Robertson County TX
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War Activities of Robertson County 1917-1919
Submitted By Seldon Bain Graham Jr. whose father wrote, War Activities of Robertson County, Texas 1917 - 1919, in June 1933 as his Master's thesis in history at the University of Texas.
Excerpt from article which appeared in The Hearne Democrat for September 14, 1917
Robertson County Soldier Boys Now at Camp Bowie
With more than 15,000 Texas and Oklahoma state troops already under canvas at the camp, and other thousands expected to arrive before the end of this week, the curtain rings up in earnest on America’s great war drama at the big camp for the southwestern fighting men, where they will be given preliminary instruction before they are sent behind the lines in France for their final training.
The excessive warm weather of last week and the rains of the latter part of the week, coupled with the difficulties of organization, prevented the complete carrying out of the training schedules; but this week opened with weather well suited for drill, and the full schedule will be undertaken by all organizations in camp. This will rapidly be increased to eight hours a day of solid drilling. Monday morning saw nearly 1,000 squads of eight men each scattered out on the brown prairies around the camp, and following day an equal number were drilling in the school of the squad, the platoon (thirty-two men or four squads) and the company.
The men from Texas and Oklahoma are most fortunate in their location of a camp, as, aside from the winter climate here, which is ideal until the first part of January, conditions are such as make for the most pleasant living that can be obtained in a military encampment.
The huge cantonment of nearly 1,000 wooden buildings and a large number of tents is sprawled out on the heights overlooking and 250 feet above the western edge of the city, near the exclusive Arlington Heights and River Crest residence additions where are located some of the most expensive and beautiful homes in this section. The Arlington Heights Cardinal road traverses the center of the camp for a distance of three miles and a double track street car line paralleling the road furnished splendid service to Fort Worth. Water has been piped to every building in the big camp and the men are furnished with artesian water for drinking purposes.
The men from Hearne, Calvert and Franklin, are located for the most part in Battery E, Second Texas Artillery Regiment. Their quarters are on the southern limits of the big reservation, nearly a mile from the street car line, and to the east of them only the cavalry camp lies between them and Fort Worth. Not more than 200 steps from the mess hall of Battery E is a large branch Y.M.C.A. which plans to install moving pictures and other forms of amusement for the men.
The battery arrived on Tuesday, September 4, early in the morning, being the first artillery battery in the camp. It was pouring down rain when their train pulled into the camp station and they were forced to set up their camp in the mud and slush; but in the single week that has elapsed, under the able direction of their officers, the camp of Battery E. will take rank as one of the very cleanest and best camps of any unit in the division.
Excerpts from article which appeared in The Hearne Democrat of September 21, 1917
Interesting sidelights on How Time at Camp is Passed by Robertson’s Soldier Boys
Camp Bowie, which as not received any additional troops for some time, will soon be almost doubled in size, according to announcements from general headquarters of the division. There is hardly a man of the 17,000 soldiers now in the cantonment that is not looking with interest to the coming of the new troops. In the first place there will be sent up nearly 7,500 drafted men from Camp Travis in San Antonio, besides 5,000 national guardsmen from the Texas border, and as soon as they are here the whole division will be reorganized into the French system of 250 men to the company, with six instead of three commissioned officers.
The men of Battery E, in which most of the Hearne boys are enrolled, will not directly feel change as their battery now has 185 men and will not be enlarged, but they will likely receive a different or supplementary battery designation, such as, for example, the 101st Field Artillery.
Battery E, under the inspection of the commanding general, distinguished itself last Saturday by being the first battery to reach the parade ground with tents pitched, and in addition, the first to march back to its company street. This showing was made under the supervision of Lieutenant Donoghue.
There has been one promotion since the last letter. “Butch” Ely has been made a corporal and is now in charge of squad No. 1, bossing seven men.
The new pet sent to the battery by Talmadge Simmons of Hearne to Ed Luke, has been “adopted” by the men and added to the collection. It is an armadillo, and takes rank with the famous Battery E alligator as mascot.
The man from Hearne requested the writer to make it plain to the people of Robertson county that there is no truth in a rumor to the effect that the Hearne men have been confined to their tents without privilege of going to Fort Worth in the evenings. The men of the camp are sometimes confined to quarters for being what is termed “A.W.O.L.” or, absent without leave, but this has been a rather rare occurrence in Battery E. The men seemed to think that the report had gained wide circulation in Hearne.
The boys are expecting a pay day for last month’s wages, and believe it will come by Saturday. It takes more than $6,000 to pay one month’s wages for the men of Battery E.
Excerpts from article which appeared in The Hearne Democrat for September 23, 1917
Texas Guardsmen at Camp Bowie Lose Identity Through Organization of Divisions
The men of Battery E, Second Texas Field Artillery, from which the men of Hearne, Calvert and Franklin are recruited, have lost their former regiment and state designation and are now members of the 132nd United States Field Artillery regiment. A complete reorganization of the division encamped at Camp Bowie was ordered Monday and hereafter the men of Battery E will be of the 132nd Field Artillery.
