The History of Fort
George G. Meade
Fort George G. Meade became an Army installation in 1917. Authorized
by an Act of Congress in May 1917, it was one of 16 cantonments built for
troops drafted for the war with the Central Powers in Europe. The present
Maryland site was selected on June 23, 1917. Actual construction began
in July. The first contingent of troops arrived here that September.
The post was originally named Camp Meade for Major General George Gordon
Meade, whose defensive strategy at the Battle of Gettysburg proved a major
factor in turning the tide of the Civil War in favor of the North.
During World War I, more than 100,000 men passed through Fort Meade,
a training site for three infantry divisions, three training battalions
and one depot brigade.
In 1928, when the post was renamed Fort Leonard Wood, Pennsylvanians
registered such a large protest that the installation was permanently named
Fort George G. Meade on March 5, 1929. This action was largely the result
of a rider attached to the Regular Army Appropriation Act by a member of
the House of Representatives from the Keystone State.
Fort Meade became a training center during World War II, its ranges
and other facilities used by more than 200 units and approximately 3,500,000
men between 1942 and 1946. The wartime peak-military personnel figure at
Fort Meade was reached in March, 1945--70,000.
With the conclusion of World War II, Fort Meade reverted to routine
peacetime activities, but was later to return to build-up status. Many
crises, including Korea, West Berlin and Cuba, along with Vietnam-related
problems, were to come.
One key post-World War II event at Fort Meade was the transfer from
Baltimore, on June 15, 1947, of the Second U.S. Army Headquarters. This
transfer brought an acceleration of post activity, because Second Army
Headquarters exercised command over Army units throughout a then seven-state
area. A second important development occurred on January 1, 1966,
when the Second U.S. Army merged with the First U.S. Army. The consolidated
headquarters moved from Fort Jay, N.Y. to Fort Meade to administer activities
of Army installations in a 15-state area. In August 1990, Fort Meade
began processing Army Reserve and National Guard units from several states
for the presidential call-up in support of Operation Desert Shield. In
addition to processing reserve and guard units, Fort Meade sent two of
its own active duty units--the 85th Medical Battalion and the 519th Military
Police Battalion--to Saudi Arabia. In all, approximately 2,700 personnel
from 42 units deployed from Fort Meade during Operation Desert Shield/Desert
Storm. Today, Fort Meade provides support and services for more than
50 tenant units which include the Defense Information School Headquarters,
the U.S. Army Field Band, and the National Security Agency
information about Fort Meade at the Fort Meade Museum