The Gates of 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...
CHIEF OF ENGINEERS
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 WrightChief 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 DecideSo 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 !
Historic Flights Originated on Fort MyerOn 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 1909When 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.
SELECT PHOTOGRAPHS FROM 1972 DISCOVERED (continued)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. 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 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. 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, 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. 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.
BUY THE BOOKIf 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
Historic Tour of the Defenses of Washington DCOne never knows what one will find if you rummage around the United States' attic... 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". 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 TourIt 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) "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!
Wright Flyer at Fort MyerIt 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 would 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.
Happy Birthday Fort Myer!
PS ... You too can own an autographed copy of the book "Images of America - Fort Myer" ... The First Book About this Historic US Army Post. It contains over 200 "timeless historic photographs" which chronicle the first 100 years of the Post.
The 3d Cavalry - the "Brave Rifles"After WW I, Fort Myer was where the famed 3d Cavalry - Brave Rifles - were stationed until they relinquished their horses in 1942 and headed to Georgia to become mechanized. When this film was made, COL George S Patton Jr. was commander of Fort Myer and the 3d Cavalry. Thanks to my extensive network, a video clip which was made in 1934 surfaced of these troopers exercising their mounts with sabers drawn on the drill field on Fort Myer. This joins the other three items that I've found that were filmed on Post:
- the 1909 flight of the Wright Flyer with Orville Wright & LT Frank Lahm
- the 1934 Movie "Keep 'Em Rolling" that introduced the Caisson Song
- the 1957 segment of The Big Picture with TUSAB* & TOG** on Summerall Field