Fort Lee VA Area History
The history of the Fort Lee area goes back 10,000 years, since indigenous Native Peoples lived here for 9,800 years. The Fort Lee area was well suited to Native Peoples because the land provided sustenance, rock and clay were available to make stone tools and pottery, and the wetlands and waterways of the area allowed mobility.
The first European colonists arrived in the Fort Lee area about 300 years ago. Roads, and later railways, built by colonists to transport tobacco to market became the means of mobilization and troop support during the Revoluationary and Civil wars. Roads crossing through Fort Lee linked Petersburg with "City Point," now Hopewell, which were both vital supply and communication centers on the Appomattox River.
Towards the end of the Revolutionary War, British and Tory troops engaged a small force of American troops near Blandford Church, between Petersburg and what is now Fort Lee. Following the withdrawal of the American troops and destruction of military stores in Petersburg, Lord Cornwallis and his army joined the British to march through this area to Yorktown, where the war ended.
General Grant decided in the summer of 1864 that Petersburg must be captured to cut important Confederate supply lins into Richmond and to force General Lee out into the open. General Lee moved his headquarters to Colonial Heights, then known as "Violet Bank," while Grant's headquarters and supply depot were at City Point. Petersburg was under siege for ten months until General Lee evacuated. He surrendered a week later at Appomattox Court House, 100 miles to the west.
Four historical markers indicate where General Grant's military railroad crossed Fort Lee.
For a time, General Meade's headquarters were located in the area of E Avenue and 38th Street. Just weeks before his assasination, President Lincoln reviewed the troops at what is now the Mahone Avenue parade ground.
Camp Lee During World War I
Only 18 days after war with Germany was declared, the first Camp Lee was chosen as a state mobilization camp. It later became a division training camp. Building began in June, 1917 and within 60 days, 14,000 men occupied the new military installation. When construction was completed, the camp could accommodate 60,335.
The War Department announced on July 15, 1917 that the new camp would be named in honor of famous Conderate Civil War commander, General Robert E. Lee (1807-1870).
Following World War 1, the Commonwealth of Virginia took over Camp Lee, designating it a game preserve. Later, portions of the land became part of the National Military Park of Petersburg.
Camp Lee During World War 1
In October 1940, the War Department ordered that another Camp Lee be built on the site of the earlier camp, with construction proceeding as rapidly as with the first Camp Lee. Construction was still underway when the Quartermaster Replacement Training Center (QMRTC) started operation in February 1941.
A Medical Replacement Training Center (MRTC) was also based at Camp Lee, but atfer Quartermaster training increased, the MRTC was relocated to Camp Pickett, Virginia.
Later re-designated an Army Services Forces Training Center,the QMRTC retained its basic mission of training Quartermaster personnel.
The Quartermaster School was transferred to Camp Lee while the QMRTC was getting underway. The school's full program of courses included Officer Candidate School. The center of both basic and advanced training of Quartermaster personnel by the end of 1941, Camp Lee held this position throughout World War II.
Fort Lee After 1950
The fate of Camp Lee was in question at the end of World War II. In 1964, the War Department decided to retain Camp Lee as a center for Quartermaster training. In 1950, official recognition of its permanent status was obtained and the post was re-designated as Fort Lee.
Troops began Quartermaster training for the Korean War immediately and continued for the next three years. After the Korean War, an ambitious 20-year permanent building program was begun, with Fort Lee changing from an installation of temporary wooden structures to a modern Army post with permanent brick and cinder block buildings.
The Quartermaster Training Center, created to supervise the training of Quartermaster personnel and troop units, brought an intensification of training activity within the Quartermaster Corps, resulting in the courses formerly taught at other locations being incorporated into the curriculum of the Quartermaster School.
Profound changes were evident at Fort Lee during 1962. The post because a Class 1 military installation under Second United States Army. The Quartermaster School became a part of the Continental Army Command service school system and was also selected to serve as the home of the Quartermaster Corps and Corps Historian.
In July 1973, the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command assumed control of Fort Lee
Fort Lee Today
A center for logistics excellence, Fort Lee provide support to U.S. Army, Joint and Coalition operations around the world. Fort Lee’s population includes more than 7,900 military and more than 4,500 civilians. The average annual student load for Fort Lee is more than 33,000. Fort Lee’s population is more than 15,000 on any given day.
Fort Lee also provides employment for more than 4,000 civilians and contributes more than $850 million to the local economy each year.
Fort Lee Tomorrow
As a result of the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure, Fort Lee will become the Sustainment Center of Excellence. The U.S. Army Ordnance Mechanical Maintenance School, the U.S. Army Transportation Center & School and the U.S. Army Ordnance Munitions & Electronics Maintenance School are scheduled to transfer to Fort Lee as a part of the Corps of Engineering.
The culinary training centers from Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, and Naval Station Great Lakes, Ill. will merge at Fort Lee, resulting in a combined service training at the Joint Center of Excellence for Culinary Training.
The Lackland AFB Transportation Training School is also scheduled to move to the installation, creating the Joint Center for Consolidated Transportation Management Training.
There are many transformations in Fort Lee’s future; those mentioned above are just a few of them. Fort Lee’s population will grow by 83 percent in 2009.