Browsing articles tagged with "Albert J. Myer Archives - Historic Fort Myer VIRGINIA"
Jun
5

Happy Birthday Fort Myer – Defending the Capital for 150 Years

Headquarters - Fort MyerBeginning as Fort Whipple in 1863 as one of the Defenses of Washington, Fort Myer continues today in its original mission of defending Washington DC. Fort Marcy may have a sign on the George Washington Parkway... Fort Stevens has been partially reconstructed and preserved as is Fort Ward. But ONLY Fort Myer continues to defend with the celebrated Oldest Infantry Regiment in the US Army - the 3d --- The Old Guard. The acres have changed much in those century and a half. The drill field where hundreds of horses with mounted riders rode, kicking up dust or where the Wright Flyer flew overhead, the rustic trails where the troopers practiced their saber charge and trenches were dug to train for WW I and later where the Jeep from Bantam Car Company was tested and approved, are gone. Where Rodney retired and a tribute to the US Army Remount Service was made with the movie "Keep 'Em Rolling" - The first commercial movie filmed on Fort Myer, including the first instance of "caisson drag racing" on the drill field. Chapel on South PostSouth Post - Fort Myer where during WW II nearly 2000 WACs (Women's Army Corps) lived and a complement of Soldiers who worked in the newly built Pentagon. Also the site of the "Troop Chapel" dedicated by Chief of Staff George Marshall - and then was duplicated 500 times across the US Army. The Military Police school called South Post home from the beginning. US Army units that have called Fort Myer home have included numerous Cavalry Regiments - Capped off by the 3d - "Brave Rifles" and squadrons of the 9th and 10th - The "Buffalo Soldiers". Home to the Signal Corps School where General Albert J Myer continued the use of the acres after the Civil War was over to teach the wig-wag system of signaling as well as the heliograph. The National Weather Service was born and developed on these historic acres with the needs promoting the exploration into aerial flight. Alexander Graham Bell's invention saw its first use among the US Army Signal Corps as the first long distance line ran between Fort Myer and their headquarters across the Potomac in Washington. The mark of Patton ... among each of his tours on Fort Myer,  General George S. Patton, Jr., he left an imprint that affected the US Army The Old Post Chapel on Fort Myer Virginiaand or the Post, from the Society Circus, to the iconic "Old Post Chapel"  - the design borrowed by the US Navy.   Patton Hall, known to most as "the O Club" is a standing tribute recognizing his contributions to Fort Myer. Even the US Navy left an imprint upon the acres when it erected the first radio towers, "The Three Sisters" which enabled communication with the fleet and capability to communicate with Europe and across the United States. Fort Myer is home to the US Army Band "Pershing's Own" since the 1940s.  The other long time resident unit is the 3d Infantry Regiment, "The Old Guard".   Together. they form a partnership to perform all the ceremonial duties and events within the National Capital Region - the most honorable among those duties and events is the support for the final honors at Arlington National Cemetery. Whipple, Myer, Patton, Marshall, Pershing are only a few of the names that are among those who over the years set their mark on the Arlington Heights acres.

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.Made in the United States of America

