Rock Island Arsenal
Rock Island Arsenal (1862-Present) - A U.S. Army arsenal established in 1862 during the U.S. Civil War on Rock Island in Rock Island County, Illinois. Part of Rock Island Military Reservation. Active military installation. See also Fort Armstrong (3) and Rock Island Barracks.
Rock Island Arsenal History
In 1862, during the U.S. Civil War, the reservation was designated Rock Island Arsenal by act of Congress. The first commander, Major Charles P. Kingsbury, designed and built the Clock Tower Building which remains today as the headquarters of the U.S. Corps of Engineers, Rock Island District.
After the U.S. Civil War, the Arsenal was used to refurbish Civil War-era infantry, cavalry, and artillery equipment. The refurbished Civil War equipment was used on the western frontier for many years during the Indian wars.
The post war building program at the Arsenal began under the supervision of Brevet Brigadier General Thomas J. Rodman (Commandant 1865-1871), inventor of the Rodman Gun and known as the Father of Rock Island Arsenal.
General Rodman designed the ten stone shops at the center of the island. The five buildings in the south row were designated "arsenal row," and were designed for the manufacture and overhaul of general ordnance material. The five buildings in the north row were designated "armory row," and were designed for the manufacture and overhaul of small arms.
Rodman designed quarters for himself and his military assistants. Quarters 1, designed for the Arsenal commander, was completed in 1871. It has 20,000 square feet of floor space divided into more than 50 rooms. It is considered the second largest single-family government residence next to the White House. General Rodman died before it was completed. Quarters 1 is now the headquarters
General Rodman died 7 Jun 1871 at Rock Island and is buried in the Rock Island National Cemetery.
Lt. Colonel Daniel W. Flagler (Commandant 1871-1886) continued the construction program at the arsenal after Rodman's death.
The Arsenal is also the site of one of the oldest buildings in Illinois, Col. George Davenport's house, built in 1833.
During the Spanish-American War the Arsenal built carriages for 3-inch and 3.2-inch breechloading rifles and manufactured 7-inch siege howitzers. The Arsenal manufactured large quantities of equipment, including 259,505 canteens, 143,932 haversacks, 260,248 tin cups, 20,973 watering bridles, 13,801 saddles, and 17,031 nose bags.
About 234,000 M1903 rifles were manufactured at Rock Island Arsenal from 1904 to 1913.
About 114,000 M1903 rifles and a wide variety of personal equipment were manufactured during World War I. Ammunition produced at the Arsenal included 167,195 155mm howitzer shells.
After the war, Rock Island Arsenal concentrated on tank and artillery development.
During World War II, production of artillery carriages reached 600 per month and some 85,000 M1917A1, M1919A4, and M1919A5 .30 caliber machine guns were produced.
The Arsenal developed the 3.5-inch rocket launcher or "superbazooka" during the Korean War and delivered the first units 13 days after U.S. troops were ordered into battle.
During the Vietnam War, the M102 105mm lightweight howitzer was developed and produced at Rock Island Arsenal. Made primarily from aluminum, they were transportable by helicopter.
During the 1980s, all steps in manufacturing, using state-of-the-art numerically controlled machines, came under one roof. This complex houses the Department of Defense's only complete, in-house forge, foundry, and plating shop.
Active military installation, Rock Island, Rock Island County, Illinois