On Friday, 14 May the Quartermaster Center and School, opened the Quartermaster Museum Gallery, “The Fort Lee Gallery.” With the galleries’ opening, a seven year gallery renovation program will be completed. The renovations began in December 1997 with the opening of the Quartermaster History Orientation Timeline, and has been followed through the years by galleries focused on Quartermaster missions, past and present. The Fort Lee Gallery portrays the history of the Post beginning in the area’s prehistory and continuing through today and completes the Fort Lee and Quartermaster stories.
The area of today’s Fort Lee has been the site of human activity for over 10,000 years. British soldiers marched across the area on the way to fight the Revolutionary War Battle of Petersburg in 1781, and Union and Confederate armies clashed for over nine months during 1864-65 fighting the better-known Battle of Petersburg. The first Camp Lee was built in the Summer of 1917 as one of thirty two National Army Cantonments built to train the American Army to fight in France during World War I.
After World War I ended, the land reverted to State ownership but Camp Lee was reactivated shortly before World War II as the Quartermaster Replacement Center. Over 300,000 Quartermaster soldiers were trained at Camp Lee during the War and continued to do so when the War ended. In 1950, in a move to grant permanence, Camp Lee was renamed Fort Lee and shortly, permanent structures and family housing were to be found on the “new Fort Lee”.
Fort Lee sent soldiers to Korea, Vietnam, and all of America’s contingency operations from Grenada, Panama, and the Gulf War in 1990-91. Today Quartermasters serve in Kuwait, Iraq, and Afghanistan supporting soldiers in the field.
Fort Lee’s history is closely tied to the local area communities of Petersburg and Hopewell. Fort Lee’s most visible local ambassadors, the Fort Lee Army Band, is highlighted as is the history of music at the Post. Camp Lee was the site of a German POW Camp during World War II, explained by a German POW’s uniform.
All soldiers send souvenirs to their mothers, wives, and sweethearts. An exhibit of popular souvenir items from World Wars I and II, all purchased at Camp Lee, shows the universal nature of soldiers to send something home during their time in the Army.
An informational kiosk provides information on the changing Fort Lee landscape where visitors can see and compare the Post from its World War I beginnings, its revival in World War II, its early period as a permanent Fort, and today’s Fort Lee. The kiosk also shows how today’s familiar buildings and landmarks have changed over time.