Fort Devens

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Fort Devens (1917-Present) - First established in 1917 as Camp Devens in Middlesex County, Massachusetts. Named in G.O. 95, 18 Jul 1917 after Bvt Major General Charles Devens, a Massachusetts son who served in the Union Army during the U.S. Civil War, and later was named U.S. Attorney General. Renamed Fort Devens in 1931. Deactivated in 1996 and divided between the Devens Commerce Center and Devens Reserve Forces Training Area (DRFTA). DRFTA renamed Fort Devens in 2007.

Camp Devens Cantonment WWI Era
Camp Devens Hospital WWI Era
Camp Devens 1917 Panorama

World War I (1917-1918)

One of sixteen U.S. Army National Army Mobilization and Training Camps established in 1917 to train and integrate National Army units for service in a U.S. Army division. Camp Devins was established in 13 Jun 1917 under the supervision of construction quartermaster Captain Edward Canfield Jr.. The camp was to have a capacity of about 37,000 officers and enlisted men that would become the 76th U.S. Infantry Division. The camp was mostly complete in October 1917 at an eventual cost of $ 13,100,000.

The first commander of the camp was Major General Henry F. Hodges who formed the 76th U.S. Infantry Division and initiated troop training. The 76th arrived in September 1917 and departed for France in July-August 1918. The division was designated as a depot division and the units were distributed to other divisions as replacements. Four units of the 76th saw combat but the division as a whole did not. The 76th Headquarters returned to the U.S. in December 1918 and was demobilized.

At the end of the war the camp became a demobilization center. The camp was placed in caretaker status on 1 Sep 1921 and was used as a summer training camp for the National Guard, Reserve units, ROTC cadets and Citizens' Military Training Camp (CMTC) candidates. Camp Devens was designated a permanent military post and renamed Fort Devens in G.O. 10, 5 Nov 1931.

World War II (1941-1945)

With the start of the peacetime draft in 1940 a massive construction project built out over 1,200 wooden temporary WWII type buildings including two 1,200‑bed hospitals. Over $ 25,000,000 was spent on expanding the post in preparation for World War II.

During the war, Fort Devens trained three divisions, was the site of the Chaplains' School, and operated a 500‑man German prisoner of war camp. After the end of the war the post again served as a demobilization center and processed the returning troops.

Cold War (1947–1991)

The post was again placed on caretaker status until reactivated for the Korean War. Fort Devens played a training and support role in the Vietnam War, Operation Desert Storm and Operation Desert Shield. With the end of the Cold War the post was deactivated and divided between civilian uses and a National Guard/Reserve training area.

Current Status

Active duty post. The Devens Reserve Forces Training Area was renamed Fort Devens again in May 2007.

Location: Middlesex County, Massachusetts.

Maps & Images

Lat: 42.5462958 Long: -71.6141613

Sources:

  • Roberts, Robert B., Encyclopedia of Historic Forts: The Military, Pioneer, and Trading Posts of the United States, Macmillan, New York, 1988, 10th printing, ISBN 0-02-926880-X, page 397-398
  • Rinaldi, Richard A., The US Army in World War I - Orders of Battle, Tiger Lily Publications LLC, 2004, 244 pages
  • Brief Histories of Divisions, U.S. Army: 1917-1918, U.S.A. General Staff, June 1921, 92 pages

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