made the rounds. Thus, it was fitting that the ash wagon served as his caisson. Reaching the grave, the regiment band played a funeral dirge, a fitting funeral oration was read, a squad fired three salutes, taps were sounded, and with the muffled roll of drums, his friends marched back to the guardhouse. Even his canine friends were there to pay their silent tribute. One of them, Barnacle Bill is shown sitting atop the mound of dirt from the grave as the casket is being borne forward


Images of America - Fort Myer is a pictorial chronicle of the first one hundred years of history containing over two hundred photographs, maps, and images.  Beginning in the 1860s and carrying through the 1960s it provides a view of what was over time.  An autographed copy of the book can be purchased at BUY THE BOOK.
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Horatio Gouverneur Wright

Fort Myer Historical

The RIGHT Wright?

Posted By John Michael

Those of you who have lived and walked and worked the acres of Fort Myer know  all the gates to this historic US Army Post ... Hatfield, Henry, Memorial, Selfridge, Old Post Chapel and WRIGHT...

The Gates of Fort Myer...

The Wright Gate at Fort Myer
The Wright Gate at Fort Myer
For the longest time I've thought that the WRIGHT gate was named in honor of the Wright Brothers who brought aviation to the military when Orville showed up in 1908 for the first military aviation flights - that same time we lost LT Thomas Selfridge when the Wright Flyer fell from nearly 100 feet after a propeller shattered and caused the aeroplane to fall from the sky causing Orville Wright to get injured - broken ribs and broken leg, while LT Selfridge suffered a concussion and passed on a few hours later. HOWEVER...


Recent research has turned up a new possibility ...

The US Army Corps of Engineers  - Engineers to the United States and many cases to the world - had a Chief of Engineers named Wright... who was in the same graduating class as MG Amiel Weeks Whipple - Class of 1841 from the US Military Academy at West Point, NY

Brigadier General Horatio Gouverneur Wright

Horatio Gouverneur Wright Horatio Wright
MG Horatio Gouverneur Wright
Chief of Engineers (June 30, 1879–March 6, 1884) Born March 6, 1820, in Clinton, Connecticut, Horatio Wright graduated second in the Military Academy Class of 1841 (the same class as Amiel Weeks Whipple) and was commissioned in the Corps of Engineers. He superintended construction at Fort Jefferson at Dry Tortugas, 70 miles west of Key West, Florida, 1846–1856. While assistant to the Chief Engineer of the Army, 1856–1861, he was a member of boards to study iron carriages for seacoast guns and the adaptability of the 15-inch gun for ordnance. He co-wrote Report on Fabrication of Iron for Defenses. From Chief Engineer of a division at the first Battle of Bull Run, he advanced to command the famous Sixth Army Corps, which saved Washington, D.C., from capture in 1864 and spearheaded the final assault on Petersburg and the pursuit of Lee to Appomattox in 1865. He commanded the Department of Texas, 1865–1866, and served as a member on the Board of Engineers for Fortifications and on many river and harbor planning boards until he was appointed Chief of Engineers in 1879. While Wright was Chief of Engineers, engineer officers began a reservoir system at the headwaters of the Mississippi River and initiated the first substantial federal effort to control the river’s lower reaches. Gen. Wright retired March 6, 1884, and died July 2, 1899, in Washington, DC

You Decide

So is WRIGHT GATE named for the Wright Brothers or for MG Horatio Wright   OR for someone else? Please comment below...

DO You Have the Book?

Images of America - Fort Myer takes you through the first one hundred years of this Civil War era fort when it began as Fort Whipple. An autographed copy is available from John Michael or from several other locations or online book sellers ...  so BUY THE BOOK !
Images of America Fort Myer, home of the Chief
Images of America
- Fort Myer
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At Fort Myer Community Center

Events Events - Book Signings

Fall Bazaar on Fort Myer

Posted By John Michael

Hold the Date!


At Fort Myer Community Center
At Fort Myer Community Center
For the Annual Fall Bazaar 2015


At the Community Center on Fort Myer from 1000 until 1500  John Michael will be signing and selling "Images of America - Fort Myer"  AND "Images of America - Fort Lesley J. McNair" PLUS other items including ANC notecards, greeting cards and photographs Among them will be select heraldry Christmas notecards also!
  • images of America - Fort Myer
    images of America - Fort Myer
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Wright Flyer over Fort Myer


