Before closing in 1999, Fort McClellan, which was originally Camp McClellan, was one of the largest U.S. Army installations and was the first and only long-lived United States Army post near Anniston, Alabama. Fort McClellan was known for training over half a million troops.
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In 1912, there was renewed interest in Anniston for having a nearby Army training facility. The U.S. Congressman for this District brought to the Department of War’s attention the potential of the Choccolocco Mountains for artillery training, Twenty-thousand National Guardsmen were sent to the area for maneuvers. Officials of the participating Army War College found the terrain highly suitable for artillery training, and advocated purchase of the land. On 17 March 1917, the Federal Government acquired 18,952 acres of this land for $247,000 and began construction of a National Guard camp.
The Department of War formally established Camp McClellan on 18 July 1917. The camp was named in honor of Major General George B. McClellan, General-in-Chief of the United States Army 1861-1862, and Governor of New Jersey 1878-1881. Camp McClellan was one of 32 mobilization camps formed to quickly train men for World War I.
A 3,000 capacity Prison Internment Camp for prisoners of war was built during 1943 when Fort McClellan became the temporary home for many captured enemy soldiers. Their artistry talents are preserved in Remington Hall, formerly the Fort McClellan Officers Club. While held here, many POWs painted murals on the walls of Remington Hall, depicting memories of their homeland. A memorial cemetery located near the western corner of the post is the final resting place for 26 German and 3 Italian prisoners of war who died during captivity.
In 1995, the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) Commission voted to permanently close Fort McClellan. The official closing ceremony ending Fort McClellan’s illustrious past was held on 20 May 1999.
Fort McClellan had a population of near 10,000 military personnel and employed 1,500 civilians.
Important Installation Information
- On 30 April 2009, Alabama Governor Bob Riley signed into law Act # 2009-337 authorizing,”. . . the incorporation of development authorities for the purpose of developing real and personal property of closed military installations in Alabama. . . .”
- On 3 March 2010, the McClellan Development Authority was officially certified as a non-profit public corporation charged with the future economic development of the former U.S. Army Fort.
- Fort McClellan was a 10,000-acre installation
- Today, the establishment of the Mountain Longleaf National Wildlife Refuge sits on 9,016 of the 10,000 acres formally where McClellan was established.
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