Rock Island Arsenal
|Rock Island Arsenal|
|Rock Island Arsenal,
Rock Island Township / Moline Township,
Rock Island County, Illinois
|Controlled by||U.S. Army|
|Garrison||Joint Munitions Command
Joint Manufacturing and Technology Center
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Rock Island District
U.S. Army Sustainment Command
First United States Army
Rock Island Arsenal
Rock Island Arsenal, Quarters 1 (Building 301)
|Location||Rock Island, Illinois|
|Architect||General Thomas J. Rodman et al.|
|Architectural style||Greek Revival, Italianate|
|NRHP Reference #||69000057|
|Added to NRHP||September 30, 1969|
|Designated NHL||June 7, 1988|
The Rock Island Arsenal comprises 946 acres (383 ha), located on Arsenal Island, originally known as Rock Island, on the Mississippi River between the cities of Davenport, Iowa, and Rock Island, Illinois. It lies within the state of Illinois. The island was originally established as a government site in 1816, with the building of Fort Armstrong. It is now the largest government-owned weapons manufacturing arsenal in the United States. It has manufactured military equipment and ordnance since the 1880s. In 1919–20 one hundred of the Anglo-American or Liberty Mark VIII tanks were manufactured, although too late for World War I. It is designated as a National Historic Landmark.
Established as both an arsenal and a center for the manufacture of leather accoutrements and field gear, today it provides manufacturing, logistics, and base support services for the Armed Forces. The Arsenal is the only active U.S. Army foundry, and manufactures ordnance and equipment, including artillery, gun mounts, recoil mechanisms, small arms, aircraft weapons sub-systems, grenade launchers, weapons simulators, and a host of associated components. Some of the Arsenal's most successful products include the M198 and M119 towed howitzers, and the M1A1 gun mount. About 250 military personnel and 6,000 civilians work there. The 2000 census population was 145.
From the autobiography of Black Hawk: "When we arrived we found that the troops had come to build a fort on Rock Island...We did not object, however, to their building their fort on the island, but were very sorry, as this was the best one on the Mississippi, and had long been the resort of our young people during the summer. It was our garden, like the white people have near their big villages, which supplied us with strawberries, blackberries, gooseberries, plums, apples and nuts of different kinds."
The island facilities were converted and built in 1863; they were not yet completed in December of that year, when the first Confederate prisoners were incarcerated. The construction was makeshift. The first prisoners were 468 Confederates captured in battles at Chattanooga, Tennessee. That month more than 5,000 Confederates would swell the population of Rock Island military prison. They were kept in 84 barracks, each holding around 100 prisoners. A total of 41 Confederate prisoners successfully escaped during the prison’s operation, and many more would try but fail.
A total of 1,964 Confederate prisoners and 125 Union guards are buried in the adjacent military cemetery, including 49 members of the 108th Regiment of United States Colored Troops, who served as guards. Most died from disease, since sanitation was primitive as in all army encampments, and exposure to heat and humidity during the summers and freezing temperatures during winters. In 1864, deadly smallpox epidemics raged through the prison.
The prison camp operated from December 1863 until July 1865, when the last prisoners were freed. After the war, the prison facility was completely destroyed. During its two years in operation, the prison camp housed a total of more than 12,400 Confederates.
Other historical sites in the area include the Confederate Cemetery, the Rock Island National Cemetery, 19th-century stone workshops, officers' quarters along the river, Col. Davenport's House, and the site of the first bridge built across the Mississippi. Following the war, the federal government retained ownership of Arsenal Island and developed it for use as an arsenal and ordinance manufacturing center, which led to its being renamed.
Rock Island Arsenal Museum
The Rock Island Arsenal Museum was established on July 4, 1905. It is the second-oldest US Army Museum in the US after the West Point Museum. The museum has been closed twice, during World War I and World War II, to provide more space for manufacturing facilities. Exhibits interpret the history of Rock Island Arsenal and the Union prison camp during the American Civil War, and the site's role as a military industrial facility. The museum contains the second-largest collection of small arms weapons in the U.S. Army, and an outdoor vehicle display.
Indoor exhibits include (as of June 2012):
|Weapon name||Country of origin||Period|
|M1 75mm Pack Howitzer on M8E1 Mount||United States||1927–present|
|M40A1 106mm Recoilless Rifle with 50 caliber spotting rifle||United States||1950s-present|
|M45 Quadmount "Quad 50" 50 caliber machine gun turret||United States||World War II-1980s|
|M-14 conversion display to M-14 Enhanced Battle Rifle (RI)||United States||1959–present|
Outdoor exhibits include (as of June 2012):
- In Margaret Mitchell's novel Gone with the Wind (1936), Confederate officer Ashley Wilkes was imprisoned on Arsenal Island during the Civil War.
- In the zombie novel World War Z by Max Brooks, all of the continental United States east of the Rocky Mountains is overrun by zombies. Rock Island is noted as one of the isolated zones east of the Rocky Line that was still manned and defended, as a vital munitions manufacturing center.
- Staff (2007-01-23). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service.
- "Rock Island Arsenal". National Historic Landmark summary listing. National Park Service. Retrieved 2007-10-13.
- "Rock Island Arsenal". GlobalSecurity.org. Retrieved 2008-10-13.
- "Joint Manufacturing & Technology Center - Rock Island Arsenal". U.S. Army. Retrieved 2009-09-25.
- The Civil War in America, The Library of Congress
- Chestnut, Mary (1982). A Diary from Dixie. Gramercy Books, New York. ISBN 0-517-18266-1.
- Speer, Lonnie R. (1997). Portals to Hell: Military Prisons of the Civil War. Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole Books, c1997. ISBN 0-8032-9342-9.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Rock Island Arsenal.|
- Historic American Engineering Record (HAER) No. IL-20, "Rock Island Arsenal"
- Official website
- The Rock Island Arsenal Joint Manufacturing & Arsenal at GlobalSecurity.org Technology Center
- The Rock Island Arsenal profile at globalsecurity.org
- Rock Island Arsenal Museum
- Rock Island Civil War prison
- Rock Island National Cemetery, Arsenal, and Confederate POW Camp
- Rock Island Memorial POW Camp #2229
- Rock Island Arsenal Wikimapia