Carlisle Barracks, Then & Now


Nearly every historical era of the United States has impacted Carlisle. At its beginning in 1751, Carlisle was a place for traders and travelers to start their voyages west over the mountains. The seed of Carlisle Barracks was planted by the British in 1757 with Colonel, later Lieutenant General, John Stanwix establishing a post, which supported British operations in the French and Indian War. The next year, British Brigadier General John Forbes and his troops made a stop at Carlisle as their expedition worked west to the forks of the Ohio River.


In 1803, Soldiers stationed at the post went on the Lewis and Clark Corps of Discovery expedition. Decades later, in 1863, Confederates came through Carlisle and burned much of the post. The School of Cavalry Practice at Carlisle Barracks continued on, with new structures.

Carlisle Barracks was closed in 1871 because the Cavalry School moved west. It reopened in 1879 as home to a school that brought students from the West - the Carlisle Indian Industrial School, managed by the Department of the Interior. Lieutenant, later Brigadier General, Richard H. Pratt founded the school and served as its first superintendent.

In 1918, at the end of World War I, the War Department took back control of the post. General Hospital No. 31 opened to care for wounded Soldiers. Following that, from 1920 to 1946, the Medical Field Service School trained Soldiers in treating wounded comrades in the field and in preventing the spread of disease.

Between 1946 and 1951, several U.S. Army schools came and left the post. In 1951, the U.S. Army's senior educational institution arrived, the U.S. Army War College. It continues to make Carlisle Barracks its home, serving as a place of learning for senior officers from all branches of the U.S. and foreign militaries, as well as civilians from U.S. and foreign government agencies.

With over 250 years of history behind it, Carlisle Barracks continues to impact the nation and the world. Leaders are primed who will shape the future, while history continues to be made and preserved. Through this exhibit, experience the past and present, the continuity and change, through vintage and contemporary photographs, of this historic post, Carlisle Barracks.

During the American Revolution, Carlisle Barracks, then known as Washingtonburg, served as the main source of ordnance and commissary supply for the Continental Army during the Mid-Atlantic Campaign. According to local lore, this set of bellows, found in a barn in nearby Boiling Springs, was used at the forge in Washingtonburg, which sat at the intersection of Ashburn Drive and Lovell Avenue on Carlisle Barracks.

The arsenal at Washingtonburg stored, repaired, and reportedly manufactured arms for the Continental Army. In the spring of 1777, large shipments of muskets and other war aid began to arrive from France to bolster the Continental cause. This musket has 1778 scratched into the stock along with the initials IKE. The barrel is marked 5 C. The family that donated this musket to the U.S. Army stated that it was obtained by a relative from Carlisle, and the family desired it return here.