History of Fort Jackson

1916

Columbia civic leaders proposed the site of Fort Jackson to the Commander of the All-Eastern Army installations, General Leonard Wood. General Leonard Wood sent MAJ Charles Kilbourne to examine the site.

May 19, 1917

MAJ Douglas MacArthur announced that an Army cantonment would be established near Columbia, SC

June 2, 1917

Congress approved the placement of a training center outside of Columbia, SC.

June 5, 1917

The draft for World War I began.

1917

Columbia’s Chamber of Commerce raised $50,000 to buy the Hampton Estate, Columbia residents donated 1,192 acres, the federal government purchased over 19,700 acres, and thousands of acres were leased to provide land for Camp Jackson

June 11, 1917

Construction of Camp Jackson began. The War Department awarded the construction contract to Hardaway Contracting Company of Columbus, Georgia. The land chosen for Camp Jackson had no roads or trails, and in some places, the underbrush was so thickly overgrown that a man on horseback could not proceed. However, within nine weeks the first thousands of draftees were scheduled to arrive for training.

June 22, 1917

The first soldiers arrived at Camp Jackson. 110 men from Co E, 1st Regiment, South Carolina Infantry served as camp guards.

July 18, 1917

The War Department issued General Order Number 95, re-designating the cantonment as Camp Jackson in honor of President Andrew Jackson, a South Carolina native.

August 25, 1917

BG Charles H. Barth, Camp Jackson’s first commander, arrived

August 25, 1917

The 81st Division, the first operational unit on the installation, arrived. While at Camp Jackson, the 81st Division fashioned hand-made patches showing a wildcat (because their unit area was near Wildcat Creek on the installation) and attached them to their uniforms. General Pershing liked the idea and ordered all Army units to adopt shoulder sleeve insignia.

September 1, 1917

Camp Jackson offcially opens.

September 4, 1917

The first draftees to be trained arrived at Camp Jackson

October 1917

First African-American draftees arrived at Camp Jackson

October 15, 1917 – September 4, 1918

MG Charles J. Bailey of the 81st Division commanded Camp Jackson

October 22, 1917

Camp Jackson’s first base hospital opened. In this medical complex, more than 80 buildings covered 12-15 acres of land at the highest point of the cantonment. Although plans called for 32 wards to be constructed at the hospital, only six of these were ready for use during the initial days of operation. The working force at the Base Hospital at this time consisted of about 450 men and nurses. Fifty doctors and dentists were assigned to the group, and this number was considered adequate for the treatment of 1,000 patients, the capacity of the hospital when all the wards were completed.

November 1, 1917

A flagpole was erected in front of the commander’s headquarters, and the American flag flew over the installation for the first time. This flagpole was the tallest in the United States at the time.

December 22, 1917

Initial construction of Camp Jackson completed, and the construction company hired to build the cantonment turned over the entire camp to the Army.

1917

The 1st Provisional Infantry Regiment (later the 371st Infantry Regiment, 93rd Division) trained at Camp Jackson. CPL Freddie Stowers, a member of this unit, is the only African American Medal of Honor recipient from World War I.

January 1918

Camp Jackson had a total military strength of 42,498. In six months time 1,519 buildings had been constructed, and a total of $8,897,375 had been spent on constructing the camp, without including the cost of road building, electric, and plumbing subcontractors.

January 1918

Camp Jackson had the largest government-operated laundry in the country.

May 18, 1918

The 81st “Wildcat” Division departed Camp Jackson, and the 5th Division moved in. Additionally, Camp Jackson was designated as the Army’s Field Artillery Replacement Depot.

September 1918

With no warning, 200 people fell ill with the Spanish Influenza. By the time the plague ran its course, more than 5,000 people had been treated and 300 had died from the disease at Camp Jackson.

October 5, 1918

Click, the first Camp Jackson newspaper, began.

November 11, 1918

Armistice ending WWI signed

May 1919

31st Division deactivated at Camp Jackson.

July 27, 1921

The War Department ordered Camp Jackson to close in General Orders #33.

October 4, 1921

The 5th Infantry Division was deactivated.

April 25, 1922

Per War Department General Order #33, Camp Jackson was abandoned as a regular Army installation

1925-1940

Camp Jackson was controlled by the state of South Carolina as an encampment area for National Guard troops.

