Camp (Fort) Knox was Born 100 Years Ago Today, July 26, 1918

Camp Knox, Ky – November 16, 1918 – Spelled out using men from the 170th Field Artillery Brigade. (The photo was actually taken at the West Point Firing Range)

Camp Knox is located about 30 miles southwest of Louisville, Ky, near what is now the City of  Radcliff . It was built directly over the town of Stithton, Ky, and it covers parts of Hardin, Meade and Bullitt counties. It was approximately 36,330 acres at the time of construction. Built to replace the smaller artillery firing range at West Point, Ky, the new firing range had a seven mile long firing zone, which was much greater than the range at West Point. The West Point camp had a few structures, but all of the soldiers lived under canvas the entire time they were there.

West Point Tent Encampment for Field Artillery, circa July-1918

Constructing Quartermaster, Major W. H. Radcliffe, arrived at the newly selected site on July 26th, 1918, and immediately made arrangements with Lieutenant Van F. Pruitt, the Constructing Quartermaster at Camp Zachary Taylor, to take control of the surveying party as they had already performed some preliminary topographical work on the site. No mapping of the site had been preformed, and that was the most important next step in the process. The Camp Planner arrived the next day from Camp Taylor, and the final site selection for the structures were chosen. The city of Radcliff was named after Major Radcliffe.

John Griffiths & Son Co. Construction Office – October 30, 1918

Major W. H. Radcliffe – Constructing Quartermaster at Camp Knox

Five hundred train cars full of material were shipped to the location shortly thereafter, however the train siding at Stithton could not hold more than eleven cars at one time. Additional track was quickly laid to accommodate more train cars. The General Contractor (John Griffiths & Son, Chicago) arrived on August 5th, and buildings started to take shape about 10 days later.

Civil Engineers at Camp Knox, c. Aug. 1918

Stithton and the surrounding area was void of any hotels or boarding houses, so several barns and tobacco warehouses were commandeered and set up as bunk houses. The labor pool in the area was very thin, and finding qualified workers became a problem. The General Contractor was put on overtime, working seven days a week, from sun up to sun down, to keep up with the schedule.

Material was shipped in by the train car load. Some of that material delivered to the site were: 1.5 million bricks, 75,000 barrels of cement, 54 million board feet of lumber, 25,000 kegs of nails, 2,000 gallons of paint, 111,800 rolls of roofing, and 3.5 million square ft of wall board. There were 16,216 men employed over the duration of the construction.

Turnover of workers was very high due to it’s rural location and lack of access to stores and entertainment.

Construction continued until November 11th when the armistice was signed. After that date, all overtime was stopped, and construction ceased completely on December 21, 1918.

Construction started again on February 1, 1919, but stopped on July 7, 1919 when all funds for the project ran out. Congress appropriated additional funds on August 18, 1919 which was to pay for the work that was already in progress and needed to be completed, but no new structures were started. The original plan was for Camp Knox to be capable of housing 60,000 men, and 27.000 animals. After the signing of the armistice, the camp size was reduced to house 27,000 men.

Caissons rolling thru Camp Knox, circa 1919

The 325th, 326th and 327th Regiment of Field Artillery of the 84th Division had been training at West Point since April 1918. These regiments completed their training in September 1918, and shipped out.

The 170th Brigade Field Artillery, composed of the 67th, 68th and 69th Regiments took their place. In addition, the 24th Brigade Field Artillery, the 24th Trench Mortar Battery were also shipped there. The 29th Aero Squadron and 31st Balloon Company were organized at West Point prior to the construction of Camp Knox. These troops were transferred to from West Point to Camp Knox on November 24, 1918. The last of the transfers were complete by December 26, 1918.

Soldiers and Transport Truck at Camp Knox. circa 1919

Camp Knox became one of the US Army’s Field Artillery ranges, second to Fort Sill in Oklahoma. It remained in operation as one of the Field Artillery Central Officers Training Schools, which had started at Camp Zachary Taylor in August 1918. In 1921, the 10th and 11th Infantry Brigades arrived, along with 40,000 National Guardsmen and ROTC students. The fate of Camp Knox was in doubt since the end of WW1. The army was making plans to downsize, and close camps across the US. It was not until June 9, 1922 when it was announced that Camp Knox would remain open.