In the reorganization, the division is for the first time put on a war footing in point of division of the various units. Two entirely new units of warfare to the Texas National Guard were created Monday. One of these was the 133rd Field Artillery, which will use the heavy six-inch howiziters, which operated 8,000 to 9,000 yard behind the first line trenches. The other is a battery of trench mortars, which was formed from a troop of the First Texas Cavalry. These are small guns which operate immediately in the trenches. The new regiments are formed by combing two of the present regiments in all cases except the artillery.
There is no more cavalry in the camp, the First Texas having been converted into artillery, and the First Oklahoma into a train. The change is effective on October 1st. One entire brigade, called the depot brigade, was absorbed into two others to bring them up to their new war strength. A depot brigade is a great reservoir of men stationed behind the first line trenches, from which are drawn fresh men to replace those killed and wounded in battle. The depot brigade for this division will be formed of the overflow men under the reorganization plan, if there are any such, and of several thousand drafted men who will soon be sent here from Camp Travis.
This reorganization has been long expected as a preliminary measure to the getting down to actual intensive training to fit the men for service in France, and it is believed that by October 1 all preliminaries will be out of the way, and the men settled down to the hard grind to fit them for the work ahead of them.
An appeal for ten additional men from Hearne and Robertson county to enlist in Battery E, Second Texas Field Artillery, now the 132nd Field Artillery, was issued Thursday by Lieutenant Donoghue, Battery Commander. There have been many transfers of Battery E men to other units in the camp, and Lieutenant Donoghue is desirous of bringing his company up to full war strength again.
The Hearne unit is still intact, and Lieutenant Donoghue is especially anxious to enlist ten more men from Hearne on account of the excellent showing the men from Robertson county have made since their enlistment in the battery. All those who will enlist can do so with the recruiting officer at Waco, to whom the applicant can write for particulars. Enlistments are for the period of the war only.
The Battery E boys had a pay day Friday for the first time since they reached camp, and the boys from Hearne proceeded to celebrate it in town by a raid on picture shows and soda fountains. There are strict rules prohibiting all soldiers from using any form of intoxicants and other safeguards are thrown about the soldiers in camp here.
The electric light was installed in the mess hall and all the tents of the battery this week, which makes it very convenient at night. Until this was done there could be little reading or writing in the tents at night after the work of the day was over.
A French class will soon be installed in the battery, according to present plans of the commanded, and both the officers and men of the battery will have the opportunity to learn a little of the language before going to France. Lieutenant C. B. Collins, of Waco, will very probably be in charge of this class.
Excerpt from article which appeared in The Hearne Democrat for October --, 1917
Our Camp Bowie News Letter
The first real taste of winter hit the camp in the wee small hours just before daybreak Monday morning, when a sharp Texas norther reached here sending the temperature down almost fifty degrees, after a torrid Sunday when the thermometer reached 98 degrees, the hottest for that day and date in seven years. Before Monday morning all surplus blankets, overcoats, sweaters, and any other wraps had been put into service as extra covering for the men to aid them keep out the damp and biting wind that swept in under the tent doors.
The work of putting in stoves was begun the next day and the men are in much better fix to stand another cold snap. The stoves are shaped like a cone and give a great heat with little expenditure of wood.
With the reorganization out of the way next week, the preliminaries for the training will all be completed and the men will start on what might be called the straightaway in their dash to attain efficiency as soldiers in the army of Democracy.
It is estimated that the course of training here will take sixteen weeks, and as the men have been at work only a month, it is not likely that they will leave here before the first of the year. This is, of course, simply speculation, as at this stage of the game predictions cannot be made with safety; but it is interesting to note its possibilities.
The men of the battery are still talking about the fifteen mile hike they took last Friday, and some say it was twenty. It was the first long hike the artillerymen have taken since they pitched camp here. The start was about 7 o’clock and the entire regiment marched to Lake Worth in the Make Worth park, a beautiful expanse of 12,000 acres. The lake is 5,000 acres in area, and is eighteen miles long. It is the largest artificial lake in the United States and has hundreds of wooded coves and beaches, which makes it one of the most ideal spots to direct a march to that can be found. The regiment spent five hours at the lake.
Excerpt from article which appeared in The Hearne Democrat for November 2, 1917
News from Camp Bowie Boys
The men of the One Hundred and Thirty-first Field Artillery are jubilant, for to them has been allotted the first shipment of new cannon that has been sent to Camp Bowie. Three new and shiny cannon of the three-inch type arrived in the camp railroad yards this afternoon and were unloaded by Battery D, from Floresville. The cannon are half enough for one battery of artillery, but it has not yet been decided as to which battery will get the guns. This shipment is believed to be the forerunner of a steady shipment of guns until the two light field artillery regiments are completely equipped.
Camp Bowie is rapidly growing, and today had 25,323 men and officers enrolled. By the time this letter is published another contingent of 727 will have arrived, making a total of 26,000 in camp.
As far as can be learned none of the drafted men are from Robertson county; none of the Hearne boys have heard of any from their section arriving here, although there may be a few scattered throughout the division.
