Dickinson College
The BMB has proud heritage of service to the college, community, and Army. We always lead from the front.


The BMB has proud heritage of service to the college, community, and Army. We always lead from the front.

The Early Years

Dickinson College and the Carlisle Area have a rich military heritage. Fort Louther, located on Courthouse Square, was one of Pennsylvania’s frontier forts.

In 1758 and 1763, General John Forbes and Colonel Henry Bouquet launched successful military expeditions from here to the area of present day Pittsburgh. Carlisle Barracks, currently home of the U.S. Army War College, is the oldest military installation in the United States Army and served as an ordinance factory in the Revolutionary War.

In 1794, Carlisle served as the assembly area for the militia units gathering to put down the Whiskey Rebellion in western PA, and President Washington reviewed the troops where Denny Hall now stands. Before the American Civil War, Dickinson graduated a president of the U.S., Secretary of War, and one of the nation’s first winners of the Congressional Medal of Honor.

During the Civil War, Carlisle was briefly occupied by troops of the Second Corps, Army of Northern VA just days before the battle of Gettysburg. Later, as the battle was raging in Gettysburg, Carlisle would be bombarded by the Confederate cavalry and the Barracks put to the torch. Moreover, Dickinson students and graduates served on both sides, while their alma mater was used as a military hospital.


In the 20th century, Dickinson hosted Students Army Training Corps Units during World Wars I and II as precursors to the establishment of our Army ROTC program during the height of the Korean War in 1952. Establishing itself early as a major force on campus, the program grew in enrollment and activities. In the fall of 1956, the Perishing Rifles and association of the U.S. Army companies were founded. Replete with pageantry, including saber arches and ball queens crowned by the college president, the military ball was the first major social event of the college year. A drum and bugle corps accompanied the drill and the Perishing Rifles marches in numerous parades and gathered many trophies. At its peak in the early 1960’s, over 20% of the student body was enrolled and over 25% of the males in each graduating class were commissioned. As late as 1972, the program was still commissioning over two dozen officers per year.

The Vietnam and late Cold War decades brought about substantial change. Enrollment decreased, precipitated by the ending of conscription and the national disillusionment with the Vietnam experience, helping to expand the number of schools in the Battalion. In the ‘70’s, students were enrolled from Harrisburg Area Community College, Shippensburg, and Penn State – Mount Alto, leading to cross enrollment agreements being formalized with Shippensburg and Penn State – Mount Alto in 1975. The program was such a success at Shippensburg that in 1978 it was designated as a full extension center and in 1981 became an independent program. As the ‘80’s progressed, formal cross enrollment agreements were in place with Harrisburg Area Community College (1982), Penn State Harrisburg (1981) and Lebanon Valley College (1984). Restored national pride, academic respect, the scholarship program, and the maintenance of academic credit for most ROTC courses laid the foundation for a small but stable program.

In 1984, visibility for the Battalion was increased when we moved into our own facility at 450 West High Street – the middle of campus.


Currently, the Blue Mountain Battalion has over 80 cadets enrolled in the program. Those who contract with the Blue Mountain Battalion ROTC program are bright future leaders and are able to earn scholarships to pay for their tuition. We annually commission between 12-16 officers into Army active duty, Army Reserve, or National Guard.