Beginning 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.
South 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 and 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.
It’s coming… the kindle version … the book “Images of America – Fort Myer” is in the queue to be converted and released in the Kindle
version. Arcadia Publishing has sent an alert that it will be available soon. Watch this space for an announcement of its availability. Historic Fort Myer began in 1863 as Fort Whipple, one of the nearly 70 forts that formed the Defenses of Washington. Since the 1940s, it’s been the home of The US Army Band “Pershing’s Own” and the 3d Infantry Regiment, “The Old Guard” (named by General Winfield Scott).
For those of you who still prefer a paper copy – especially if you would like an autographed copy – it’s time to head to BUY THE BOOK and select your choice.
In either case, you’ll be presented with over 200 timeless photographs complemented by interpretive text that will capsule the first one hundred years of this US Army Post – 1860s to 1960s. It is the only remaining fort from the Civil War era that is still “ON POINT” – it’s also where the famed Buffalo Soldiers – the 9th and 10th Cavalry had squadrons posted twice. And forgotten ways of transportation – the trolley lines – one which began as a horsecar that came out of Rosslyn , Virginia and ultimately electrified was extended to Nauck area of Arlington County, Virginia.
So whatever version you choose, the kindle version or the regular paper book, you’ll be getting an excellent book that presents such historic events such as: the first military aviation flight, the showcase for the US Cavalry, the little known “Society Circus” – begun during Patton’s second of four postings to Fort Myer, impressive photos of the South Post of Fort Myer, the “Fort Myer and Arlington National Cemetery” connection and most of all the first time published note from Abraham Lincoln which was discovered during the research for the book.
Don’t have a Kindle yet? Here’s where you can get one direct from Amazon…
want to know when the Kindle version is available? Sign up below … provide your name and email address and you’ll be alerted.
or to the clothing store on Fort Myer?
These are two of the new locations that will be carrying “Images of America – Fort Myer” or if you prefer to get your copy autographed or from online booksellers, you can purchase via the “Buy the Book” link above.
The book, the first ever about Fort Myer, has been selected by Virginia Festival of the Book 2012 as a featured item. On the 23rd of March it will be presented and discussed at this the largest book festival on the east coast of the United States – held annually in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Are you attending Virginia Festival of the Book?
When are you planning to visit Arlington National Cemetery?
Some 65 years ago on 19 January 1947 from the US Army’s Quartermaster – Remount Service came a foal that would become one of the most famed and visible horses that ever came from the service’s four decades of operation.
“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.
“Preserving the memories so others will remember…” ™
With the remount depots already established in Montana – Fort Keogh and Oklahoma – Fort Reno, the US Army cast its eyes to the East and sought out a place for the third remount depot authorized by Congress. The choice was Virginia, but rather than on an established military installation, the depot was built from the ground up.
On August 30, 1911 in Front Royal, Virginia, the East Coast remount depot of the US Army opened for operation. The Army had acquired 5,000 acres near the Appalachian / Blue Ridge Mountains combining several farms and erecting a complex of buildings. The third remount depot of the US Army’s Remount Service was the only one constructed as a depot. Others had been carved out of existing US Army Posts across the country (Fort Keogh, Montana – Fort Reno, Oklahoma - Fort Robinson, Nebraska.) and one established in the 1940s was donated – Pomona, California.
As the Army’s Remount Service evolved and matured, other sub-depots would be set up around the country to accommodate the ranches, universities and other locations which would join in to contribute to the operations.
In a series of field trips to the location, it was great to walk among the acres and observe the complex of buildings nestled among the acres imagining the fields full of horses. Heading to the ridge where once was a track where races were held on the weekends, a wonderful building known as the stallion barn was to the east. The Army acquired a select collection of stallions to begin the process of improving the available horses to provision the cavalry and field artillery.
Reaching the ridge and heading to the north-side of the track, the horse cemetery that I had been informed about was near a stone wall. The headstones looked very familiar, but something was not completely clicking. Then I realized that they were Quartermaster issued stones… the same ones that are used in Arlington National Cemetery and all the rest of the National Cemeteries across the US. The only difference was instead of burying them half-way as they do in ANC, these were up on pedestals.