Soldiers inspecting M1917 Tank at Camp Knox, circa 1919

Artillery pieces of all types along with tanks were delivered to Camp Knox during that time period because of the large firing range that was available there. .

One of the Mess Halls at Camp Knox, circa 1919

However the good news did not last long. With pressure to downsize the military, along with the demobilization of hundreds of thousands soldiers, Camp Knox was close to being shuttered. By October of 1922, Camp Knox was reassigned as a training camp for the Fifth Corps. The manpower was slashed to 300 soldiers, who were kept to maintain the camp, and provide security.

A baseball game at Camp Knox, circa 1920

Soldiers clowning around the barracks at Camp Knox, circa 1920

In 1925, President Calvin Coolidge signed an executive order reducing the once second largest military camp in the US to “National Forest” status. This lasted for two years until the value of the camp was re-assessed, and two companies from the 10th and 11th Infantries were again stationed at Camp Knox.

The camp stayed in operation for four years where it filled a need in the mid-west as a training facility. In 1931, Camp Knox was upgraded to a permanent base, and renamed “Fort Knox”, which it remains today.

100 years ago today, July 14, 1918 – Quentin Roosevelt is shot down over France, giving name to Roosevelt Avenue in Camp Taylor

100 years ago today, the youngest son of former president Theodore Roosevelt, was shot down over France. Quentin, a fighter pilot in the 95th Aero Squadron, knew Eddie Rickenbacker who had high praise for the young pilot, but also thought he was reckless.

Lt. Quentin Roosevelt

Quentin had his first confirmed kill four days earlier on July 10th. On July 14th, while on patrol with three other pilots, they were participating in the Second Battle of the Marne, when the four allied planes were overtaken by seven German planes. Quentin was shot twice in the head, and crashed behind the German lines.

The wreckage of Quentin Roosevelt’s plane

The Germans buried him near the crash site, and maked his grave with a simple wooden cross, banded together with wire from the plane.

American soldiers at Roosevelt’s grave

Roosevelt Avenue in Camp Zachary Taylor was named after Quentin Roosevelt. The road was not named when the camp was built. It bordered the southern edge of Renfro Field, also known as Argonne Field.

 

Captured German airplane on display at Renfro Field at Camp Taylor c.1918

Renfro Field was used as a makeshift landing strip for when airplanes visited Camp Taylor. There never were any permanent aircraft stationed there, but it was only fitting to name this street after Quentin Roosevelt as it was the closest to a airstrip at Camp Taylor. Twenty years later, Standiford Field would be built just a short distance away from this location, and occupies all of what was the Maneuver Field.

Humorist, Journalist, Sports Columnist and Soldier at Camp Zachary Taylor – Arthur “Bugs” Baer

Arthur “Bugs” Baer

Arthur (Bugs) Baer – Journalist, Humorist, Sports Writer

Arthur Baer was born in Philadelphia in 1886. The seventh of fourteen children, he dropped out of school in 1900 at the age of 14 to work in the textile industry designing lace patterns. He also enrolled in Art School where he learned to do line drawings.

Cartoon by “Bugs Baer” 1929,

By 1906, he found a job at the Philadelphia Ledger as an “office boy”, where he earned $2 per week. He worked up the ladder to obtain a position as a “Staff Artist”. Nine years later in 1915, Arthur took a job at the Washington Times as their Sports Cartoonist, where he gained notoriety. He developed his talent of drawing cartoons showing sports figures (mostly baseball players) as a combination of baseballs with “bug like” appendages.
The readers of the Washington Times liked his cartoons and humor, and their sports page became one the most widely read pages in any newspaper in the country. The “bug like” characters in his cartoons soon garnered Arthur the nickname “Bugs”, which he soon adopted and preferred to be called. “Bugs Baer’s” first newspaper column was called “Rabid Randolph”, a daily humor column in the New York World.

Sports Page Cartoon by “Bugs Baer” 1915

Bugs had an ability to interject humor into his early columns and is well known for his whit. One famous quote from Bugs, (when he was writing about New York Yankee Ping Bodie) who unsuccessfully attempted to steal second base. “His head was full of larceny, but his feet were honest”. That column attracted the attention of William Randolph Hearst, who hired him to work for the “New York American” in 1915.

Newspaper column by “Bugs Baer”, where he signs “Ty Cobb’s” name as the writer.

