A 1972 TOUR OF FORT MYER – PART II

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.
Fort-Myer-Photos-1972-13
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
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.

BUY THE BOOK

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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Defenses of Washington DC During the Civil War

Arlington Heights - Defenses of Washington DC
Some Forts of Arlington Heights Virginia

Defending the Capital - Forts & Batteries

Few people know about the extensive Defenses of Washington.  By the end of the US Civil War, Washington DC was the most fortified and protected city in the world.  Nearly 70 forts and 90 artillery batteries surrounded the perimeter of the US Capital.  For if one would consider that it was an island among those who had rebelled with the states of Virginia seceding and Maryland remaining a slave state.   These Defenses of Washington are noted by a Commonwealth of Virginia historical marker and complemented by other historical markers erected by the Commonwealth  and the US National Park Service and localities. On the southern side, Arlington House was used as the headquarters.   It would be here that General Amiel Weeks Whipple and President Abraham Lincoln would often meet to have lunch and the President get the briefing while wrapping his arms around Whipple's two sons. When the war first began in earnest with the bombardment and siege of Fort Sumter in Charleston, South Carolina harbor,  Major Robert Anderson surrendered the fort to the Confederates.   Back in Washington DC, the Union Army soon went across the Potomac River and occupied the high ground of Arlington Heights (also known as part of the Custis-Lee estate) and quickly built fortifications at both Long Bridge (Fort Runyon) and Aqueduct Bridge (Fort Corcoran) to stop any invasion across those river crossings.  It was thought then to be sufficient protection, until the Battle of Bull Run. Fort Cass, a lunette, had been built on Arlington Heights as a defense from an attack from the west. After the Union Loss at the First Battle of Bull Run, the US Army leadership convened and decided to augment the perimeter defenses.   General George B McClellan would designate where and General John Gross Barnard would design and oversee the construction of the fort. It would be 1863 before the fort that would ultimately become Fort Myer would be built.  Fort Whipple was built on the most Northeastern part of Arlington Heights overlooking  Washington DC.  Designed by General Barnard, it was considered an outstanding design for a fort.  Placement was determined where General Amiel Weeks Whipple had ordered an observation balloon aloft to recon what the Confederates were doing to the west. An excellent map of the Defenses of Washington has been produced by the US National Park Service showing the sites and which locations are managed by the NPS. Additional reading about the Defenses of Washington and the battle of Fort Stevens is presented by The Civil War Trust During the Civil War the City of Alexandria Virginia was a center of activity for the Union.  Since then the city has done a fine job to preserve and present its Civil War heritage with the restoration and preservation of Fort Ward with a museum and the more recent effort to construct the Civil War Bike Trail with the cooperation of Arlington and Fairfax Counties in Virginia. Images of America - Fort Myer tells the story of the one and only remaining active fort from the Defenses of Washington.  Over 200 historical photographs are included in the book. Another book which details all the defenses - the forts and batteries with maps, photos from private collections is the revised version of Mr Lincoln's Forts that is written by Benjamin Franklin Cooling and Walton Owens.   Another interesting read is the book just published in November 2011 is Civil War Northern Virginia 1861 (The History Press) (Civil War Sesquicentennial) written by William S. Connery.
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Defend the Capital

The year 2011 marks the 150th anniversary of the beginning of the US Civil War.   A few days in April of 1861,  Fort Sumter had surrendered after continual pounding of artillery on the fortification... Those in Washington DC, when they heard of this, began to make plans to erect fortifications which would "Defend the Capital" in case of attack Historic Map of Washington DCby the Confederates. Jefferson Davis had already been inaugurated as President of the Confederacy and slowly the secession of Southern states had begun. The two river crossings - Aqueduct Bridge and Long Bridge were among the first to have fortifications put in place.  By the war's end, 70 fortifications and 90 artillery batteries would surround Washington, DC.   Among those would be Fort Whipple - built in 1863 and named after General Amiel Weeks Whipple, it occupied the high ground at Arlington Heights overlooking the Nation's Capital.   In essence it was the second line of defense, backing up Fort Cass as part of the Arlington Line.   Arlington House, also known as the Custis-Lee mansion was the headquarters for all the defenses of Washington during the US Civil War.   President Abraham Lincoln would cross the Potomac River to meet here with General Whipple to get briefed on the progress of the actions. All of the fortifications and batteries are very well located, diplayed and discussed in a book written and recently updated entitled "Mr. Lincoln's Forts"  by Benjamin Franklin Cooling III and Walton H. Owen II. In the book - "Images of America - Fort Myer"   you will also find more about this historic time in America and the developments, events, people and views that impacted the US Army, the United States of America and the world.
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Fort Cass Virginia

After the fall of Fort Sumter, South Carolina to the Confederates,  it was decided that the Nation's Capital  was in need of defenses.  Among the first fortifications were built were the ones at the three crossings of the Potomac River - Chain Bridge (Fort Ethan Allen), Aqueduct Bridge (Fort Corcoran) and Long Bridge (Fort Jackson).  Over time the Arlington Line of fortifications developed beginning at the Potomac and encircling the western side of the Capital on the Virginia side.  The line consisted of about 30 forts, augmented by interwoven artillery batteries.
Colonel Thomas Cass, Commander 9th Massachusetts Infantry
Colonel Thomas Cass
Among this extensive  line of fortifications was Fort Cass (originally called Fort Ramsay) that was built in August 1861 within the 1,100 acres of the Custis-Lee estate.  It was a lunette which had emplacements for 13 artillery pieces - guns.  Constructed by the 9th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment, the name of the fortification was later changed to honor Colonel Thomas Cass, the regiment's first commander who was killed in 1862.
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