About the Author
PROFESSIONAL SUMMARYPublished author of two military history books and dedicated higher education professional with proven teaching, guidance, and counseling skills. Dr. Taylor’s publications are available for purchase at the Camp Forrest Store (https://campforrest.com/store/)
EDUCATIONValdosta State UniversityD.P.A., Major Area: Public Law, 2016
Georgia State UniversityM.A., Political Science, 2012
Georgia State UniversityM.P.A., Public Administration - General, 1997 Future Events:• “Enemy, Frienemy, Friend: WWII TN POW & Civilian Internee Perspectives Art Exhibit at Tullahoma Fine Arts Center, Tullahoma, TN – September 2021• Barnes & Noble book signings (TBD) in Tennessee, Alabama, Illinois, and Georgia• Presentation (TBD) at Pritzker Military Museum, Chicago• Taylor Talks Webinars FUTURE PUBLICATIONSTaylor, E. Camp Forrest and Its Legacy, 2022, Arcadia Publishing.Through a numerous photographs, letters and personal accounts from civilians and divisions such as medical, quartermaster, and infantry units readers will gain a different perspective into the preparation for war.
CURRENT PUBLICATIONSTaylor, E. Voices of Camp Forrest in World War II, 2019, Arcadia Publishing.
Taylor, E. Camp Forrest (Images of America), 2016, Arcadia Publishing. NEWSPAPER ARTICLESTaylor, Elizabeth. “Happy Birthday Billy”. Tullahoma News. January 29, 2021
PROMOTIONAL EVENTS AND MEDIA COVERAGE• 11/18/2019: Featured Speaker at Sunrise Rotary Meeting, Tullahoma• 11/19/2019: Featured Speaker at Lunch-n-Learn, Tullahoma Parks & Recreation, Tullahoma (Presentation taped and broadcast several times on local television station)• 11/20/2019: Featured Speaker at Noon Rotary Meeting, Tullahoma• 3/6/2020: Nashville Public Library, Nashville
Television Interviews:• 11/18/2019: Interviewed by Kelly Lapczynski, Tullahoma Utilities Authority• 11/18/2019: PSA for book signing event at The Book Shelf
Book Signing Events:• 11/19/2019: The Book Shelf, Tullahoma, TN (11:00 am – 1:00 pm and 2:00 pm – 4:00 pm)• 12/19/2019: The Book Shelf, Tullahoma, TN (1:00 pm – 5:00 pm)• 2/22/2020: Barnes & Noble, Rome, GA (2:00 pm – 4:00 pm)
Military Shows:• 11/7/2020: Culman, Alabama Veterans Exhibition, Culman, Alabama• 4/2-2/2021: Tennessee Military Collectors Association, Franklin, Tennessee• 4/23-24/2021: Alabama Military Collectors Show, Huntsville, Alabama
Book Reviews:• Lt. Col. Darrin Haas Gives his Review of: Voices of Camp Forrest in World War II (Lt. Col. Hass is the Historian for the Tennessee Military Department)
Newspaper Articles:• Lynchburg Times (Lynchburg, TN), 12/12/19: Book Review Voices of Camp Forrest in WWII, Tabitha Evans Moore (https://thelynchburgtimes.com/2019/12/12/review-voices-of-camp-forrest-in-world-war-ii/)• Times-Gazette (Shelbyville, TN), 11-27-19: Stories of Camp Forrest, Florida land boom in new books, John Carney (https://www.t-g.com/story/2650168.html)• Manchester Times (Manchester, TN), 11/11/19: New Book Tells Stories of Camp Forrest, Elena Cawley (https://www.manchestertimes.com/living/education/new-book-tells-stories-of-camp-forrest/article_51c0ad80-04cf-11ea-938d-4b1e6e404ff1.html)• Tullahoma News (Tullahoma, TN), 11/13/19: New Book Tells Stories of Camp Forrest, Elena Cawley (https://www.tullahomanews.com/news/local/new-book-tells-stories-of-camp-forrest/article_9ace8b34-0635-11ea-b03c-63d38a5e1075.html)
Article Mentions:• In the age of distraction, one small publisher keeps local history alive in sepia tones. Ron Charles3/18/19 The Washington Post (https://www.washingtonpost.com/entertainment/books/in-the-age-of-distraction-one-small-publisher-keeps-local-history-alive-in-sepia-tones/2019/03/17/b1aa5272-459f-11e9-90f0-0ccfeec87a61_story.html)
PROFESSIONAL TEACHING EXPERIENCE:eCore Instructor | University of West Georgia, Online eCore Program 2015 – Present• Teach eCore Introduction to American Government (PLS 101) online courses• Assist students with questions and performance concerns during virtual office hours• Responsible for weekly grading of students’ written assignments, exams, and discussion forum posts• Record and document attendance and process academic alerts as necessary
ADMINISTRATIVE WORK:Graduate Program Manager, School of Graduate Studies, Clayton State University2005-2019 (Retired)• Assisted current and prospective students, faculty, and staff with questions about the graduate degree programs, School of Graduate Studies and university policies and procedures• Ensured the policies and procedures of the School of Graduate Studies comply with federal, state, university, and school regulations• Developed and distributed statistical reports regarding graduate applicants, current students, and graduates to the Graduate Dean and the Graduate Program Coordinators
Memberships:• Smith County Historic Tourism Board - 2021• Tullahoma Chamber of Commerce – 2020, 2021• Lynchburg Chamber of Commerce – 2020, 2021• National History Day, Georgia Virtual State Contest Judge - 2021
