Located in Washington DC, Fort McNair was established as a military reservation in 1791 on approximately 30 acres of land where the Potomac and Anacostia rivers meet. It was originally intended to be a way to defend the nation's capital. It was taken over by the British in 1814, although they were left a surprise (ammunition in the well) by the US troops who retreated north. The army base was quickly rebuilt after the war.
Updated: May 18, 2015
Fort Leslie J. McNair is, and has been, the only Army base in Washington, DC, that has been in continuous use since Washington, DC became the nation’s Capital.
Both Fort McNair and Washington, DC were established in 1791. The current fort was built on 28 acres of land acquired from Maryland and Virginia.
The fort is rich with military history. It served as an arsenal in 1794 and was captured by the British in 1814 and totally destroyed. It was rebuilt and housed the first federal prison in 1826. It further expanded to house a military hospital in 1857 and was called the Washington Arsenal. It was in the courtyard of the federal prison that four of the criminals convicted in the assassination of President Lincoln were hanged. Major Walter Reed was stationed at Fort McNair at the turn of the 20th century, and it was there that he performed his research on malaria. When the Army War College opened at Fort McNair in 1908, the installation was known as Washington Barracks. The war college reorganized several times before becoming today’s National Defense University. The post was renamed as Fort Humphreys in 1935 and then renamed again in 1948 to its current base recognition as Fort Leslie J. McNair.
Today, Fort McNair encompasses over 100 acres in the Anacostia section of Southwest Washington and serves as the headquarters for the Military District of Washington and the official residence of the Army’s Vice Chief of Staff. The present population of the fort is approximately 460 military and 820 civilian personnel. Individuals interested in federal employment at Fort McNair can contact the servicing Civilian Personnel Advisory Center at 703-696-3134 or online at www.cpol.army.mil. Contracting jobs at Fort McNair can locate employment opportunities online at www.jobs2careers.com/Jobs/q-Civilian-Contract-I-Fort-McNair-DC/.
The fort has limited housing accommodations and there is generally a waiting list that can take from eight months to a year for a vacancy to become available. There is a number of temporary housing available for new permanent military assignments. Single and family housing can be located at nearby Army bases in VA and MD or in the local communities using real estate agents. Military dependents must use the schools at nearby military installations or schools in their local communities.
Fort McNair is part of the military base consolidation known as Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall and support for the majority of Fort McNair’s services is physically handled at Fort Myer-Henderson Hall in nearby Arlington, VA. The fort has one health clinic and one shoppette which are open during normal business hours. Post Exchanges, Commissary shopping, Civilian Personnel offices, housing services, educational assistance, and automotive needs are provided by Fort Myer. Most medical visits and services are provided by the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in nearby Bethesda, MD.