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The History of Fort Des Moines

Chronology: A Century of Excellence:

1901 – Construction begins on the 660 acre base Fort Des Moines on Des Moines’ South Side.

1903 to 1904 – Two companies of the all-black U.S. Army 25th Infantry surprise Des Moines’ local citizens; they were expecting white cavalry. The 25th had been stationed on the plains and was replaced by the 11th Cavalry Regiment a year later.

1907 – The 2nd Cavalry Regiment and the 16th Infantry Regiment, Company K, arrive on post.

1910 – The 6th Cavalry Regiment reports for duty.

1917 – The 17th Provisional Training Regiment becomes the first officer candidate class of African-Americans in United State military history. Its 1,250 officer candidates include 1,000 college graduates and faculty and 250 non-commissioned officers. A training camp for black medical personnel joins the 17th Provisional Training Regiment later that year. Most were practicing physicians who left their businesses to join the war effort.

15 October 1917 – The successful 639 soldiers receive commissions. Most would lead the 92nd Division on the battlefields of World War One France.

1918 – General Hospital #26 opens on the post.

1920 to 1927 – The 14th Cavalry Regiment reports for training and a Citizens Military Training Camp (CMTC) trains 1,000 locals in community defense.

1922 – The 2nd Battalion, 18th Field Artillery Regiment arrives for training. Things get loud fast.

1925 – The 9th Field Artillery Regiment joins the 2nd Battalion, 18th Field Artillery for training. Things get even louder.

1928 – The 2nd Battalion, 17th Infantry regiment arrives for training.

1933 to 1939 – A Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) camp operates and the 3rd Battalion, 80th Field Artillery Regiment arrives on post.

18 June 1937 – Eventual United States President Ronald Reagan receives his commission as a second lieutenant where he learned to ride horses with the 14th Cavalry.

1940 – The 14th Cavalry leaves Fort Des Moines.

1942 – The first and largest Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps/Women’s Army Corps opened on post training 65,000 enlisted troops and 7,000 female officers for non-combat duty. Many later served in World War Two Europe and the South Pacific.

1945-1946 – A WAC separation center and a veterans housing project opened on the post.

1949 – Fort Des Moines became a U.S. Army Reserve training center and remains so today.

1976 – Fort Des Moines became an official National Historic Landmark.

5 May 1983 – Quote from President Ronald Reagan about his time at Fort Des Moines: “We shared something very special at Fort Des Moines and I think we were lucky that the horses knew what they were doing!”

1997 – Efforts were launched to build a memorial to the black officers camp and women’s training which have become the Fort Des Moines Museum & Educational Center.

2004 Museum opens to the public.