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On April 12, 1909, William McHarg and his wife Maggie McHarg signed a warranty deed which transferred 78.5 acres of land to the State of Iowa. This land transfer was the first of a series of purchases to obtain a state-owned training ground for the Iowa National Guard. A year later, on April 29, 1910, Iowa Adjutant General Guy E. Logan issued General Order No. 9 which named the campground in honor of Major General Grenville M. Dodge. General Dodge, who organized the first military company in Iowa at Council Bluffs on July 15, 1856, was at that time the only living department and army commander of the federal army in Iowa from the War of the Rebellion. The General Order also contained a detailed listing of the events in his military career. Expansion of the campgrounds would continue periodically for the next nine years until the campgrounds was turned into one of sixteen national training centers for World War I. When the federal government took over Camp Dodge in 1918, it undertook a mammoth construction program, building barracks, store houses, headquarters and stables to house a full division of men. The camp extended north nearly three miles beyond the present cantanment area and, at its peak, was home to over 28,000 men.
The 88th Division was formed and trained at Camp Dodge before it was shipped overseas to France. The 19th Division was in the process of being formed at Camp Dodge when the war ended and demobilization began. Camp Dodge became the demobilization station for the 88th Division and for a short time was the station for the regular army 4th Division. After the camp was returned to state ownership, the buildings were sold to the public and Camp Dodge again became the state training ground for the National Guard. During the 1920's and 1930's many of the existing buildings were constructed, including the present barracks which were originally built as unit kitchens and mess halls. When World War II broke out, the federal government exercised its option to reactivate Camp Dodge. This time however it was only to be used as an induction center for the armed services. For thousands of Iowans Camp Dodge was their first contact with the military where they were examined, tested, outfitted and shipped to training stations throughout the nation. Again at the close of the war, Camp Dodge became a state-owned training center, which it continues to be today.
Camp Dodge today however is much different from that of 1946. Today at any given time over 2,000 male and female soldiers can be housed, fed and trained in modern comfortable facilities. Soldiers train at Camp Dodge on weekends and during annual training periods, making use of classrooms and ranges with computer controlled targets and over 2,000 acres of maneuver area. The Regional Training Site - Maintenance and the Equipment Maintenance Center - CONUS are state-of-the-art maintenance training facilities which attract national guard, army reserve and active army units from all over the nation. Civilian law enforcement officers also train at the Iowa Law Enforcement Academy located at Camp Dodge.
The history of the 88th Division commenced on the 25th of August, 1917 when Major General Edward H. Plummer arrived at Camp Dodge and assumed command. He was directed to organize a division according to the following table.
To a new soldier fresh off of a farm ,entering a military camp such as
Camp Dodge for the first time, life must have seemed hard indeed. A constant schedule of
work, many orders and instructions