Forts Totten and Belmore
Fort Hamilton provides service and support to the military personnel in the New York area. The post supports a MEPS, Reserve Units, ROTC Units, Ainsworth Clinic and the NYC Recruiting Battalion. Fort Hamilton is located along the Narrows straights. Fort Hamilton primarily serves Fort Totten, Fort Wadsworth and Mitchell Field, as well as any other military personnel or installations in the tri-state area.
On July 4, 1776, a small American battery on the site of present day Fort Hamilton fired into the British men of war convoying troops to surpress the American Revolution. HMS ASIA suffered damage and casualties, but opposition to the immense fleet could be little more then symbolic. In August, British and Hessian troops, many of whom had landed on what is now Fort Hamilton, outflanked and defeated Washington's Army in the Battle of Long Island. Washington's brilliant retreated and a timely fog helped save his army for its eventual triumph. British troops occupied Brooklyn throughout the war, leaving at the end of 1783.
Without ever firing a shot a new generation of forts at the Narrows held the British fleet at bay during the war of 1812 and perhaps saved New York City from the fate of the nation's carital, buried by the invaders. On the Brooklyn side Fort Lewis, an earth and timber work; offshore Fort Diamond (later call Fort Lafayette) was of stone, the first stone defense on the eastern shore of the Narrows. Begun in 1812 and finished in 1818, the island fort survived for another century and a half, finally falling into the Verrazano Narrows Bridge.
The war of 1812, understood the importance of coastal defense and helped promote a new round of fort building. The cornerstone of a granite replacement for Fort Lewis went into place June 11, 1825, six years and half million dollars later, the fort was ready to receive its garrison. Though references to the structure as "Fort Hamilton" occurs easly as 1826, it wasn't officially named for the first Secretary of the Treasury until the 20th century.
Ten years after the garrison, Captain Robert E. Lee arrived as Fort Hamiltons post engineer to strenghten and waterproof the defensive works at the Narrows. Lieutenant Thomas Jackson (who would one day be called "Stonewall") also served at Hamilton. Both were members of St. Johns Episcopal congregation which still exists off post. Lee's five years at Fort Hamilton ended with the outbreak of the Mexican War in which he attained his earliest fame.
During the Civil War, Fort Hamilton's garrison expanded many-fold and Fort Lafayette became an important Federal Prison for captured Confederates. The post commander during the first months of was was Abner Doubleday, called by some the inventor of baseball. He would also become a hero at Gettysburg. A ship barrier across the Narrows assisted Fort Hamilton and sister forts on Staten Island in protecting the harbor against Confederate raiders. The forts also provided troops to put down the New York City Draft Riots of July 1863.
Rifled cannon proved vertical-walled masonry fortification obsolete during the Civil War and in the last decades of the 19th century great advances in the military technology brought a whole new generation of long range guns mounted in inconspicuous emplacements. The guns, themselves made obsolete by air power, are long gone for Fort Hamilton and Fort Wadsworth, even the concret emplacement have been destroyed at Fort Hamilton. Big anti-ship guns were replaced by anti-aircraft artillery and later-1954 to 1974-by Nike missiles. Harbor mines, submarine nets and other defense have also served to protect the Narrows, but today all are gone. The defense of New York City is now the responsibility of the Navy and the Air Force.
In the two World Wars Fort Hamilton served as a major embarkation and separation center. At present, it is the home of the US Army Recruiting Battalion, and the Military Entrance Processing Station for New York City. Hamilton also supports over 300 reserve and National Guard Units. As the only active Army post in the metropolitan area the fort does work once performed by several installations.
The last decade had brought dramatic changes at the Narrows. The Verrazano Narrows Bridge destroyed several historic structures including Fort Lafayette, which was located near the Brookyln shore where the tower now rises from the water, but in the same period efforts to save the historical hertiage of the Narrows increaded. Staten Island's Fort Wadsworth Museum, founded by the Army in 1966, was an early step in that direction. In Brooklyn, Bay Ridge Historical Society has concerned itself with the Narrows since its founding in 1976. The Army's Harbor Defense Museum, tells the story or protecting the nations greatest port with emphasis on fortification at the harbor.
Fort Totten received its name from General and Chief Engineer Joseph G. Totten and is steeped in history. The fort was founded in 1857 with plans prepared by then Captain and West Point graduate Robert E. Lee. In 1862 the Fort was reconstructed as a Civil War-era military installation for the purposes of defending the eastern approach to New York Harbor via the East River, but not completed. The Army upgraded Fort Totten in about 1900 with long range coastal guns which subsequently turned Fort Totten into the chief fort for protection of the "back door" to New York City opposite Fort Schuyler. It remained responsible for a portion of the United State coastal and aerial defenses until 1967.
Fort Totten then had most of its armaments removed as it became a center for Army families. In March 1995, the United States government officially closed the Fort. However, Fort Totten still housed the 77th Army Reserve Command which had soldiers deployed in Iraq for Gulf War II.
The New York City Fire Department, and other government agencies and non-profit organizations now inhabit the majority of fort buildings.
