Fort Slocum (New York)
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Shacks for draftees
Fort Slocum, New York was a United States military base occupying Davids' Island and Hart Island at the western end of Long Island Sound. The fort was named for Major General Henry W. Slocum, a Union corps commander in the American Civil War.
Military use of these islands appears to date back to at least 1862, when De Camp General Hospital was located on Davids' Island, housing as many as 2,538 occupants in 22 buildings. A prison camp was established on Hart Island in 1856. Both were used to house Confederate prisoners of war. It is unclear if the name Fort Slocum was used during this period. After the Civil War, Davids' Island was converted to a coastal artillery defense post. In 1921, the battery included 4 12 inch mortars, 4 3 inch pedestal guns, and 2 3 inch anti-aircraft guns.
Hart Island was sold to New York City in 1868, for use as a burial ground (potter's field) and for various purposes by the New York City Department of Corrections. The U.S. Military has continued, however, to make intermittent use of Hart Island over the years. It was used during World War II by the U.S. Navy for a disciplinary barracks. From 1951 to 1962, Fort Slocum (Davids' Island) was the home of the U.S. Army Chaplain School and the U.S. Department of Defense Information School in 1965.
From 1946 to 1949, Fort Slocum housed Headquarters First Air Force. It was redesignated Slocum Air Force Base in June 1949; this only lasted for a year before being turned back into an Army post in June 1950. From 1955 to 1960, Fort Slocum housed a Nike Ajax air defense battery. The missiles were stored in underground silos on Hart Island and the radar and control base was on Davids' Island. The U.S. Army Information School was located at Fort Slocum in 1956. Students from the U.S. and military personnel from around the world were taught public relations, photography, public speaking, typing, radio script writing, news releases, and citizenship history government.
The U.S. Army closed Fort Slocum on 30 November 1965. Since that time, the island has fallen victim to decades of vandalism and neglect. A series of arson fires in the 1970s and 1980s reduced the remaining buildings to rubble. Real estate developer Donald Trump attempted to develop David's Island in the 1980s and 1990s, but walked away from the project without any investor interest. In 2008, the remaining structures were razed and removed. Fort Slocum is abandoned, but Hart Island continues to be used as potter's field. One of the few remaining artifacts of Fort Slocum's existence visible to the general public is Fort Slocum Road in New Rochelle, New York.