Fort Drum community recognizes namesake
Fort Drum Garrison Public Affairs
FORT DRUM, N.Y. (Aug. 22, 2022) – The installation now known as Fort Drum was dedicated 70 years ago this day in honor of an Army veteran who advocated for military preparedness and helped to shape military history in New York.
Drum was born Sept. 19, 1879, at Fort Brady, Michigan. The son of a Civil War veteran, Drum’s family never remained at one Army post very long before moving to the next. After graduating from high school in 1894, Drum attended Boston College with the intention of entering the Jesuit priesthood. But events outside of his control altered his plans when his father, Capt. John A. Drum, was killed July 1, 1898, at the Battle of San Juan Hill in Cuba, during the Spanish-American War.
At age 18, Drum went from being a student to a Soldier as a result of a special provision by President William McKinley that allowed direct commissions for sons whose fathers were killed in battle. He was believed to be the youngest officer in the history of the U.S. Army when he was commissioned as second lieutenant two days before his 19th birthday.
The young second lieutenant was assigned to the 12th Infantry Regiment, and he fought in Philippine Insurrection campaigns on the Island of Luzon. Drum briefly returned to U.S. in 1901 before he was ordered back the following year for the Moro campaigns in Mindanao, and he joined the expedition that captured the guerilla leader, Guerro. Drum was cited for bravery, and he received the Silver Star following three tours in the Philippine Islands.
In 1902, Drum served with the 27th Infantry at Plattsburgh and at Madison Barracks in Sackets Harbor, and he was promoted to captain in March 1906. Drum graduated with honors from the Army School of the Line in 1911, which provided training in the disciplines of military art, engineering, law and languages.
In 1912, Drum graduated from the Army Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, and he would later serve there as an instructor, director and assistant commandant.
Drum served on the Mexican border and participated in the Vera Cruz Expedition in 1914, where he accompanied Maj. Gen. Frederick Funston as his aide-de-camp and assistant chief of staff. Drum also participated in the Punitive Expedition in 1916. Later, he assisted in the formation of plans that placed Army and National Guard units along the Rio Grande.
Gen. John Pershing, commander of the American Expeditionary Forces, selected Drum to serve on his staff to establish his command post in France during World War I. Drum was responsible for developing troop movement routes and other logistical requirements. Pershing also ordered Drum to establish a staff college, similar to the Leavenworth model, to teach division and corps staff officers advanced largescale combat operations.
As First Army chief of staff, Drum led the planning for his unit’s actions in the Saint Mihiel and Meuse-Argonne offenses – preparing thousands of American troops for two of the greatest battles fought during the war. This resulted in Drum being promoted to brigadier general, and he was awarded the Army Distinguished Service Medal.
After the war, Drum was responsible for the dissolution and movement of American troops back to the U.S. He then served as director and assistant commandant – and later commandant – of the Command and General Service Schools at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. From 1923 to 1926, Drum at the War Department under Pershing as the assistant chief of staff for operations and training. After careful study and analysis, he concluded that modern warfare can only be successfully waged through a coordinated system in which each component plays one active part.
In 1926, Drum assumed command of 1st Infantry Brigade and then served as commanding general of 1st Infantry Division, headquartered at Fort Hamilton, New York, until 1930. He regularly conducted troop inspections at training sites throughout New York and other states, to include Madison Barracks, Plattsburgh Barracks and Fort Niagara and, Fort Monmouth, New Jersey.
Drum was promoted to major general and became inspector general of the U.S. Army on Jan. 29, 1930. In 1933, Drum commanded 5th Corps, and was then named deputy to Army Chief of Staff Gen. Douglas MacArthur. Later, he assumed command of the Army of the Pacific, Hawaiian Department.
In the late 1930s and early 1940s, Drum was instrumental in developing Pine Camp for largescale training events, and he personally petitioned for more funding in Washington, D.C. In 1935, the largest peacetime maneuvers in U.S. history occurred in this area, with 36,000 Army and National Guard Soldiers participating.