When World War 1 came knocking on America’s door step, Bugs was taken into the US Army. In 1918, he enrolled into the “Field Artillery Central Officers Training School” (FACOTS) that was being conducted at Camp Zachary Taylor. The school was the largest school in the world at that time and enrolled 18,253 men over a six months period. Of those who enrolled, 8.737 men graduated, and they came from every state in the union, and several countries from overseas, such as Cuba, Japan, the Philippines and England.

Bug’s talent was not only in his studies during this grueling six-week course of mathematics, geometry and calculus, but his talent was also enlisted as one of several artists who were asked to draw cartoon panels for the 1919 book “FACOTS”. Bugs drew several panels for that publication.

“That OD Underwear”, cartoon panel by Bugs Baer for FACOTS Book.

After leaving the army, he also contributed cartoons for their quarterly publication while working for the New York American Newspaper. One was a look into the future (1980 to be exact) with the main character telling his grandchild about his embellished exploits in the Great War at Camp Taylor.

“The Grand Army of the Ohio, 1980” by Bugs Baer, 1919.

After leaving the army and returning to civilian life, Bugs returned to journalism, Broadway and Motion Pictures. While working for the Washington Times, Bugs switched to columnist when the his boss went on a two week long binge, leaving Bugs to write the column. He soon quit drawing cartoons and wrote full time as a sports columnist, injecting his humor along the way.

Bugs Baer was personal friend of Babe Ruth, and he coined the phrase “The Sultan of Swat” when referring to Ruth. In 1920, Bugs wrote the screen play for “Headin’ Home”,

“Headin Home” written by Bugs Baer. 1920

a silent movie about Babe Ruth, where Ruth plays himself as the lead character. Although the story line was completely fictional about Ruth’s life, it was an attempt to create a mythology about Babe Ruth that put his troubled past in a better light.

In 1923, Bugs co-wrote the “George White’s Scandals” review, which was on Broadway, with George Gershwin as the composer.

Bugs Baer continued his work as columnist with a syndicated King Features column “One Word Led to Another”, which had a circulation of about 15 million readers.

“One Word Led to Another”, by Bugs Baer.

 

Another syndicated column was “The Baer Facts” where common every day observations were humorously discussed, as well as his column “Bo Broadway” for the Evening World,.Bugs was also one of the writers for the “Mutt and Jeff” comic strip for two years. He wrote many of the story lines that were used by Bud Fisher, the creator of Mutt and Jeff.

 

 

The Baer Facts by “Bugs Baer”

Mutt and Jeff, by Bud Fisher

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

He appeared on radio station WGBS as a humorist and writer, and was a regular emcee for various appearances and shows by the “Syndicated Newspaper Cartoonists”.

Friend and acquaintance, Milton Berle, said that “he tapped Bug’s wit on occasion for inspiration when needing fresh humor”.

Arthur “Bugs” Baer was considered by the New York Times as “one the country’s best humorists of his time”.

Other quotes by Arthur “Bugs” Baer

A writer’s fame may be measured these days by the Lit’ry standing of the birds who steal his stuff.”

America never lost a war or won a peace.”

In 1928, when referring to Philadelphia Athletics pitching ace Lefty Grove,  “He could throw a lamb chop past a wolf.”

You can take the boy out of the country but you can’t take the country out of the boy

Alimony is like buying oats for a dead horse

Arthur “Bugs” Baer died in 1969 at the age of 83.

 

 

“The Star Spangled Banner” – 100 Years Ago Today, the First “4th of July” was Celebrated at Camp Zachary Taylor

One hundred years ago today, the 84th Division at Camp Zachary Taylor assembled in the parade ground at the Flag Staff for the first 4th of July flag raising ceremony held at Camp Zachary Taylor. The Flagstaff was located near the Headquarters at Taylor Avenue and Poplar Level Road.

Approximately 45,000 soldiers were there, along with thousands of civilians who came to listen to the speakers that address the crowd.

When the Flag was raised on that hot July day, all of the soldiers saluted it while the band played the National Anthem.

Dignitaries and Officers at the Flagstaff

Officers on horseback conducted the Flag Raising Ceremony at the base of the Flagstaff in full view of the dignitaries and civilians.

The photo taken that day was titled :The Star Spangled Banner”, and is one of the most iconic images ever taken at Camp Zachary Taylor.

Happy Centennial Day for the first 4th of July at Camp Zachary Taylor.