Camp Colt, Pennsylvania

Camp Colt
Part of United States Army
Gettysburg Battlefield,
Adams County, Pennsylvania

House Captain Eisenhower lived in at Camp Colt in 1918
Type Tank Corps recruit training
Site information
Controlled by National Park Service
Open to
the public
1 commemorative tablet
at Memorial Pine Tree,
1 display with images
Site history
In use 1918–1919
Demolished 1919, Lewis Wrecking Co
Events 1918 flu pandemic
First Transcontinental Motor Convoy (1919)
Garrison information
Dwight D. Eisenhower

Camp Colt was a military installation near Gettysburg, Pennsylvania used for Tank Corps recruit training prior to deployment in World War I. The camp used the Gettysburg Battlefield site of the previous Great Reunion of 1913 and the preceding 1917 World War I recruit training camp for U. S. troops along the Round Top Branch.

Camp Colt was established in 1917, and opened at Gettysburg National Military Park in March, 1918 as the first post to train soldiers to use tanks during World War I. The main section of the camp was in the fields made famous 55 years before, by Pickett’s Charge. The commander of Camp Colt was Captain Dwight D. Eisenhower. Eisenhower would earn the rank of Major, and the Distinguished Service Medal for his efforts at Camp Colt, and he and his wife, Mamie, fell in love with the area. After “they” retired from the military, the Eisenhowers made their home near Gettysburg, west of Seminary Ridge

Date Event
1918-03-06 A United States Tank Corps camp with "no designation" was established[1] at the "Camp, United States Troops, Gettysburg, PA"[2] for "preliminary training to fit [tank soldiers] as rapidly as possible to go overseas for their finishing technical and tactical courses at the American training centers in England and France."[3]
1918-03 The first contingent of soldiers was assigned to the camp (e.g., from Camp Cody, New Mexico).
1918-03-22 Trains from Camp Dix and Camp Upton arrived with 500 troops that increased the camp to ~1000.[GT 1]
1918-03-23 Despite Eisenhower's March 25 orders to the "Tank Service Camp at Gettysburg",[NYT 1] the camp had been named for Samuel Colt,[GT 1] e.g., subsequent April 20 orders directed 1st Lt T. H. Symmes to "Camp Colt".[NYT 2]
1918-03-24 Capt Garner (302nd Heavy Tank Battalion) transferred command of Camp Colt to Captain Eisenhower, who received a 1924 Distinguished Service Medal for commanding the campform.[4] From Camp Meade, 123 men arrived via a special Western Maryland train.[GT 2]
1918-04-08 A blizzard covered Camp Colt with 24 inches of snow just prior to Mamie Eisenhower's arrival.[4] On December 4, 1994, a PHMC marker was placed at the 1918 Eisenhower home at 157 N. Washington St home.[GT 3]
1918-04 The 3rd Tank Company was organized at Camp Colt in the National Army as Company A, 328th Battalion, Tank Corps.
1918-05 Companies B & C of the 303d Battalion were formed at Camp Colt, and the camp newspaper, Treat 'Em Rough, was established.[4] In August, the paper featured a description of the town of Gettysburg. As of January 2009, neither the U.S. Army Heritage and Education Center, the Adams County Historical Society, nor the Adams County Library have any copies of the Camp Colt newspaper.

The Camp Colt Drum Corps participated in the Memorial Day procession from Gettysburg to the National Cemetery, and the Camp Colt "Athletic Carnival" on Memorial Day was held on Nixon Field at Pennsylvania College.[NYT 3] An April 26 field day had been held at the camp, and the Camp Colt baseball team played an Independence Day game against the local team, with future Hall of Famer Eddie Plank playing left field for Gettysburg.[GT 4] The camp's YMCA Athletic Director was George LeRoy Alenifer.

