This large photographic print measures about 42'' x 11-3/4''. It appears to be excellent to mint condition as pictured. It is rolled. There are a few small creases, and the back rolled area that had been exposed for many years has some light spotting.
Within weeks after the United States declared war on Germany in the spring of 1917, the War Department acquired a vast tract of farmland in Prince George County, (between Petersburg and Hopewell) for the purpose of building one of 32 military cantonments. Construction of Camp Lee began in June. By September, more than 1,500 buildings and over 15 miles of on post roads had been completed. Soon, members of the 80th “Blue Ridge” Division made up of troops from Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia began arriving for training.
Before long, Camp Lee became one of the largest “cities” in Virginia. More than 60,000 doughboys trained here prior to their departure for the Western Front and fighting in France and Germany. Included among the many facilities here was a large camp hospital situated on 58 acres of land. One of the more trying times for the hospital staff was when the worldwide influenza epidemic reached Camp Lee in the fall of 1918. An estimated 10,000 Soldiers were stricken by flu. Nearly 700 of them died in the course of a couple of weeks.
Camp Lee continued to function as an out processing center from 1919 - 1920 following the First World War. In 1921, the camp was formally closed, and its buildings were torn down, all save one , the so called “White House.” During the war, this two story wood framed structure served as 80th Division Headquarters and as temporary residence for its Commander, Maj. Gen. Adelbert Cronkhite. Years later, it became known as the “Davis House” in honor of the family that lived there in the 1930s and 1940s.
Except for the Davis House (which is still in use today), the road network and a handful of WWI training trenches, there are no other visible signs of all the training and other activities that took place here during the camp’s initial existence. Through the interwar years, the property reverted to the Commonwealth of Virginia and was used mainly as a game preserve. The only evidence of persons in uniform was the Civilian Conservation Corps camp that opened at nearby Petersburg National Battlefield during the Great Depression.
The Second Camp Lee
With storm clouds again rising in Europe, Congress approved the mobilization of nearly 300,000 Guardsmen and Reservists in late August 1940. In September, lawmakers passed a Selective Service Act that allowed the drafting of up to 900,000 more men for a year. And in October, the War Department issued orders for the rebuilding of Camp Lee on the same site as before. Overnight the area became a beehive of activity as thousands of civilian laborers swarmed into the Petersburg - Hopewell area and began building at a furious pace.
Even before the first barracks were constructed, raw recruits for the Quartermaster Replacement Training Center moved into tents in the heart of Camp Lee. In October 1941 (two months before Pearl Harbor), the Quartermaster School moved from Philadelphia to Camp Lee to begin training officers and noncommissioned officers in the art of military supply and service.
Over the course of the war, Camp Lee’s population continued to mushroom until it became, in effect, the third largest “city” in Virginia, after Norfolk and Richmond. More than 50,000 officers attended Quartermaster Officer Candidate School. Over 300,000 Quartermaster Soldiers trained here during the war. There was a Regional Hospital with scores of pavilions and literally miles of interlocking corridors capable of housing over 2,000 patients at a time. Here too was located the Army Services Forces Training Center, the Quartermaster (Research & Development) Board, a Women’s Army Corps training center, and for a while, a prisoner of war camp and the Medical Replacement Training Center. Camp Lee enjoyed a reputation as one of the most effective and best run military installations in the country. Following V-J Day in 1945, troop strength rapidly decreased, but Camp Lee continued to serve as the major Quartermaster field installation and as an out-processing center for those leaving the military.
The Post World War II Era
Unlike the end of World War I, there was no immediate decision to dismantle the second Camp Lee. The Quartermaster School continued operation, and in 1947, the Adjutant General’s School moved here (where it remained until 1951). The Women’s Army Corps likewise established its premier training center here from 1948 to 1954. Also in 1948, the first permanent brick and mortar structure – the Post Theater – was constructed.
On April 15, 1950, the War Department reached the critical decision to keep Camp Lee as a permanent facility and renamed it Fort Lee. At nearly the same time, the Quartermaster School picked up the “supply by sky” mission from the Infantry School at Fort Benning and began training airborne riggers here. Then in June 1950, war again broke out … in Korea. Once again, the installation quickly sprang to life as tens of thousands of Soldiers arrived between 1950 and 1953 to receive logistics training.
The 1950s and 1960s witnessed almost nonstop modernization efforts as, one by one, Fort Lee’s temporary wooden barracks, training facilities and housing units began giving way to permanent brick and cinderblock structures. New multi storied barracks were built in the mid 1950s, along with whole communities of Capehart housing for permanent party. In May 1961, the new three story Quartermaster School, Mifflin Hall, was dedicated. Kenner Army Hospital opened in 1962, replacing the remnants of the old WWII era facility, and the privately funded Quartermaster Museum opened its doors in 1963. Some years have seen far more change than others, but the overall process of modernization has continued ever since.
The rapid logistics buildup in Vietnam after 1965 signaled an urgent need for many more Quartermaster Soldiers. Fort Lee responded by going into overdrive. For a time the school maintained three shifts, and round the clock training. A Quartermaster Officer Candidate School opened in 1966 for the first time since World War II. A mock Vietnamese “village” was created on post to familiarize trainees with guerrilla tactics and the conditions in which they could expect to fight in the jungles of Southeast Asia. Part of the sixties era Quartermaster training program also saw the first widespread local use of automated data processing equipment.