AUTHOR Q&A:What was Camp Forrest in its infancy? (Activities of Camp Peay until it became Camp Forrest) Camp Forrest evolved from the Tennessee National Guard military installation, Camp Peay that was constructed in 1926. There were about thirty buildings on the 1,000-acre campus. It was used for the yearly training exercises for over 2,500 Tennessee National Guardsmen. There were also cavalry units so a large number of stables were located on the grounds. During peak training times, soldiers pitched tents since there were a limited number of barracks. It was also used to train FBI agents and housed flood refugees from the 1937 Ohio and Mississippi River flood.
Can you paint a picture of what the camp might’ve looked like compared to today? (Structures or amenities, roads, utilities)By 1940 the federal government elected to expand the Camp Peay installation into a much larger training and induction facility after a significant amount of lobbying from numerous state and local elected officials.
Construction started in late 1940 and there were approximately 22,000 to 28,000 individuals employed to construct the facility. The massive influx of people overwhelmed the surrounding area as shortages of everything imaginable became the norm and crime began to escalate. When rooms were not available, workers could be found sleeping in their cars or in barns of local farmers. This population boom brought about significant economic and social changes not only to the area, but also to the state. The federal government changed the name from Camp Peay to Camp Forrest by January 1941 after Civil War cavalry leader General Nathan Bedford Forrest.
It cost approximately $36 million to build the 1,300 buildings, 55 miles of roads, and 5 miles of railroad tracks, that composed Camp Forrest. The buildings constructed were typical of military installations - barracks, mess halls, guard houses, warehouses, administrations buildings, a bakery, an ice plant, an incinerator, a cold storage building, a laundry, a water and sewage treatment facility, and a 2,000-patient hospital. It was the fifth largest city in the state when it was completed. It had its own fire department, water and sewage treatment plant, electricity, barracks, mess halls, theaters, sports arena, churches, laundry, vehicle maintenance, post office, dentist office, and hospital. There was also a firing range and the airfield base, Northern Field. Northern Field was located just north of Tullahoma; it was the state’s third largest airfield. It served as a training site for B24 bombers and paratroopers.
World War II soldiers had approximately seven to eight weeks of basic training. After basic training some soldiers went to specialized schools to obtain advanced training in areas such as chemical warfare, cartography, cooking, and communications.
One of the unique demographic aspects of the middle Tennessee area was that is it greatly resembled the terrain found throughout the European theater. This aspect provided especially beneficial when the real time simulated battles were fought between the red and blue armies throughout this area. Patton’s Second Armored Division (Hell on Wheels) traveled from Georgia to participate in these war games.
How was this camp unique from others? (Sustainability, facilities, war effort contributions, etc.)As the enemy was more cunning as ever, training occurred in and out of the classroom. In the classroom soldiers in basic training received instruction on topics such as personal hygiene, geography, economics, chemical warfare, and cartography. Out of the classroom exercises sought to teach men survival skills, which included hand to hand combat fighting techniques, small and large weapons training, navigation, and physical endurance and stamina. Of course these are not exhaustive lists of the intensive training that every soldier received. All military personnel received basic training, including those individuals who were in positions such as nurses, doctors, cooks or bakers. Letters from Private Wesley Slaymaker from Atkinson, Nebraska often mentioned in his letters from about the rigorous training exercises, but how he generally learned a great deal in the classroom. He noted in one letter that he was now proficient in three types of weapons, but was only designed as an average marksman. Although his letters indicate he typically slept in barracks, he does describe sleeping outside in tents. This exercise was designed to prepare soldiers for conditions that would be faced overseas. The basic training curriculum was continually updated by General Ben Lear based on reports from the front and stories of returning soldiers. It was his mission to ensure solider were as fully prepared as possible for the front. By exposing soldiers to the sights and sounds of war while at Camp Forrest a soldier could overcome fears become a more advanced tactician. Mistakes could be made and learned from during simulations, rather than at the front when it would cost lives and potentially America’s freedom.