October 1939

After Germany invades Poland in Sept 1939, Camp Jackson was re-activated. The 6th Division of the Regular Army ordered to duty.

December 1939

Corps Area Engineer started construction on the first buildings of a revamped hospital facility at Camp Jackson.

April 1940

6th Division left for maneuvers and reassigned to Minnesota.

July 1, 1940

The 8th “Pathfinder” Division was reactivated at Camp Jackson. The mission of the division was to train enlistees and selectees to be skilled soldiers to serve as replacements in a combat unit.

July 9, 1940

General C. Marshall, Chief of Staff, wrote Senator James F. Byrnes of South Carolina that Camp Jackson had been designated the home station of the 8th Division, Regular Army, and the Camp was placed on permanent basis.

Summer – Fall 1940

Camp Jackson expanded to approximately 53,000 acres. The original Columbia Cantonment Commission lands were re-donated to the War Department for the cost of improvements made by the American Legion, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, YMCA, YWCA, National Youth Administration and other agencies.

August 15, 1940

Camp Jackson reverted to Federal control and General Order #7 changed the status of Camp Jackson. The order read:

Announcing a permanent military post at Camp Jackson. The reservation, known as Camp Jackson, will hereafter be known as Fort Jackson, with post office address Fort Jackson, SC. Signed/George C. Marshall, Chief of Staff, By Order of the Secretary of War.

1940

Fort Jackson became the site for one of the largest construction projects ever undertaken in the Southeast. Between July 1940 and July 1941, over $18,000,000 of construction added more than:

  • 3,000 buildings;
  • 6,000 winterized tents;
  • 100 miles of hard-surfaced roads and streets;
  • A Post Headquarters building;
  • A hospital one mile in length with 2,200 beds;
  • A communications complex with a 700-phone switchboard that concentrated all telephone, telegraph, radio and message centers together;
  • A theater and recreation buildings;
  • 17 chapels;
  • A 6,000,000 gallon-a-day water plant;
  • A 187-acre lake;
  • A post laundry capable of doing the washing of 30,000 soldiers weekly;
  • A cold storage plant for the perishable food of 42,000+ soldiers stationed here by that time;
  • The trespass rights on 265,000 acres of land for military training purposes
  • A new target range, which would provide more than 1,100 targets for the firing of all known modern weapons; and
  • 400 homes for non-commissioned officers.

This construction project employed 7,000-8,000 civilians. These workers erected tent frames at the rate of one every 90 minutes. By the end of construction, Fort Jackson was the sixth largest Army Post in the United States and South Carolina’s third largest city, surpassed in population only by Charleston and Columbia.

1941-1945

Nine Army divisions trained here during WWII: the 4th, 6th, 26th, 30th, 77th, 87th, 100th, and 106th divisions

January 6, 1941

An Induction Station capable of handling 200 men per day opened. Pending satisfactory completion of the induction process, including passing the physical examination, soldiers were sent to the Fort Bragg Reception Center, and then they returned within a few days for permanent assignment to a unit on this Post.

January 1941

Women worked at Fort Jackson as clerks and stenographers for the first time. Shortly afterward more were hired as switch board operators on a 30-day trial period.

March 31, 1941

President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Commander-in-Chief of the nation’s Armed Forces, en route to Washington from Florida, inspected the troops at Fort Jackson. The primary purpose of the inspection, closed to the public, was to give the President a first-hand picture of the Fort.

Spring 1941

South Carolina growers were faced with a surplus of asparagus, so this vegetable was placed on the menu at Fort Jackson and, after a few meals, the surplus was removed and the market was back to normal. Next, a bumper peach crop threatened bankruptcy for the growers of South Carolina so Fort Jackson added peaches to the soldiers’ menu, and the surplus was soon removed.

Of significance at this time was the important position Fort Jackson had in the business life of Columbia and South Carolina. Besides the $22,000,000 construction bill, most of which was spent in Columbia and South Carolina, the average monthly payroll at Fort Jackson was in excess of $1,850,000. A staggering total of $540,000 was spent monthly on food alone, with South Carolina fruits and vegetables being purchased in vast amounts to feed the hungry soldiers of the Post.