US Army Buys the Future of Aviation

Posted By John Michael

Historic Flights Originated on Fort Myer

Wright Flyer over Fort Myer
Wright Flyer over Fort Myer
On 02 August 1909 another military aviation milestone was reached. It was when the US Army Signal Corps secured the Wright Flyer from the Wright Brothers. For the sum of $30,000.00 of which $5,000.00 was a bonus for exceeding the requirements of speed of flight,  - They flew from the Fort Myer to Alexandria Virginia and back at the speed of 42.5 mph. It marked the Future of Aviation as the United States was now  the first country in the world to own an aircraft. The saga began in September 1908 when the first military flights began on Fort Myer - circling the drill field with Arlington National Cemetery as the backdrop to history being made on this US Army Post. Orville Wright had appeared with his Wright Flyer prepared to answer the US Army Signal Corps' request for a heavier than air flying machine. He successfully demonstrated the capability of the Wright Flyer.  Despite the crash caused by a shattered propeller that dropped Orville and LT Thomas Selfridge from the sky at about one hundred feet.  Orville suffered broken bones in his leg and broken ribs.  Selfridge fared worse with a concussion that later resulted in him passing.  He then became the first military aviation fatality.   Section 3 in Arlington National Cemetery is where he is at rest.

Wright Brothers Return in 1909

When the US Army agreed to a return appearance, the Wright brothers, both Orville and WIlbur returned in June 1909 with a brand newly built airplane designated the "Military Flyer".  It was then flown several times for both duration of flight and speed.  After the second speed test flight which included Orville flying from Fort Myer to Alexandria Virginia and return,  the US Army was convinced of the value of what the Wright brothers produced. The US Army bought the future of aviation with the acceptance of the Military Flyer.  Later in August, after a balloon reconnaissance by Lt Frank Lahm,  land in College Park, Maryland was leased to become the first US Army Signal Corps Airport.   The airport continues until today thus holding the distinction of the oldest airport in the world.   An aviation museum sits alongside the runway where the Wright brothers trained the first US Army pilots.   Later other aviation companies would get there start among those acres.

OVER 200 Historical Images

"images of America - Fort Myer"  chronicles the first one hundred years of this historic US Army Post from when it was built in the 1860s and known then as Fort Whipple until the 1960s when among the 3d Infantry regiment appeared the Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps.   An autographed by the author copy of the book is avail able at BUY THE BOOK.
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Map of Fort Myer

Fort Myer Historical


Posted By John Michael


  In Part I of this 1972 Tour of Fort Myer, several newly discovered images were presented.   Here in Part II, several more of that cache of photographs from 1972 are presented below.   As mentioned in Part I, when exploring America's attic, the findings can sometimes be surprising.
Quarters 6 on Generals' Row - Grant Avenue
One of the several homes on Grant Avenue, also known as "Generals' Row"  It once was the quarters of General George S. Patton Jr.  Whipple Field is not too too far away (it's across the street!) That's where the Civil War era fortification "Fort Whipple" was located.  One of two of the nearly 70 fortifications located within the acres of present day Historic Fort Myer - the other was Fort Cass which were part of the Defenses of Washington
Building #59 - Post HQ previously the Post Hospital
Some nearly turn of the century building that contained the Post hospital (It was where Orville Wright and Lieutenant Selfridge were taken in SEP 1908 after the Wright Flyer crashed during a test flight on Fort Myer) In later years, the hospital was closed and the building became Post Headquarters where the command staff is located.
Caisson Platoon Stables - McKinney Stables
At one period of time, Fort Myer was a showcase for the US Cavalry.  With about 1,500 horses which were serving the field artillery and the cavalry, there were many more stables on post.  That all changed in February 1942 when the 3d Cavalry - "The Brave Rifles"  relinquished their mounts and were shipped south to get mechanized.  The Army's Remount Service only lasted until 1948 when all the depots,  including the one at Front Royal, Virginia were turned over to the US Department of Agriculture. Many of the stables on post were re-purposed or in the case of those used by the field artillery units, were torn down - their gun sheds also were scrapped.   The stable in the photo is the McKinney Stable where the Old Guard's Caisson Platoon spends most of their waking hours tending to the horses that provide the transport of the veterans in Arlington National Cemetery. Other stables to the north of this one have been repurposed - one is the home of the Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps.  Down below Whipple Field are several other stables which were used by the Buffalo Soldiers while they were stationed at Fort Myer.  Both the 9th and 10th Cavalry were stationed at the Post.
Comny Hall - Once the Riding Hall
Comny Hall, named for COL Joseph B. Conmy Jr. who commanded the 3d Infantry - "The Old Guard" in 1962.  Back in the day, when Fort Myer was a Cavalry Showcase, this was the riding arena where the troopers kept their skills sharp during the winter months.  The hall, with it's floor of ground also provided the location where the Society Circus was held to entertain those from the city of Washington and surrounds. After the cavalry left in 1942, the building was repurposed and over time became the location where ceremonies would be held -  retirements, changes of command / responsibility and even events such as Twilight Tattoo, Prelude to Taps and even Spirit of America. Since 1948 when the 3d Infantry was re-activated and the regiment became a "permanent resident" of the Post, their soldiers in concert with the US Army Band - "Pershing's Own" provided all the ceremonial troops for the events.
The original commissary buildings in 1972
COMMISSARY - these buildings back in 1972 is where the Soldiers and their families came to shop for their provisions.  It was before the current commissary was built near the southwest corner of the Post.  These buildings are now used for other purposes such as the Post thrift shop.


