On this Veterans Day 2020, I’m posing a question often asked by anyone doing family or military history. Where exactly was Camp Gordon located in Georgia? Well, that depends on during which war your “Camp Gordon” relative or subject was stationed. Both locations were named for Confederate Lieutenant General John Brown Gordon.
During the WWI-era, Camp Gordon was located near Chamblee, northeast of Atlanta. It opened in July 1917, and it became a training site for the 82nd Division, later known as the 82nd Airborne. That Division was organized at Camp Gordon on 25 August 1917, and in August 1942, it was reconstituted as the first airborne division of the U.S. Army.
Other training was happening at Camp Gordon. Alvin York trained there and went on to win the Congressional Medal of Honor, and there was another young man stationed there named Fred Lycett Lenney. The son of Atlanta photographer William “East” Lenney, Fred was born in late 1894, so he was about twenty-three years old when he was stationed from April 1918 to May 1919, at Camp Gordon .
By the time Fred Lenney arrived at Camp Gordon, most of the soldiers training there had been sent overseas, but the Camp still welcomed him. Lenney was adept at motorcycle repair and those left at Camp Gordon were in sad shape. As a sergeant (Sgt.) assigned to the Headquarters Detachment, he eventually had charge of a motorcycle corps. To make him even better at his job, the Army sent him to Wisconsin to the Harley-Davidson Service School.
Founded in 1903, the Harley-Davidson Company first designed and produced a bicycle with an engine, and soon developed motorcyles. In 1917, one-third of their production was for the military, and in July 1917, they formed the Quartermasters School to train military mechanics. This was called the Service School by the time Lenney attended the three-week course. Below is a W. J. Clark photograph made of the Camp Gordon “motorcycle corps,” ca. 1918-19.
Left to right are D. E Wetherell (in sidecar) and J. R. Kaid (on motorcycle), — Smith (on motorcycle), E. Smith (in sidecar) and S. A. Sisley (on motorcycle), Fred L. Lenney (in sidecar) and R. E. Flynn (on motorcycle), — Speck (on motorcycle), D.H. Klyce (in sidecar) and Paul F. Gibson (on motorcycle), D. D. Marrs (on motorcycle), and Major N. Szilagyi on horseback.
Camp Gordon near Chamblee was abandoned in September 1921. In July 1941, another Camp Gordon, near Augusta, opened as a 55,000 acre WW II training camp for the 4th and 26th Infantry Divisions, as well as the 10th Armored Division that fought in Europe as part of the Third Army under General George S. Patton. Snapshots taken in April 1943, show groups of soldiers together trying to look cheerful, knowing that “anything can happen.”
From October 1943 to January 1945, Camp Gordon held a POW camp. Post-war, from May 1945, and for over a year after, the Camp was a place in which close to 86,000 soldiers were processed out of the service. From early 1946 to June 1947, the U.S. Army Disciplinary Barracks for convicted criminals was located there. Rather than close the Camp, two schools were brought into the location in 1948: the Military Police School and the Signal Corps Training Center, and in January 1949, and for only a year, the Engineer Aviation Unit Training Center was located at Camp Gordon. On March 21, 1956, Camp Gordon became a permanent Army installation and was redesignated Fort Gordon.
For more on the history of Fort Gordon see Wikipedia, but especially see the U. S. Army Fort Gordon: History for infomation on the many things happening there from the 1950s to 2014, when Fort Gordon was designated the U. S. Army Cyber Center of Excellence.
© E. Lee Eltzroth and Hunting & Gathering, 2020. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material, including photographs, without written permission from this blog’s author, is prohibited. With permission, excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to E. Lee Eltzroth and Hunting & Gathering, with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.