Hail to the Pets – The Fort Myer Pet Cemetery

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

BUY THE BOOK

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.

Post Author: John Michael

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