The Fort, which encompasses 49.5-acres, was handed over to the Parks Department by the National Parks Service in 2004, and in early 2005 was made a public park and historic site.
No Information Available
Secretary of Defense Recommendation: Realign Fort Totten, NY, by disestablishing the HQ 77th Regional Readiness Command and establishing a Sustainment Brigade at Fort Dix, NJ. Close Carpenter USARC, Poughkeepsie, NY, close McDonald USARC, Jamaica, NY, close Fort Tilden USARC, Far Rockaway, NY, close Muller USARC, Bronx, NY, and relocate units to a new Armed Forces Reserve Center at Fort Totten, NY.
Secretary of Defense Justification: This recommendation transforms Reserve Component facilities and command and control structure throughout the Northeast Region of the United States. The implementation of this recommendation will enhance military value, improve homeland defense capability, greatly improve training and deployment capability, create significant efficiencies and cost savings, and is consistent with the Army's force structure plans and Army transformational objectives.
This recommendation is the result of a nation-wide analysis of Reserve Component installations and facilities conducted by a team of functional experts from Headquarters, Department of the Army, the Office of the State Adjutant General, and the Army Reserve Regional Readiness Command.
This recommendation transforms Army Reserve command and control by consolidating four major headquarters onto Fort Dix, NJ; this recommendation supports the Army Reserve's nationwide Command and Control restructuring initiative to reduce Regional Readiness Commands from ten to four. The realignment of Pitt USARC, Coraopolis, PA, by the disestablishment of the 99th Regional Readiness Command allows for the establishment of the Northeast Regional Readiness Command Headquarters at Fort Dix, NJ, which will further support the re-engineering and streamlining of the Command and Control structure of the Army Reserves throughout the United States. This restructuring will allow for the closure of Camp Kilmer, NJ, and the relocation of the HQ 78th Division to Fort Dix and establishment of one of the new Army Reserve Sustainment Units of Action, which establishes a new capability for the Army Reserve while increasing the support capabilities of the Army Reserve to the Active Army. To further support restructuring; the realignment of Fort Totten and the disestablishment of the HQ 77th RRC will enable the establishment of a Maneuver Enhancement Brigade at Fort Dix, resulting in a new operational capability for the Army Reserve. The realignment of Fort Sheridan, IL, by relocating the 244th Aviation Brigade to Fort Dix coupled with the Department of the Navy recommendation to close NAS Willow Grove, PA, and relocate Co A/228th Aviation to Fort Dix consolidates Army aviation assets in one location. Other actions supporting restructuring include realigning maintenance functions on Fort Dix, the closure of Charles Kelly Support Center, PA, and relocation of multiple subordinate units to Pitt USARC, PA; and the closure of five US Army Reserve Centers in the greater New York City area with relocation of those units to Fort Totten. These actions will significantly enhance training, mobilization, equipment readiness and deployment.
This recommendation reduces military manpower and associated costs for maintaining existing facilities by closing one Camp, five Army Reserve Centers, realigning five facilities and relocating forces to multiple installations throughout the Northeast Region of the United States. These actions will also improve business processes. The implementation of this recommendation and creation of these new command structures will enhance military value, improve homeland defense capability, greatly improve training and deployment capability, create significant efficiencies and cost savings, and is consistent with the Army's force structure plans and Army transformational objectives. The Department understands that the State of New York will close NYARNG Armories: 47th Regiment Marcy Armory, Brooklyn and Brooklyn Bedford Armory/OMS 12. The Armed Forces Reserve Centers will have the capability to accommodate these units if the state decides to relocate the units from these closed facilities into a new AFRC on Fort Hamilton, NY.
This recommendation provides the opportunity for other Local, State, or Federal organizations to partner with the Reserve Components to enhance homeland security and homeland defense at a reduced cost to those agencies.
This recommendation considered feasible locations within the demographic and geographic areas of the closing facilities and affected units. The sites selected were determined as the best locations because they optimize the Reserve Components' ability to recruit and retain Reserve Component soldiers and to train and mobilize units affected by this recommendation.
Although not captured in the COBRA analysis, this recommendation avoids an estimated $168.3M in mission facility renovation costs and procurement avoidance associated with meeting Anti Terror / Force Protection construction standards and altering existing facilities to meet unit training and communication requirements. Consideration of these avoided costs would reduce costs and increase the net savings to the Department of Defense in the 6-year BRAC implementation period, and in the 20-year period used to calculate NPV.
Community Concerns: There were no formal concerns expressed by the communities of Forts Hamilton or Totten.
Commission Findings: The Commission found DoD's recommendation consistent with the final selection criteria and the Force Structure Plan. Community concerns were carefully weighed and considered, but the Commission did not find they rose to the level of substantial deviation. The Commission also notes that DoD will address the further requirements for the commissary and exchange at the Kelly Support Center after the BRAC recommendations are approved and the effects on the area population can be assessed.
Commission Recommendations: The Commission found the Secretary's recommendation consistent with the final selection criteria and force structure plan. Therefore, the Commission approved the recommendation of the Secretary.
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