Browsing articles tagged with "Commander-in-Chief's Guard Archives - Historic 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

 


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.

 

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.

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