Fort McPherson Army Base, Georgia
The history of the Army in Atlanta has evolved from the state militia's use of a pasture for a meeting place and drill ground in 1835 -- where Fort McPherson sits today -- to the current Army presence at Fort McPherson, Fort Gillem and various locations throughout Atlanta.
With anticipation of the Civil War, the old muster grounds at Fort McPherson in southwest Atlanta, became a training ground for troops. After the Acts of Secession, the Confederate government took active charge of the old parade ground, erected barracks and established a cartridge factory to supply the southern troops in this district.
The Confederate troops destroyed the cartridge factory and many of the barracks during the siege of Atlanta and the eventual evacuation of the city.
Following the Civil War, 37 Georgia counties, including the city of Atlanta were organized into the District of Allatoona, with headquarters in Marietta. Atlanta eventually became the headquarters of the Third Military District of the military reconstruction of Georgia. The last commander was General George G. Meade who remained in command until July 30, 1868, when civil authority was restored.
In 1867 to 1868, a 10-company post was constructed on the 53 acres of leased ground at the southwest corner of Atlanta, and on December 30, 1867, was named McPherson Barracks in honor of Union Maj. Gen. James Birdseye McPherson, U.S. Volunteers (Brigadier General, USA). He was killed July 22, 1864, during the Battle of Atlanta.
Between the years 1867 and 1881, the barracks was garrisoned in turn by elements of the 2nd, 16th and 18th U.S. Infantry regiments and the 5th Artillery. Their mission was to enforce Union regulations during the reconstruction period following the Civil War.
In October 1881, Secretary of War Robert T. Lincoln directed that the lease of the site be surrendered and the buildings sold at public auction. In compliance with this directive, McPherson Barracks was abandoned by United States troops on December 8, 1881. The U.S. Treasury realized $17,264.40 from the sale of the buildings.
During the period 1881-1886, McPherson Barracks continued to serve as a summer encampment due to its climate, especially for troops assigned to subtropical Florida. Congress, aware of the location's popularity, authorized the establishment of a permanent military post in the area.
On March 3, 1885, Congress passed the Sundry Civil Bill which contained an initial sum of $15,000 for the purchase of land and erection of a 10-company post. The task of site selection went to Maj. Gen. Winfield Scott Hancock, commanding general of the Division of the Atlantic. Five tracts of land amounting to 14,009 acres were purchased in September 1885. Captain Joshua W. Jacobs, assistant quarter- master, was totally responsible for developing and implementing the first master plan for the post. In August 1886, Congress authorized the purchase of an adjoining 96.31 acres. The original boundaries of the new post contained just over 26 acres of land.
The magnitude of Jacob's undertaking can be appreciated when it is considered that he had to build a small self-contained community from vacant woodland. Today, 40 of the original buildings are listed in the National Register of Historic Places, and as such, are preserved and protected as important elements of national heritage.
Housing is offered at Fort McPherson. There are 12 sets of general officer homes with from three to six bedrooms. There are 22 sets of senior officer (O6) and special command sergeants major homes with three, four or five bedrooms. There are 45 sets of field/company grade (E9 through lieutenant colonel/sergeant major) homes with three bedrooms. There are 16 sets of enlisted (E1-E7) homes with three bedrooms. There are 7 sets of two-bedroom enlisted (E1-E7) homes. Many of the homes at Fort McPherson are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.