Mar
13

A Book by Albert J Myer Discovered

wig wag signal flagsAlbert J Myer was a medical doctor by training, yet his contributions went far beyond the realm of medicine.  He was the first Chief Signal Officer of the US Army.  To his credit, he is the reason there is a Fort Myer. When he developed the Wig-Wag System of signaling, it became a revolutionary concept that improved communications especially in time of battle.  It was used by both the North and the South during the US Civil War. After the war, he continued his work and first established the Signal Corps School at the downtown offices in Washington DC.  Practical use and training was difficult for two reasons:  lack of space for the students, which included both US Army Soldiers, and students from the US Navy.  the second was sufficient space to practice using the signal flags and or torches (they comprise the US Army Signal Corps branch insignia) General Albert J Myer then sought out a place outside the city confines of Washington.  It was Fort Greble , another of the Defenses of Washington during the Civil War.   It was found to be unsatisfactory. So his search continued.  It was on Arlington Heights where he found the best location - Fort Whipple - the location would later carry his name and become Fort Myer. Since the surrounds about all the fortifications which numbered nearly 70, were clear-cut of trees for line of sight and line of fire for the artillery,  it was best suited to have wig-wag students stand on the heights and a complement down at the Washington Monument to practice their signaling. A book was discovered published in 1870 by General Albert J. Myer, the First Chief Signal Officer of the US Army, entitled "Extracts from the Manual of Extract from the Manual of SignalsSignals."  It was clear that an US Army Signalman was provided the correct equipment to "Get the Message Through...."  The kit was wrapped in what appears to be canvas that included straps for securing it and pouches on the interior to contain the staffs.  Each contained one each of the two types of wig-wag flags,  three staffs to raise the flags (or torch) high enough to be seen by the recipient.  In addition, a haversack was included to hold the two torches for night signaling and a canteen filled with fuel for the torches. Signalmen also marched in formation when assembled as a unit. Their kits hoisted and carried on their shoulder as if it were a weapon.  Kits were also subject to inspection. They also had a manual of kits and flags similar to a manual of arms that a Soldier would have in carrying their weapon. The book also contains information about "field telegraph trains" and how they were used to assist in the placement of telegraph wire strung on lances.  These trains consisted of a battery wagon, and a combination of wire wagons and lance wagons. For more interesting history about Fort Myer including over 200 historic timeless photographs,  Buy the Book, an author autographed copy is available.
Feb
1

Virginia Festival of the Book

By John Michael  //  News  //  No Comments
Virginia Festival of the Book 2012DATELINE - Charlottesville Virginia: "Images of America - Fort Myer" has been selected as one of the books to be featured at this annual March 2012 event. From a field of nearly 1,000 books submitted, it was selected. Author John Michael will be onsite to present and discuss his ground-breaking first book about this unique US Army Post with origins during the US Civil War as part of the Defenses of Washington, when it was named Fort Whipple Fort Whipple was built in JUNE 1863 on Arlington Heights, Virginia within the acreage that was the Custis-Lee estate.   It was in honor of General Amiel Weeks Whipple who was the commander of the Defenses of Washington's southern fortifications, who used Arlington House as his headquarters. The Post was later renamed Fort Myer to eliminate the confusion with the other Fort Whipple located in Arizona and to honor General Albert J. Myer, the US Army's first Signal Officer who located the US Army's Signal Corps School on the acres. Home to the US Army's two elite units: The US Army Band - "Pershing's Own" and "The Old Guard - 3d Infantry Regiment of the US Army,  Fort Myer continues to provide defense of Washington DC - the Capital of the United States of America. More information about the event and times and locations within Charlottesville is at Virginia Festival of the Book 2012
Nov
30

