Few people know the early contributions of General George S. Patton, Jr. He’s known for his robust accomplishments in World War I commanding the US Army’s Light Tank Corps and in World War II commanding the 3d Army.
While at Fort Myer, Patton left his mark on the US Army and the post with some of his contributions continuing until today. Few people know about his involvement in the construction of the Old Post Chapel – the icon of the installation, the tennis courts. But then there’s the “Society Circus” – a concept that began as a way for the Soldiers to continue to hone their skills, demonstrate their talents while raising money for the Army Relief Fund.
It began during the “between the wars” period when Patton returned from his successes in Europe in the US Army Tank Corps. He once again returned to his beloved cavalry where he had earlier distinguished himself by designing “The Patton Sword” – M1913 which was produced by the Springfield Arsenal – some 34,000 swords were produced and the cavalry outfitted. However this time it was “The Society Circus” which some say has evolved into today’s “Spirit of America” which still is produced and performed by Soldiers from Fort Myer as they take the show “on the road”
Back then, for ten weekends during the late Spring and all Summer, the horsemanship skills of the cavalry along with vignettes depicting events or places in history were presented.
This augmented the ceremonial duties which the Soldiers executed which included final honor support at Arlington National Cemetery.
Several historic photographs within the book “Images of America – Fort Myer” provide a small glimpse of this segment of history on this unique US Army Post with origins during the US Civil War when it was known as Fort Whipple. An autographed copy of the book can be purchased here on the website.
In reading books like “The Civil War” by Buce Catton, one would never know about the Defenses of Washington. Missing from that work are the names of General John Gross Barnard, General Amiel Weeks Whipple and many more who contributed to defending the US Capital.
It was after the first battle of Bull Run or First Manassas, depending on which side of the Mason Dixon line you’re on, that General McClellan surveyed the defenses of Washington and decided that additional fortifications were needed. Even though the Arlington Line – a series of fortifications and batteries located on western side of Washington, DC - were in place, the defeat that the Union troops took got the Union leadership into action.
The result was in some cases a fort was placed as a secondary line of defense – one was Fort Whipple, named for the General who had commanded the defenses of Washington from the Custis-Lee Mansion. His desire to get into the fighting took him to Fredericksburg and later Chancellorsville where he was shot by a sharpshooter while sitting on his horse in May of 1863.
Assessments made from the extensive plans for this fort that overlooked the valley where Washington DC lay, was this was the ideal fort and set the model for ones that would follow. In the book, “Images of America – Fort Myer” the plans for this fortification and other related information is presented as the first 100 years of history of this fort, later named Fort Myer, in honor of the US Army’s first Signal Officer – General Albert J. Myer, is told.
It’s an honor to have researched, collected information and wrote about a gem in the crown of the US military – Fort Myer. The contributions over the decades of service to the United States is remarkable and that service continues. It’s also special that the first commercially available work about this historic US Army Post with origins during the US Civil War (then known as Fort Whipple) be published by a company located in the United States of America near the site of the first major outbreak of the war - Fort Sumter, South Carolina in Charleston Harbor.
The books which Arcadia Publishing presents are printed in America. John Michael is also proud to be part of their family and that they are the one who has the distinction of continuing his hallmark of another ground-breaking milestone in military history.
“Preerving the memories so others will remember…” ™
An autographed copy of the work is available with a personalized inscription. The book “Images of America – Fort Myer” with its over 200 historical photographs presents for the first time the first 100 years of people, events, and more – a recently discovered note from Abraham Lincoln to General Joseph Gilbert Totten, which has never been published.
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…
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.
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
On the 4th day of the month of March in 1861, a newly elected Abraham Lincoln stood in front of a Capitol building that was still under construction – the replacement of the dome – in the building that had been damaged during the war, when the British burned several buildings including the Capitol and White House. read more
The Custis-Lee Estate consisted of 1,100 acres of land which from the high ground, one has a panoramic view of the nation’s Capital. That still is the case when one stands in front of Arlington House, also known as the Custis-Lee Mansion or on what is currently Whipple Field within present day Fort Myer it was the site of Fort Whipple. According to sources, the high ground originally consisted of orchards.
Those 1,100 acres also contained some great flatland near the Potomac River where the Custis-Lee’s farmed growing crops for use within the estate and to sell in the neighboring City of Alexandria and markets within Washington DC.
The book “Images of America – Fort Myer” contains over 200 historic photographs that provide an insight to this outstanding US Army Post with orgins from the Custis-Lee estate built during the US Civil War and first known as Fort Whipple.
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When most people hear the name Fort Myer, they don’t think Virginia, but a place much further south in the United States.
The other location is an attractive place for tourism and nearby beaches with palm trees on the Gulf of Mexico. This other location WAS an US Army Fort built in 1850 as a military fort in response to Seminole Indians that were in conflict with the area’s few settlers.
So the confusion continues… perhaps once people begin reading the book “Images of America – Fort Myer” they’ll get a better understanding that Fort Myer is in Virginia (first named Fort Whipple during the US Civil War) and is home to the US Army Band – “Pershing’s Own”, the US Army’s 3d Infantry Regiment – “The Old Guard”. The fort is located right next to Arlington National Cemetery. It was named after General Albert J. Myer, the US Army’s first Signal Officer, the inventor of the wig-wag signaling method (the insignia of the US Army Signal Corps are a pair of crossed Wig-Wag Flags), who also started the National Weather Service.
Today, Fort Myer, Virginia with over a century of service to the United States of America is as an outstanding US Army Post, defending the Nation’s Capital – Washington, DC with origins during the US Civil War. Many more events and people who were stationed there have had major influences on the United States and the world.
Please sign up for more- info, history and announcements … see the form on this page. You can also buy the book, “Images of America – Fort Myer”
In a few months, a new book will be published that will be a ground-breaking first and a historic milestone. The historic US Army Post – Fort Myer will finally have a book that will herald some of the first one hundred years of its history in word and historic photographs.
The effort has been built on a foundation of a decade of walking among and working with some of the finest people – the US military. With two years in research and writing, it will result in a tribute to those who have and are currently creating history on Fort Myer. To all of them and all the others who are serving in the US military, I say: “Thank you for your service and keep on doing what you’re doing, ’cause if you’re not, we, the American people, can’t be doing what we do every day.”
The book is available for pre-order either directly from the author (an autographed copy) or from Amazon, Barnes & Noble or Borders.
Title: Arlington Reads – Images of America – Fort Myer Virginia
Location: Arlington Central Library – Arlington VA
Description: John Michael will discuss his new book about this unique US Army Post which has its origins in the US Civil War -
The book is from Arcadia Publishing and provides a comprehensive view in historical photographs from the 1860s to 1960s.
1015 N Quincy Street
Start Time: 19:00