Browsing articles by "Author"
Oct
13

THE CAPITAL GETS STONED – LITERALLY!

Boundary Stones – There were Forty of Them

Few People realize that surrounding Washington DC are boundary stones that mark the perimeter of the Capital City. The first stone was placed in Alexandria, Virginia at Jones Point Lighthouse in the Potomac River.


The Banneker and Ellicott Team

The boundaries of the new Capital City were marked by forty (40) boundary stones placed by Major Andrew Ellicott, his two brothers Joseph and Benjamin Ellicott among others, one of those being Benjamin Banneker.  Banneker, who was a mathematician and astronomer, placed the first stone at what is Jones Point Lighthouse in Alexandria, Virginia.

 

boundary stones

 

Back in 1791 and 1792, Andrew Ellicott and friends went around the 10-mile square of the planned City of Washington and placed a boundary stone every mile of the perimeter.  The stones had four sides – facing inward towards DC (which read “Jurisdiction of the United States” and a mile number, facing outward (which showed the name of the bordering state, either Maryland or Virginia), and the other sides showed the year the stone was placed and the compass variance at that point.

Interestingly, the stones are the oldest federal monuments in the country, and they are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  Many of the forty stones remain in their original places, including the ones that now mark the boundary of Arlington County, Virginia (once known as Alexandria County, Virginia).



With this perimeter in place, Major Pierre Charles L’Enfant began to lay out the new Capital City of Washington, DC with a concentration on the Maryland side of the Potomac River.   His design was based upon his knowledge of European cities such as Paris where he studied before coming to the aid of the thirteen colonies during the American Revolutionary War.  He was George Washington’s engineer during that conflict. He drew a map defining the city and the federal reservations – one of which,  Reservation #05 initially of 28 acres would evolve into Fort Lesley J. McNair (after being known as Washington Arsenal, Washington Barracks, Army War College [The Army War College relocated to Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania after WW II] and Fort Humphreys)

 


washington defenses 1798


After all the name changes the peninsula of acres has had since 1791 a name was finally settled upon, It would be after WW II, to honor the commander of the ground forces in Europe,  LTG Lesley J McNair that the acres would get a name that has lasted until present day.  It’s where the National Defense University with the iconic Roosevelt Hall designed by McKim, Mead and White the architects of the era, the Military District of Washington and The US Army’s Center of Military History are currently headquartered.  (The US Army Band – “Pershing’s Own” and Alpha Company of The 3d Infantry – “The Old Guard”  also once was stationed here)


The District of Columbia Loses Virginia

When the new Capital City was first proposed, both the states of Maryland and Virginia contributed land for a total of 100 square miles.  In 1846, the area of 31 square miles (80 km2) which was ceded by Virginia was returned, leaving 69 square miles (179 km2) of territory originally ceded by Maryland as the current area of the District in its entirety.  The retrocession was due to an issue that Virginia had with the use of its contribution.

 

boundary stone perimeter of Washington DC

The original contributions of Maryland (yellow) and Virginia (red) to the District of Columbia in the 1790s

 


Oct
10

Where in the World is Freddy?

By John Michael  //  Army War College, Fort Lesley J McNair  //  No Comments

Freddy is Missing ?

frederick the great

Roosevelt Hall located on Fort Lesley J. McNair began as the home of the US Army War College – a concept conceived by then Secretary of War, Elihu Root and approved by then President Theodore Roosevelt.  The building proclaims the Beaux Arts styling and was designed by the noted architectural firm of McKim, Mead, and White.

read more

Oct
6

A Great Foundation Deserves a Great Book

By John Michael  //  National Defense University  //  No Comments
marshall hall of national defense university

Marshall Hall of National Defense University

Breaking News…

National Defense University Foundation Gift Shop06 October 2016 – As of this date Images of America – Fort Lesley J. McNair is now available in Marshall Hall of the National Defense University located on Fort Lesley J. McNair.   Copies of the book which chronicles the history of the third oldest US Army post are available in the gift shop.  They are autographed by the author, John Michael, and sales benefit the National Defense University Foundation.

