Fort Thomas, Kentucky

The establishment of Fort Thomas was made possible in 1888 when the state of Kentucky ceded jurisdiction over the reservation to the Federal Government.  The site of the post was selected by General Sheridan [Wikipedia] and was named for General George H. Thomas, [Wikipedia] "The Rock of Chickamauga," of Civil War Fame.  The original cost of constructing Fort Thomas was approximately three and one half million dollars.  There has been added to this, however, a gymnasium, in which nearly all of the activities of the post are centered, and a stable which will accommodate 76 animals.  The reservation consists of 111 acres.  It is within easy reach of Cincinnati, Newport, Covington, Latonia and other lesser towns.  It overlooks the Ohio River and is adjacent to a small town also known as Fort Thomas.  This place consists mainly of fine dwelling houses and is a beautiful residential district.  

There is little opportunity to carry on field training at Fort Thomas, due to the restricted area, and the garrison life is mainly confined to the usual schools and drills incident to ordinary garrison activities.  There is a target range at a distance of 14 miles on the Licking river, where target practice is held yearly and occasional demonstrations are made for class instructional purposes.  On account of its location, Fort Thomas is a show place to tourists, and in fine weather there is a continual line of cars passing through the post.  During military ceremonies parking space is at a tight premium.  Once during a ceremony by the Tenth Infantry there were so many spectators present that they swarmed upon the parade ground in friendly curiosity.  In 1890, the first garrison, consisting of two companies of the Sixth Infantry, was sent to the post.  These companies were later reinforced by two additional companies of the same regiment from Fort Porter, [Buffalo,] New York.  Although the Sixth Infantry was the first to garrison Fort Thomas, they were followed by a battalion of native Philippine constabulary and the Third, Fourth, Second, Ninth and Tenth Regiments of  U.S. Infantry.  

There are indications on every hand of the friendships formed with the civilians near the post and the high regard in which the military organizations have been held; but a newspaper clipping of an article published at the time of the departure of the Second Infantry is, perhaps, a criterion of the feeling existing between the military and the civil at the post.  The following is an extract:  “With the band playing patriotic airs and with the cheers of hundreds of civilians ringing in their ears, the soldiers of the Second Infantry left Fort Thomas at 5 p.m. yesterday and marched to Brent, Ky., about a mile distant, where special trains were waiting to convey them to San Francisco.”  A large tower is located at the entrance to this post, at the base of which are tablets erected by the citizens of Cincinnati, Covington, and Newport in honor of members of the Sixth Infantry who lost their lives in the Spanish American War.  At the time of departure of the Second Infantry the post was entirely bereft of a military garrison, there being but three men left in charge as caretakers. 

For over a year after the departure of the regiment, Fort Thomas was practically deserted until the arrival of the Ninth Infantry, fresh from the Philippines in 1912, when the place hummed with military activity again.  At the outbreak of the war with Spain, Fort Thomas was used as a mobilization center where the troops were centralized for transportation to the war zone.  Later, when soldiers were being returned on account of wounds and sickness, the proud old post found itself turned into a hospital where hundreds of men were nursed back to health.  In 1916 the Ninth Infantry went to the border and three regiments of Kentucky National Guard were mobilized at Fort Thomas.  They, too, were sent to the border.  For a considerable length of time again the post was almost deserted until the outbreak of the war in Europe, when it was returned to a recruit depot. About twenty temporary buildings were constructed to take care of the wartime personnel and recruits.  A few of these buildings still remain in use.  In the early part of 1922 the recruit companies were disbanded and only a few men of the D.E.M.L.Q.M.C. and Medical Corps remained until the arrival of the headquarters and two battalions of the Tenth Infantry in the fall of last year.   


by  Captain M. A. Gillis, Tenth Infantry from Histories of Army Posts, 1924.