Traveling Tuesday: Fort George G. Meade
Library of Congress
Located between Baltimore, Maryland and Washington, DC, Fort Meade is about a twenty-minute drive from the state capital of Annapolis. Originally an army installation, the base is now home to all five branches of military service as well as government agencies and organizations (over 115!) such as the National Security Agency, Defense Information Systems Agency, and United States Cyber Command. Over 186 miles of roads crisscross the eight square miles that comprise the base.
Fort Meade was authorized by an act of Congress in May 1917 as one of sixteen camps constructed for troops drafted for The Great War (as WWI was known at the time). The site was selected because of its proximity to the nation’s capital, Baltimore ports, and the railroad. Built at the staggering cost of $18 million, the post was named for Major General George Gordon Meade whose victory at the Battle of Gettysburg was a turning point in the American Civil War.
Meade was the eighth of eleven children born into a Pennsylvanian Irish-Catholic family. His father
After fighting the Seminole Indians in Florida, he resigned his commission and worked a variety of civilian jobs. Unfortunately, steady work was hard to find so he re-entered the army in 1842 where he would remain for the rest of his life.
The Fort named in his honor saw more than 400,000 soldiers pass through its gates – a training site for three infantry divisions, three training battalions, and one depot brigade. It was also a remount station that collected over 22,000 horses and mules. Meade’s nephew, Major Peter F. Meade as in charge of the remount station. Additionally, the “Hello Girls,” bilingual telephone-switchboard operators of the U.S. Army Signal corps were stationed here. In 1928, the base was redesignated Fort Leonard Wood, but one report indicates a Pennsylvania congressman held up appropriations until the name reverted permanently to Fort George G. Meade on March 5, 1929. (Who says money doesn’t talk??)
An important base, Fort Meade is Maryland’s largest employer and has the third largest workforce of any Army installation in the continental United States.
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