Images, Photographs, and Maps

The book contains over 200 images that provide insight about the military installation since its founding in 1791.  Over time it’s been an arsenal providing the ordnance for the Civil War, the site of the first federal penitentiary and where the Lincoln assassination conspirators were incarcerated, tried, and hanged.  The Army Corps of Engineers school was here while a major building effort provided the iconic Roosevelt Hall – designed by the architects McKim, Mead and White and other now historic buildings: Officers’ Club and quarters, barracks, stables, hospital, clinic …  stays by the US Army Band and the Music School.

 

National Defense University Foundation Gift Shop

 

More About Fort Lesley J. McNair

For several years Major Walter Reed practiced medicine and determined that the mosquito was the reason for  Yellow Fever while among these acres.  Up until the beginning of WW II, the Army War College occupied Roosevelt Hall until being relocated to Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania.  The post also is the headquarters of the Military District of Washington. The US Army’s Center of Military History has called Fort McNair home since the 1990s.  The 3d Infantry – the Old Guard’s Alpha Company – also known as the Commander in Chief’s Guard – was garrisoned in the barracks on the post.

BUY THE BOOK

Images of America - Fort Lesley J. McNair

Images of America – Fort Lesley J. McNair

An  Author Autographed copy of the book is available for purchase directly from the author, John Michael.  Buy the Book

Sep
22

Brick, Brick, Wall and a Few Buildings Too! (Part 1)

By John Michael  //  Washington Arsenal  //  No Comments

The Capital City Needs A New Federal Penitentiary – Part 1

charles bulfinchWhen President John Quincy Adams tapped Charles Bulfinch, the architect from Boston, to design the first federal penitentiary on the northern acres of Greenleaf Point, who knew the role this structure would later play in the history of the United States – specifically in regard to the Lincoln assassination.   Bulfinch, as the 3rd Architect of the Capitol, had redesigned that building, incorporating a new central dome to it. He succeeded Benjamin Henry Latrobe, who was the 2nd Architect of the Capitol and Stephen Hallet (a.k.a. Étienne Sulpice Hallet) who was Major Pierre Charles L’Enfant‘s draftsman and the 1st Architect of the Capitol.

It Began in Boston

Bulfinch made his name and reputation in New England, specifically in Massachusetts  and around Boston -designing several buildings. Among these facts were why in 1817 he was named as the Architect of the Capital. In addition to the work done on the Capitol, he designed a prison in Alexandria, Va. (1826) and also designed the Federal Penitentiary (1827-28), Washington DC.

An In-depth Penitentiary Study

To get a better perspective about a penitentiary design,  Bulfinch sought out a variety of prisons both existing  or those being built in New York, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania.  Armed with that knowledge, he then prepared a report to the President that highlighted his actions and the conclusions and recommendations for the new penitentiary that would be built for the Capital City located at the northern end of Greenleaf Point.

bulfinch penitentiary report

Results  and Recommendations for the Penitentiary

charles bulfinch on penitentiary

Read a copy of the report bulfinch-report-to-congress

A Penitentiary Design

Based on his report and details in it, the new District of Columbia Penitentiary would be a four-story brick building with twenty cells on each floor or a total of one hundred sixty cells surrounded by a perimeter wall.  The front of the penitentiary would face north.  Within the courtyard would be a separate building – that’s where the kitchen, mess hall and the shoe factory would be.

bulfinch penitentiary sketch

 

penitentiary plan

What the Future Held

The penitentiary completed in 1827 and never filled to capacity and the shoe factory didn’t provide enough income to maintain the facility since the combination of types of prisoners along with the number wasn’t sufficient Yet less than four decades later, it would be the site of what would be the incarceration, trial, and hanging of four of the Lincoln assassination conspirators including Mary Surratt – the first woman hanged by the US  federal government.

washington federal penitentiary

 

BUY THE BOOK

Images of America - Fort Lesley J. McNair

Images of America – Fort Lesley J. McNair

An  Author Autographed copy of the book is available for purchase.  Buy the Book

 

