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Carlisle Barracks

The U.S. Army War College, senior educational institution of the U.S. Army, relocated to Carlisle Barracks in the spring of 1951 to begin the latest stage of the post's history. Established in 1903 and located in Washington, D.C., the college had functioned as part of the General Staff during its early years, but chiefly had prepared selected officers for high command. Distinguished graduates of that period included John J. Pershing (Class of 1905), Dwight D. Eisenhower (1927), and Omar N. Bradley (1934). Classes were suspended in 1940 during the preparedness mobilization for World War II, and not resumed until a decade later at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, for the 1950-51 academic year.

The new commandant, Lt. Gen. Joseph M. Swing, relocated with the college to Pennsylvania in July 1951 and turned over command to his successor, Lt. Gen. Edward M. Almond, just in time for the arrival of the first Carlisle-based class. At Carlisle, the Army War College grew steadily as it performed its mission of preparing officers for leadership at the highest levels. The college soon outgrew its main academic building (the current Upton Hall) and transferred to the newly constructed Root Hall in 1967. Two specialized agencies evolved into integral parts of the Army War College: the Strategic Studies Institute, first formed in 1954, and the Military History Institute, established in 1967. The Center for Strategic Leadership, a state-of-the-art war gaming complex that opened in 1994, contributed another unique dimension to the college and to Carlisle Barracks' history as a distinctive U.S. Army campus.

One of 40 sites considered for the location of the new federal capital, Carlisle lost the bid to an area along the Potomac near President Washington's home. In 1794, Carlisle became the center of intense military activity. Washington journeyed to the Barracks to review the troops - perhaps as many as 10,000 - gathered to face the "whiskey rebellion." Perhaps because of his reception at Carlisle in 1794, President Washington later recommended the Barracks as the site for a federal military academy, but Pennsylvania lost that political battle to the state of New York and its West Point location.

In 1801, the government paid $664.20 for the 27 acres that it had been renting from William Penn's heirs. The Artificers moved west to Pittsburgh in 1802, following the shifting Indian Wars. During the War of 1812, the Barracks served as a recruiting and training depot, but again fell into inactivity after the war. Carlisle Barracks hosted the Army's small but elite mounted force, the forerunner of the Armor School now at Ft. Knox, Ky., when the School of Cavalry Practice was established in 1838.

In 1879, the War Department passed control of the post to the Department of the Interior for the 39-year Indian School experiment. On September 1, 1918, Carlisle Barracks reverted to War Department, ushering in an era of inventive responses to the changing Army and security environment. In the fall of 1920, the Medical Field Service School was established under Col. Percy M. Ashburn's command. Drawing on the lessons of World War I, the school developed medical equipment and doctrine suitable for the battlefield. More than 30,000 officers and NCOs passed through the school during its 26-year tenure at Carlisle Barracks, applying classroom instruction and field exercises to train in care and handling of casualties and disease prevention.

When the Medical Field Service School departed for Ft. Sam Houston, Texas, in 1946, educational innovation continued. From 1946 until 1951, no less than six Army schools were located briefly at Carlisle Barracks. The Army Information School arrived first, followed shortly by the School for Government of Occupied Areas and then the Adjutant General's School. The next year brought the Chaplain School and the Military Police School. Finally, the last of the six, the Army Security Agency School, began its highly classified operations in 1949 and stayed for two years before being displaced by yet another school, the Army's highest.

Carlisle is the Cumberland County seat and a college town: home of Dickinson College and Penn State's Dickinson School of Law. It is enlivened by neighborhood festivals, and it's a magnet for antique shoppers and car show enthusiasts. Carlisle is the industrial center of the county. More than 12,000 people work nearby making shoes, carpets, electronics, paper products, glass, rubber, crystals, steel and clothing, and more. Some of the largest private employers include AMP Inc., Carlisle Corp., Masland Industries, PPG Industries, and Sprint.

The bond between military and civilian communities grows daily from hundreds of personal contacts. Over half the military population live off-post; many more appreciate the local schools and extensive shopping and services offered in the community. Post personnel volunteer throughout the Carlisle community, and community outreach programs like SummerFair sponsorship and the Senior Citizen Holiday Party, add to the relationship. The post gates are open to hundreds of visitors and schoolchildren who tour this historic installation. And, military members find the doors open to their participation in the schools; with the Cumberland County Historical Society; the Capitol Theater; William Penn Museum; the Planetarium; and at shops, restaurants, bed & breakfasts and other establishments that make Carlisle a charming 'host' city.

Carlisle and Carlisle Barracks are in the beautiful, agricultural belt of the Cumberland Valley, between the northeast-southeast chains of the Appalachian Mountains. Agriculture is the top-ranked industry of the state. Farmers' markets are top-rated by local residents. Greater Harrisburg Pennsylvania Area: military establishments include Mechanicsburg NAVICP Naval Depot, New Cumberland Army Depot, Carlisle Barracks and War College.

 



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