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Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia
US Army Installation




Presidential Memorial Certificate for Deceased Veterans

By General Orders, 24 January 1905, the reservation on the Savannah River, three miles south of Savannah, formerly known as Fort Oglethorpe, being no longer of use for the purposes of defense, was placed under the supervision of the Engineer Department, and its official designation as Fort Oglethorpe was discontinued.  The Savannah site became Fort Jackson in 1834 and Fort Oglethorpe in 1884 and back to Fort Jackson in 1905.  It is presently in the hands of the State of Georgia as an Historical Museum.

The site for the present Fort Oglethorpe was selected by a board of officers in August 1902 and is situated on lands acquired by the Chickamauga Park Commission under the provisions of an act of Congress.  The new reservation was first know as Chickamauga Park (New Post) and was located entirely within the limits of the Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park in Catoosa and Walker Counties.  The total area of the park was about 6,541.64 acres of which New Post occupied an area of about 813-42 acres.

Fort Oglethorpe is notable for its distinctive appearance and its role in military history.  It was a major military post during the Spanish-American War, World War I and World War II, but the actual "old post" was too small to contain all the military maneuvers so the Chickamauga Battlefield was used. Due to statutory authority, Congress provided that national military parks end their approaches be used as national fields for military maneuvers. The Army took advantage of this authority and installed the huge tent city  of Camp Thomas in 1898.  The park engineer at that time questioned the use of the historic "monument" and assisted the Army in obtaining land for a permanent post north of the battlefield park.

This permanent post, which was named Fort Oglethorpe was started in 1902 and substantially completed by 1904.  Cavalry was stationed at the post, and although tents and barracks were removed, the battlefield was still used for maneuvers.  However various states, congress and historical societies continued with their plans to restore the battlefield to its general appearance of 1863.

A great blow came to the Chickamauga-Chattanooga Park during World War i when Fort Oglethorpe was expanded to the south on the park grounds.  Three contiguous camps were enjoying separate existences in the area.  These, however were incorporated making the southern expansion necessary.  During the  war, troops marched en masse formations in the streets, wooden barracks grew up among the monuments on the battlefield and on the post ground, polo teams vied in the polo grounds on Barnhardt Circle and trenches and war games spun across the nearby countryside.  By 1918, over 1,600 post buildings were on the expanded Fort Oglethorpe and over 60,000 troops had been mobilized through the post.

Around Barnhardt Circle were the detention camps for the German prisoners of war and enemy aliens.  To the west was the post hospital, site of the present Tri-County Memorial Facility.

On the Camp Greenleaf site, one of the camps which merged into the Fort Oglethorpe Post, the Army established a medical and sanitary corp. Many of the horse drawn ambulances which drew their way across the War's battlefields had their origin at Fort Oglethorpe, where the formation and training was a Camp Greenleaf specialty.  Furthermore, he sanitary procedures prescribed for trench warfare and trench life also arose in the Sanitary Corps' method of development at Fort Oglethorpe.

The post became temporarily a home for a number of Cavalry units, notably the 3rd, 6th, 7th, 10th, 11th and 12th.  The 6th Cavalry was frequently stationed at the post, and by July 4, 1919, the War Department had resolved to make Fort Oglethorpe the permanent post and home of the 6th Cavalry.  This unit remained at Fort Oglethorpe until 1942.

The end of the first World War saw a reduction in the number of wooden barracks and tent camps on the Chickamauga battlefield portion of Fort Oglethorpe.  As with all military posts after the war, things began to slow down at Fort Oglethorpe between 1918 and 1940.  The 6th Cavalry continued their maneuvers in the area and polo was a popular sport.  Barnhardt Circle saw many matches, mock war games, horseshows, parades and other military forms of recreation.

By 1941, mechanization was approaching rapidly, and Fort Oglethorpe saw the addition of bantam cars to the post.  Although horses were retained for a short time after, in 1942 with the transfer of the 6th Cavalry to South Carolina and the horses gone, the vehicular unit had grown to 500.

World War II saw the enlargement of Fort Oglethorpe.  An induction center was established and many residents of the greater Chattanooga area can recall their induction into Army life at Fort Oglethorpe.

Prison barracks and stockades again grew on the post, and prisoners of war and enemy aliens again sat out the war at Fort Oglethorpe. The largest of these stockades was situated only a sthones throw from today's City Hall.

Around Barnhardt Circle, barracks were re-erected.  At first these housed a Provost Marshall School, but later the MP's relocated to another barracks in what is now downtown Fort Oglethorpe.  This new barracks was later turned into the Women's Third Army Corps Training Center in 1943.  By September of 1943, all men had been removed form the post and 5,000 women were undergoing training.  The men's induction center still remained.  In 1943, President Roosevelt visited the post to inspect the women's training program.

In July 1945, the WAC Center was closed down and the post was turned in a redistribution center for processing the thousand's of GI's receiving their discharge.

In December o0f 1946, the end of an era struck Fort Oglethorpe.  It was decided to permanently retire the post and by 1947 the entire establishment was declared surplus.  By January of 1948, the War Assets Administration had sold most of the old post on the open market.  Many interested civilians and civilian neighbors of the  post took advantage of the sale to attempt a novel approach in municipal administration:  the creation of a ready made town.

Over 100 buildings of the old post remained, many dating back to 1904 and many remaining serviceable for use as residents and business sites.  The sale of lands to the North and East of the post offered prepared home sites, for suburban developments, with water,  sewerage and electricity remaining from the post days.

The attempt to create a growing community on the old post facility and keeping memories of the old post was a success, and in March 1949, he civilian city of Fort Oglethorpe was formally incorporated, the first town to receive articles of incorporation in Georgia in 25 years.

As a Georgia town and an historical site, not only playing a role in state history, but national, Fort Oglethorpe needs to be preserved.  It has a potential for not only being a unique historical district but a very nice deviation in a growing area of commercialization.