It was pointed out to me that the open space between the stones is where Kidron & Jeff – General John “Blackjack” Pershing’s horses were buried. Their headstones were removed and are somewhere among the acres that was Fort Robinson in Nebraska. When the remount depot at Fort Keogh in Montana was closed, Fort Robinson was established as its replacement and became the largest of the remount depots within the US Army Remount Service. No further information was available why they ended up there. Of peculiar interest is one headstone – it peaks just like the stones that surround the Confederate Memorial in Arlington National Cemetery.
The remount depot at Front Royal, Virginia was near the railroad that would eventually transport the horses to Fort Myer via Alexandria providing fresh mounts for the cavalry and the field artillery caissons. Additionally, the remount service also provided fresh mules and especially during WW II, dogs.
When the remount service was deactivated in 1948, all the remount depots reverted to the US Department of Agriculture. The Smithsonian later acquired the Front Royal remount depot’s main acreage of 4,200 acres. It became The Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute (SCBI) which facilitates and promotes conservation biology programs at the National Zoo. Currently closed to the public, the facility does open one weekend a year – the first weekend in October. For more information you can go to the Smithsonian’s website and SCBI’s page.
The book “Images of America – Fort Myer” contains over 200 historical photographs which include the US Army’s Remount Service along with a historical chronology in photographs of the first one hundred years of this unique US Army Post with origins during the US Civil War when it was known as Fort Whipple.
While still considered “Arlington Cantonment” a new chapel was built in 1941 on the acreage that was originally Arlington Farms. Ground breaking occurred in May 1941 and shortly thereafter it’s spire rose in the sky with the US Capitol building in the distance.
It would be on July 27, 1941 that Chief of Staff of the Army, General George Catlett Marshall would dedicate this new house of worship on what eventually would become South Post, Fort Myer.
This chapel design was the prototype of a chapel that would be built on many US Army Posts across the United States of America. Over 500 chapels in total would be erected, many of them still to this day providing a place of worship for the Soldiers, their families and friends.
The building on Arlington Cantonment would mark the beginning of the rapid build up of and eventual renaming of the area to South Post during World War II and for many years had its own Post Commander and population into the thousands.
The South Post Chapel, like the Post Chapel of Fort Myer, would have its own Sunday School, youth groups and chapel services. In the 1950’s the Military District of Washington Staff Chaplain was located in one of the many buildings within the South Post acreage. Did you attend services at the South Post Chapel? Please leave a comment and tell us about it. Any photographs of the chapel? We’d love to see those too!
The chapel would become inactive in 1969 reflecting the reduction in population and elimination of family housing. (1958 Fort Myer Snapshot) Reviews in the early 1970s showed that the chapel was deteriorated beyond repair. With plans to replace it once South Post was turned back to Arlington National Cemetery, this historic building was razed. The new chapel was to stand where the Columbarium in Arlington National Cemetery currently is, but for reasons unknown, it was never built.
With over 200 historical photographs, “Images of America – Fort Myer” provides a visual history of this unique US Army Post with origins during the US Civil War when it was known as Fort Whipple. One of the original Defenses of Washington, Fort Myer still provides for the defense of the US Capital and is a showcase for the Military District of Washington and the US Army.
It was late April of 1935, Easter Sunday was on the 21st and the dedication of the Post Chapel that would bring a formal place of worship to Fort Myer. The project was begun and carefully watched over by then MAJ George S. Patton, Jr., another of his legacies to this historic US Army Post.
In an OCT 1933 report to then Post Commander, COL Kenyon Joyce, Patton outlined the specifics of building a principal chapel and nixed the idea of a separate mortuary chapel on Fort Myer. His conclusions were drawn after a field trip to Walter Reed Hospital in Washington DC where he surveyed the chapels on the grounds.
Highlighted within the book “Images of America – Fort Myer” among the other historical photographs and images are images of the chapel and Patton Hall which was first used as a chapel before the “Old Post Chapel” was built. Ground-breaking for the construction of the chapel began on 04 FEB 1934 and then cornerstone was placed both of which without much fanfare or ceremony.