1918-06-05 Doctors' quarters were erected at Camp Colt, and nurses at the U.S. Army Post Hospital subsequently included Helen G. Hill (chief nurse), Grace E. Baker, Mary R. Helstrom, Helen Lauffer, Edna Merrill, Honor A. Barry, Helene Hugues, Margaretha A. Lehman, Elizabeth M. Harty, Nelle M. Bream, and Francis MacKey.
1918-06 A Renault light tank arrived at the camp.[4]
1918-06-21 The Episcopal Parish House was a recreation center for camp soldiers, and the Gettysburg Academy was quarters for some Camp Colt officers' families (Stevens Hall was the old Gettysburg Academy building).
1918-06-28 The Adams County court naturalized several hundred new US citizens in the YMCA tent at Camp Colt (53 more were naturalized on July 15, 47 more on September 30).
1918-07-01 Camp Colt consisted of "176 acres of the Codori farm, 10 acres of the Smith farm, and 6 acres of the Bryan House place",[1] and was the only "camp for Tank Corps troops".[3] The camp included an Officer's Training School,[5] and Walter F. Burke of the Quartermaster Corps was the first officer commissioned by Eisenhower (Howard T Torkelson graduated October 15).
1918-07-11 The 330th Battalion was at Camp Colt.
Col William H Clopton, Jr, arrived in the US;[5] and prior to July 27, Camp Colt troops were ordered to his tank training center at Tobyhanna, Pennsylvania[NYT 4] (~2000 Camp Colt men transferred to Tobyhanna,[3][NYT 5] e.g., the 302nd & 326th Battalions). Tobyhanna had 2 tanks and ~2200 men. To "form the nucleus" of the tank training center that subsequently transferred from Tobyhanna to Camp Polk in September, a heavy battalion from Camp Colt was sent to Camp Polk[3] (Clopton was ordered to Camp Meade on February 24, 1919).[NYT 6]
1918-07-16 A "Soldier's Club" was leased at Dr. L. L. Sieber's residence in Gettysburg. On April 19, 1919, the "War Camp Community activity in Gettysburg" ended operations at the Soldier's Club. (called an "Officer's Club" during the 2003 recognition for historic preservation at 37 West Middle St).
1918-08-22 Deputy US Marshal Harvey L. Smith, of Harrisburg, ordered all Gettysburg bars, clubs, and wholesale bottling works to stop the sale of liquor (the March agreement by local establishments to only sell alcohol for consumption at the establishments was unsuccessful). Eisenhower had even assigned military guards at one off-limits establishment to prevent it from being used.[4]:130
1918-09-30 A Camp Colt quarantine had been implemented for the 1918 flu pandemic. In September, the camp reached a peak of 10,600 officers and men.[6]
1918-09-15 With 1000 Camp Colt and Tobyhanna soldiers (150 of whom took the stage), "Major D. D. Eisenhower, commander at Gettysburg, and his [Camp Colt] staff" attended a Tank Corps Welfare League benefit show at the Century Theatre in New York City with performances by Enrico Caruso, George M. Cohan, Anna Fitziu, and Al Jolson.[NYT 7]
1918-10-09 New influenza cases for the day at Camp Colt totalled 93.
1918-10-10 By 8 AM, 121 Camp Colt soldiers had died since the beginning of the flu pandemic. (e.g., William J. MacDonald subsequently died October 14 from spinal meningitis after the flu).
1918-10 The 310th Tank Center was established at Camp Colt, as were the 338th, 339th, & 346th Tank Battalions.[7] John Montgomery Mahon was the commander of Camp Colt's 310 Brigade Headquarters.
1918-10-14 Eisenhower was ordered to embark his unit from New York City on November 18 for France, but the deployment was overcome by the event of the Nov 11 armistice.[GT 3]
1918-11-11 The Tank Corps had 483 officers and 7700 enlisted men.[3]
1918-11-18 Eisenhower's command at Camp Colt ended, and he was at Camp Dix until December 22.
1918-11-22 Patients from the camp hospital were transferred to Fort McHenry, and Earl M. Lawrence died at the camp of the flu on November 27. The pandemic claimed 150 camp soldier's lives,[4] and the local Gettysburg Hospital was planned as a result of the camp's illnesses (the cornerstone was laid July 1, 1919).
1918-12-01 The camp of over 200 acres on the Codori, Trostle, Smith, and Brian farms[8] had less than 6000 soldiers.
1918-12-24 Eisenhower arrived at Camp Benning where about 250 Camp Colt soldiers were also transferred after the armistice.
1919-04-11 The Motor Transport Corps arrived to move Camp Colt vehicles to Camp Holabird: 18 Riker, 6 Packard, & 10 Dodge trucks; 1 Reo; 4 Dodge touring cars; 1 Ford ambulance; and 48 motorcycles.
1919-05-17 A Liberty Loan Drive volunteer was given a ride from the Camp Colt landing field in a "Curtiss Acrobatic Aeroplane" by Air Service Sgt Walter Shaffer who had downed a German bomber over Reims Cathedral.[GT 5]
1919-05-24 Camp Colt buildings had been sold to the Lewis Wrecking Co.[8]
1919-06-30 Camp Colt had a very small guard under the Quartermaster Corps.[8]
1919-08 The 1919 Motor Transport Corps convoy that had left Washington, D.C. on July 7 passed through the Camp Colt site after lunch and a ceremony south of the Gettysburg Battlefield (Eisenhower had joined the convoy in Frederick, Maryland).
1919-08-08 Captain Fred P. Desmond (quartermasters commander at Camp Colt), 2 corporals, and 11 civilian employees remained of the 15,000 who had been at Camp Colt (Quartermaster Headquarters was on Chambersburg St). Cook James J. Matranga was assigned to the camp from 1917-1919.
1919-08-15 Camp Colt closed.[9]
1932-08 The 1st Camp Colt reunion was held. Eisenhower was honored[10] during the 1954 World Wars Tank Corps Association reunion when they planted a 22-foot "Memorial Pine Tree" with a tablet at 39°48.893′N 77°14.253′W / 39.814883°N 77.237550°W / 39.814883; -77.237550.[11] Dirt from various states was used, including Connecticut soil from Samuel Colt's "Colt Park" estate[GT 6] (Samuel Colt also had a Maine fishing camp named "Camp Colt".)[12]
External images
tents on Spangler Farm
buildings along Emmitsburg Rd
tank on Gettysburg Battlefield