In 1938, Drum assumed command of the newly reactivated First Army at Governor’s Island, and would have his troops train at Pine Camp. In 1940, Drum visited the training reservation to inspect troops and observe a winter tactical training exercise. According to a local newspaper account, Drum saw four detachments of Soldiers mounted on skis participate in tactical drills over terrain with two feet of snow. The ski formations marked a new kind of Army training in the North Country. Soldiers of the 28th Infantry were equipped with winter gear to prepare them for extensive training in sub-zero climate, and they tested the Army’s new sleeping bags made of waterproof duck cloth and lined with blankets. The article stated:
“Ski maneuvering in the United States Army has taken place in only one other infantry, that by the Third Infantry stationed at Fort Selling, Minnesota, army officials said. There are 300 pairs of skis available for use during the winter at Pine Camp. Instructions on skiing will be given by soldiers who have had training in the sport, which is rapidly becoming part of a defense plan.”
Drum was instrumental in the 1941 Army-level maneuvers, which deployed more than 270,000 Soldiers to Louisiana and the Carolinas. The event was deemed successful in coordinating largescale troop movements for combat operations, but it also tested organization and doctrine that would define many aspects of the U.S. Army during World War II.
When the U.S. entered the war, Secretary of War Stimson designated Drum as head of the Eastern Defense Command and charged him with the defense of the Eastern Seaboard. Drum was subsequently awarded the Oak Leaf Cluster to the Distinguished Service Medal for his actions during the declared national emergency and war.
Upon mandatory retirement in 1943, Drum commanded the New York Guard until 1948, during which time he was instrumental in its post-war reorganization to the New York National Guard. His appointment from New York Governor William Dewey was lauded in a New York Times editorial, dated Oct. 19, 1943, which read:
“General Drum is one of America’s most distinguished soldiers. He has a fine record of forty-five years in the Army and special experience in this State as head of the Eastern Defense Command and senior instructor of the New York National Guard in 1922-23.”
In 1944, Drum served as president of the Empire State Building Corporation, and he served as aide to Dewey during his presidential campaign. In 1946, Dewey chose Drum for the Republican nomination for U.S. senator, but he was not selected during the state convention. Drum reportedly disliked the idea of entering the political arena. He said he was vacationing in the Canadian north woods when his candidacy was being discussed.
On Oct. 3, 1951, Drum died of a heart attack at the age of 72 while at his desk in the Empire State Building. A funeral service was held in St. Patrick’s Cathedral. Among the dignitaries attending the service were former President Herbert Hoover. In tributes and editorials, Drum was praised as both a professional Soldier and a civic leader in New York.
Shortly after his death, several elected officials in New York campaigned to rename Pine Camp in Drum’s honor. The Jefferson County Board of Supervisors casted the only dissenting opinion on this proposal and forwarded a resolution to the Defense Department to retain the Pine Camp name. The resolution cited that a name change would confuse people familiar with this training area. However, the Army acted on the endorsements from its Memorialization Board in December 1951 and redesignated Pine Camp as Camp Drum, effective Dec. 6, 1951.
A Camp Drum dedication ceremony was held on post Aug. 22, 1952, which was officiated by Lt. Gen. Willis D. Crittenberger, First Army commander. Drum’s wife, Mary Reaume Drum, also spoke at the ceremony, and their daughter, Carroll Drum Johnson, was presented with his flag and portrait.
A bronze plaque affixed to a granite monolith was unveiled during the ceremony. While the plaque would be moved to different locations in the decades to follow, it currently finds its home inside Hays Hall. A painting of Drum also is displayed in the Camp Drum exhibit at the 10th Mountain Division and Fort Drum Museum.
Camp Drum was designated as a permanent U.S. Army installation in 1974, and its name was changed to Fort Drum.
To learn more about the history of Fort Drum, visit the 10th Mountain Division and Fort Drum Museum, located in Bldg. 2509 on Col. Reade Road. The museum is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday. For more information, call (315) 774-0391.