Now all roads lead to France and heavy is the tread
Of the living; but the dead returning lightly dance.
Edward Thomas, Roads

Wednesday, March 6, 2024

A Baker's Dozen Images of Ike's Home, Camp Colt, and Gettysburg

Our regular contributor Steve Miller of Virginia recently visited Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, which, in addition to being the site of the largest battle ever fought on American soil, has served a number of military functions through the years. In World War I, it was the site of Camp Colt, America's training center for tanks. The commander of that operation was an army officer named Dwight David Eisenhower, whom—you may know—went on to even greater responsibilities.  Ike and his wife, Mamie, fell in love with the Pennsylvania town and in 1950 bought a farm about two miles south of Gettysburg. The area in between was part of the 1863 battlefield and roughly the site of Camp Colt in the Great War. The farm was the first home the Eisenhowers owned, and it provided an escape from Washington while Ike served as president before they settled there after he retired. There is a national historic site on the farm honoring President Eisenhower. Steve Miller has provided the photos here of the Eisenhower historic site, and I've supplemented his contributions with some historic images from the World War I period. Click on the photos to enlarge them from 580px width to 800px for ease of viewing.

Sadly, the Eisenhowers' First Son, Icky (b. 1917) Died from
Scarlet Fever in 1921

Panoramic View of Camp Colt

Camp Periodical

Infantry Training with a French Renault Tank

A Tank Maneuvering at Camp Colt

Historic Marker Just South of Gettysburg Town

The Eisenhower Farmhouse As It Looks Today

Mamie and Ike Celebrate Their 39th Anniversary
 at the Farm

A Colleague from the Second World War Visits the Farm

See our earlier article about how Dwight Eisenhower dealt with the Spanish influenza at Camp Colt HERE.


  1. Can anyone provide some perspective to the 3 photos reference their location on the battlefield ? As an old tanker, I know the tanks must have torn up the terrain. We know that the ground just to the west(maybe just south west) of the Copse of trees was dug up for a never completed swimming pool (supposedly at the request [demand] of George Patton who was recovering at Camp Colt).

  2. There's a new WW2 museum, called The American Experience a few miles away.

  3. So is that Doubleday Ave in the Panoramic view of Camp Colt?

  4. It might be a bit of a stretch to say that infantry were "training" with the Renault. More likely, the men were just observing the FT going through its paces. I don't know with absolute certainty, but I suspect the FT is the same one that crossed the Atlantic aboard Army transport Appelles with Lt. Elgin Braine in February 1918. (Along with Patton, Braine was one of the first two American officers officially assigned to duty with what was then the "tank service" in late 1917. He called USAT Appelles "USS Apples" in his personal experience report. Odd, since he was a grandson of one USN admiral and cousin to another, Clinton Elgin Braine.)

    Regarding the photo with the British officers, Eisenhower appears to be hiding something from the photographer. The man to his left is Colonel William Clopton, who oversaw both Camp Colt and Camp Polk, the latter in Raleigh, North Carolina, which did not receive tanks until September. (Two Mark V* males and three Mark V* females.) To Clopton's left is Lt. Colonel Frank Summers, who participated in the first tank action on the Somme in September 1916, commanding Company D. The mourning band on his left sleeve is for his son, who had been killed aboard HMS Indefatigable at Jutland in May 1916. Major Philip Hamond, seated to Summers' left, commanded F Battalion (later 6th Battalion) at the Battle of Cambrai in November 1917.

    1. MAJ Dale Wilson, PhD, USA (Ret)March 17, 2024 at 10:11 PM

      I concur with your observations about the FT. It most likely was the FT that came back with Braine. As for the heavy tank pictured, it was most likely on loan from Camp Tobyhanna. Clopton commanded ALL Tank Corps activities in CONUS.

      In TREAT 'EM ROUGH!: THE BIRTH OF AMERICAN ARMOR, 1917-20, I erroneously reported that there were no heavy tanks in the USA and captioned photos of 301st Tank Bn. training at Bovington Camp in England based on the Signal Corps captions attached. Moreover, Brig. Gen. Rockenbach's 1919 report on the Tank Corps stated that no heavies reached CONUS.

      This was disproven by newspaper reports and photos showing four Mark IVs in use on the racetrack at Camp Raleigh, N.C., which was built on the site of the North Carolina State Fair grounds. I was able to mak
      This was disproven by newspaper reports and photos showing four Mark IVs in use on the racetrack at Camp Raleigh, N.C., which was built on the site of the North Carolina State Fair grounds. I was able to make appropriate corrections to a 2d rev. ed. of TREAT 'EM ROUGH! published by Casemate Ltd. in 2018.

    2. Dale, if another edition is produced, please take a look at the preceding photo, described as a demonstration of a Mark IV for 301st Battalion at Bovington. (The nose of the tank sticks out over a precipitous drop.) It's actually one of the Mark Vs at Camp Polk. The image is part of the same Signal Corps sequence as the "race track" photos. Also, another photo showing a destroyed tank that is described as a Mark V cannot be, as there are no ventilation louvers. The latter set Mark Vs apart from all other British tanks. (It's almost certainly a Mark IV.) I'm sympathetic. Photo captions can certainly be a challenge, especially if the contemporary description isn't exactly spot-on!