Of Maryland, it seems, become fewer. From over...


March 07, 1995

THE FORTS of Maryland, it seems, become fewer. From over in Virginia, and that fort of forts the Pentagon, comes a decision to deactivate Fort Ritchie, out west on Mount Catoctin.

Most Marylanders, having never seen Fort Ritchie, will feel no grievous hurt. Forts matter more in youth, a nation's or a male individual's. In the active martial sense, Maryland is down to its last two -- Detrick and Meade -- plus assorted installations under other headings, such as arsenal, proving ground, air base, training station, armory, hospital, research center, supply depot, testing center, prison, academy.

In their decorative retirement, certain forts still call Maryland home: McHenry, of course; Carroll, Washington, Frederick, Smallwood, Armistead, Howard. Some are vestigial: Foote, Pendleton, Hollingsworth, Mills, Tonoloway.

There were others. Fort/Camp Holabird helped defend Baltimore in World Wars II and I. During last century's set-to between Northerns and Southrons, Highlandtown had Fort Marshall. In 1814, Fort Covington (today's Port Covington) stood by to repel Britannia. During still earlier wars, Fort Cumberland brooded over the Valley of the Potomac.

Note the official designation: fort. One rung lower is the camp; maybe at bottom is the military reservation. Maryland has had scads of military camps. Meade began as a military reservation; was a camp in 1917-18; fought off efforts to rename it for Leonard Wood, and is latterly a full-fenced fort. Or partly fenced.

Holabird, Detrick and Ritchie, also originally commissioned in the rank of camp, for good conduct were promoted to fort. Ritchie (on the shores of Lake Royer) was an acreage bought by the state for National Guard use in summer training, and was named for a governor who never had military status. After the War Department took it over, in 1942, newspapers abruptly ceased mentioning Camp Ritchie.

For your next dinner party or lodge meeting: where was Fort Hoyle?

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