Browsing articles in "Fort Lesley J McNair"
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

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

Apr
17

A 1972 Tour of Fort Lesley J McNair – Part III

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

PART III

SELECT PHOTOGRAPHS FROM 1972 DISCOVERED

#historicfortmcnair

The history of Fort Lesley J. McNair dates back to 1791 when Major Charles Pierre L’Enfant planned the new Capital City and designated 28 acres as military reservation #05.  Since then the historic US Army Post has expanded to about 100 acres and has had several different name changes as it served the United States needs in several different roles:  as  arsenal, as federal penitentiary, as barracks, as the US Army War College, Fort Humphreys.  It wasn’t until after World War II that it would be named to honor the highest ranking officer who was killed in the war.

This is the last of the group of photographs found that were taken in 1972 .  It gives a look, a snapshot in time of what some of the post and continues the tour of Fort Lesley J McNair.

Barracks - Alpha Company - "The Old Guard"

Barracks – Alpha Company – “The Old Guard”

In 1972, the US Army Band, Pershing’s Own and the US Army Music School was long gone from these acres having moved to Historic Fort Myer in Virginia.  For a long while, Alpha Company of the 3d US Army Infantry – “The Old Guard” would be the new occupants of the these barracks.  The company was the first company established when the 3d Infantry was reactivated on 06 APR 1948 when the Ceremonial Company of the Military District  of Washington was folded into the company.   Members of the company are special since they form “The Commander-in-Chief’s Guard” a unit that traces its origins back to the US Revolution when General George Washington had a special unit of Soldiers.  They wear the uniform as prescribed by Washington and their order of march and drilling movements reflect those of yesteryear.

 

Post Exchange

Post Exchange

In 1972 post population was such that one of the offerings was a Post Exchange that provided full service to those living on post.  Over time as the needs changed and the population, the PX became a long distant memory of these acres.

McNair Hall - Officers' Club

McNair Hall – Officers’ Club

Built at the same time as many of the other buildings. the Officers’ Club also known a McNair Hall is of the same colonial architecture.  Over the years it has been the site of many events beyond the military focus and is still until today providing a much needed oasis from the other day-to-day activities on post.

 

Officers' Quarters

Officers’ Quarters

“Generals’ Row” – the officers’ quarters on post haven’t changed much as they approach their centennial.  Many are adorned with artillery in the front yards which face the parade field.  The rear of the quarters have a commanding view of the Potomac River channel and Hains’ Point.

MORE TOUR PHOTOGRAPHS

There are two other sets of photographs from this group which can be seen –  PART I   and PART II.   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.

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.

 

Apr
4

A 1972 Tour of Fort Lesley J McNair – Part II

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

PART II

SELECT PHOTOGRAPHS FROM 1972 DISCOVERED

This short tour of Fort Lesley J McNair provides only a small glimpse of what many call “A most beautiful US Army Post”

Roosevelt Hall  – a design by the architectural firm of McKim, Mead and White – first contained the Army War College.  The first graduating class that did their work within this beautiful building was the Class of 1909-10.  It stands as a tribute to them and those who followed.   After World War II,  the Army War College moved to Carlisle Barracks in Pennsylvania (taking their statue of Frederick the Great there too!).  The National War College now is located in Roosevelt Hall providing instruction to members of all branches of the military and other US government agencies such as the Department of State.   One graduate from more recent times is Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens,

 

Roosevelt Hall from the Northwest

Roosevelt Hall from the Northwest

“TEMPOS” – temporary buildings, built / erected to meet a pressing need and among those needs were the need for additional quarters – there’s never enough space for housing.   These barracks, which were located on the east side of post, down the road  a bit from Roosevelt Hall, provided much needed housing.

"Tempo" - Temporary Barracks on the East side

“Tempo” – Temporary Barracks on the East side

What is in present day called Grant Hall, was in 1972, housing for married military officers.  The building is the last remnant of the federal penitentiary that once occupied many more of the acres – it was built before the US Civil War.  The notoriety of the penitentiary is that’s where the Lincoln assassination conspirators were incarcerated.  Their trial took place on the third floor of this building seen below.  The gallows where they were later hanged on 07 JUL 1865 were erected just to what would be the left side of the building.   Tennis courts now occupy the space where the gallows stood.

Site of the Lincoln Assassination Conspirators Trial The Federal Penitentiary Building - later Grant Hall

Site of the Lincoln Assassination Conspirators Trial – The Federal Penitentiary Building – later Grant Hall

 

The US Army has its share of talented people.  The branch that is one of the work horses of the US Army is the Corps of Engineers.  The Engineering School once occupied the barracks shown below.  It also is where the US Army Music School later trained the musicians for all the US Army regimental bands.

 

Inter American Defense College

Inter American Defense College

 

There are two other sets of photographs from this group which can be seen –  PART I   and PART III.

