Browsing articles in "Army War College"


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



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.

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Army War College Class of 1909

By John Michael  //  Army War College, Washington Barracks  //  No Comments


The building of Roosevelt Hall was completed in 1907 and the Army wasted no time to begin educating the first class in the new structure there on what was Greenleaf Point.  It was then named Washington Barracks. The first graduating class included nearly thirty officers selected from the US Army, Yet one officer was from the US Marine Corps who would later rise to become the Commandant of the US Marine Corps.

The photo below is of those officers and the military units they came from.


Army War College - Class of 1909 - 1910

Army War College – Class of 1909 – 1910


NOTE: The persons are numbered – from 01 to 21 are standing and from 22 to 30 are seated in the photo.

They are:

  1. LTC John A, Lejeune,  US Marine Corps
  2. CPT Edwin Landon, USA Coast Artillery Corps
  3. MAJ Carl Reichman, USA 24th Infantry
  4. CPT Eli A. Helmick, USA 10th Infantry
  5. MAJ Guy Carlton, General Staff, Director, Army War College
  6. MAJ George L. Irwin, USA 3rd Field Artillery
  7. CPT Malin Craig, USA General Staff
  8. CPT William K. Naylor, USA 9th Infantry
  9. CPT Alexander F. Dade, USA 9th Cavalry
  10. CPT Edwin O. Sarratt, USA Coast Artillery Corps
  11. MAJ Daniel E. Houghton, USA General Staff
  12. CPT Sherwood A Cheney, USA Corps of Engineers
  13. MAJ William A. Brown, USA 3rd Cavalry
  14. CPT George H. Jameson, USA 29th Infantry
  15. LTC D. A. Frederick, USA General Staff, Director Army War College
  16. CPT Fox Conner, USA General Staff
  17. CPT Frank S. Cocheu, USA General Staff
  18. CPT Gilbert A. Youngberg, USA Corps of Engineers
  19. MAJ Godfrey H. MacDonald, USA 13th Cavalry
  20. MAJ David J. Baker,Jr, USA 11th Infantry
  21. CPT Joseph D. Leitch, USA General Staff
  22. MAJ Charles L. Beckurts, USA 5th Infantry
  23. LTC John T. Knight, USA Quartermaster Department
  24. MAJ Robert A. Brown, USA 4th Cavalry
  25. MAJ Eben Swift, USA General Staff
  26. BG William Wallace Witherspoon, President Army War College
  27. LTC Lyman W. V. Kennon, USA 14th Infantry
  28. LTC Hunter Liggett, USA 15th Infantry
  29. LTC Charles M. O’Connor, USA 6th Cavalry
  30. LTC John C. F. Tillson, USA 18th Infantry


Distinguished in their accomplishment, their graduation marked a turning point in the way that the US Army and eventually the US military would be provided more training and insight. The Army War College would remain located on what became Fort Lesley J. McNair until 1946 when the National War College was established and located in Roosevelt Hall.

Today the Army War College is located at Carlisle Barracks, another historic US Army installation in the state of Pennsylvania.  They took Freddy –  the statue of Frederick the Great with them and he’s located near the Hessian Powder Magazine building on post.



The book, Images of America – Fort Lesley J. McNair has 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 buy the book from one of the major resellers.


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