Fort Tuthill Military Museum
The Fort Tuthill Military Museum stands as one of the foremost museums showcasing the traditions and history of the Arizona National Guard’s 158th Infantry Regiment from its 1865 1st Regiment Arizona Volunteers to the 2005 Afghanistan deployment of 1st Battalion 158th Infantry. Named after General Alexander M. Tuthill and constructed in 1929, this museum on the southern edge of Fort Tuthill County Park offers an exciting and multifaceted display of over 140 years of Arizona military history. The Fort Tuthill Military Museum is housed in one of Fort Tuthill’s original buildings, which was once considered to be one of the finest National Guard training facilities in the United States. Although the 29th Brigade Combat Team continue training to assure the 158th Infantry will be ready to serve the country when needed, Fort Tuthill is no longer functions as a training field.
Backstory and Context
The 158th Infantry regiment dates back to the end of the Civil War in 1865, when the unit consisted mainly of Mexican Americans and members of the Pima and Maricopa Indian tribes. Because of a lack of pay and poor treatment of soldiers and officers, the regiment disbanded until 1877, when the regiment was designated as the First Arizona Infantry and tasked with providing security to the American citizens of the Arizona territory (Arizona wasn’t granted statehood until 1912).
Under the leadership of Theodore Roosevelt in 1898, around 10 of the regiment’s officers and 117 enlisted men joined Roosevelt’s Rough Riders, and by 1917, the 158th Infantry Regiment served in France in WWI as part of the 40th Infantry Division.1
History of Fort Tuthill and the Father of the Arizona National Guard
Constructed by the architectural firm Lescher & Mahoney, Camp Tuthill was built as a National Guard training post in 1928. Renamed Fort Tuthill just a year later, this training post served the 158th Infantry and the Arizona National Guard from 1929 to 1937, 1939, and finally in 1948. The training fields and surrounding area was transformed into the Fort Tuthill Country Park in 1955, though visitors to the park and the Military Museum can explore the culture, facilities, and history of Arizona’s soldiers.2
In addition to the preservation and presentation of the distinguished history of the 158th, the museum also showcases the life and career of General Alexander M. Tuthill, also known as “The Father of the Arizona National Guard.” Aside from his civilian career as a surgeon who successfully pioneered the use of foreign materials in bone surgery (he continued in private practice until 1952), General Tuthill’s military career began in 1903 when he commanded, as Captain, the 2nd Cavalry Troop. Tuthill later served as a Colonel while protecting the Arizona border against raids by Pancho Villa in 1916, and by 1917, he was promoted to Brigadier General and commanded the 79th Infantry Brigade 40th Division in WWI. General Tuthill served throughout the 1920s and ‘30s, and he was selected in 1933 for a promotion to the rank of Major General. He retired in 1935 at the mandatory retirement age of 64.3
Fort Tuthill Military Museum
The Fort Tuthill Military Museum captures the spirit and history of General Tuthill, the 158th Infantry, and several United States conflicts with great detail. Visitors can discover hundreds of artifacts, letters, weapons, and other items central to the wars of the 20th and 21st century.
Some popular exhibits at the museum include the 45th Infantry Division and the 158th Infantry Bunker Bushmaster displays in the WWII exhibit, the General Tuthill WWI exhibit, and the 1st Battalion 158th Infantry Regiment Afghan Deployment display that occurred between 2007 and 2008.4
Outside the museum, visitors can explore the variety of special uniforms, weapons, and vehicle displays, all of which are free of charge. Admission inside the Fort Tuthill Military Museum is $3.00 for adults and children 13 years or over. Children and National Guard/Active Reserve members are admitted for free.