In 1940, the United States was facing the very possible entry into another global conflict and in addition, on two fronts. Plans were set in place to mobilize the National Guard and to increase the strength of the 1st Army to 4 million soldiers. The national force was divided up into 9 geographic regions, referred to as “Corps” to protect the continental United States. The National Guard was directed to utilize the existing military installations for training and upgrading its state of readiness for mobilization, while the developing 1st Army would need much larger and more diversified training areas for both maneuvers and heavy arms training.
Criteria were established for the formation and acquisition of these new training installations. Ideally they would be established adjacent to existing military bases. They “should have an area content of approximately 60,000 acres of land, suitable for a garrison area of some 600 acres and an adjacent firing and maneuver area and independent of any existing post.” In addition the 3rd Corps region proposed installation would require a location “somewhere in the territory between the Potomac River and the upper Chesapeake Bay, such area to be on suitable soil suitably drained, adjacent to road, rail and water communication and having the possibility of installation of suitable utilities.”
Within our geographic region, designated as the 3rd Corps, lay the states of Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, West Virginia and Virginia. In order to defend the Military District of Washington, the site of Fort Meade would serve to be the most central but in regards to its location within the Baltimore-Washington corridor, and its high real estate values, the required acreage would prove too cost prohibitive to acquire. Acquiring land adjacent to Fort Lee and Fort Eustis was not practical. It is unknown who initially suggested the location in northeast Caroline county but it met all of the criteria for transportation access and topography. In addition, the location consisted primarily of small farming tracts and undeveloped woodlands which could be acquired at relatively low cost.
At the time the main priority was to establish an area for heavy armament and artillery training which did not exist at any of the established installations. Regarding the Caroline site and the proposed area being bisected by Rt. 301, the acreage to the northwest of the highway would be developed as the primary garrison and maneuver area while the property to the southwest would be utilized as an Impact Area where a variety of heavy armament and artillery could ring the perimeter and fire into the center of it.
While there were other areas under consideration, the Caroline site provided the Army the best fit for the needs. In April 1941 the Caroline site was approved, originally encompassing 110,000 acres. The area was further reduced to the present approximate 77,000 acres. One of the reasons for this was the protection of Carolinas’ “historic homes,” as well as then limited funding appropriations. Land acquisition began in the northwest and proceeded southeast. Land acquisition of the Impact Area southeast of Rt. 301 began after September 1941.
On November 23, 1940, Marston sent a letter to the Adjutant General, War Department, recommending the War Department procure the Caroline site.
“Upon request of the Commanding General, First Army, it is recommended that the tract of land described below and indicated on the attached map be purchased for use as a maneuver area and site for field artillery service practice by units to constitute the II (Tactical) Corps.” Ref: HDOC-081.pdf
Fort A.P. Hill was established as an Army training facility on June 11, 1941, pursuant to War Department General Order No. 5. In its 1st year, the installation was used as a maneuver area for the II Army Corps and for three activated National Guard divisions from Mid-Atlantic States.
Operations began in the Pender area with the 5th Engineer Regiment clearing and establishing the campsite areas in preparation for the first 18,000 men of the II Corps. In June 1941, the Army planned to “Hone the maneuver skills of the II Corps’ divisions” by having division level operations at the A.P. Hill Reservation. These operations would pit the 44th Division “Blue Force” against the “Red Force” consisting of the 60th Regimental Combat Team and the 3rd U.S. Cavalry regular Army units.
The war games that ensued were open to the public and consisted of 25,000 men participating. This would be the only large scale operation at A.P. Hill prior to the start of WWII.
In December 1941, the first wartime activity began with the development of quarters and classrooms for 1,800 member junior officers and NCO’s school. Also in December 1941, LTC Elmer F. Munshower was designated commander of the 1336th Service Unit which oversaw the A.P. Hill Reservation. LTC Munshower was a Maryland National Guardsman who rose to battlefield rank as a rifle company commander in France during World War I and was actively involved in many aspects of post-mobilization training.
Beginning early 1942, preparations were underway to train and organize the Task Force which was to occupy North Africa. Gen. George S. Patton had over 26,000 of his troops of the 2nd Armored Division, the 3rd and 9th Infantry Divisions train at A.P. Hill.
Over the course of the war literally hundreds of thousands of troops trained at the Reservation. The training units were so diverse as to include; armored divisions, anti-tank units, anti-aircraft, medium and heavy artillery, topographical Engineering companies and Quartermasters, infantry, hospital units, truck regiments, cavalry, coast artillery, signal battalions, ordinance and more.
In the autumn of 1942, Fort A.P. Hill was the staging area for the headquarters and corps troops of Major General Patton’s Task Force A, which invaded French Morocco in North Africa.
1942 - Average strength per day- 24,000. Total man days per month- 722,000. Monthly average for civilian employees - 70.
1943 - Average strength per day- 21,000. Assigned station compliment- 430 military and 152 civilian.
Commencing in 1944, field training for Officer Candidate School and enlisted replacements from nearby Forts Lee, Eustis, and Belvoir was conducted.
Average daily strength - 3,500. 175 civilian employees. The installation was used extensively for the field training of Army Service Force personnel who would report for assignment to the Corps of Engineers, Quartermaster Corp and Ordnance Corp. Field training was also provided for officers and officer candidates from the Engineer and Quartermaster schools.
1945 - Post headquarters moved from Mica to its present location. Average daily strength- approximately 3,000. 120 civilian employees. With the war winding down, the A.P .Hill Military Reservation began to inherit training missions due to the closure of camps and expiration of leases on other maneuver areas.
