America’s Oldest Military Bases

The U.S. has one of the largest militaries in the world. To accomplish its mission, the Department of Defense operates bases where military personnel can be trained and housed until deployed. In total, the DOD counts 3.4 million service members and civilian personnel stationed in more than 4,800 sites in 16 countries across the globe.

Many of the longest-operating military installations stand on U.S. soil and date back to our earliest conflicts – the Revolutionary War and Civil War. 

To identify America’s oldest military bases, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed and independently verified the history of active military installations listed on Bases were ranked by the year in which they opened, according to The number of active-duty service members assigned to each base came from the 2019 Demographics Report, compiled by Defense Department contractor Military OneSource, the most recent year for which there is base-specific personnel data. We also included which military branch operates each base. Installations outside the 50 states were not considered.

Still in operation today, Carlisle Barracks Army Base in Pennsylvania became a U.S. installation in 1776. Yet its history dates back further than the Revolutionary War. The British used the same site as a military outpost during the French and Indian War in 1757. 

When the Revolutionary War broke out, the Continental Congress established an ordinance center at what was then called Washingtonburg. The base was briefly captured by Confederate soldiers during the Civil War and was used as a military hospital during World War I. Since 1951, the post has housed the Army War College, where military members are trained. (See the 14 guns that helped fight the Revolutionary War.) 

The second oldest is West Point. Although it did not formally become U.S. property until 1790, West Point had been occupied by Continental Army troops since 1778, and was George Washington’s headquarters in 1779. It was almost taken over by the British in 1780 when the post’s then-commander Benedict Arnold famously betrayed the country. But his treason was uncovered and the base remained in Continental Army hands. Today, it serves as the Army premier training school for young officers. (Find where Benedict Arnold ranks among the most notorious cases of betrayal in U.S. history.)

Click here to see the oldest military bases in America.

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