Why I Wrote the Book

Images of America - Fort Myer"Images of America - Fort Myer" became a reality on 13 JUN 2011, one day before the US Army's birthday - very appropriately mind you. As the FIRST BOOK ever about this historic US Army Post with origins back to the US Civil War when it was known as Fort Whipple and part of the nearly 70 forts which surrounded and defended the US Capital - "The Defenses of Washington". Fort Myer continues that duty uninterrupted until today from the heights of Arlington.  What's on the acres has changed.  There's no more drill field where the thundering hooves of the nearly 1,500 horses carried their Cavalry troopers or pulled their cassions with field artillery.   There's no more trolley line.  Instead it's the home of the elite units of the US Army. The reason I wrote the book? Besides breaking new ground, which has become my hallmark, especially within the last decade, it needed to be done. This fort has been the site of many events which have molded or changed the world around us, and no one is aware of it and those milestones and contributions, until now. With over two years of research based on a foundation of working and walking among the US military since 2000, the result is over 200 historical photographs which cover from the 1860s to the 1960s.   The book also fills a void in the US Army story and as one of those who bought the book said "You set the bar high and you jumped over it."   -  a nice critique for a first work. Thanks to General Albert J. Myer and his visionary initiatives, the fort continued to be used after the War Between the States as the home for the Signal Corps School.   It was later General of the Army Philip H.  Sheridan upon a petition to the US Congress turned it into a military reservation and showcase for the US Cavalry -  The Remount Service begun in 1909 and the Front Royal Depot from 1911 provided Fort Myer with a fresh source of horses to keep the Army moving. The US Army Remount Service also had depots at Fort Keogh in Montana, Fort Reno in Oklahoma and later Fort Robinson in Nebraska which was the largest - 22,000 acres!   THE Key item in the book is a note from Abraham Lincoln which I discovered during my research. Until I found it at the National Archives sandwiched between two photographs, no one, not even the Fort Myer historian knew of its existence. It opens up another branch of the Lincoln Legacy Tree and published for the first time in my book. Highlights of some of the milestones at Fort Myer include:
  • Birthplace of military aviation,
  • Birthplace of the National Weather Service,
  • Home of the US Army Signal Corps School,
  • The JEEP was tested and approved on Fort Myer,
  • Home of the US Army Band since 1942,
  • Home of The Old Guard since 1948
  • Society Circus (which I believe evolved into "Spirit of America") 
The impact that General George S. Patton had with his four tours on Post is amazing.   The book helps remember South Post Fort Myer which served strongly as where the WACS and 12th Infantry were located during World War II.   South Post also is where the MP School was established and a chapel was built that would be replicated over 500 times across the US Army (many of which are still providing a place of worship for the Soldiers, their family and friends.) (*The Soldiers of the  US Army's 3d Infantry Regiment who's dual mission includes defending the Capital and performing the ceremonial work in Arlington National Cemetery and around the Capital region including White House, Pentagon, Andrews AFB, etc.) The real treat are the over 200 historical photographs which chronicle over time the first one hundred years of this historic US Army Post.   Many of which have never been seen before or published. John Michael "Preserving the memories so others will remember..." ™
Mar
27

Here Comes the Cavalry

Here comes the CavalryIt was after the US Civil War, the nation was undergoing a period of healing from the "brother against brother" conflict.  Fort Whipple, one of the original fortifications among the Defenses of Washington had continued on after all the other nearly 70 fortifications were abandoned.   The first Chief Signal Officer, General Albert J. Myer had brought his Signal Corps School to Arlington Heights.  It was 1880 when the name changed to Fort Myer in his honor. In August 1886 the US Congress designated Fort Myer a military station and the Signal Corps School vacated. With a vision in mind of turning Fort Myer into a Cavalry Show Case, LTG  Phillip H Sheridan requested that it become a cavalry post.  It was nearly a year later in July 1887, when Troop B of the 6th Cavalry  from Fort Lewis, Colorado and Troop B of the 4th Cavalry from Fort Hauchuca, Arizona arrived.   Major James Biddle of the 6th as commanding officer. The cavalry had arrived and would spur a growth in permanent buildings including troop barracks, a riding arena, new stables.  For several decades, the cavalry would provide the defense of the US Capital and ceremonial support in and around Washington, DC including final honors support at Arlington National Cemetery.   In time the US Army would establish the Remount Service and nearly 1,500 horses would occupy the acres of Fort Myer. Over 200 Historical photographs from the 1860s to the 1960s are within the book "Images of America - Fort Myer" that chronicle the emergence of this historic unique US Army Post.
Mar
20

Fort Whipple Virginia

In A typical civil war fortification entrance reading books like "The Civil War" by Buce Catton, one would never know about the Defenses of Washington.  Missing from that work are the names of General John Gross Barnard,  General Amiel Weeks Whipple and many more who contributed to defending the US Capital. It was after the first battle of Bull Run or First Manassas, depending on which side of the Mason Dixon line you're on,  that General McClellan surveyed the defenses of Washington and decided that additional fortifications were needed.  Even though the Arlington Line - a series of fortifications and batteries located on western side of Washington, DC - were in place, the defeat that the Union troops took got the Union leadership into action. The result was in some cases a fort was placed as a secondary line of defense - one was Fort Whipple, named for the General who had commanded the defenses of Washington from the Custis-Lee Mansion.   His desire to get into the fighting took him to Fredericksburg and later Chancellorsville where he was shot by a sharpshooter while sitting on his horse in May of 1863. Assessments made from the extensive plans for this fort that overlooked the valley where Washington DC lay, was this was the ideal fort and set the model for ones that would follow.  In the book, "Images of America - Fort Myer" the plans for this fortification and other related information is presented as the first 100 years of  history of this fort, later named Fort Myer, in honor of the US Army's first Signal Officer - General Albert J. Myer, is told.
Mar
10

