The formal inauguration of the United States Field Artillery Association occurred on June 7, 1920. The idea originated with its founding fathers, Colonel Montgomery M. Macomb, Commander of the 6th Field Artillery, and his Adjutant, Captain William J. Snow, whose goal was to unify field artillerymen and provide an organization dedicated to promoting professionalism.
While other organizations were branch-specific, Colonel Macomb and Captain Snow wanted to include members of the field artillery form the Army and the National Guard. When they approached the officers of the respective field artillery units via letter, the response was favorable. Captain Snow submitted his proposal to the War Department, and after considerable correspondence, the Field Artillery Association, as it was originally named, was approved.
A constitution was drafted and introduced to the Regular Army and National Guard Field Artillery officers attending “Encampment and Maneuvers” over the summer at Fort Riley, Kansas. These officers became the Association’s first charter members, and the Association’s joint membership continues today.
The original constitutional provisions of the Field Artillery Association still stand today, and are as follows:
- To promote the efficiency of the Field Artillery by maintaining its best traditions.
- To cultivate with the other arms a common understanding of the powers and limitations of each.
- To foster a feeling of interdependence among the different arms and of hearty cooperation by all.
- To promote understanding between the regular and militia forces by a closer bond.
One of the first accomplishments of the Field Artillery Association was to produce the Field Artillery Journal as an intellectual forum to serve artillerymen with relevant and up-to-date information, to promote camaraderie, and to promote the principles of professionalism the Field Artillery Association was founded on. Nineteen different editors contributed to the publication in its early years, and financing challenges would prove to be an ongoing struggle. With its judicious information and absorbing articles, the Journal immediately became a favorite with artillerymen across the country.
The Association and the Journal found themselves in a precarious position after World War II when the Government announced that it would no longer support professional associations. Without financial support, both would be dismantled, so on April 3, 1950, the Association’s Executive Council announced that it would “merge with other associations to form a single combat arms association that would produce a combined monthly journal.” The Association partnered with the Infantry Association to form the Association of the United States Army. The Field Artillery Association would exist as a ghost organization for the next 24 years.
On November 17, 1974, the Association resurfaced as the Field Artillery Historical Association, distributing a revamped Field Artillery Journal. In 1980, Major Jack N. Merritt, the Commanding General of Fort Sill, endorsed an independent organization for field artillery, and the United States Field Artillery Association held its first meeting on October 21 of that same year, adopting the original objectives from 1910. Although the Journal was on the chopping block in 1986, again for financial reasons, the Commanding General of the Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) decided to continue the publication as a more economical bulletin.
The name was changed to Field Artillery: A Professional Bulletin for Redlegs and all editorial and human interest material was eliminated. The sterilization of the publication would not last, however, transforming again with the March-April 1996 edition, resurrecting the name Field Artillery Journal, adding the content of the Forward Observer and reviving editorials, news, and announcements. Subscriptions to today’s Field Artillery Journal are included in membership, and, because of its length and continued financial considerations, is available in digital format.
The United States Field Artillery Association administers a variety of programs promoting field artillery as well as fostering development and recognition of its members. The Association supports the formation of new chapters, and preserves Redleg traditions, namely, the Order of Saint Barbara with its annual ball, and the Order of Molly Pitcher. The United States Field Artillery Association has also established a foundation to raise scholarship funds for soldiers and their families. Membership continues to grow with involvement of retired gunners and members of the defense industry, seeking to “preserve our past, explain our present, and ensure the future.”
As members of the United States field Artillery Association, you have witnessed the essence of American History. I would be honored if you would share some of your stories here.