History of Fort McCoy
Fort McCoy is named for Robert Bruce McCoy. The son of a Civil War captain, McCoy was a prominent local resident who served as a lawyer, district attorney, county judge and mayor of Sparta, Wis. He reached the rank of major general during his 31 years of distinguished military service, which included service in the Spanish-American War, the police action in Mexico, and World War I.
McCoy returned from the Spanish-American War with a dream. He knew that as warfare became increasingly more modern, larger and more-powerful guns would be developed, and training would be emphasized. He envisioned these changes would require larger training areas, and, by 1905, he had acquired approximately 4,000 acres of land in the Sparta area.
Maj. Samuel Allen of the 7th Field Artillery at Fort Snelling, Minn., also admired the terrain of the Sparta area for its training value. September 1905 marked the first use of the land for military purposes. McCoy invited Allen's unit to put his family's ranch to the test during 16 days of training.
As a result of the 16-day test, Allen recommended to an Army review board that a large piece of land be purchased for an artillery camp. Approximately 14,200 acres of land, including McCoy's 4,000 acres, were purchased in 1909. The resulting parcel was called the "Sparta Maneuver Tract."
The Sparta Maneuver Tract was divided approximately in half by the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Pacific Railroad. The maneuver camp situated on the northern half of the parcel was referred to as Camp Emory Upton, while that to the south was known as Camp Robinson.
In 1910, the War Department authorized $40,000 for construction and improvements to the area. Within that same year, the reservation was renamed Camp Bruce E. McCoy, in honor of the Civil War captain and former owner of the maneuver camp lands. The camp retained that name until Nov. 19, 1926, when it officially was designated as Camp McCoy in honor of Maj. Gen. Robert B. McCoy, who had died that same year.
Nearly 9,500 acres of land were acquired from the Department of Agriculture in 1938-39. From 1940-1942, an additional 37,437 acres were acquired by a directive from the Secretary of War. These additions included construction of the large, triangular-shaped cantonment area, much of which still exists today.
The "New Camp" officially was inaugurated Aug. 30, 1942. Total cost for the construction was estimated at $30 million, and the camp capacity was set at 35,000. Camp McCoy was used as a training facility for many World War II units, including the 2nd Infantry Division, the 76th Infantry Division and the 100th Infantry Battalion, which was comprised of Hawaiian National Guardsmen of Japanese ancestry. The post also served as a prisoner-of-war and enemy-alien prison camp during this time. The Camp was also a Separation Center for soldiers that were part of the demobilization of the U.S. Army at the end of World War II.
Aside from temporary lulls, the installation has been in almost constant use since its founding in 1909, and has provided artillery and maneuver training opportunities for hundreds of thousands of military personnel from all services.
Camp McCoy was aligned under U.S. Forces Command July 1, 1973, and officially was redesignated as Fort McCoy Sept. 30, 1974.
Today, Fort McCoy's primary mission is providing for the training and ensuring the readiness of America's reserve- and active-component armed forces.
The post also is one of 15 Army power-projection platforms. In 1990-91, during Operations Desert Shield/Storm, more than 9,000 soldiers from 74 separate units and their equipment were deployed and redeployed at Fort McCoy.
From June 1991 through June 1992, the post also completed one of the largest reserve-component equipment demobilization/repair missions in the Army -- Operation Desert Fix. During Desert Fix, Fort McCoy was responsible for inventorying, inspecting, repairing and returning more than a division-and-a-half's worth of equipment to 121 owning units located throughout a nine-state area.
Training levels at Fort McCoy reached record proportions in fiscal year 1992, with 143,362 personnel participating. The installation continues to train more than 100,000 personnel annually.
Fort McCoy was aligned under the U.S. Army Reserve Command (USARC) in 1993. As part of this realignment, Fort McCoy serves in a "parent installation" role for two direct-reporting installations -- Fort Hunter Liggett and Parks Reserve Forces Training Area, which both are located in California.