Home of Signal Corps School

US Army Signal Corps - Branch InsigniaAfter the Civil War, the US Army's Signal Corps School moved to Fort Whipple on Arlington Heights overlooking the valley which included the US Capital.  General Albert J. Myer, who would later become the US Army's First Signal Officer as a result  of  his visionary contributions, considered it an outstanding location from where the skills of signaling could be easily taught.  From a  view of 5 to 30 miles, it also had the space  to conduct lasting experiments of alternate signaling methods. The two crossed flags in the branch insignia are the two variations of the flag used in the wig-wag system developed by General Myer.  The torch provided illumination at night.  Fort Whipple would later be re-named Fort Myer in honor of General Myer. In the book "Images of America - Fort Myer" these and other accomplishments, milestones and people who contributed are highlighted marking the first one hundred years of this historic US Army Post which is still in operation.
Mar
7

Up up and away in my beautiful balloon

After the US Civil War, there were about 70 fortifications which surrounded the Nation's Capital - Washington DC.  They were abandoned by the US Army and the land reverted back to the original owners.  Except for the 1,100 acre Custis-Lee Estate which was seized for non-payment of land taxes. (even though Mary Custis sent the payment, the US government insisted that she show up in person to make the payment).
US Army Signal Corps Balloon

Signal Corps Balloon

Albert James Myer, for which Fort Myer is named, was by training a surgeon who as the US Army's  first Signal Corps Officer established the Signal Corps School on what was then Fort Whipple. Obeservation balloons were used quite frequently during the US Civil War to report the progress of the battle.  In fact General Amiel Weeks Whipple, when he was commander of the Defenses of Washington had ordered a balloon aloft from the very spot where later Fort Whipple was built honoring the General who was shot by a sharpshooter during the battle of Chancellorsville. From what's been learned, balloons in those days were filled with hydrogen gas generated by combining sulphuric acid and iron shavings which were mixed in enclosed wagons with feeder hoses.  Thaddeus Lowe was the first to command the balloonists.  He also invented the hydrogen gas generators used to full the balloons. "Images of America - Fort Myer" contains photographs of these balloons and many more historical photographs - over 200 in fact that provides a concise glimpse of this unique US Army Post with its origins during the US Civil War when it was known as Fort Whipple.
Mar
2

Fort Myer – Virginia…

Major General Albert J. Myer

MG Albert J. Myer

When most people hear the name Fort Myer, they don't think Virginia, but a place much further south in the United States.   The other location is an attractive place for tourism and nearby beaches with palm trees on the Gulf of Mexico.   This other location WAS an US Army Fort built in 1850 as a military fort in response to Seminole Indians that were in conflict with the area's few settlers. So the confusion continues... perhaps once people begin reading the book "Images of America - Fort Myer" they'll get a better understanding that Fort Myer is in Virginia   (first named Fort Whipple during the US Civil War) and is home to the US Army Band - "Pershing's Own", the US Army's 3d Infantry Regiment - "The Old Guard". The fort  is located right next to Arlington National Cemetery.  It was named after General Albert J. Myer, the US Army's first Signal Officer, the inventor of the wig-wag signaling method  (the insignia of the US Army Signal Corps are a pair of crossed Wig-Wag Flags), who also started the National Weather Service. Today, Fort Myer, Virginia with over a century of service to the United States of America is as an outstanding US Army Post, defending the Nation's Capital - Washington, DC with origins during the US Civil War.   Many more events and people who were stationed there have had major influences on the United States and the world. Please sign up for more- info, history and announcements ...  see the form on this page.  You can also buy the book,  "Images of America - Fort Myer"
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