Fort Des Moines: Chronology

1901 Construction begins on the 400-acre base Fort Des Moines on Des Moines’ South Side.

1903-1904 Two companies of the all-black U.S. Army 25th Infantry surprise Des Moines’ local citizens by arriving instead of white cavalry. The 25th had been stationed on the plains and was replaced by the 11th Cavalry Regiment a year later. These two companies are also known as Buffalo Soldiers.

1907 The 2nd Cavalry Regiment and the 16th Infantry Regiment, Company K, arrive on the post.

1910 The 6th Cavalry Regiment reports for duty.

1917 The 17th Provisional Training Regiment becomes the first officer candidate class of African-Americans in United State military history. Its 1,250 officer candidates include 1,000 college graduates and faculty and 250 non-commissioned officers. The successful 639 receive commissions on 15 October 1917. Most would lead the 92nd Division on the battlefields of World War One France. A training camp for black medical personnel joins the 17th Provisional Training Regiment later that year. Most were practicing physicians who left their businesses to join the war effort.

1925 The 9th Field Artillery Regiment joins the 2nd for training. Things get even louder.

1918 General Hospital #26 opens on the post.

1920 The 14th Cavalry Regiment reports for training and a Citizens Military Training Camp (CMTC) trains 1,000 locals in community defense.

1922 The 2nd Battalion, 18th Field Artillery Regiment arrives for training. Things get loud fast.

1933-1934 A Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) camp operates and the 3rd Battalion, 80th Field Artillery Regiment arrives on the post.

1937 Eventual United States President Ronald Reagan receives his commission as a second lieutenant on 18 June 1937 where he learned to ride horses with the 14th Cavalry. “We shared something very special at Fort Des Moines and I think we were lucky that the horses knew what they were doing!” – 5 May 1983.  The 14th Cavalry leaves Fort Des Moines for the Mexican border in 1940.

1942 The first and largest Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps/Women’s Army Corps opened on post training 65,000 enlisted troops and 7,000 female officers for non-combat duty. Many later served in World War Two Europe and the South Pacific.

1945-1946 A WAC separation center and a veterans housing project opened on the post.

1949 Fort Des Moines became a U.S. Army Reserve training center and remains so today.

1976 Fort Des Moines became an official National Historic Landmark.

1997 Efforts were launched to build a memorial to the black officers camp which have become the Fort Des Moines Museum & Educational Center.



Fort Des Moines Colored Officers Training, 1917.
Interview with James Mitchell and James Morris regarding their officer training experiences at Fort Des Moines during World War I. ~ Source: Iowa Oral History Project. Digital source: Internet Archive ~ Creator: Des Moines Public Library ~ Date:...
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75 E. Army Post RoadDes Moines, IA 50315