1919 Transcontinental Motor Convoy

In the summer of 1919, a young Lieutenant Colonel named Dwight D. Eisenhower participated in the first Army transcontinental motor convoy. The expedition consisted of eighty-one motorized Army vehicles that crossed the United States from Washington, D.C. to San Francisco, a venture covering a distance of 3,251 miles in 62 days. The expedition was manned by 24 officers and 258 enlisted men. The convoy was to test the mobility of the military during wartime conditions. As an observer for the War Department, Lieutenant Colonel Eisenhower learned first-hand of the difficulties faced in traveling great distances on roads that were impassable, and that resulted in frequent breakdowns of the military vehicles. These early experiences influenced his later decisions concerning the building of the interstate highway system during his presidential administration.


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