Brick, Brick, Wall  – Part 2 –

After that fateful day – 07 JUL 1865  what happened Next?   (COMING SOON)

Sep
15

Association of the Oldest Inhabitants of Washington DC

Upcoming Event – Presentation

oldest-inhabitants-of-washington-dc

 

On FRIDAY – 16 SEPTEMBER 2016, John Michael will have the honor of addressing this noted group whose history goes back to after the US Civil War.
The topic of discussion – “History of Fort Lesley J. McNair”

Association of the Oldest Inhabitants of Washington DC upcoming events

About the Association

From their website —

“We’re a vibrant organization for young and old alike. As Washington’s oldest civic organization, we’re dedicated to preserving D.C.’s heritage. Our programs feature history, civic improvements, and business recognition.”

MORE about the Association

Get an autographed copy of the book –

“Images of America – Fort Lesley J. McNair”

Images of America - Fort Lesley J. McNair

Images of America – Fort Lesley J. McNair

Jul
21

BOOK REVIEW – On Point Magazine

JOURNAL of THE ARMY HISTORICAL FOUNDATION

On Point Magazine: The Journal of Army History has been published as the Foundation’s quarterly journal since 1995. In addition to publishing various articles and  book reviews on U.S. Army history, On Point also provides information on the Foundation’s activities, including the status of the National Museum of the U.S. Army. On Point is provided to all AHF members. In the Summer 2016 issue of this outstanding and award-winning journal it was an honor to have  a book review of”Images of America – Fort Lesley J. McNair”.    The review speaks for itself .   Thank you,  Dr. Alice A Booher!

In the Summer 2016 issue of this outstanding and award-winning journal it was an honor to have  a book review of”Images of America – Fort Lesley J. McNair”.    The review speaks for itself .   Thank you,  Dr. Alice A Booher!

On-Point-Summer-2016-Cover-

 

On Point Magazine – Book Review

BOOK REVIEW In ON POINT MAGAZINE

 

About Fort Lesley J McNair

Established in `1791 as reservation #05 when Charles Pierre L’Enfant laid out the new Capital City, it has been defending the city of Washington DC since.  It is the third oldest US Army Post in continuous operation where the Military District of Washington (MDW), National Defense University (NDU) and several of its colleges  and the US Army Center of Military History (CMH) call home.

DOWNLOAD THE REVIEW

A PDF version of the On Point Magazine review is available for download – Fort McNair Book Review

SPECIAL OFFER — BUY THE BOOK!

 

FREE SHIPPING    Author Autographed COPY OF Images of America – Fort Lesley J. McNair

Until  SUNDAY, AUGUST 14, 2016 an author autographed copy of the book is available for purchase …


Inscription
Dedicated to whom?


 

ABOUT THE ARMY HISTORICAL FOUNDATION

The foundation was established in 1983 with the purpose of promoting the history of the US Army and ultimately build the National Museum of the US Army.  That latter purpose is finally becoming a reality.  The museum will be located in Fairfax County, Virginia at Fort Belvoir … an easy access from Interstate 95.

May
16

Mr Steen Goes to Washington – Arsenal That Is

Producing a book of history,  one that chronicles over two centuries of activity is none the less a challenge in itself.  Besides locating and assembling the content of the book, selecting the right cover image is part of that challenge.

After digging through special collections, online resources and trips to the archives, it was a challenge to narrow down the selection to choose one photograph from the hundreds that were inspected and collected.  One was needed that would convey the historic nature of the first fortification in the new Capital City of Washington DC.

With acreage just about one hundred, Fort Lesley J. McNair is a small US Army Post – in fact, it’s probably the smallest active post within the US Army.  Roosevelt Hall is the iconic building that traces its origins to the architectural firm of McKim, Mead, and White who designed the building named after President Theodore Roosevelt – who laid the cornerstone.

