Cedat Fortuna Peritis: A History of the Field Artillery School by Boyd Dastrup
From its humble beginnings as the School of Fire for Field Artillery in 1911, the Field Artillery School emerged as a worldwide leader in training and educating field artillerymen and developing fire support tactics, doctrine, organizations, and systems. Recognizing the inadequate performance of the Army’s field artillery during the Spanish-American War of 1898, the emergence of modern field artillery, and indirect fire, President Theodore Roosevelt directed the War Department to send Captain Dan T. Moore of the 6th Field Artillery Regiment to Europe in 1908-1909. While there, Moore observed European field artillery training and found the German Artillery School at Juterborg with its emphasis on practical exercises, new methods of shooting, and testing new material to be particularly impressive. Based on this, Moore enthusiastically encouraged the War Department to develop a field artillery school along the lines of the German school and received the mission to establish the School of Fire for Field Artillery at Fort Sill. Although the School of Fire experienced a few rocky years after opening in September 1911, the passage of time validated its efforts. During World War I, the school trained officers in observed and unobserved indirect fire for duty in France using classroom instruction and practical field exercises. According to the Chief of Field Artillery, Major General William J. Snow who served as commandant of the school in 1917, the school produced officers who performed with distinction in France and provided the core of the Army’s field artillery training. Following the war, the school, redesignated as the Field Artillery School in 1919, continued employing innovative training techniques in the classroom and the field in the 1920s-1930s. While the classroom instruction provided theoretical training, practical exercises honed the skills of field artillerymen in realistic field settings. Besides providing classroom gunnery training, Major Carlos Brewer and Major Orlando Ward, who were directors of the Gunnery Department early in the 1930s, pressed to make observed indirect fire more responsive by developing the fire direction center. Along with the graphic firing table introduced in 1939 and the portable radio, the fire direction center provided unprecedented, flexible massed fires during World War II.