Albert J Myer was a medical doctor by training, yet his contributions went far beyond the realm of medicine. He was the first Chief Signal Officer of the US Army. To his credit, he is the reason there is a Fort Myer. When he developed the Wig-Wag System of signaling, it became a revolutionary concept that improved communications especially in time of battle. It was used by both the North and the South during the US Civil War. After the war, he continued his work and first established the Signal Corps School at the downtown offices in Washington DC. Practical use and training was difficult for two reasons: lack of space for the students, which included both US Army Soldiers, and students from the US Navy. the second was sufficient space to practice using the signal flags and or torches (they comprise the US Army Signal Corps branch insignia) General Albert J Myer then sought out a place outside the city confines of Washington. It was Fort Greble , another of the Defenses of Washington during the Civil War. It was found to be unsatisfactory. So his search continued. It was on Arlington Heights where he found the best location - Fort Whipple - the location would later carry his name and become Fort Myer. Since the surrounds about all the fortifications which numbered nearly 70, were clear-cut of trees for line of sight and line of fire for the artillery, it was best suited to have wig-wag students stand on the heights and a complement down at the Washington Monument to practice their signaling. A book was discovered published in 1870 by General Albert J. Myer, the First Chief Signal Officer of the US Army, entitled "Extracts from the Manual of Signals." It was clear that an US Army Signalman was provided the correct equipment to "Get the Message Through...." The kit was wrapped in what appears to be canvas that included straps for securing it and pouches on the interior to contain the staffs. Each contained one each of the two types of wig-wag flags, three staffs to raise the flags (or torch) high enough to be seen by the recipient. In addition, a haversack was included to hold the two torches for night signaling and a canteen filled with fuel for the torches. Signalmen also marched in formation when assembled as a unit. Their kits hoisted and carried on their shoulder as if it were a weapon. Kits were also subject to inspection. They also had a manual of kits and flags similar to a manual of arms that a Soldier would have in carrying their weapon. The book also contains information about "field telegraph trains" and how they were used to assist in the placement of telegraph wire strung on lances. These trains consisted of a battery wagon, and a combination of wire wagons and lance wagons. For more interesting history about Fort Myer including over 200 historic timeless photographs, Buy the Book, an author autographed copy is available.
DATELINE - Charlottesville Virginia: "Images of America - Fort Myer" has been selected as one of the books to be featured at this annual March 2012 event. From a field of nearly 1,000 books submitted, it was selected. Author John Michael will be onsite to present and discuss his ground-breaking first book about this unique US Army Post with origins during the US Civil War as part of the Defenses of Washington, when it was named Fort Whipple Fort Whipple was built in JUNE 1863 on Arlington Heights, Virginia within the acreage that was the Custis-Lee estate. It was in honor of General Amiel Weeks Whipple who was the commander of the Defenses of Washington's southern fortifications, who used Arlington House as his headquarters. The Post was later renamed Fort Myer to eliminate the confusion with the other Fort Whipple located in Arizona and to honor General Albert J. Myer, the US Army's first Signal Officer who located the US Army's Signal Corps School on the acres. Home to the US Army's two elite units: The US Army Band - "Pershing's Own" and "The Old Guard - 3d Infantry Regiment of the US Army, Fort Myer continues to provide defense of Washington DC - the Capital of the United States of America. More information about the event and times and locations within Charlottesville is at Virginia Festival of the Book 2012
We were sent this message and here in his own words is the reaction to the book about Historic Fort Myer:
Recently I purchased a copy of John Michael's outstanding book, "Images of America: Fort Myer", where he is recounting the history of Fort Myer, Virginia, a military outpost, if you will, that is bathed in American Military history. His work is truly a mini-museum laid out before you on 127 pages, that are filled with photographs, and I mean priceless photographs, and reinforced with factual information relating to the chronological events that not only shaped America, but its Army. I couldn't begin to share with you all that I read and saw within the pages of the magnificent book, because I don't think I could do it it justice. John Michael has truly poured his heart into his prose, and I personally believe that if you are either a history buff, or a Soldier who has once served on this Post of Generals, this book needs to be in your library, with many a "dog eared" page.Bernie Bernwall (Wilson) Author of "What Wouldn't Jesus Do?" And, And, veteran of The Old Guard of the US Army, 3d Infantry Regiment" Get a copy of Bernie's book from Amazon:
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.
