Fort Drum, NY History
The military history in the Fort Drum and Jefferson County area goes all the way back to the American Revolution and late 18th Century, when a string of small forts guarded the US-Canadian frontier against possible British invasion. In 1809, these forts helped guard against smuggling. After the War of 1812, the US had a concern about internal Canadian strife in the 1830s , and the local forts gained artillery units in the event a Canadian civil war broke out and spilled over the border. As it turns out, there has not been a serious US-Canadian military conflict since the middle of the 19th Century.
In 1908 Brigadier General Frederick Dent Grant (son of General Ulysses S. Grant) selected a site in inland Jefferson County, at Pine Plains, a lightly wooded and relatively flat area of upstate New York. The location was named Pine Camp, and used as a field exercise area.
In 1935 Pine Camp was the site of a massive field exercise with a remarkable 36,000 man war game with units from all over the northeast. This exercise stress-tested the mobilization ability of the US and led to improved war planning for, it turned out, the coming World War II.
When that war did arrive Pine Camp was greatly expanded, with 75,000 acres added to the camp land. 525 local families were relocated and five villages were removed, with several others reduced in size. A small city of eight hundred buildings was constructed at this time, the winter of 1941-1942, one of the coldest winters of the 20th Century. During the war the camp was used as a cantonment center, a field exercise area for the 4th Armored Division (under Patton) 45th Infantry Division and 5th Armored Division. Later a POW camp for German and Italian soldiers was established.
In 1951, Pine Camp was renamed Camp Drum after Lt. Gen. Hugh A. Drum, who commanded the First Army in World War I. Not until 1974 was the camp renamed Fort Drum, and became the home of the 76th Engineer Battalion. Until this renaming, this post had been considered a temporary field training camp, since its establishment in 1908.
In 1984, the 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry), a unit specializing in mountain warfare, was officially reactivated at Fort Drum. During the 1980s and early 1990s, a new wave of construction added and updated buildings, roads, and family housing units at the fort. Fort Drum continues to be a major training center for army and reserve units.