Fort A.P. Hill
|Caroline County, Virginia|
|Built||June 11, 1941|
|Controlled by||United States Army|
|Commanders||Lieutenant Colonel Peter E. Dargle|
Named for Virginia native and distinguished Confederate Lieutenant General A. P. Hill, Fort A.P. Hill, known as the place "Where America's Military Sharpens Its Combat Edge" is an all-purpose, year-round, military training center located approximately 60 miles south of Washington, D.C. With 76,000 acres (310 km²) of land, including a modern 28,000 acre (110 km²), live-fire range complex featuring more than 100 direct and indirect fire ranges, as well as a helicopter aerial gunnery range; it is one of the largest military installations on the East Coast. Military units can engage in training ranging from small unit operations to major maneuvers with combined arms, live-fire exercises.
In the spring of 1940, the War Plans Division of the Army General Staff developed a plan to raise a national army of four million men to conduct simultaneous operations in the Pacific and Europe theaters. In July 1940, a movement began to locate an area of approximately 60,000 acres (240 km2), independent of any post, and lying somewhere between the Potomac River and the upper Chesapeake Bay.
Lieutenant Colonel Oliver Marston, an artillery officer stationed in Richmond, Virginia and acting as an agent of the Third Corps Area commander, made a detailed investigation of the Bowling Green, Virginia area in September 1940. He enthusiastically recommended that the War Department procure the Caroline County site. The result was a maneuver area that contained 77,332 acres and billeting space for 74 officers and 858 enlisted personnel.
Fort A.P. Hill was established as an army training facility on June 11, 1941, pursuant to War Department General Order No. 5. In its first year, the installation was used as a maneuver area for the II Corps and for three activated National Guard divisions from Mid-Atlantic states. In the autumn of 1942, Fort A.P. Hill was the staging area for the headquarters and corps troops of Major General George S. Patton’s Task Force A, which invaded French Morocco in North Africa. During the early years of World War II, the post continued to be a training site for corps and division-sized units. Commencing in 1944, field training for Officer Candidate School and enlisted replacements from nearby Forts Lee, Eustis, and Belvoir was conducted.
During the Korean War, Fort A.P. Hill was designated as Camp A.P. Hill and was a major staging area for units deploying to Europe, including the VII Corps Headquarters and the Third Armored Cavalry Regiment. The fort was the major center for Engineer Officer Candidate School training (students from Fort Belvoir) during the Vietnam War.
Today, Fort A.P. Hill is a training and maneuver center focused on providing realistic joint and combined arms training. All branches of the armed forces train on Fort A.P. Hill, and the installation has also hosted training of foreign allies ranging from providing support for mobilizations to helping units train for deployment.
It is used year-round for military training of both active and reserve troops of the U.S. Army, U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps, and U.S. Air Force, as well as ROTC cadets and other government agencies including the Departments of State and Interior, the United States Customs Service, and federal, state, and local security and law enforcement agencies.
Fort A.P. Hill and the Boy Scouts of America
The installation has also hosted the Boy Scouts of America National Jamboree in 1981, 1985, 1989, 1993, 1997, 2001, 2005, and 2010. The number of participants each time included approximately 35,000 Boy Scouts and some 250,000 visitors. After the very costly 1973 and 1977 National Jamborees, the Boy Scouts wanted to find a permanent location to lower the costs associated with establishing a temporary city every four years. They worked with the military to find a base so that infrastructure like roads, plumbing, and electricity would not have to be installed every four years. They paid to have some permanent utilities installed on-post for use every four years. The Boy Scouts have since moved the National Jamboree to its new permanent home at The Summit: Bechtel Family National Scout Reserve high-adventure camp in Fayette County, West Virginia beginning in 2013. The National Jamboree is no longer hosted at Fort A.P. Hill.
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