It 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.
Today 25th March is dedicated to the special group of military who have been awarded the highest distinction which the United States of America can bestow upon its military - the Congressional Medal of Honor or known just as the Medal of Honor. Since its inception in 1861 after President Abraham Lincoln signed it into law, less than 4,000 medals have been awarded as of March 2011. The valor, heroism and bravery demonstrated by these men has been something which most never really hear about or read about their achievements. Five of the recipients have had association with Fort Myer over the last 150 years, where they either lived on Post in a senior officer position within the US Army or they were Post Commander. Brigadier General Louis Henry Carpenter was a Post Commander of Fort Myer from 1887 to 1891. He received the Medal of Honor while he was a Captain, Company H, 10th US Cavalry on 8 APR 1898 for his service during the Indian campaigns in Kansas and Colorado SEP - OCT 1868 Brigadier General Guy V. Henry Sr. was a Post Commander of Fort Myer. He received the Medal of Honor on December 5, 1893. General Henry also was instrumental in the recruiting of Soldiers for all the Buffalo Solider regiments - Infantry and Cavalry. Major General Leonard Wood was named Army Chief of Staff in 1910 by President Taft; he remains the only medical officer to have ever held that position. General Jonathan Mayhew Wainwright IV was also a Fort Myer Post Commander and comanding the 3d Cavalry and 16th Field Artillery. General of the Army Douglas MacArthur was a Chief of Staff of the United States Army during the 1930s and lived in Quarters One on Fort Myer. Additional insight to these men and significant events are contained in the book "Images of America - Fort Myer"
WHAT WAS ONCE ARLINGTON CANTONMENTBegun as the Women's Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC) in MAY 1942, it became a branch of the US Army in 1943 then known as the Women's Army Corps (WAC). During WW II some 150,000 women served in the Army and Fort Myer had its share. Colonel Oveta Culp Hobby was the first director from 1942 to 1945. At Fort Myer, South Post, they were about 1,900 in number and housed in barracks at what was that time South Post of Fort Myer. They were the first women to serve in the Army other than nurses. "Images of America - Fort Myer" includes several historical photographs which provide a glimpse of the past service of these women who lived on South Post. The WAC would continue on as a branch of the US Army until 1978, when those who were serving, were included into the Army based on their military occupational specialty (MOS) Their history is rich and legacy long. More accounting of their contributions, including a top-secret mission during World War II is found in the book by MAJ Elna Grahn In the Company of Wacs. They shared South Post Fort Myer with the civilian women who worked in Washington, DC and other Soldiers from what was Headquarters Company of the US Army. South Post was the location of many events while it existed that are milestones in the US Army's history. These are chronicled in the book Images of America - Fort Myer.
OVER 200 HISTORICAL IMAGES, MAPS and ILLUSTRATIONSThe book was released on 13 JUN 2011 and chronicles the first one hundred years of this Civil War era US Army Post when it was first called Fort Whipple in honor of General Amiel Weeks Whipple. He commanded the Defenses of Washington using Arlington House as his headquarters. An autographed copy of the book "Images of America - Fort Myer" can be had on the page BUY THE BOOK. Alternative choices of purchase are also offered.
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 by 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.
It sits on Arlington Heights overlooking Washington DC and has seen its share of firsts since 1863 when it was first built as Fort Whipple. It was among the 70 fortifications surrounding the National Capital during the US Civil War, but unlike the rest which fell into disrepair and were abandoned, Fort Myer continues until this day (though they've hidden the name slightly - it'll always be Fort Myer because of its significance and contributions.) Some of the early firsts that this US Army Post holds are:
- First home of the US Signal Corps School
- First home of the National Weather Service (1870)
- First US Army Cavalry Showcase
- First military aviation flight (1908)
- First military aviation fatality (1908)
- First ROTC training
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. 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.