September 13, 1941

A Reception Center opened at Fort Jackson. At the Reception Center within two days, men completed records; received their Army General Classification Tests which established their military intelligence trend and job classification; signed up for insurance; established allowances for dependents; drew bedding and learned to make up beds; received their issue of clothing and personal equipment; and were assigned to a shipping company. During the next two years the Reception Center filled several Divisions, among them the 6th, 8th, 30th, 77th, 4th, 87th, and 100th.

November 1941

Carolina Maneuvers: An area of around 10,000 square miles between Fort Jackson and Fort Bragg in North Carolina was used by approximately 350,000 troops of the First Army, two armored divisions, and tank and aviation units in the most comprehensive maneuvering exercises in the nation’s history from November 3-30.

June 8, 1942

Army Chief of Staff General George C. Marshall visited Fort Jackson.

June 1942

Prime Minister Winston Churchill witnessed a review at Fort Jackson. During his stay at Fort Jackson Mr. Churchill, cigar in mouth, trooped all over Fort Jackson to inspect every phase of training.

October 6, 1942

The 302nd Engineers demolished a large, condemned, steel bridge over the Wateree River near Camden, South Carolina. Nearly 2,000 troops witnessed the destructive force of 2,500 pounds of explosives.

December 1942

The Army established a 7,000-volume library on the Post.

Spring 1943

Fort Jackson’s first women soldiers of the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC), 131 strong, arrived to relieve more male soldiers for combat duty. The WAAC’s were assigned to the Station Complement and performed clerical, motor transport, service club, cleaning, library, and other miscellaneous duties around the Post.

August 20, 1943

Seven WAAC officers arrived at Fort Jackson for assignment to temporary duty in operational jobs in the Station Complement. These WAAC Second Lieutenants were among the first group of women officers to be sent into the field to understudy men officers in operational jobs.

September 1943

The Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC) converted to the Women’s Army Corps (WAC)

January 10, 1944

The Reception Center closed. Between its activation in 1941 and its closing more than 80,000 men were processed and sent to appropriate basic training camps.

May 1945

The Army Service Forces Personnel Replacement Depot opened here.

November 1946

Fort Jackson became a Replacement Training Center

1947

The 5th Infantry Division was reactivated here as a training division.

April 25, 1950

Fort Jackson was named as one of the installations to be closed in an effort to cut the defense budget

June 25, 1950

The Korean War began, and Ft Jackson was taken off of stand-by status

August 17, 1950

The 8th Infantry Division was reactivated here as a training division.

January 1951

The 31st Infantry Division was ordered to join the 8th Division training here.

November 1953

Hilton Field was established in honor of Sgt. Richmond H. Hilton, a South Carolina native who was awarded the Medal of Honor for heroism displayed during WWI.

May 15, 1954

The 101st Airborne Division served at Fort Jackson until March 1956

March 16, 1956

Fort Jackson officially became the U.S. Army Training Center, Infantry, and the fort was restored to permanent status

July 1958

TRAINFIRE was developed and tested at Fort Jackson and then adopted on an Army-wide basis. Cost of construction was $549,800.

TRAINFIRE introduced realism into the training situation. In TRAINFIRE I the basic trainee learned first to sight enemy riflemen who were partially hidden and to estimate the distance to this enemy. He learned to direct his fire not at a stationary bull’s eye but at pop-up targets located at various distances in wooded areas.

October 27, 1958

The Army Trainer Academy opened. The Army Trainer Academy was redesignated the Fort Jackson Noncommissioned Officer Academy on March 3, 1959, and on August 7, 1959 it was made the Third United States Army Noncommissioned Officer Academy. Its mission was to raise the standard and quality of performance of Noncommissioned Officers, without regard to Military Occupational Specialty or duty assignment, with emphasis on the fundamental role — leader/instructor/supervisor.

January 2, 1963

One of the major projects undertaken by Fort Jackson during 1963 was the Cuban Volunteer Training Program. By early April, 14 companies, totaling more than 2,700 Cubans, were in training at Fort Jackson.

September 3, 1963

Fort Jackson Elementary School, later named the Hood Street Elementary School, opens its doors as the first desegregated elementary school in South Carolina.

