Fort Robinson Post Headquarters

Fort Robinson – Cavalry Post & Remount Depot

Fort Robinson  Post Headquarters
Fort Robinson Post Headquarters
 

FORT ROBINSON -

GATEWAY TO THE WEST

It was in 1847 as America continued to push west.  The US Army established Posts on the frontier and Fort Robinson, Nebraska was one.  This post would have a very interesting life over the next several decades as a home for the US Cavalry including the famed Buffalo Soldiers. It then would become in the 20th century the largest of all the remount depots of the US Army's Remount Service. The thousands of acres - about  22,000 began as Camp Robinson named after Lieutenant Levi  Robinson. He was killed in February 1874 by a band of Indians who attacked the lieutenant and a Corporal   while they were on a side trip hunting game. The US Army Post later became the largest remount depot for the US Army Remount Service after the depot at Fort Keogh was closed
Images of America - Fort Myer

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..." ™
Front Royal Remount Depot

Front Royal – US Army Remount Depot

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.

Front Royal Remount DepotOn 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 Front Royal Stallion Barnobserve 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 Front Royal - Horse CemeteryQuartermaster 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 General Wainwriht's (sic) Chargerthat 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 wasA confederate quatermaster headstone ? 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.