Home is where you lay your head.

In my last post, I used a word that I forgot that many folks may not be familiar with- cantonment. Historically, there have been three types of quarters for troops: garrison, cantonment, and bivouac.

Garrison is the regular permanent housing of a troop unit. When units return to their stateside posts, they are said to be in garrison.

A cantonment area is a temporary encampment. Oddly, many cantonment areas are semi-permanent, but the units that stay there are only rotating through. For instance, Grafenwoehr, Germany is the Army’s primary live-fire training area in Germany. Units will travel to Graf for weeks at a time. They’ll stay in crude huts for the duration of their time there, and then return to their regular garrisons scattered throughout Germany after their training.

Bivouac is the term to describe “quarters” when troop units are actually deployed in the field. It can be as nice as tentage, or it could be as crude as just laying down in the bottom of your foxhole.

While the term garrison is still in common usage (and is also used to describe those troops that run the post in support of the tenant troop units), cantonment and bivouac are fairly archaic terms, and rarely used outside a specifically military lexicon.