Over time, this one building would become the iconic representation when one thought about Fort Myer. It was the focal point proudly occupying the center of the garrison’s insignia. In addition to providing a place for worship for the Fort Myer Military community, it hosted many weddings and also provided the starting place for many of the final honors which would end in adjacent Arlington National Cemetery.
It is also known for it’s unique stained glass windows.
Few people know the early contributions of General George S. Patton, Jr. He’s known for his robust accomplishments in World War I commanding the US Army’s Light Tank Corps and in World War II commanding the 3d Army.
While at Fort Myer, Patton left his mark on the US Army and the post with some of his contributions continuing until today. Few people know about his involvement in the construction of the Old Post Chapel – the icon of the installation, the tennis courts. But then there’s the “Society Circus” – a concept that began as a way for the Soldiers to continue to hone their skills, demonstrate their talents while raising money for the Army Relief Fund.
It began during the “between the wars” period when Patton returned from his successes in Europe in the US Army Tank Corps. He once again returned to his beloved cavalry where he had earlier distinguished himself by designing “The Patton Sword” – M1913 which was produced by the Springfield Arsenal – some 34,000 swords were produced and the cavalry outfitted. However this time it was “The Society Circus” which some say has evolved into today’s “Spirit of America” which still is produced and performed by Soldiers from Fort Myer as they take the show “on the road”
Back then, for ten weekends during the late Spring and all Summer, the horsemanship skills of the cavalry along with vignettes depicting events or places in history were presented.
This augmented the ceremonial duties which the Soldiers executed which included final honor support at Arlington National Cemetery.
Several historic photographs within the book “Images of America – Fort Myer” provide a small glimpse of this segment of history on this unique US Army Post with origins during the US Civil War when it was known as Fort Whipple. An autographed copy of the book can be purchased here on the website.
The date 06 APRIL is a significant milestone in Fort Myer history, for it was on that day in 1948 that one of the most historic and oldest infantry regiments within the US Army would be re-activated after World War II and call this historic US Army Post home. The regiment, like many after World War II, was inactivated, however there was a major need for a unit to provide for the defense of the National Capital of Washington DC while also providing ceremonial support. Military District of Washington did have a cermonial company to provide for ceremonial company that did ceremonies. So when the US Army’s 3d Infantry Regiment was reactivated, they were included within the regiment.
The 3d Infanry of the US Army, also known as The Old Guard, a name given to them by General Winfield Scott can trace its beginnings to the United States revolution with the date of its origination of JUNE 1784. From the start, the regiment has served and fought valiantly to protect and defend the United States.
Since its beginnings, the 3d has fought in
- War of 1812
- Mexican-American War
- American Civil War
- Indian Wars
- Spanish-American War
- Philippine-American War
- World War II
- Iraq War
So it was 06 APR 1948 when the US Army 3d Infantry Regiment was reactivated on the steps of the US Capitol and then took up home at Fort Myer. Known also as “The Escort to the President” – The Old Guard is the primaryunit within Presidential Inaugurations and state funerals.
The video below, courtesy of the US Army, provides an historic look back in time to about 1955. Accompanied by the US Army Band – “Pershing’s Own”, it shows the dual mission which the Old Guard continues until today.
Within Arlington National Cemetery, The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is guarded day and night all year round by Sentinels who are carefully selected and trained as Tomb Guards from this regiment. Over the years, the regiment has added several distinguished specialty platoons / companies to address the ceremonial needs of the Military District of Washington and the US Army. These include:
- The Presidential Salute Battery
- The Caisson Platoon
- The Continental Color Guard
- The Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps
- The US Army Drill Team
- The Commander-in-Chief’s Guard
In the book “Images of America – Fort Myer” many historic photographs of the 3d Infantry Regiment are displayed along with many more about Fort Myer.
Note: 06 APRIL was officially designated as Army Day by Congress. The last one that was celebrated nationally was in 1949.
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