If you've enjoyed this small glimpse of Fort Myer, then perhaps you should BUY THE BOOK.  An author autographed copy is available here on this website. Coming next  A 1972 Tour of Fort Myer - Part III Or a look back at A 1972 Tour of Fort Myer - Part i            
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Map of Fort Myer

Fort Myer

A 1972 Tour of Fort Myer – Part I

Posted By John Michael


When you are poking around in America's attic, it's amazing what sometimes just drops into your lap. It's only been around since 1863 when it was known as Fort Whipple  -  though the constant on Fort Myer is change.  It began as one of then nearly 70 forts during the US Civil War as part of the Defenses of Washington.  Unlike the other forts, it is the only remaining and still doing what it was designed to do - Defend the Capital City!
Map of Fort Myer
Map of Fort Myer
  The map above shows what is in the present time.   At one point in the post's history it was referred to as "North Post" since in the 1940s up until the mid 1970s there was a "South Post"  Fort Myer that was originally established to provide housing for the WACS and Soldiers who worked in the Pentagon and other agencies in downtown Washington DC.  It also provided housing for the women who also worked downtown.  By the 1980s, South Post was a faint memory.  It's barracks and other buildings - PX, HQs, Chapel, Gymnasium, Pool and more were gone.  Its acres became part of Arlington National Cemetery as the cemetery needed to expand.   Explore and enjoy this 1972 tour of Fort Myer. What follows below are some historic and 1972 era photos found while doing further research...   Fort-Myer-Photos-1972-19 The photo above shows when the post primarily consisted of wooden buildings.  The building in center of the photo is the post hospital and access to it was via the bridge seen in the foreground.  The bridge is long gone as are the other buildings in the photo.  Around the turn of the 19th century, a concerted building project resulted in a new set of buildings primarily constructed of brick.     Fort-Myer-Photos-1972-14 In the above photograph, the view down Grant Avenue looking to the North shows some of the "Generals Row" homes. Quarters One, home to the Chief of Staff of the US Army is at the end of this street. To the right side of the photograph would be Whipple Field where the original Fort Whipple stood during the US Civil War.   Fort-Myer-Photos-1972-18 Building #246, back in 1972 was headquarters of the 3d Infantry - "The Old Guard"    The regiment would eventually relocate from this building and it would become barracks for one of the operating companies of the regiment.   Fort-Myer-Photos-1972-11   This building was a puzzle when first found, but upon further research it was learned that this was Bachelor Officer Quarters (BOQ) that was placed nearby to Wainwright Hall on Fort Myer.


If you've enjoyed this small glimpse of Fort Myer, then perhaps you should BUY THE BOOK.  An author autographed copy is available here on this website. Coming next  A 1972 Tour of Fort Myer - Part II
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Tour of the Defenses of Washington DC


Tour – Historic Civil War Defenses of Washington DC

Posted By John Michael

Historic Tour of the Defenses of Washington DC

One never knows what one will find if you rummage around the United States' attic...
Fort Ward Gate Alexandria Virginia
Fort Ward Gate
Alexandria Virginia
Driving around the "DMV" - District, Maryland & Virginia - one will often see signs of the US Civil War -  National Park Service signs that announce a fort such as Fort Davis or Fort Foote or Fort Totten with little but a few earthworks mounds to see and hardly any sign of what was there over 150 years ago.  Yet by the end of the war, there would be 68 forts along with some 90 artillery batteries that would be the defense of the perimeter of the Capital City of Washington DC.  Major General John G. Barnard was the engineer who designed most of these fortifications. He is often called the "Father of the Defenses of Washington DC".
Fort Stevens Washington DC
Fort Stevens
Washington DC
  Today, only a few of those fortifications and artillery batteries still exist in more than just those signs and mounds of earth -  Fort Stevens in Washington DC and Fort Ward in Alexandria, Virginia are two that have been conserved in entirety or partially to show part of  the Defenses of Washington DC.

