The Army's Century on Davids Island
This Web site presents a history of Davids Island in New Rochelle, New York. From 1861 to 1965 the island served our nation as a post of the U.S. Army.
Serving the Nation in War and Peace
The Army established De Camp General Hospital on Davids Island during the Civil War. After the hospital closed in 1866, the Army continued to use the island. From the late 1860s to the mid-1890s, the Army simply called the post Davids Island. In July 1896 the Army formally named the post Fort Slocum, after Maj. Gen. Henry Warner Slocum (1827-1894) of Civil War fame. Fort Slocum closed in November 1965. Over its century of service, the Army used Davids Island for many missions. It was the site of a hospital, prison, mustering camp, recruit depot, coast artillery fortification, transit station, training installation, Air Force base and missile battery. Tens of thousands of soldiers and recruits from all over the country served at Fort Slocum. Thousands of Westchester County citizens worked and visited there.
Recording the Past for the Future
After Fort Slocum closed, it stood abandoned for 40 years. Weeds, vines and young trees overwhelmed the island, and its buildings fell into ruin.
From 2004 to 2008 the U.S. Congress authorized funds to demolish the remnants of the post and prepare the island for a new use. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers supervised the demolition project.
Before removing the post’s buildings and other structures, the Corps photographed them to make a permanent record of them and researched their histories. This Web site grew out of that work.
The Web site tells the story of Fort Slocum’s buildings, their ruins and other historical traces on Davids Island. It explores some of the connections between Fort Slocum and its host communities in New Rochelle and Westchester County, and it shares some of the recollections of men and women who served, lived and worked at the post.
Fort Slocum was a dazzling jewel in a world with too much crab grass. My wife, Mary, and I pulled up to the dock for the first time in 1963, fresh graduates of the University of Colorado. We were stunned. This wasn’t just an Army post out yonder to which I had been assigned. Rather, as I wrote years later in the now-defunct National Observer, ‘It was heaven at eight feet above sea level.’ We had the privilege of living there—indeed, the delight of living the American Dream there—for two glorious years where our every window looked out on Long Island Sound and where our every hour gifted us with a different postcard scene. It was wondrous.”
-Former 1st Lt. Douglas S. Looney, Instructor, U.S. Army Information School, Fort Slocum, 1963 - 1965
(written comments 2009)