|Fort Meade was the only military post in the Black Hills during the region's frontier era. It has the distinction of out-lasting the 22 other posts established in what was Dakota Territory until 1889. |
Fort Meade was established in 1878 as a cavalry post for the 7th Cavalry, which for a time, was led by General George Armstrong Custer. Numerous cavalry/military units were stationed at Fort Meade through the years. These included a mounted black troop, a black infantry unit, the 88th Glider Infantry, and many others.
For ten years, Fort Meade was the home of the famous horse, Comanche. This horse arrived at Fort Meade when retired with honors after having been found heavily wounded among the 7th Cavalry dead in at the Little Big Horn battleground. Comanche was the only living representative on the military side of this famous battle.
Fort Meade also has the distinction of being the birthplace of our national anthem. "The Star Spangled Banner" was first played on July 4, 1892, at the end of a concert presented by the regimental band. Colonel Caleb H. Carlton was the commanding officer who first enforced the playing of this song at retreat. It wasn't until 1914, however, that President Woodrow Wilson signed an executive order declaring "The Star Spangled Banner" as the national anthem. Congress officially signed the bill making it the national anthem in 1931.
The Fort Meade Property was transferred to the Veterans Administration in 1944. The facility began as a neuropsychiatric hospital and later general medicine and surgery were added. In early 1967, the current hospital complex was completed.
The Old Fort Meade Museum is an excellent place to learn about Col. Samuel D. Sturgis, a Union general during the Civil War, who was commander of the 7th Cavalry and the first permanent post commander at Fort Meade. He was a member of the company that founded the nearby town that bears his name today.