 

The US Army’s First Official Photographer

One was finally selected, it was an Andrew J. Russell photo taken while he was at Washington Arsenal.   Russell was one could say the first official photographer of the US Army.   Russell took his first photographs with a camera that he borrowed. Colonel Herman Haupt used Russell’s photographs to illustrate his reports. Haupt arranged to have Russell removed from his regiment on March 1, 1863, so that he could photograph for the United States Military Railroad and the Quartermaster Corps, until he mustered out in September 1865. Russell was the only military officer to photograph for the War Department during the Civil War.  So one could consider Russell the first official photographer of the US Army.

A Cover Photograph is Chosen

When Captain Russell visited Washington Arsenal in 1865, little did he know that he was capturing an image that would later appear on the cover of a book.  The riveting  photograph of a row of artillery with the Model Arsenal building and a Soldier mounted on horseback in the background was selected to grace the cover of the book  “Images of America – Fort Lesley J McNair”  However, that’s when the challenge began.  The artillery needed to be identified, and among the network of advisors, none knew what they were.

Washington Arsenal with the model arsenal building and confederate napoleons

Washington Arsenal with the model arsenal building and artillery

Enter Marshall Steen of Steen Cannons

That need generated another research effort to be launched.  After several hours of digging among many sources, Steen Cannons was found.  They build reproductions of artillery for the National Park Service or for private collectors or just about anyone who would like a fine reproduction..   Marshall was contacted and the photo was sent … he graciously provided a quick answer …  “They’re Confederate Napoleons!” –  however, the return suggestion came in that  “This is a Union arsenal!”   the reply was …  “Accept the fact that they are Confederate Napoleons.”

Armed with this information, the description was entered into the book “Images of America – Fort Lesley J. McNair” and it was published, though still puzzling that Confederate artillery was at a Union arsenal.   Further research resulted in an “EUREKA!”  Another photo was found that showed the artillery along with caissons and limbers sitting at Rocketts Wharf in Richmond, VA awaiting shipment back to Washington Arsenal.  Mystery solved!

 

Artillery Park at Rocketts' Wharf in Richmond Virginia

Artillery Park at Rocketts’ Wharf in Richmond Virginia

 

BUY THE BOOK

 

Images of America - Fort Lesley J. McNair

An  Author Autographed copy of the book is available for purchase.  Buy the Book

Nov
7

Grant Hall Open House 07 NOV 2015

By John Michael  //  Fort Lesley J McNair  //  No Comments

Historic Fort Lesley J. McNair

Fort Lesley J. McNair - Main Gate

Fort Lesley J. McNair – Main Gate

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Grant Hall – Where The Trial Took Place

Nearly 500 people braved the chilly rainy weather and ventured out to Fort Lesley J. McNair to learn more about the trial of the Lincoln assassination conspirators from some noted historians.   It was Open House at Building #20 – also known as Grant Hall – one of the remaining buildings from the Federal Penitentiary that once stood on the acres of this historic US Army Post…

Established in 1791 when Major Charles Pierre L’Enfant designed and laid out the new Capital City. it had become by the time the trial was held – Washington Arsenal with the first Federal Penitentiary occupying the northern part of the peninsula known once as Greenleaf Point.

Grant Hall –  Third Floor

Slightly modified over time,  it’ s the only remaining part of the penitentiary – it was originally the deputy warden’s quarters when it was attached to the main cell block of the penitentiary.

Grant Hall - Bldg #20

Grant Hall – Bldg #20

Noted Historians Provide the Details

In 1865, a military commission was established to determine the fate of the assassination conspirators.  After several weeks and hundreds of witnesses, the determination of the fate of the prisoners was made –  four of the conspirators would head to the gallows – among them was Mary Surratt – the first woman to be hanged by the Federal Government.

the courtroom where the trial was held

the courtroom where the trial was held

FUTURE OPEN HOUSE OPPORTUNITIES

FUTURE OPEN HOUSE SCHEDULE
Grant Hall Public Open Houses are held quarterly on the first Saturday of the second month of each quarter. During a calendar year, those months are February, May, August and November. The dates in 2016 for Grant Hall Public Open Houses are: Feb 6 (weather depending — will close for snow, so check JBM-HH Facebook), May 7, Aug 6 and Nov 5. Open House hours are 10:00 am to 4:00 pm. For more information please contact the public affairs office on Fort Myer

 

OVER 200 HISTORICAL IMAGES, MAPS & ILLUSTRATIONS

The book, Images of America – Fort Lesley J. McNair contains over two hundred historical photographs, images and illustrations which chronicle the two hundred plus years of history among the acres of this US Army Post.

