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Tag: Remount Service

Map of Fort Myer

Fort Myer Historical

A 1972 TOUR OF FORT MYER – PART II

Posted By John Michael

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
Fort-Myer-Photos-1972-12
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.
Fort-Myer-Photos-1972-10
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.
Fort-Myer-Photos-1972-09
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.
Fort-Myer-Photos-1972-08-
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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Blackjack Memorial on Summerall Field - Fort Myer

Historical

Happy Birthday Blackjack !

Posted By John Michael

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. January 19th is the birthday of some really famous people - Robert E. Lee, Confederate General and from which the estate his wife, Mary Custis-Lee owned became Arlington Farms, Arlington National Cemetery and Fort Myer (earlier Fort Whipple & Fort Cass). Edgar Allen Poe - American writer and poet and an upcoming author "The History Guy" - William S. Connery, native of Baltimore, MD and author of the book  'Civil War Northern Virginia 1861' "Blackjack" caparisoned horse at a state funeral   But back to "Blackjack" - He was named for one of the famed Generals - John J. Pershing who was in charge of the American Expeditionary Forces (AEF) during WW I ...  He got his nickname "Blackjack" from when he commanded a unit of the Buffalo Soldiers.   Pershing is one of the two 5-star Generals - known as "General of the Armies" - a distinction awarded him in 1919.  (the other was George Washington)  It was fitting indeed that the horse which was destined to become one of the most famous caparisioned horses be named after General Pershing.   "Blackjack"  came from the US Army Remount Service, one of the most positive influences on the horse industry in the United States of America, if not the world.  Three remount depots were the prime provisioning locations Fort Keogh in Montana,  Fort Reno in Oklahoma and Front Royal in Virginia (later Fort Robinson in Nebraska would replace Fort Keogh)  although after World War I, there were 39 remount depots/sub-depots across the United States providing the horses to keep the US Army moving.   According to all published accounts,  Blackjack  was the last of the Quartermaster issued horses foaled at the then Remount Depot Fort Reno.   He became part of the US Army's 3d Infantry Regiment - The Old Guard -  and attached to the Caisson Platoon's fine horses in 1952.  Despite all attempts to have him saddled and draw a caisson, his temperment suggested otherwise.   A fine looking horse with an air about him, his destiny was to become a caparisoned (riderless) horse - which is an honor reserved for those of officer rank of colonel and above in the US Army and Marine Corps.  Those who became his "walker" were constantly challenged by his spirited personality.   One attempted to ride him once and it was not a pleasant experience for both the rider and Blackjack.   After participating in over 1,000  final honors, including his appearance in PresidentBlackjack Memorial on Summerall Field - Fort Myer John F. Kennedy's final honors procession, Blackjack was retired in 1973.  When his health deteriorated, it was thought best to put him down, and in 1976 under the careful eye of a US Army military police officer watched the procedure.  The  horse who gave spirit to the final honors ceremonies at Arlington National  Cemetery was then cremated and his ashes put in a pine coffin that was ultimately buried on the east side of Summerall Field on Fort Myer.   "Images of America - Fort Myer" with over 200 historical photographs tells the story of one of the most unique US Army Posts with origins during the US Civil War when it was know as Fort Whipple.    An autographed copy is available for purchase.    
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Front Royal Remount Depot

Historical

Front Royal – US Army Remount Depot

Posted By John Michael

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.
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Fort Keogh, Montana

Historical

Remount Depot – Fort Keogh, Montana

Posted By John Michael

Fort Keogh, Montana 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.
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Fort Reno, Oklahoma circa 1891

Historical

Remount Depot – Fort Reno, Oklahoma

Posted By John Michael

Fort Reno, Oklahoma circa 1891
Fort Reno, Oklahoma - circa 1891

 

Fort Reno was built in July 1875, named for Major General Jesse L. Reno who was killed during the Civil War.  The US Army Post was home to the Buffalo Soldiers of the  the 9th and 10th Cavalry and the 24th and 25 Infantry  - regiments who were stationed at the Post.   

After the Congressional authorization to establish the US Army's Remount Service in 1909, it became a re-mount depot for the US Army until 1949.  One of the last Quartermaster horses that came from Fort Reno's remount depot was the famed "Blackjack" - the caparisioned horse that appeared in many final honors at Arlington National Cemetery including President John F. Kennedy's.   Blackjack was one of the horses among those that the Old Guard - 3d Infantry Regiment of the US Army had among its "herd" to conduct ceremonial missions within the Washington DC area.   In the book "Images of America - Fort Myer"  there are photos of these ceremonies among the over 200 historical photographs from the 1860s until the 1960s.

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Here comes the Cavalry

Fort Myer Historical

Here Comes the Cavalry

Posted By John Michael

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.
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Field Artillery on Fort Myer

Fort Myer Historical

When the US Army Moved by Horse

Posted By John Michael

Field Artillery on Fort MyerA 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. 
Blackjack - Caparisoned Horse - Riderless Horse
Blackjack with Cap Walker
 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.
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