National Park Service Presents a Tour

It was 1938, the 75th anniversary of the battle of Gettysburg during the US Civil  War.  It was when the Civil War was something fresh in the minds of the people who experienced it,  the National Park Service provided a tour of "the Defenses of Washington DC"  From that tour here is a twenty page booklet that was provided to those who took the tour. (Be patient - the book may take a bit to load)
The book "Images of America - Fort Myer" contains over 200 historical photographs.  They were selected from new research among the archives of America.  An autographed / personalized copy is available.   Order yours TODAY!
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Fort Robinson Post Headquarters

About the Book - Images of America Fort Myer

Fort Robinson – Cavalry Post & Remount Depot

Posted By John Michael

Fort Robinson  Post Headquarters
Fort Robinson Post Headquarters



It was in 1847 as America continued to push west.  The US Army established Posts on the frontier and Fort Robinson, Nebraska was one.  This post would have a very interesting life over the next several decades as a home for the US Cavalry including the famed Buffalo Soldiers. It then would become in the 20th century the largest of all the remount depots of the US Army's Remount Service. The thousands of acres - about  22,000 began as Camp Robinson named after Lieutenant Levi  Robinson. He was killed in February 1874 by a band of Indians who attacked the lieutenant and a Corporal   while they were on a side trip hunting game. The US Army Post later became the largest remount depot for the US Army Remount Service after the depot at Fort Keogh was closed
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College Park Airport


On To College Park, Maryland!

Posted By John Michael

Military Aviation School at College Park MarylandBecause of the US Army Signal Corps and the aviation success at Fort Myer, College Park, Maryland became the site of the longest continual operational airport in the world.

Wright Flyer at Fort Myer

It was late July 1909. The Wright Flyer had flown from Fort Myer Virginia to the edges of Old Town Alexandria, Virginia and back. The US Army Signal Corps' Officers were pleased that the speed results exceeded the 40 MPH threshold.  With the return of the Wright Brothers entry in response  to their request for a heavier than air flying machine, the Army had a viable aircraft.   It was now up to the Wright brothers to provide the training.  But where?   The small number of acres at Fort Myer were too confining.   Besides, the public interest guaranteed that there was always a crowd of people ready to watch this new form of transportation when they held the trials at Fort Myer. The US Army still used gas filled balloons then.  LT Frank Lahm on a regular observation flight discovered a flat parcel of land some 10 to 12 miles to the Northeast. It was near the Baltimore and Ohio railroad tracks, which later would serve as competition for the air-land races that these new aviators would compete.  So the US Army leased the land in August of 1909 and a new chapter... perhaps books of transportation began.  It was here that the Wright brothers trained the first pilots:  Frederic Humphreys and Frank Lahm.  It would also be here that many familiar aviation companies began -  among them Curtiss-Wright. The War Department established the first military aviation school with Lieutenant Henry H. Arnold as one of the instructors.  The airplane saw its first use in warfare in WWI as the US Army Air Corps was established in 1926 - they renamed the US Army Air Service. Arnold college_park_airport_2would later go on to lead the new United States Army Air Forces in 1942 which became the United States Air Force in 1947. It would be at College Park, where civilian aviation began with the Rex Smith Aeroplane Company.   Later another first, the building of the first aircraft by the Christmas Aeroplane Company in 1911.  A year later, the company would deliver it's next model craft to respond to the contract to deliver mail by air for the  US Postal Service.  In 1918, the first regular airmail delivery between College Park and both Philadelphia and New York City began lasting until 1921. As more and more applications of aviation were  discovered and used, the industry grew as did the number of  airports across the United States and around the world.  Though College Park, Maryland still  holds the distinction of being the first.  The saga continues at the airport and the adjacent College Park Aviation Museum which is worth the visit to see some of this history up close and personal. The book,  "Images of America - Fort Myer"  holds a treasure of over 200 "timeless photographs" that deliver the first 100 years of this US Army Post.  
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Images of America - Fort Myer

Events Uncategorized

HAPPY BIRTHDAY – Images of America – Fort Myer!

Posted By John Michael

On 13 JUN 2011 - a milestone groundbreaking book was published - HAPPY BIRTHDAY - IMAGES of AMERICA - FORT MYER! FREE SHIPPING - From now until 30 JUN 2013 - Add an author autographed copy of the book to your library Why?  With over 200 timeless historic photographs, it features a note from Abraham Lincoln, first published in the book that highlights the connection between the 16th President and Major General Amiel Weeks Whipple Select FREE SHIPPING and in days your "Personalized"  book will be in your hands and the adventure will begin to provide you with the first one hundred years of this historic US Army Post with origins during the US Civil War when it began as Fort Whipple. Learn about military aviation's beginnings, the National Weather Service,  and...   NOTE A portion of your purchase price will be donated to the Army Historical Foundation to help build the National Museum of the US Army.  

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