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.
Established on 08 NOV 1878 by Brevet General Nelson A. Miles and named Fort Keogh as a US Army Post. The original size of the military reservation was 100 square miles, or about 64,000 acres.
The infantry troops were withdrawn in 1907 and became part of the US Army’s Remount Service and a remount depot in 1909 until 1924 when the Army relinquished it to the US Dept of Agriculture.
More about the US Army’s Remount Service along with several historic photographs are found in the book “Images of America – Fort Myer” – the ground breaking / milestone setting book about this historic US Army Post with origins during the US Civil War when it was known as Fort Whipple.
A hundred years ago, the US Army moved by horse – The Cavalry were mounted; the field artillery hauled their guns drawn by limbers hitched up to a team of six horses and wagons were pulled by mules. The horse power need was great, so in the early 1900s, the War Department petitioned Congress and as a result the Remount Service was started finally. In addition to horses, the US Army also needed mules and during WW II the need for dogs also increased.
In doing the research for the book “Images of America – Fort Myer” the US Army’s Remount Service surfaced … initially it consisted of three depots:
Smaller sub-depots were established to receive the horses to re-supply major cavalry posts. There was one of these depots for Fort Myer just outside downtown Alexandria City, Virginia. By the end of World War I, the need had grown so great that there were 39 remount depots across the United States, many at existing US Army Camps and Posts. Additionally, the US Army also took over 35 remount stations in France during the war. Domestically, the depot at Fort Robinson, Nebraska would ultimately be the largest and one of the last depots in use.
It would be from remount depot – Fort Reno, Oklahoma that the famous caparisoned horse, Black Jack (named for General of the Armies, John J. “Blackjack” Pershing) was the last Quartermaster issued horse that was branded by the US Army – the brand “US” on his left shoulder and serial number “2V56” on the left side of his neck.
With the anticipation of being drawn into World War II, a decision was made by Chief of Staff of the Army, General George C. Marshall to mechanize the US Army. Thus horses were of little use as the army went from four hooves to four tires or even two tracks. The remaining depots were turned over to the US Department of Agriculture on July 01 1948. They were either turned into other uses, abandoned or as in the case of the depot at Front Royal, VA, the Smithsonian Institution acquired the main parcel of land, with the remainder in use to train dogs by the US Customs Service and the other portion by the 4H clubs of America.
Based on the strict requirements of the US Army for its horses, the horse industry within the United States benefited greatly. When the US Army’s Remount Service was dissolved, many of the horses were auctioned off and became breeding stock across America. Another example of how the US Army has contributed immensely to the United States.