December 27, 1963

Fort Jackson’s five training regiments were reorganized and re-designated the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th Training Brigades by Headquarters, Fort Jackson, General Order #84.

July 1964

Construction began on permanent brick/ concrete/ steel buildings to replace the temporary wooden barracks of WWII.

August 1964

The Training Aids Center at Fort Jackson developed the prototype of a new hand-to-hand combat dummy. The cover of the dummy was vinyl plastisol, while the filling was urethane foam (foam rubber). This new training device replaced straw dummies throughout the Continental United States Supply System in 1965.

July 1965

Increased input to Fort Jackson began in late August, and by November the average training load was 20,711 compared with a previous capacity of approximately 15,000.

October 4, 1965

Training under the Committee Group and Drill Sergeant Concept began. Prior to organization of the Committee Group, the Drill Sergeant taught all subjects to the trainees. The Committee Group assumed responsibility of teaching Grenades, the Infiltration Course, Basic Rifle Marksmanship, Night Firing, Close Combat, and Individual Tactics, and drill sergeants acted as assistant instructors to the Committee Group instructor. The Committee Group was organized to allow special instructors for each subject area, thereby improving the quality of instruction.

April 25, 1966

The new Rifle Squad Tactical Training Range Complex opened. This complex, known as TRAINFIRE II, was made up of four separate ranges which were constructed for practical work by soldiers employing the M-l4 rifle. The ranges are used for both live and blank firing exercises as part of Rifle Squad Tactical Training for those personnel undergoing Advanced Infantry Training.

1966

The M-16 rifle replaced the M-14 as the primary weapon of the Infantryman, and a new training technique (the Quick Kill Course, utilizing Daisy air rifles, the M-l4 and M-l6 rifles) was employed.

June 1966

The 3rd Training Brigade became the first unit to occupy new brick permanent buildings on Post. These units consisted of one chapel, one Brigade Headquarters, two Battalion Headquarters, two Consolidated Messes, one gymnasium, eight barracks, two orderly/supply room complexes, one dispensary, one Post Exchange, and a motor pool.

1967

The citizens of Columbia raised $82,500 for the Andrew Jackson statue in front of Gate 1 as a testimonial to Jackson and a tribute to the soldiers who train here. The 12-foot statue was designed by Felix de Weldon, the same artist who designed the Flag Raising at Iwo Jima statue located in Washington, D. C.

January 1, 1967

The Third United States Army Noncommissioned Officer Academy was re-designated the Third United States Army Drill Sergeant School. The mission of the school was to prepare selected enlisted personnel to conduct Basic Training. The six-week Drill Sergeant Course was designed to make each prospective Drill Sergeant an expert in Basic Combat Training.

Sept 1968

Construction for Moncrief Hospital began.

October 1968

Ft Jackson was officially annexed by the City of Columbia

June 1973

Fort Jackson was designated as a U.S. Army Training Center. Victory Tower was added to instruction.

June 30, 1973

The 3rd Infantry Training Brigade was deactivated. This ended an era of advanced infantry MOS skill training for enlisted soldiers at Ft Jackson.

May 19, 1976

Soldiers began to wear a new distinctive insignia designed exclusively for Fort Jackson soldiers. The insignia displays a replica of the General Andrew Jackson statue and is inscribed Victory Starts Here. Fort Jackson was the first training installation to get its own insignia.

1983

Basic combat training soldiers were introduced to 3 phases of training within an eight-week instruction program.

1987

Ft Jackson sold 290 acres for the construction of I-77.

October 1, 1987

An initial entry training (IET) strategy was implemented. Training focused on hands-on skill development rather than platoon instruction.

August 9, 1990

Fort Jackson became a full-time participant in Operation Desert Storm.

October 14, 1994

Basic combat training units implement full-scale gender integration to the squad level.

August 1, 1995

The United States Army Chaplain Center and School, a complex costing approximately $7.4 million broke ground.

September 30, 1995

The Soldier Support Institute is transferred to Fort Jackson, South Carolina. The transfer began officially in October 1994 and was completed September 30, 1995. The U.S. Army Soldier Support Institute at Fort Jackson is composed of the Adjutant General, Finance, Recruiting and Retention Schools, the NCO Academy, and the Army Element of the School of Music.

