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2025 Tennessee Maneuvers – May 3, 2025

2025 Tennessee Maneuvers Remembered

Combat College for Troop Leading!

That’s what U.S. military leaders called the Tennessee Maneuvers.

They wanted the mistakes made and corrected during the maneuvers, not while in battle.

When Nazi Germany invaded Poland on September 1, 1939, starting World War II, the Regular US Army totaled less than 190,000 personnel and the National Guard had 200,000 part-time soldiers.

Given the speed with which Germany invaded and  occupied Poland, and the ongoing aggressive actions by Japan against its neighbors, President Roosevelt and the War Department concluded it was time “to get ready”, just in case the U.S. had to enter the war. They knew a war could not be won with so few soldiers and there was no time to waste!

In May of 1940, the US Army staged a series of military “experiments” in central Louisiana — to get a baseline of what soldiers and officers knew and what needed to be improved upon or done differently.

In September of 1940, the draft began and more field exercises were scheduled. By the summer of 1941, military leaders were ready for the “real” maneuvers. That year, they were held again in Louisiana and they were in Tennessee.

The soldiers trained in the maneuvers for 6-8 weeks after their specialty was determined during basic training. The goal was for them to learn to work as units and travel quickly and efficiently over large areas. Commanders divided the soldiers into two teams: Blue Army and Red Army.

And umpires judged the success/failure of each of the so-called “problems” they were assigned.

The soldiers’ presence here was both a novelty and a nuisance. A novelty, because it marked the first time many civilians saw military equipment and weaponry, and a nuisance because the training took soldiers across rivers, into towns and across the countryside in huge numbers.

As they moved about in tanks, trucks and Jeeps and on foot, they mowed down crops, cut barbed-wire fences, left gates open and often left farmers scrambling to round up hogs and cattle. 

The farmers were paid for the damages, some families were able to pay off their farms with the money. Few people complained: as they felt this was “doing their part” for the war effort.

The maneuvers provided an economic benefit to Middle Tennessee. When the soldiers had free time, they would flood the cities and towns for a meal, rent a hotel room and purchase snacks, cigarettes, souvenirs and trinkets to send back home to their mothers, wives or sweethearts.

On the weekend, residents often invited the soldiers into their homes for a home-cooked meal.

While the cooks did not ask for money, they were delighted when they found money under the soldiers’ plates when clearing the table.

More than 850,000 soldiers trained in Tennessee seven times from 1941 to 1944. The last maneuver ended in late March of 1944, three months before D-day.

Everyone in America dealt with the  inconveniences WWII placed upon them. But think about this —- Middle Tennesseans “gave more” —- because the maneuvers took place in “their back yards” and disrupted every aspect of their lives for more than 52 weeks over a three-year period. We hope your experiences today will result in you and your family learning more about the TENNESSEE MANEUVERS and support our group’s historical tourism efforts, in any way you can.

That’s what U.S. military leaders called the Tennessee Maneuvers. They wanted the mistakes made and corrected during maneuvers, not while in battle.

Tennessee Maneuvers Remembers - Schedule & Map 2024