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Fort Leavenworth boasts a rich history of service

The Examiner

Fort Leavenworth was founded on the banks of the Missouri River back in 1827 by Colonel Henry H. Leavenworth of the Third U.S. Infantry as the westernmost Army outpost to protect the westbound wagon trains and to keep a lid on Native Americans.

Training at Fort Leavenworth has shaped the careers of generations of top U.S. Army officers.

With the end of the Indian Wars, Fort Leavenworth was transformed into an integral part of the Army’s new officer education system as well as a worldwide model for military corrections. In 1881, General William T. Sherman established the School of Application for Cavalry and Infantry, which later evolved into the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College. Some of the many famous students and instructors at the college were George C. Marshall, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Douglas MacArthur, Colin Powell and George Patton.

World War I proved the wisdom of Sherman’s initiative. Fort Leavenworth graduates excelled in planning complex American Expeditionary Forces operations. By the end of the war, they dominated staffs throughout the Expeditionary Forces.

Ted Stillwell

During World War II, some 19,000 officers completed various courses at Fort Leavenworth. By the end of 1943, commanders and staffs of 26 infantry, airborne and cavalry divisions had trained as teams at the school.

In 1959, the college moved into J. Franklin Bell Hall on Arsenal Hill. In 1985, the Harold K. Johnson wing was added to house the Combined Arms and Services Staff School. Eisenhower Hall was dedicated in 1994. Classes for the School of Advanced Military Studies and the School for Command Preparation, as well as the Combined Arms Research Library, are in Eisenhower Hall.

The Combined Arms Center was created in 1973. The senior headquarters on post, CAC has had responsibilities in training, doctrine and leader development since it was created. Today, through its major subordinate organizations and associated schools and centers, CAC has the mission of preparing the Army and its leaders for war as the Center for Excellence in leader development, doctrine, collective training and battle command.

The Lewis and Clark Center, the new home of the Command and General Staff College, opened in 2007. The $115 million training center includes 96 classrooms for more than 1,500 students and 600 faculty members.

In addition to training facilities, the post still houses active soldiers as well including the 35th Infantry Division.

The fort’s first Catholic Church was built in 1871 and was later replaced by St. Ignatius Chapel in 1889. St. Ignatius Chapel was destroyed by fire in December 2001, and its foundation is preserved in a memorial park. The first Protestant Memorial Chapel was built by prison labor in 1878 of stone quarried on post.

In 1885, the Wadsworth Old Soldiers Home was built, and later became the Veterans Administration Center. In 1893, the Immanuel Chapel, made famous in “Ripley's Believe It or Not,” was built on the VA grounds.

The Leavenworth Town Company, the first in the Kansas Territory, was organized on June 13, 1854. The 320 acres embraced in the claim were surveyed, platted and divided into shares, and “New Town,” as it was first known locally, was created. The name Douglas, in honor of Sen. Stephen Douglas of Illinois, was suggested and generally favored. But H. Miles Moore, a town site proprietor, argued that if they wanted to have a successful sale of lots, then the town should be named so as to confuse outsiders between the town and the military post, which should make for a desirable situation, and so the name of “Leavenworth” was adopted.

Fort Leavenworth allows visitors. You will need a valid government ID card, such as a driver's license, passport or military ID to enter the post. Vehicles must have current tags, proof of insurance and registration.

Reference: “Kansas – A Guide to the Sunflower State,” Viking Press.

Reach Ted W, Stillwell at or 816-896-3592.