June 1999

The DoD Polygraph Institute moved from Fort McClellan, Alabama to its present location at Fort Jackson, South Carolina.

January 2007

Training Brigades at Fort Jackson were redesignated as units with richer military heritage. Victory Brigade, formed in 1991, became the 171st Infantry Brigade. The 1st Combat Training Brigade became the 193rd Infantry Brigade, and the 4th Combat Training Brigade became the 165th Infantry Brigade.

February 23, 2007

New shoulder sleeve insignia (SSI) for Fort Jackson was approved by the Department of the Army. The insignia, featuring a torch, crossed rifles, and a Victory V, replaced the blue, yellow, and red TRADOC shoulder sleeve insignia worn by permanent party Soldiers at Fort Jackson.

May 24, 2007

As part of the Residential Communities Initiative, an Army-wide program to privatize family housing, on-post housing at Fort Jackson was privatized. Balfour Beatty Communities was contracted to provide nicer and larger on-post housing options. A groundbreaking ceremony in December 2008 signaled the beginning of the 50-year privatized housing plan.

October 1, 2007

Soldiers entering Basic Combat Training began to receive Combat Lifesaving (CLS) Training and be CLS certified before graduation. With an additional 7.5 hours added to the first aid training program, Soldiers began to learn how to perform advanced first aid and conduct potentially lifesaving procedures such as control bleeding, conduct CPR, and reintroduce fluids into the body.

October 7, 2007

The process of consolidating the three Drill Sergeant Schools from Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., Fort Benning, Ga., and Fort Jackson to a single school at Fort Jackson began. Construction of the new Drill Sergeant School was completed in February 2011.

November 2, 2007

The Army extended its Basic Combat Training to a 10-week program at all of its BCT sites: Fort Jackson, Fort Sill, Okla.; Fort Leonard Wood, Mo.; Fort Knox, Ky.; and Fort Benning, Ga.

November 5, 2007

President George W. Bush visited Fort Jackson where he observed training, attended graduation and spent private time with area Gold Star families.

June 2008

Construction of the Fort Jackson National cemetery began. Construction is completed by November 2008.

2007-2017

In an effort to improve the living conditions of Soldiers and the Fort Jackson community, Fort Jackson experienced a building boom. The Armed Forces Chaplaincy School was completed in 2010, the Fort Jackson Inn was constructed in Fall 2010, the new consolidated Drill Sergeant School was completed in Feb 2011, and renovations to Hilton Field were completed in April 2013. As part of the Barracks Upgrade Program, barracks at Fort Jackson received a facelift, including renovations in early 2007 on the rolling pin barracks on Magruder Avenue. Between 2007 and 2016, the 6 starship barracks were renovated, and 2 star base barracks were constructed to house basic combat training regiments.

November 2009

Fort Jackson Theater reopens after a complete 2-year renovation.

2010

Bayonet drills are eliminated from basic combat training. To have combat skills more suited to existing battlefield conditions, Soldiers’ training focused on hand-to-hand combat.

May 6, 2010

The co-located Armed Forces Chaplaincy Center is dedicated after 2 years of construction.

January 27, 2011

First Lady Michelle Obama toured Fort Jackson to learn from Army leaders about how childhood obesity and physical inactivity affects military readiness and what the Army does to combat these effects.

February 23, 2011

U.S. Army Drill Sergeant School opens at Fort Jackson.

June 23, 2011

After almost 14 years here, the 157th Infantry Brigade bade farewell to Fort Jackson. As part of the 1st Army, the 157th is responsible for preparing mobilized National Guard and Reserve Soldiers for deployment.

July 1, 2011

The U.S. Army Basic Combat Training Museum opened at Fort Jackson. Previously, the museum had operated as the Fort Jackson Museum since 1974.

November 2012

Pvt. Cicely Verstein, the first female enlisted to fill a combat-related role in the Army, began her basic combat training at Fort Jackson. Verstein enlisted to maintain the 91M Bradley Fighting Vehicle System.

About the Author

For more information, please email usarmy.jackson.93-sig-bde.mbx.atzj-pao@mail.mil.