I. HISTORY OF THE 284TH F. A. BN.
The 284th Field Artillery Battalion was formally activated on June 25, 1943.
As a separate Battalion of the 204th F. A. Group, its three firing batteries and combined headquarters and service batteries each had an excellent cadre. These skeleton crews of experienced non-commissioned officers were sent from overseas, to insure the thorough practical training of the battalion.
The commanding officer of the 284th FA BN., a West Point graduate, was Lt. Col. Francis C. Foster, who has served in the Hawaiian Islands, in Panama, as well as in many posts in the United States.
The 284th FA BN was a new organization, its history lying before it. Unlike many reserve or National Guard groups which existed as "paper organizations" during peace time, the 284th was first constituted on the active list February 25, 1943.
The cadre came from the three light battalions of the triangularized 27th Infantry Division; the 249th, the 104th, and the 105th Battalions. Previously, when the 27th Infantry was a square division, all cadre men belonged to the 104th and 105th Artillery Regiments.
The 104th FA stemmed from two original New York State National Guard batteries, K & C, formed in New York City in 1867, and in Binghamton in 1870, respectively. This regiment was mobilized in 1916 to serve on the Mexican border. It later served with distinction in support of the 33rd and the 79th Divisions of the A.E.F. and with the XVII Colonial Corps, Second French Army.
Their heaviest engagements occurred during the Meuse-Argonne Campaign, in the Verdun Sector. December 7, 1941 found the Regiment already in training favor the present conflict, and it was at an overseas post that it was reorganized into separate battalions on August 31, 1942.
The 105th Regiment likewise had a notable history, being a "descendent" of the historic Revolutionary battery know as the "Washington Grays". This term signified the matched gray horse pairs which pulled the cannons. The 105th was represented in the Civil War, taking part in the actions at Bull Run and Gettysburg. In the first World War the Regiment distinguished itself in the battle of Verdun. The 105th was also serving on active duty on Dec. 7, 1941, and likewise was broken up into separate battalions after it had been sent overseas.
II. HISTORY OF CAMP RUCKER
Camp Rucker, an entirely new military installation, is built on an 82,000 acre reservation in the southeastern corner of the state of Alabama. The reservation itself is roughly triangular in shape and extends in a northwest-southeast direction.
Outpost No. 2, the amp's southern gate, near Daleville, Alabama is 26 miles from Dothan, the largest of Camp Rocker's neighboring towns and a community of 20,000 population. Outpost No. 1, the reservation's northern gate, is 9 miles from Ozark. Outpost No 3, on the western side of the cantonment site, is 11 miles from Enterprise. Ozark and Enterprise are towns of 3,600 and 4,400 population respectively.
37,000 acres of the reservation were acquired for military purposes by absorption of the Pea River Cooperative Land Use Area. This area was purchased by the Federal Government during the 1930`s as part of its Land Utilization Project.
Lake Tholocco, within the Pea River area and 6 miles from the cantonment site, was named with the Indian term for "Great Warrior" in honor of dale County's hero, Samuel Dale.
In the summer of 1941 a planning survey was made of the area by Army Engineers and subsequently the Real Estate Branch of the War Department purchased nearly 30,000 acres of land adjoining the Pea River Area.
The resulting reservation is well adapted to training, with streams, rolling country, open and wooded areas, and affords the varied terrain necessary for instruction of troops, and is sufficiently large for artillery maneuvers.
The broad plateau at its southern end makes an excellent site for cantonment barracks, while its lake and its woods afford the same wholesome recreations to soldiers in time of war as they did to civilians in peace time.
Under direction of the Army Engineer Corps construction work was started in January 1942 on more than 4,600 acres of the cantonment site and the 1,500 buildings required for this future camp. An army of 12,000 civilian workers, skilled and unskilled help, tackled the job of building Camp Rucker. By May 1, the majority of these workers had left the reservation, the job finished except for final checking of details of work inevitably left after construction of a project estimated to have cost in excess of $25,000,000.
Brigadier General Frederick W. Manley assumed command of Camp Rucker on May 1, 1942, and ordered it activated as of that date.
III. COLONEL EDMUND WINCHESTER RUCKER
Camp Rucker takes its name from Col. Edmund W. Rucker, an outstanding officer of the Civil War. Born in Tennessee in 1835, of Dutch and English descent, he attended school in his native state and later engaged in civil engineering in the city of Memphis.
His military career had an auspicious beginning at an early date in the War Between the States. During his first combat engagement, serving in the rank of Captain, Rucker`s service was so notable that he was highly recommended by General Trudeau. In June 1864, his conduct was again spoken of, this time by General Forrest who commented very favorably upon an attack led by Rucker in the rank of Colonel which attacked helped achieve the victory of Tishomingo Creek.
Between these two engagements, Colonel Rucker served in a great number of campaigns, participating in numerous battles, command many famous military elements. The record glows with the names of great officers he served with.
Col. Rucker`s military career came to an end when, in December 1864, severely wounded and having lost his left arm, he was taken prisoner.
After the war, Col. Rucker lived for a time in Memphis, where he engaged in a railroad building partnership with General Forrest.
He moved to Alabama in 1869, and in 1882, to Birmingham where he lived until his death in 1924.