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Washington Navy Yard & Marine Barracks Washington, D.C.

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The Washington Navy Yard is one of the Navy's most historic yards and for many years was also known as the Washington Gun factory.    This was because most of the Navy's naval guns were made, including while in design work, in this factory up to and including the massive 16" Naval Rifles of the Iowa class.    In March of 1801, President Thomas Jefferson and the 2nd Commandant of the US Marine Corps LtCol William Burrows made a horseback riding tour of the city looking for a site for a Marine Barracks.   They ultimately selected Square 927 whose SE corner eventually became the intersection of 8th St SE and Eye St SE and was located 3 blocks north of the Main Entrance into the Navy Yard and within short marching distance to the US Capitol Building.    That one square block served as the Corps Headquarters, with the home of the Commandant gracing the north end of the block and the Barracks one side and the South end of the block with residents for senior Corps Officers opposite the main barracks side.    As the Barracks were rebuilt (a couple of times) the sides were reversed.     The Commandant's Home is the oldest "public building" still in use in the City of Wash, DC.   During the War of 1812, the Marines and a group of Sailors from the Navy Yard marched out to Bladensburg, Md. to join our Army and assorted civilian groups to defend the city against a British Invasion force.  The civilians and some Army units soon were routed and retreating while the Marines and Sailors acting as artillery support stood firm preventing the retreating Americans from being cut down.   Outnumbered badly the Sailors spiked their guns and joined the Marines in an orderly withdrawal from the battlefield with the British forces following closely.   It was said as a result of the Marines firm stand and orderly withdrawal that the British Admiral commanding the invasion force selected CMC's house as his Headquarters and did not burn it down, as he did the White House, and other government buildings, as well as a number of civilian homes while looting the city.   

I reported into the Marine Barracks 8th & I, as it was called OR "THE POST OF THE CORPS", or "THE OLDEST POST of the CORPS!" in January of 65 after returning the previous year from Vietnam.   At that time on "Officer's Row" on the west side of the block and from north to south they were occupied by;  The Assistant Commandant of the Corps (then a LtGen or 3 stars), next the Chief of Staff of the Corps (a LtGen or 3 stars), then the Barracks Commander (a Colonel), followed by a home for the Assistant Chief of Staff of the Corps (another LtGen) and the final home adjacent to the Main Gate of the Barracks on 8th St was the Bachelor Officers Quarters and it's Officer's Club called "Center House!"

I was a Field Music and Bugler in the Marine Drum & Bugle Corps and we provided the Duty Field Music of the Guard to both the Guard Section at the Barracks and also down at the Navy Yard.    When standing that duty at the Navy Yard we had to carry down our linen and blanket and we stood the duty in Dress Blues playing every Bugle Call required from the shortest regulation bugle call, "1st Call for Chow" or in slang "Chow Bumps" which was only 3 quickly played notes.    Our Guard House was located in the old Main Gate built early on in the life of the Washington Navy Yard and looked north straight up 8th Street.   Running in front of it and the Navy Yard East and West was M Street SE.   No vehicles coming south on 8th Street were permitted to enter the gate as they were crossing a divided 6 land very busy street.   At that point in time, only Navy Commander's and above who were residents in the Navy Yard were permitted to enter via that gate as the required turn was very difficult to make.   It was further restricted as the entrance had originally been built for horse and carriages and consisted of a large multi stored old brick building.   The entrance was at street level and was almost like a tunnel.    Living in the Navy Yard at that time was the Chief of Naval Operations and a large number of other Admirals.   Just inside the gate to the East side of that street was the block yard Parade Deck with the Flag Pole.   At the far SE corner of the Parade Deck was Building #58 which was the Barracks and Mess Hall of the Marine Barracks Ceremonial Guard Company.   That Unit provided the Marines who were assigned to the White House, Camp David, as well as the Silent Drill Team, Color Guard of the Corps, and the Body Bearers who carried the caskets at Arlington National Cemetery.    In the summertime when one of the Admirals in quarters adjacent to the Parade Deck was having a garden party for the party to come out to watch Evening Colors.    The Cpl of our Gd Detachment, two Guards and the Duty Field Music would march out to the Flag Pole and just before time for Colors to be lowered (at official Sunset in the Marines and Navy) the Sgt of the Guard would March out and at the precise moment when a guard in the gatehouse blew the whistle would order ATTENTION, PRESENT ARMS, and SOUND AND LOWER EVENING COLORS.    The Duty Field Music of the Guard then sounded ATTENTION, followed by EVENING COLORS and then CARRY ON.    The flag-lowering had to be timed so that on the last note of Evening Colors the Guard lowing the colors. reached up high and snatched down the flag, unhooking it from the halyards.    It was not unusual if our performance was well-received for an aide to come to the guardhouse and request the Sgt of the Guard and Duty Field Music of the Guard to share refreshments at the Admiral's party.   We would march over, with me carrying my bugle with its banner on it and we be introduced to the Admiral and his lady, be offered a drink (Lemonade or Ice Tea) and we'd excuse our selves after a very short stay and march back to the Guard House.