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

JOHN MICHAEL CREATIVES    —   JOIN OUR MAILING LIST

Mar
31

A 1972 Tour of Fort Lesley J McNair – Part I

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

SELECT PHOTOGRAPHS FROM 1972 DISCOVERED

Map of Fort Lesley J. McNair Circa 1972 - The Area in Bold Line is Designated a Part of the National Historic Register

The Area in Bold Line is Designated a Part of the National Historic Register

 

 

After months of digging into boxes of photographs, combing through online databases of images, it’s rare to find something new and different about one of the most beautiful US Army Posts…  Fort Lesley J. McNair.  Good news, a series of rarely seen photographs were found that were taken in 1972.    Roosevelt Hall – the iconic building on the acres once known as Greenleaf Point changed from the name of Turkey Buzzard Point – still looks the same, yet among the recent discovery are several views that may show some marked changes.

The book – “Images of America – Fort Lesley J. McNair” has a chapter devoted to the most current view of the post – this historic US Army Post – third oldest in continuous operation.   So here is another chronicling milestone  The tour of Fort Lesley J McNair begins with the iconic Roosevelt Hall

 

Aerial Photograph Southeast corner looking to the Northwest

Aerial Photograph Southeast corner looking to the Northwest

President Theodore Roosevelt arrived on 21 FEB 1903 to lay the cornerstone of the building that would take until 1907 to complete.  In the meanwhile the statue of Frederick the Great stood in front of the building site – it was a gift from the German government and dedicated on NOV 1904

Aerial View from the South looking to the North

Aerial View from the South looking to the North

 

On the left side of the above photograph is the US Army Signal Corps film processing and storage buildings that were the central facility to provide the results of the films captured by the signal corps.  Those buildings would eventually be razed and the work was done elsewhere.   Just north of that small complex of buildings begins Officers’ Row with the Officers’ Club as the first building.

 

Front of Roosevelt Hall looking to the South

Front of Roosevelt Hall looking to the South

 

There are two other sets of photographs from this group which can be seen –  PART II   and PART III.

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

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.

 

 

Nov
27

Thanksgiving at Fort Lesley J McNair in 1964

By John Michael  //  Fort Lesley J McNair  //  Comments Off on Thanksgiving at Fort Lesley J McNair in 1964

HAPPY THANKSGIVING 1964

Back in 1964,  it was when Fort Lesley J McNair had a post commander.  The Military District of Washington (MDW) had still not moved onto the post. And both the Engineers and US Army Band – “Pershing’s Own” relocated to different posts (the Band relocated to Fort Myer in the 1940s and along with it, the US Army School of Music.)

Yet, there were troops that were garrisoned on post and they enjoyed a very delightful meal. Among them were the troops from the US Army’s oldest infantry unit – the 3d Infantry – The Old Guard – Alpha Company.  This company of soldiers, which in current times is also known as the Commander-in-Chief’s Guard, is one of the specialty units within this regiment.

Commander-in-Chief's Guard

Commander-in-Chief’s Guard

 

These soldiers are the ones who wear the colonial uniform as prescribed by General George Washington and carry flintlocks which they refer to as “firelocks” with long bayonets. Their officers carry items known as espontoons. Their marching style is rather unique for today’s way of marching,  especially when it comes to turning – they do “wheels”!

Rolling the clock back, here’s the Thanksgiving menu from over fifty years ago with well wishes expressed by the commanders.

 

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.

Sep
1

Welcome to the 3d Oldest US Army Post

By John Michael  //  Fort Lesley J McNair  //  Comments Off on Welcome to the 3d Oldest US Army Post
Fort Lesley J. McNair

Fort Lesley J. McNair

A MOST BEAUTIFUL US ARMY POST

Situated at the confluence of the Potomac and Anacostia Rivers, the acres once known as Turkey Buzzard Point were selected by Major Pierre Charles L’Enfant as the primary location to provide defense for the new Capital City. It was in his plan which he presented to President George Washington and the three member commission Daniel Carrol (a signer of the Declaration of Independence and brother to Bishop John Carrol), Thomas Johnson and David Stuart and who were overseeing the layout and establishment of the Capital City. Since 1791 when Pierre L’Enfant designated Greenleaf’s Point as a military reservation, the acres have defended the Capital city – Washington DC.

A PLACE WITH MANY NAMES

Over time the acres have had many names and provided defense in several different ways.  Here are the names of A Most Beautiful US Army Post:

  • Military Reservation #05
  • Washington Arsenal
  • Washington Barracks
  • Army War College
  • Fort Humphreys’  – District of Columbia
  • Army War College
  • Fort Lesley J. McNair

During the time the acres were called Washington Arsenal, the Washington Penitentiary was also among the northern part of the acres.

 

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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