The Fort was the major center for Engineer Officer Candidate School training (students from Fort Belvoir) during the Vietnam War.
Wilcox Camp is named after the Confederate Army’s Brigadier General Cadmus M. Wilcox and was created 1979. Approximately 60 buildings were constructed during the initial phase of construction. All buildings were constructed without heating, air conditioning, or insulation. Only single pane windows were originally installed in all buildings and only hot water was provided in the showers. The camp was built with only seasonal training in mind.
Fort A.P. Hill has earned the Army Superior Unit Award for period of service 1 July 2010 through 31 August 2011.
Fort A.P. Hill today is a training and maneuver center focused on providing realistic joint and combined arms training. All branches of the Armed Forces train on Fort A.P. Hill and the installation has also hosted training from foreign allies. Whether it's providing support for a mobilization or helping units train for deployment, Fort A.P. Hill's state-of-the-art training facilities and ranges, and professional support staff, continue to ensure America's Armed Forces have the edge needed to win in the 21st Century operational environment.
About the Installation
It is used year-round for military training of both active and reserve troops of the Army, Navy, Marines, and Air Force, as well as other government agencies. These include the Departments of State and Interior; U.S. Customs Service; and federal, state and local security and law enforcement agencies.
The Garrison has the distinct honor of having 3d U.S. Infantry conduct much of their tactical and field training here. The 3d U.S. Infantry, traditionally known as "The Old Guard," and is the oldest active-duty infantry unit in the Army, serving our nation since 1784. The Old Guard also provides Fort A.P. Hill with ceremonial and service support.
Fort A.P. Hill is also home to the Night Vision and Electronic Sensors countermine/counter-IED capabilities test facilities, Naval Special Warfare Combat Training Center, Command Sgt. Maj. Steven W. Faulkenburg Training Complex, U.S. Army Reserve Center, home of the 310th Engineer Multi-role Bridge Company.
The Capt. Jason T. McMahon Explosive Ordnance Disposal Training Center was named to honor Capt. Jason T. McMahon, an EOD Soldier who was killed in action in Afghanistan on Sept. 5, 2010. McMahon was the company commander of the 744th Explosive Ordnance Disposal Company , 184th Explosive Ordnance Disposal Battalion   at the time of his death.
The U.S. Army Asymmetric Warfare Group officially opened Asymmetric Warfare Group Battle Lab on Jan. 24, 2014. The complex features state-of-the art training and range facilities that support the AWG mission of rapid material and non-material solution development as well as adaptability and resiliency training. The 300-acre training complex includes a headquarters, barracks, administrative, training and maintenance facilities, an urban area, a 12-mile mobility range, an 800 meter known distance range, a light demolitions range and an indoor range.
Fort A.P. Hill Assault Landing Zone is named after a distinguished paratrooper who served with valor during World War II. George B. "Ben" Adkins was a native of Franklin County, Virginia. He left the Virginia National Guard at the start of World War II and joined the 82nd Airborne. Serving as a medic in the 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, he was awarded two Silver Stars, one Bronze Star, a Citation for Gallantry in Action, and a Purple Heart. The Adkins Assault Landing Zone is currently used by many different types of aircraft to include the C-130 and C-17.
JROTC Annual Camp Success, a Fort A.P. Hill tradition, has occurred for over a decade. Camp Success is where Junior ROTC cadets from high schools in Delaware, Maryland, North Carolina, Virginia and Washington D.C. attend a six-day camp that broadens their horizons and instilled them with confidence.
During the War on Terror, Fort A.P. Hill’s warrior training throughput was approximately 80,000 troops per year. Many of the warriors performed pre-deployment training here prior to being deployed overseas.
Lt. Col. Michael E. Gates (Current) [Gates]
Lt. Col. Andrew Q. Jordan [Jordan]
Lt. Col. David A. Meyer [Meyer]
Lt. Col. Peter E. Dargle [Dargle]
Lt. Col. John W. Haefner [Haefner]
Lt. Col. Michael S. Graese [Graese]
Lt. Col. James M. Mis
Lt. Col. James B. Balocki
Lt. Col. John E. Dumoulin Jr.
Lt. Col. Craig Wonsidler
Lt. Col. Walter L. Frankland
Lt. Col. William L. Shoup
Col. Justin R, Hughes
Col. Edward G. Grier
Col. Richard L. Quinn
Col. H. C. Distefano Jr.
Col. Charles W. Presson
Col. Harry W. French
Col. K. B. Barlow
Col. W. W. Weyant
Maj. O. R. Hite
Col. Lowell E. Thompson
Col. Edward L. Kerker
Lt. Col. A. N. Martino
Lt. Col. A. C. Harris Jr.
Lt. Col. R. B. Ruffner
Lt. Col. C. B. Cushing
Col. Paul L. Burke
Col. F. J. Gillespie
Col. J. E. Raymond
Col. Joseph W. Scobey
Col. James A. Killian
Col. Alexander S. Quintard
Col. Joseph L. Lancaster
Lt. Col. Thomas J. Randolph
Maj. Lester K. Kyle
Lt. Col. Elmer F. Munshower
Lt. Col. John E. McLaurine
Named for Distinguished Confederate Commander
The installation was named in honor of Lt. Gen. Ambrose Powell Hill, a Virginia native who distinguished himself as a Confederate commander during the Civil War. Rising from colonel to major general in three months, General Hill took command of one of Lee's three corps in 1863. John Wilkes Booth was killed at the Garrett farmhouse, which was situated just beyond the present boundaries of the fort.
The installation hosted the Boy Scouts of America National Jamboree in 1981, 1985, 1989, 1993, 1997, 2001, 2005 and 2010.