When The Troops (and Guns) Came to Georgetown by Rail

I recently struck gold whilst looking for Georgetown-related articles in the Library of Congress “Chronicling America” online newspaper archives. One such article really blew me away, no pun intended! It details how on October 18, 1912 three batteries of field artillery normally stationed at Ft. Myer traveled from Tobyhanna, PA to Georgetown in DC via the B&O. The troops had been in PA for exercises and came to town in a series of three trains, each 20 cars long carrying all of the troops, officers, horses, and their equipment, including the artillery pieces!

The yard was cleared and special equipment had been prepared to facilitate the speedy offloading of all equipment and personnel. The troops then marched up 30th St., west on M St. and over the Aqueduct Bridge to Ft. Myer. I can only imagine what a spectacle this must have been for the locals. Imagine, the scene! The B&O’s Georgetown Terminal was in its infancy at this point and had only been operational for about two years. This would have been a major undertaking and a real test for the personnel working there. Apparently the special equipment created for the exercise was preserved for future troop activities. I haven’t found anything else to indicate there were more of these exercises.

Washington Times article from Oct 18, 1912 chronicling the movement of troops from PA to DC via Georgetown on the B&O.

The Washington times. [volume] (Washington [D.C.]), 18 Oct. 1912. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn84026749/1912-10-18/ed-1/seq-11/

There has long been discussion by folks in the B&O circles about whether troop trains went down the Georgetown Branch and the consensus was generally “yes” due to the proximity to Ft. Myer and downtown DC, in general. This is the first time in recent memory I’ve found information about such movements and I hope to find more. The timeframe I model includes two major conflicts; WWII and the Korean War. There is a good chance that at some point there was a special movement of troops via the GB to support an activity in the area.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.