Two aspects of the training soldiers received at Camp Forrest that were pivotal to the war effort were the cliff scaling skills that were taught and training in a mock German village. There were several divisions who trained at Camp Forrest that stormed the beaches and scaled the cliffs at Normandy. Amid the continual gun fire from German nests throughout the cliffs, soldiers quickly scaled the cliffs. A mock German village was built at Camp Forrest to resemble actual German villages. Soldiers were fired on in simulated exercises to give them experience maneuvering in and around buildings. Battles were not fought in the open where the approaching enemy was readily identifiable. The village also gave men experience identifying explosives set by the enemy. For example, a bottle of whisky or a broom in a corner once disturbed could trigger an explosion. Conversely, soldiers were able to hone their skills at setting inconspicuous bombs for the enemy to find. In today’s military practicing in model towns and villages is commonplace. The hospital was staffed by members of the 300th General Hospital. A variety of ailments were treated at the hospital: ailments included respiratory infections, venereal disease, meningitis, tularemia, dysentery, births, sprains, liver disease, leukemia and ulcers. The hospital also assisted with the medical discharges of soldiers.
What kind of events (other than military related) took place at the camp?Soldiers had down time typically in the evening and on Sundays. Although sometimes one would find himself relegated to KP or guard duties at night. This down time could be spent on wholesome recreational activities. General Lear issued orders that forbid soldiers from engaging in ungentlemanly behavior as well as hitchhiking.
Often time was spent writing home as postage was free with the enactment of law allowing free postage for letters being sent to and from military bases. In much the same way as we make a phone call or send an email, writing home helped maintain that connection to loved ones and home. Letters help to keep moral high and quell loneness and homesickness. It has been said that receiving mail was a close second only to eating. The Camp Forrest and Tullahoma post offices processed hundreds of thousands of letters a day. Extra personnel were hired during the holidays to ensure letters were sent and received as quickly as possible. The National Archives Postal Museum website indicated that a survey conducted in 1944 indicated that approximately six letters were mailed per week by 11.5 million service members. These items helped to also strengthen that connection to home and solidify their resolve for helping to end the war as quickly as possible.
Other recreational activities included golfing, watching sporting events, dances, volley ball, watching movies at the base and town theaters, attending church, or taking the train to visit nearby towns, such as Chattanooga or Nashville. Sometimes family members would travel to Tullahoma for visits. There was often a shortage of rooms, so residents often had a room or two to rent. I met a woman who was a child during this time and she vividly remembers her family of four sleeping in one room so the other four rooms in the house could be rented to visitors or enlisted soldier’s wives.
During these years the number of marriages increased substantially. Visiting girlfriends often returned home as a new bride. Another woman recalled how her mother served as a matron of honor a several weddings as these brides to be did not know anyone else in town. She also recounted how wedding shoes were often had to come by due rationing. One bride’s feet were so large that a pair of shoes were not available. However, this did not stop the nuptials as a pair of white satin house slippers were used instead.
Camp Forrest became one of the largest POW containment bases in the USA. Can you go into detail of their day to day? (Work, treatment, extra curriculars)According to the Tennessee Historical Society, Camp Forrest was one of the first civilian internment camps in the U.S. These individuals were transferred to North Dakota mid-1943, whereby the camp became a prisoner of war (POW) camp housing mainly German and Italian soldiers. In many of the letters POWs wrote they described how well they were being treated. At its peak there were over 20,000 POWs housed at Camp Forrest. The POWs participated in numerous activities, including taking education courses, playing sports, preparing a POW newspaper, playing in an orchestra and helping at the hospital. The men generally coalesced and tried to make the best of the situation they were in. However, there were some commanding officers who refused to participate in any activities and tried to undermine to overall moral at the facility. In addition to the activities at Camp Forrest, POWs were allowed to leave the facility to help local farmers with planting and harvesting. They were paid according to the terms of the Geneva Convention, wherein a soldier could potentially earn up to 80 cents per day. Newspaper accounts at the time indicated farmers requested that the federal government delay reparation so POWs could help with harvesting.
A Winchester Tennessee resident recently recounted to me the time she spent working in the finance department when Camp Forrest was a POW facility. She assisted in preparing the paychecks during reparation for those POWs who had earned wages. She indicated that all of the German POWs that she encountered where polite. However, she did recount the sad story of one young man who was so distraught about having to return to Germany that he hung himself. Other individuals recounted experiences with POWs as polite and many became friends with them.