The community of Fort Drum recognizes its namesake
Fort Drum Garrison Public Affairs
FORT DRUM, NY (August 22, 2022) – The facility now known as Fort Drum was dedicated 70 years ago today in honor of an Army veteran who advocated for readiness military and helped shape military history in New York.
Drum was born September 19, 1879 in Fort Brady, Michigan. The son of a Civil War veteran, Drum’s family never lasted long in one Army post before moving on to the next. After graduating from high school in 1894, Drum attended Boston College with the intention of entering the Jesuit priesthood. But events beyond his control changed his plans when his father, Captain John A. Drum, was killed on July 1, 1898 at the Battle of San Juan Hill in Cuba during the Spanish-American War.
At 18, Drum was converted from student to soldier following a special provision by President William McKinley that allowed direct commissions for sons whose fathers had been killed in action. He was thought to be the youngest officer in US Army history when he was commissioned a second lieutenant two days before his 19th birthday.
The young second lieutenant was assigned to the 12th Infantry Regiment and he fought in the Philippine insurgency campaigns on the island of Luzon. Drum briefly returned to the United States in 1901 before being ordered back the following year for Moro’s campaigns in Mindanao, and he joined the expedition which captured guerrilla leader Guerro. Drum was cited for bravery and he was awarded the Silver Star after three tours of the Philippine Islands.
In 1902 Drum served with the 27th Infantry at Plattsburgh and Madison Barracks at Sackets Harbor, and he was promoted to captain in March 1906. Drum graduated with honors from the Army School of the Line in 1911, which provided training in the disciplines of military art, engineering, law and languages.
In 1912, Drum graduated from the Army Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, and he would later serve there as an instructor, director, and deputy commander.
Drum served on the Mexican border and participated in the Vera Cruz Expedition in 1914, where he accompanied Major General Frederick Funston as aide-de-camp and deputy chief of staff. Drum also participated in the Punitive Expedition in 1916. He later helped form plans that placed army and National Guard units along the Rio Grande.
General John Pershing, commander of the American Expeditionary Forces, chose Drum to be on his staff to establish his command post in France during World War I. Drum was responsible for developing troop movement routes and other logistical requirements. Pershing also ordered Drum to establish a staff college, similar to the Leavenworth model, to teach division and corps staff officers in advanced large-scale combat operations.
As Chief of Staff of the First Army, Drum led the planning of his unit’s actions in the Saint Mihiel and Meuse-Argonne Offensives – preparing thousands of American troops for two of the greatest battles of the war. . This resulted in Drum’s promotion to brigadier general and he was awarded the Army Distinguished Service Medal.
After the war, Drum was responsible for disbanding and returning American troops to the United States. He later served as principal and deputy commandant—and later commandant—of the Command and General Service Schools at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. From 1923 to 1926, Drum in the War Department under Pershing as Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations and Training. After careful study and analysis, he concluded that modern warfare can only be waged successfully through a coordinated system in which every element plays an active role.
In 1926 Drum assumed command of the 1st Infantry Brigade, then served as commanding general of the 1st Infantry Division, headquartered at Fort Hamilton, New York, until 1930. He regularly performed troop inspections at training sites across New York and other states, to include Madison Barracks, Plattsburgh Barracks and Fort Niagara and, Fort Monmouth, New Jersey.
Drum was promoted to Major General and became Inspector General of the U.S. Army on January 29, 1930. In 1933 Drum commanded the 5th Corps, then was appointed Deputy Chief of the Army Staff, the General Douglas MacArthur. Later he took command of the Army of the Pacific, Hawaiian Department.
In the late 1930s and early 1940s, Drum was instrumental in developing Pine Camp for large-scale training events, and he personally petitioned Washington, DC for more funding. National Guard soldiers participate.
In 1938 Drum took command of the newly reactivated First Army on Governor’s Island and trained his troops at Pine Camp. In 1940 Drum visited the training reserve to inspect troops and observe a winter tactical training exercise. According to a local newspaper report, Drum saw four detachments of soldiers on skis participating in tactical exercises in terrain with two feet of snow. The ski formations marked a new kind of army training in the north of the country. The soldiers of the 28th Infantry were fitted with winter clothing to prepare them for intensive training in the freezing climate, and they tested the new army sleeping bags made of waterproof duck canvas and lined with blankets. The article said:
“Ski maneuvers in the U.S. Army have only taken place in one other infantry, that of the Third Infantry stationed at Fort Selling, Minnesota, Army officials said. There are 300 pairs of skis available for use during the winter at Pine Camp Skiing instruction will be given by soldiers trained in the sport, which quickly becomes part of a defense plan.
Drum was instrumental in the Army-level maneuvers of 1941, which deployed more than 270,000 troops to Louisiana and the Carolinas. The event was deemed successful in coordinating large-scale troop movements for combat operations, but it also tested the organization and doctrine that would define many aspects of the United States military in World War II.
When the United States entered the war, Secretary of War Stimson appointed Drum to command Eastern Defense Command and put him in charge of the defense of the east coast. Drum was later awarded the Oak Leaf Cluster to the Distinguished Service Medal for his actions during the declared national emergency and war.
Upon his mandatory retirement in 1943, Drum commanded the New York Guard until 1948, during which time he helped with its post-war reorganization into the New York National Guard. His appointment by New York Governor William Dewey was hailed in a New York Times op-ed, dated October 19, 1943, which read:
“General Drum is one of America’s most distinguished soldiers. He has a fine record of forty-five years in the Army and special experience in that state as Chief of Eastern Defense Command and Chief Instructor of the New York National Guard in 1922-23.
In 1944, Drum served as president of the Empire State Building Corporation and served as Dewey’s aide during his presidential campaign. In 1946, Dewey selected Drum for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senator, but he was not selected at the state convention. Drum reportedly hated the idea of entering the political arena. He said he was vacationing in the Canadian northern woods when his candidacy was discussed.
On October 3, 1951, Drum died of a heart attack at the age of 72 while at his desk in the Empire State Building. A funeral service was held in St. Patrick’s Cathedral. Among the dignitaries present at the service was former President Herbert Hoover. In tributes and editorials, Drum was hailed as both a professional soldier and a civic leader in New York City.
Shortly after his death, several elected New York City officials campaigned to rename Pine Camp in Drum’s honor. The Jefferson County Board of Supervisors expressed the only dissenting opinion on this proposal and forwarded a resolution to the Department of Defense to retain the Pine Camp name. The resolution cited that a name change would confuse people familiar with this area of training. However, the Army acted on the approvals of its memorial committee in December 1951 and renamed Pine Camp Camp Drum, effective December 6, 1951.
A dedication ceremony for Camp Drum was held on August 22, 1952, presided over by First Army commander Lt. Gen. Willis D. Crittenberger. Drum’s wife, Mary Reaume Drum, also spoke at the ceremony, and their daughter, Carroll Drum Johnson, received her flag and portrait.
A bronze plaque affixed to a granite monolith was unveiled during the ceremony. While the plaque would be moved to different locations in the decades to come, it currently finds its home inside Hays Hall. A Drum painting is also on display in the Camp Drum exhibit at the 10th Mountain Division and Fort Drum Museum.
Camp Drum was designated as a permanent US Army installation in 1974 and its name was changed to Fort Drum.
To learn more about the history of Fort Drum, visit the 10th Mountain Division and the Fort Drum Museum, located in the building. 2509 on Colonel Reade Road. The museum is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday. For more information, call (315) 774-0391.