The book “Images of America – Fort Lesley J McNair”  is “a walk down memory lane” as one reader called it after he turned the last page.  Go beyond the website and read more of the history with your own copy – BUY THE BOOK offers the opportunity to get either a personalized & autographed copy from the author or purchase the book from one of the major resellers.

Images of America - Fort Lesley J. McNair

Images of America – Fort Lesley J. McNair

Sep
21

Book Signing – Meet the Author

MEET THE AUTHOR – John Michael

Barnes & Noble – Potomac Yards – Alexandria VA

 

SATURDAY –  03 OCT 2015 from 2PM until 4PM

 

Barnes & Noble Potomac Yards Alexandria, VA

Barnes & Noble
Potomac Yards
Alexandria, VA

A special opportunity to meet the author, John Michael, who has written two books,

Image of America – Fort Myer – released on 13 JUN 2011

AND

Images of America – Fort Lesley J. McNair – released on 04 MAY 2015

read more

Jul
18

FREE BOOKS GIVEAWAY

 

THE GIVEAWAY IS OVER…

OVER 800 people entered to win on GOOD READS …

822 people entered this giveaway

 

However, You can still get something FREE —

FREE SHIPPING on an AUTOGRAPHED COPY of “Images of America – Fort Lesley J. McNair”   IT MAKES A GREAT GIFT OF HISTORY!

For the first 50 supporters get a copy with FREE SHIPPING

BUY OR ENTER GIVEAWAY

Images of America – Fort Lesley J. McNair is an outstanding book …  after several months of researching – pouring over thousands of photographs, maps and illustrations – and writing – word smithing the proper presentation, it became a reality on 04 MAY 2015.   It chronicles the decades of historic contributions made during those years by names such as Abraham Lincoln, Pierre L’Enfant, Walter Reed, Elihu Root, Theodore Roosevelt and others.

When it was the Washington Arsenal, it provisioned the Union Army during the Civil War. It’s acres are where The Old Guard were garrisoned,  where the Engineer School of the US Army trained new engineers, where the US Army Band  – “Pershing’s Own”  was relocated to after their organization at Fort Hunt, Virginia and before they relocated to Fort Myer, Virginia.  The Lincoln assassination conspirators were incarcerated tried and hanged.   Twenty-one women lost their lives when the gunpowder where they were working exploded.  Their group grave is at Congressional Cemetery.

 

Now an author autographed copy can be yours for free … OR you can support the author’s work and purchase one for yourself and your friend and your local library … BUY THE BOOK

 

For those of you who like to play the odds and might get a free one… the author has placed a giveaway on GOOD READS where THOUSANDS of members are vying for the same free books only a few copies.   Either way you win… in the former, it’s a win win win for you, the author and military history.

 

GOODREADS FREE BOOKS GIVEAWAY

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Images of America - Fort Lesley J. McNair by John Michael

Images of America – Fort Lesley J. McNair

by John Michael

Giveaway ends September 30, 2015.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

OVER 200 HISTORICAL IMAGES, MAPS & ILLUSTRATIONS

The book, Images of America – Fort Lesley J. McNair contains over two hundred historical photographs, images and illustrations which chronicle the two hundred plus years of history among the acres of this US Army Post.

The book “Images of America – Fort Lesley J McNair”  is “a walk down memory lane” as one reader called it after he turned the last page.  Go beyond

Images of America - Fort Lesley J. McNair

Images of America – Fort Lesley J. McNair

the website and read more of the history with your own copy – BUY THE BOOK offers the opportunity to get either a personalized & autographed copy from the author or purchase the book from one of the major resellers.

 

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