Serving Redlegs and Redleg Marines for over 100 years.
THE EARLY DAYS
The idea for an association that would unite the gunners of the newly created Field Artillery Branch resulted from the discussions of Colonel Montgomery M. Macomb, Commander of the 6th Field Artillery, and his Adjutant, Captain William J. Snow. As these two distinguished artillerymen took their early morning rides at Fort Riley, Kansas, they spoke of an organization that would promote the Field Artillery and enhance the professionalism of Artillerymen. Fortunately, these men were not just idle dreamers; they made things happen. Early in the spring of 1907, Captain Snow set out to make the Association a reality.
His first step was to dispatch a circular letter to the 180 regular officers of the Field Artillery, seeking their reaction to his proposal, which included as its principal feature the publication of a branch journal. Although a number of respondents were concerned about financing such a magazine, most officers heartily approved the idea. Captain Snow proceeded and, after a lengthy exchange of correspondence with the War Department, obtained appropriate approval.
Early in 1909, Captain Snow joined a committee including Major John E. McMahon and Captain W.S. McNair to draft a constitution. In a slightly modified form, the constitution was introduced to the Regular Army and National Guard Field Artillery officers attending the summer “Encampment and Maneuvers” at Fort Riley, during the following months. Later these 86 artillerymen became the charter members of the Association established under the provisions of a constitution that sought:
- 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.
The charter members elected the first Executive Council, which included such luminaries as Colonel Macomb and Captain Fox Conner. Unlike other branch associations, the new Field Artillery Association involved men from both the Regular Army and the National Guard. This tradition of corporateness continues today.
In November 1910, the Executive Council elected Captain Snow as its Secretary-Editor. With the assistance of his “enthusiastic and indefatigable” clerk, Mr. Charles S. West, Captain Snow soon produced the first issue of the Field Artillery Journal— January-March 1911. Colonel Macomb’s and Captain Snow’s dream had become a reality, and that reality nurtured the growing branch that General Snow would later lead as the first Chief of Field Artillery.
EVOLUTION AND TRANSFORMATION
Between January 1911 and June 1950, the Field Artillery Journal, the most conspicuous product of the Field Artillery Association, had 19 different part-time or full-time editors ranging in rank from captain to colonel. The frequency of the Journal’s publication varied, its finances were often precarious and the magazine’s circulation fluctuated dramatically according to the times. But the Association, through it’s Journal, always provided its eager readers with timely, accurate information as well as thought-provoking pieces, including vanguard Colonel Ardant du Picq, General Frederick Georges Herr, Colonel Conrad H. Lanza, and Major Fairfax Downey. Shortly after the close of World War II, the government announced the withdrawal of its support of professional associations. The financially plagued Association faced a crisis. Without a professional military staff, the Journal and the Association simply could not make ends meet. So in late 1949, the Executive Council recommended to the membership that the Association “merge with other associations to form a single combat arms association that would produce a combined monthly journal.” At a special meeting held at the Army-Navy Club in Washington, D.C., on 3 April 1950, the Association’s Executive Council announced that more than 97 percent of the members canvassed favored a merger with the Infantry Association to form the Association of the United States Army (AUSA). With the publication of the May-June 1950 Journal, the final issue of an uninterrupted 40-year series, the Field Artillery Association took on a new, but disguised, image for a period of 24 years.
Although transformed, the Field Artillery Association and its Journal did not die. The spirit of camaraderie and the need for such a professional organization and intellectual forum remained a smoldering fire. On 17 November 1974, the 199th anniversary of the formation of the United States Field Artillery, this fire sprang to life as a rejuvenated Field Artillery Historical Association, which distributed a new Field Artillery Journal bi-monthly publication. In 1980, Major General Jack N. Merritt, the Commanding General of Fort Sill, stoked the fire as he championed the cause of a separate, revitalized Field Artillery Association. This independent organization, called the United States Field Artillery Association, held its first general membership meeting on 21 October and adopted the same objectives as those first set forward in 1910, by then Captain William J. Snow.
In May 1986, the Army Publications Review Committee recommended the Journal for elimination with 40 other publications. But the Commanding General of the Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) decided to continue the publication in an economical professional bulletin format. The July-August 1987 issue was the first to comply with the TRADOC regulations, including changing the title to Field Artillery with the sub-title A Professional Bulletin for Redlegs, the adoption of the Army’s professional bulletin numbering system and the elimination of any purely editorial or human interest articles.
With the March-April 1996 edition, the Association began publishing the FA Journal. The Association continued to publish the FA Journal until April 2007. Then, the Chief of the Field Artillery, MG David Ralston decided to integrate Air Defense Artillery into the branch's professional publication and retitled the publication the Fires Bulletin. The Fires Bulletin was designated the child of two branch magazines with proud histories of supporting the force, and would now serve as the professional journal for developing combat-ready US Artillerymen. The Field Artillery association under the leadership of Major General(R) Guy Bourn printed and distributed the Fires Bulletin under the Artillery Journal title. The Field Artillery association printed and distributed a professional journal with both Field Artillery and Air Defense Artillery content until February 2013. In February 2013, the Field Artillery Association decided to discontinue producing, publishing, and distributing the Artillery Journal, and transitioned to an electronic-only version. The president of the FA Association, Major General(R) Guy Bourn, determined the resources of the FA Association would be best served for its Scholarship Program, Chapters of Excellence Incentives and promoting the history and traditions of the branch. During this time the FA Association established an endowed scholarship program which raised considerable funds to ensure the members of the FA Association would have a legacy scholarship program.
Following Major General(R) Guy Bourn’s tenure as President of the FA Association, Major General(R) Lee Baxter, the Association’s President Emeritus, assumed active leadership of the association. He was adamant that the Field Artillery branch have its own identity and that the Field Artillery Association return to its roots of serving as a professional association that supports the advancement of the branch. He hired an entirely new staff to manage the FA Association, and actively recruited Major General (R) Mark McDonald to serve as the President of the Association.
Under the leadership of Major General(R) Mark McDonald and the Chairman of the Board, LTG(R) Dave Halverson, the Field Artillery Association has returned the Field Artillery Journal to print and distribution. This was done in large part through the determination and vision of BG Stephen Smith, the Chief of the Field Artillery. BG Smith re-established a DOD funded effort to produce a Field Artillery professional publication.
Through the resources of the Field Artillery Association, this publication is available for print and widest distribution. In addition, the Field Artillery Association has produced and distributed a podcast, “King of Battle Podcast” which discusses topics of interest to the Field Artillery community and has established a presence in various social media platforms advocating for the professional Field Artilleryman.
The Association’s local chapters that dot the globe provide gunners and their associates a forum for the debate of contemporary issues as well as for the veneration of Redleg traditions; the Association’s Orders of Saint Barbara and the Artillery Order of Molly Pitcher recognize the professional accomplishments of those who serve the Field Artillery and their spouses. The growing Association involvement with retired gunners and members of the defense industry ensures that today’s leaders of the Field Artillery preserve our past, explain our present, and assure the future. Since its humble beginnings on horseback at Fort Riley started at the turn of the last century, the United States Field Artillery Association has served important purposes and contributed to the development of the world’s best Field Artillery. Today’s Association continues this proud Redleg tradition.