Courtesy of Wikipedia;  

Latrobe Gate

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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Main Gate, Washington Navy Yard
Latrobe Gate - Library of Congress.jpg
Latrobe Gate is located in Washington, D.C.
Latrobe Gate
Location 8th and M Street, SE
Washington, D.C.
United States
Coordinates 17px-WMA_button2b.png38°52′35″N76°59′43″WCoordinates: 17px-WMA_button2b.png38°52′35″N 76°59′43″W
Built 1806 (altered in 1881)
Architect Benjamin Henry Latrobe
Architectural style Greek Revival
NRHP reference No. 73002098[1]
Significant dates
Added to NRHP August 14, 1973
Designated NHLDCP June 19, 1973

The Latrobe Gate (also known as Main Gate, Washington Navy Yard) is a historic gatehouse located at the Washington Navy Yard in Southeast Washington, D.C. Built in 1806 and substantially altered in 1881, the ceremonial entrance to the U.S. Navy's oldest shore establishment is an example of Greek Revival and Italianate architecture.[2] It was designed by the second Architect of the Capitol Benjamin Henry Latrobe, whose works include St. John's Episcopal Church, the Baltimore Basilica, and the United States Capitol. The Latrobe Gate is one of the nation's oldest extant examples of Greek Revival architecture.[3] It was added to the National Register of Historic Places on August 14, 1973, and is a contributing property to the Washington Navy Yard's status as a National Historic Landmark.[2][3]

The Washington Navy Yard was established by an Act of Congress on July 23, 1799. Three years later, President Thomas Jefferson chose Latrobe to design a dry dock and ship repair facility for what was to become an active and strategically located naval yard. Although Congress rejected Latrobe's building plans, the architect was designated "Engineer of the Navy Department" in 1804. Plans for the Main Gate were approved by Secretary of the NavyRobert Smith in 1805, and construction lasted from that year until 1806. Latrobe's Greek Revival design was considered daring at the time, and thus criticized by traditionalist architects. William Thornton, the first Architect of the Capitol, described the gate as a "monument to bad taste and design". Thornton predicted that "not until extinction of time will such an arch ever be made again", but the Greek Revival style became popular with 19th-century American architects. The style was considered symbolic of the young nation's democracy, a political system that originated in Ancient Greece.[2][3]

During the War of 1812, Washington, D.C., was invaded by British forces. The Navy Yard was a primary target during the attack, and was burned along with much of the city in 1814. The gate was one of only three structures at the Navy Yard not destroyed during the fire.[2][3][4]

In 1881, a Marine barracks was constructed around and over the Main Gate. The brick, Italianate structure is two stories high above the gate, and three stories high on each side of the gate. It is the oldest continuously manned Marine guardhouse in the United States, and located four blocks south of the Marine Barracks Washington. The Marines manning the Latrobe Gate are responsible for raising and lowering the American flag outside of the Chief of Naval Operations' (CNO) house.[5]

At that point in time, the Gun Factory was largely deserted and used for storage space by the Navy, the Federal and City Government.   Government auctions were often held in it.   It was a fascinating set of buildings to walk through and still see the massive gantry cranes that lifted the huge gun barrels and moved them.    

Today The National Museum of the United States Navy, or U.S. Navy Museum for short, is the flagship museum of the United States Navy and is located in the former Breech Mechanism Shop of the old Naval Gun Factory on the grounds of the Washington Navy Yard in Washington, D.C..    I would encourage anyone visiting DC to visit this great museum.    Additionally, I'd urge you to make the drive down I-95 to Quantico, Va a distance of around 33 miles to see the Museum of the United States Marine Corps which was only recently opened.    

Every Tuesday evening at Sunset the Marines hold a Sunset Parade at the Iwo Jima Statue that is free and bring your own seats or blanket to set on the grass.    It rivals any military parade/tattoo in the world for precision.      But the best military ceremony in the world is held Friday evenings at the Marine Barracks in DC itself.   There is fee last minutes first in first seated bleachers that are not as good for viewing, so it is best to get free tickets/reservations from the Barracks itself, or via your elected members of Congress.   Make sure to request them well in advance as this is the most popular free ticket in DC.  The Parade Season runs from May through the end of September.    It is called the Marine Barracks Evening Parade.    Semper Fi dbw86 an old Gunny



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