  1. 1 2 Report of the Gettysburg National Military Park Commission, 1918 (Report). Retrieved 2011-11-12.
  2. Annual report of the Secretary of War, Volume 8, United States War Department, 1918, p. 998, retrieved 2011-01-12, Camp, U. S. Troops, Gettysburg, Pa. ... On May 22 [1917], the War Department notified the chairman of this commission that recruiting stations for the United States Regular Army would be established ... For the Eastern Department ... in Gettysburg National Park. ... On the Codori farm: South field east side of Emmitsburg Road, William Redding tenant, grass field containing 33 acres. Fields between Emmitsburg Road and Hancock Avenue, William F. Redding, tenant; grass fields containing 25 acres. Three-cornered field on the west side of Emmitsburg Road in the angle between that road and Round Top Railroad, grass field containing 16 acres. On the Bryan farm: William F. Abell, tenant, field east of Emmitsburg Road containing 5 acres.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 Rockenbach, Samuel D (October 13, 1919). Report of the Director of the Tank Corps for the year ending June 30, 1919. Congressional serial set, Issue 7688 (Report). Retrieved 2011-01-17.
  4. 1 2 3 4 5 6 D'Este, Carlo (2002). Eisenhower: A Soldier's Life. pp. 127–138. Retrieved 2011-01-11.
  5. 1 2 "Organization of the Army Tank Corps", The Official U.S. Bulletin, March 28, 1919, retrieved 2011-01-17
  6. Venzon, Anne Cipriano (1995). The United States in the First World War: An Encyclopedia (Google Books). Taylor & Francis. pp. 105, 115, 727. ISBN 0-8240-7055-0. Retrieved 2011-01-13. Patton [sic] ... and ... Eisenhower ... served as Tank Corps representatives on the Army's First Transcontinental Motor Convoy in 1919.
  7. Rinaldi, Richard A. The US Army in World War I – Orders of Battle (Report). Retrieved 2011-01-17.
  8. 1 2 3 Report of the Gettysburg National Military Park Commission, 1919 (Report). July 1, 1919. Retrieved 2011-11-12.
  9. Swanson, Robert. Domestic United States Military Facilities of the First World War 1917-1919. Retrieved 2011-01-17.
  10. "Tree Honoring Ike At Gettysburg Nicked By Hatchet Vandals" (Google News Archives). Cape Girardeau: The Southeast Missourian. September 28, 1954. Retrieved 2011-01-22.
  11. "United States Army Tank Corps". The Historical Marker Database. Retrieved 2011-01-22.
  12. "Guide to the Colt Family Papers 1793-1961". Special Collections and University Archives: University of Rhode Island Library. Archived from the original on 2012-10-04. Retrieved 2011-01-14. guest register and journal of Camp Colt, his fishing camp in Maine
GT. "Gettysburg Times Archives". Gettysburg Times. Retrieved 2010-02-20. 
This list is incomplete; you can help by expanding it.
  1. 1 2 "Camp Colt the New Name Here" (Google News Archive). March 23, 1918. Retrieved 2011-01-14.
  2. "Military Police on Every Night" (Google News Archive). March 25, 1918. Retrieved 2011-01-19.
  3. 1 2 "Former Eisenhower home to be honored by marker" (Google News Archive). December 10, 1994. Retrieved 2011-01-14.
  4. "July Fourth at Camp Colt" (Google News Archives). July 2, 1918. Retrieved 2011-01-19.
  5. "Aeroplane at Gettysburg" (Google News Archive). May 8, 1919. Retrieved 2011-01-22.
  6. "Tanker Briefs" (Google News Archive). August 28, 1954. Retrieved 2011-01-14. Harry Cunningham ... was chief electrician at Camp Colt
NYT. "Archive". The New York Times. 2007-09-25. Retrieved 2011-01-22. 
  1. "Army Orders and Assignments" (pdf). The New York Times. March 25, 1918. Retrieved 2011-01-22.
  2. "Army Orders and Assignments" (pdf). The New York Times. April 20, 1918. Retrieved 2011-01-12.
  3. "----" (pdf). The New York Times. 1918-05-29. Retrieved 2011-01-22.
  4. "----" (pdf). The New York Times. 1918-07-27. Retrieved 2011-01-22.
  5. "----" (pdf). The New York Times. 1918-09-16. Retrieved 2011-01-22.
  6. "----" (pdf). The New York Times. 1919-02-25. Retrieved 2011-01-22.
  7. "----" (pdf). The New York Times. 1918-09-16. Retrieved 2011-01-22.
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