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A Brief Look at Camp Forrest Tennessee

Tennessee Maneuvers

Units Stationed/Reactivated at Camp Forrest

Originally Named Camp Peay 

Camp Forrest Oral History Project Debuts at Arnold AFB
"African-American have engaged and fought for their country and issues since the Civil War,"

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Economics of the Region

By the end of the war, over 31,000 suspected enemy aliens and their families, including a few Jewish refugees from Nazi Germany, had been interned at Immigration and Naturalization Services (INS) internment camps and military facilities throughout the United States. Some of these internment locations included Sharp Park Detention Station, California; Kooskia Internment Camp, Idaho; Fort Missoula Internment Camp, Montana; Fort Stanton Internment Camp and Santa Fe Internment Camp in New Mexico; Ellis Island Detention Station, New York; Fort Lincoln Internment Camp, North Dakota; Fort/Camp Forrest, Tennessee; and Crystal City Internment Camp, Kenedy Detention Station, and Seagoville Detention Station in Texas.

Linda Cole submitted this sketch by her father-in-law, an interpreter who was born in Germany

  Camp Forrest was ranked among the largest of World War II training facilities in its time. Camp Forrest not only served to train thousands of our military but was also the first internment camp in our nation housing 800 plus alien civilians from January to November 1942. At this point in time over (late 1942 to early 1943) 24,000 prisoners of war were under the watchful eyes of the guard at Camp Forrest. These prisoners were members of the Wehrmacht, literally "defense force" was the name of the unified armed forces of Germany from 1935 to 1945. It consisted of the Wehrmacht Heer (army), the Kriegsmarine (navy) and the Luftwaffe (air force). Other branches of the German military also fell under this umbrella.

The camp served as a training facility for eleven infantry divisions, two battalions of Rangers, numerous medical and supply units, and a number of Army Air Corps personnel. In addition, the camp provided logistical support for the massive

Tennessee Maneuvers conducted at intervals from 1941 through early 1945. The camp also employed thousands of civilians in various support roles and housed German prisoners of war.

In 1940 the United States began limited preparations for war and established Camp Forrest as a training facility for draftees. The projected $13 million facility was expected to cover forty thousand acres; eventually Camp Forrest cost $36 million and covered seventy-eight thousand acres. The Hardaway Construction Company of Columbus, Georgia, and the Creighton Construction Company of Nashville formed a temporary partnership to build the thirteen hundred buildings, the fifty-five miles of roads, and the five miles of railroad track that made up Camp Forrest. Over 20,000 people were employed in constructing the camp.

In March 1941 the camp was officially named for Confederate general Nathan Bedford Forrest. While some old arguments arose over General Forrest, more pressing concerns caused the past to be quickly forgotten. The Thirty-third Infantry Division of the Illinois National Guard and the Seventy-fifth Field Artillery Brigade of the Tennessee National Guard arrived later that month. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, two other infantry divisions, the Eightieth and the Eighth, were assigned to the post.

Class taught by Major Sgt Bradly of the Bakers and Cooks school at Camp Forrest

Housing at the induction and training center proved to be a recurring problem, and many soldiers bivouacked in tents during their assignment at the post. Camp Forrest employed 12,000 civilians who ran the post exchanges, operated the nine-thousand-square-foot laundry, performed maintenance on military vehicles, repaired tanks and artillery pieces, and staffed the induction center where some 250,000 young men received their initial physical exams for the army. Army trainees received instruction in house-to-house combat in the first village mock-up. The Second Ranger Battalion trained at the base and later won fame when they scaled the ninety-foot cliffs of Point-du-Hoc on D-Day.

After the D-Day invasion of France in June 1944, training at Camp Forrest was reduced drastically. The camp was declared "surplus" in September 1945 and given "inactive" status in February 1946. The War Assets Corporation sold off the buildings for lumber, and all equipment, from machine shops to kitchen utensils, was auctioned, although the state retained the land. Today the Arnold Engineering Development Center of the United States Air Force occupies the site. Only a few overgrown concrete foundations remain of Camp Forrest.

Michael R. Bradley, Motlow State Community College

Text copyright� 1998 by the Tennessee Historical Society, Nashville, Tennessee

Tullahoma is a city in Coffee and Franklin counties in the south-central part of the U.S. state of Tennessee