• Many post namesakes served in Philippines

  • People Behind Place Names

    • email print
  • Quentin Schillare | Special to the Fort Leavenworth Lamp
    Before 1898, American soldiers only deployed to foreign countries for short periods during wartime — British North America (Canada) during the War of 1812, the occupation and annexation of the Republic of Texas — then a sovereign nation — in 1845, and the war with Mexico, 1846-48.
    Having no overseas possessions, there was no call for large numbers to be sent abroad. The Navy and the Marine Corps showed the flag to foreign shores. That all changed in 1898.
    The war with Spain from April to August, coupled with the annexation of Hawaii in July 1898, presented a challenge. A force that had spent the time since the Civil War on coast defense and fighting indigenous peoples in support of Manifest Destiny suddenly found itself the ground force of an imperial power. Activities related to overseas deployment and sustainment, operations in tropical climates, occupation duty, military governance and nation building had not been missions for Army leaders and units since the end of Reconstruction in 1877.
    While some soldiers could find Cuba and Puerto Rico on a map before 1898, few could locate Guam or the Philippines. Almost no American soldiers had visited these exotic locations. Honolulu was 2,400 miles, Guam more than 5,800 miles, and Manila almost 7,000 miles from San Francisco. These ocean distances dwarfed road and river distances the Army typically travelled in the continental United States.
    One hundred sixty-seven people serve as namesakes on Fort Leavenworth. Another 13 Army units, 12 Native American nations and 40 other things such as the U.S. Constitution are also honored. Sixty-one of the individual namesakes served in the Philippines, the most frequent duty station.
    Not counting the massive temporary construction during the two world wars, the period 1900 to 1920 saw the most permanent construction in post history. Infantry Barracks, Artillery Barracks, Grant Hall and Gruber Fitness Center are just some of the structures that still exist. When they were built, many were named for recent combat casualties, most for action in the Philippines.
    Starting with the Philippine War that followed the war with Spain, almost all the Army’s infantry, cavalry and artillery regiments served in the islands, many several times — a situation not unlike today’s multiple deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. In the 40 years before the start of World War II, the Philippines was the most frequent overseas deployment dwarfing assignments to Cuba, Puerto Rico or Panama. Many officers who became Fort Leavenworth namesakes started their careers in the islands. Service during World War II added to the roster of Philippine veterans.
    Some current namesakes are noteworthy. Brig. Gen. Edmund L. “Snitz” Gruber is most often remembered for a song. He was the author, with West Point classmates William L. Bryden and Robert M. Danford, of the lyrics to “The Field Artillery Song” in 1908. They wrote the song to celebrate relief of their battalion, 2nd Battalion, 5th Artillery, by the 1st Battalion at Fort Stotsenburg on Luzon. In 1956, the lyrics were modified, and the song renamed “The Army Goes Rolling Along.”
    Page 2 of 2 - Col. John M. Stotsenburg is the namesake for building 102, a 159-year old structure on Meade Avenue. He was killed in action leading the 1st Nebraska Volunteer Infantry in April 1898. He was the namesake for Fort Stotsenburg, a former cavalry post in central Luzon in the Philippines that was later a part of Clark Air Base.
    Another post namesake was also honored in the Philippines. Brig. Gen. Theodore J. Wint serves as namesake for Wint Avenue, a residential street southeast of the Ike Skelton Combined Arms Research Library. Like Stotsenburg, Wint was honored as the namesake for an entire installation in the islands. Fort Wint was the “Little Corregidor,” the harbor defense installation at the mouth of Subic Bay west of the Bataan Peninsula.
    A final prominent structure also has a coast artillery lineage. Funston Hall, building 314 on Sedgwick Avenue, is named for Maj. Gen. Frederick Funston. Funston received the Medal of Honor for leading a force that captured Insurrecto leader Emilio Aguinaldo in February 1900. Building 314 was constructed using Quartermaster General’s Office standard plan 181A, a two-company barracks for coast artillery.
    Few American soldiers are stationed in the Philippines today, but there are connections with those 7,200 islands in the western Pacific and Fort Leavenworth.
  • Comment or view comments