The Tennessee Maneuvers – A Temporary Interruption

History of the Maneuvers

History of the Maneuvers

The Tennessee Maneuver Area was a training area in Middle Tennessee, comprising the following counties: Bedford, Cannon, Coffee, DeKalb, Hickman, Humphreys, Jackson, Lawrence, Maury, Moore, Perry, Putnam, Rutherford, Smith, Sumner, Trousdale, Warren, Wayne, White, Williamson, and Wilson.

The area was selected because the terrain resembled France, Belgium and Germany. From 1941 to 1944 the U.S. Army conducted seven large-scale maneuvers across most of Middle Tennessee, involving more than 800,000 soldiers in series of simulated combat operations. 25 airborne, infantry and armored divisions practiced and refined their deadly skills in the backyards of civilians.

In June 1941, Major General George S. Patton conducted maneuvers with the 2nd Armored Division in the Manchester, Tennessee vicinity, where he soundly defeated the opposing forces, using large-scale armored fighting based on Bedford Forrest’s cavalry doctrine. These maneuvers led to the creation of the Tennessee Maneuver Area.

On 24 Jun 1942, Governor Prentice Cooper, announced that nine counties would be used as a maneuver area by the Second Army, and was eventually expanded to twenty-one counties by the time of closure in 1944. By 25 Jul 1942, the War Department selected Cumberland University, in Lebanon, Tennessee as the location of the Headquarters for the Army Ground Forces field problems, commonly known as the The Tennessee Maneuvers.

Between 1942 and 1944, in seven large scale training exercises, more than 850,000 soldiers were trained in the Tennessee Maneuver Area.

Twenty-one soldiers drowned in 1944 trying to cross the Cumberland River in a training exercise as part of the The Tennessee Maneuvers. The boat had 23 soldiers on-board when it left Averitts Ferry between Lebanon and Hartsville in the early morning hours of March 23, 1944, trying to cross the Cumberland in heavy rain.

The soldiers who died were from Company B, 104th Infantry Regiment, 26th Infantry Division and mainly came from the northeast. James R. Kirk of Hardeman County was the only Tennessee soldier on-board.

Units Trained in Tennessee Maneuver Area

Unit Year Training Period
XII Corps 1942 September - November[4]
6th Infantry Division 1942 September - November[5]
8th Infantry Division 1942 September - November[6]
4th Armored Division 1942 October - November[7]
VII Corps 1943 April - June[8]
79th Infantry Division 1943 April - June[9][10]
81st Infantry Division 1943 April - June[11]
5th Armored Division 1943 April - June[12][13]
III Corps 1943 June - August[14]
101st Airborne Division 1943 June - July[15][16]
80th Infantry Division 1943 June - August[17][18]
83rd Infantry Division 1943 June - August[19][20]
10th Armored Division 1943 June - August[21]
XX Corps* 1943 September - November[22][23]
30th Infantry Division 1943 September - November[24]
94th Infantry Division 1943 September - November[25][26]
98th Infantry Division 1943 September - November[27]
12th Armored Division 1943 September - November[28][29]
XI Corps 1943 November - January 1944[30]
35th Infantry Division 1943 November - January 1944[31][32]
87th Infantry Division 1943 December - January 1944[33][34]
100th Infantry Division 1943 November - January 1944[35]
14th Armored Division 1943 November - January 1944[36][37]
XXII Corps 1944 January - March[38]
17th Airborne Division 1944 February - March[39][40]
26th Infantry Division 1944 January - March[41][42]
78th Infantry Division 1944 January - March[43][44]
106th Infantry Division 1944 January - March[45]

 

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