The Hearne boys, in company with the other “wagon soldiers”, as the artillerymen are sometimes called, are to have the benefit of practical instruction of officers direct from the battlefields of France. Lieutenant Antoine Prevost, and Sergeants Bloch and Lorry, of the French army, arrived here Tuesday to aid in the instruction of artillery soldiers. The soldiers wear the French military cross with two stars upon it, showing that each has been mentioned twice for bravery. They have been in the famous battle of the Marne, where General Joffre saved France; at the Somme, at the fierce struggle of Arras, and one of them was in the terrible battle of Verdun. Yet strange to say none of them has ever been wounded.
When your correspondent arrived at the quarters of the Hearne boys in Battery E, he found several grouped around solemnly singing in a funeral dirge, “Nobody Knows How Dry I Am”, led by “Rev.” Sadie Ferguson. Surprised, he asked them why they so sang, and was enlightened when they all replied in chorus: “Hearne has gone dry!”
Hearne was fairly well represented at the big camp this week with visitors, among them being J. T. Simmons, who was here to see the battery in general. Mr. Simmons’ son, Talmadge, was formerly a member of the battery. B. T. Whitehead was up to see his son, Harrison Whitehead, who was ill at the time. He is better now, however, and has been assigned to light duty.
The Battery Commanders detail of picked men was cut by three men who were dropped this morning, but Curtis Biggs still holds his place upon the detail.
The boys tell a story on John Mayo, in which they claim that while he was on guard duty the first part of this week he had the “honor” of shaking hands with General Blakely, commander of the camp. They declare that Mayo forgot to salute and that when the General told him his name, Mayo, thinking he was introducing himself, warmly grasped his hand. However, Mayo was not there to defend himself, when the story was told.
Mr. John Luke was a visitor to Camp Bowie this week as the guest of his son in the battery, Ed Luke. Visits to Hearne by the boys here in the future will be more infrequent, as the result of a bulletin prohibiting the granting of furloughs outside the city except on emergencies, such as sickness.
Excerpts from article which appeared in The Hearne Democrat for November 30, 1917
Weekly News items from Camp Bowie
Battery E, 131st Field Artillery, in which the Hearne men are stationed, is mourning the loss of its first member, William D. Osburne, one of the drafted men who joined the unit a few weeks ago. Young Osburne died of pneumonia. The men of the battery subscribed for a large wreath of flowers to put on his body when it will be sent home for burial.
Pneumonia claimed fourteen deaths this week at Camp Bowie, all of the victims being at the base hospital at the time of their death. The Battery E man, however, was the only one in the artillery to succumb to the disease this week. While this may seem to be a large amount of deaths, when it is remembered that there are nearly 2,000 men in camp in the hospital or on the sick list in the regiments, the percentage is not so great. The weather this week is unusually warm and balmy and may have the effect of checking the spread of the pneumonia.
Curtis Biggs and Fred Lampkins, Hearne men, who were victims of the malady, are reported this week to be improving and on the road to recovery, although, they are not yet in a condition to be taken out of the hospital.
Very few of the men from Camp Bowie will be allowed to go home for Thanksgiving day, except those who live near this city, as only one day furloughs will be granted. However, Uncle Sam does not forget his men on Thanksgiving, and each man will be allowed one pound of turkey for dinner. The thrifty mess sergeants will get along with less than a pound per man and devote the rest of the allowance to “fixings”, such as cranberry sauce, celery and mince pie.
A good sized delegation of Robertson county boys took advantage of furloughs to go to Hearne last week, among them being Fish Matthews, Pete Ferguson, Robert Suggs, Butch Ely and Emory Nunley. Matthews and Nunley are still enjoying the pleasures of home, but the other boys are again “hitting the ball”.
The big review was held last week according to schedule, and the artillery gave exhibitions of drill for the two Governors of Texas and Oklahoma. In addition, it is planned to hold a monster review just before the men leave for France, in which every one of the 27,000 soldiers in camp are to have a part. Low excursion fares will be run from all parts of Texas and Oklahoma, and all those friends and relatives who wish to see their men before they leave, will thus be afforded an opportunity to do so. It will, in effect, be a farewell to Texas.
Excerpt from article which appeared in The Hearne Democrat for January 18, 1918
Weekly News Items from Camp Bowie
With the Texas troops at Camp Bowie, Ft. Worth -- The old saying that “all signs fail in war” is aptly illustrated at Camp Bowie. The new year has dawned, and all the men are back in camp again after Christmas and New Year holidays, but instead of making preparations to go to France the latter part of this month, as had been the popular and very prevalent “guess” all this fall and winter, the boys, from all indications, seem to be in camp at Fort Worth for two months longer at the least, and perhaps until next spring is well advanced. This also is guessing, but General Greble, the commander, has stated that he would like to have from two to four months longer for training the men after all their equipment arrives, and by no means all, or even a large part of it has arrived.
A new training schedule has been worked out at division headquarters embracing work for the next eighteen weeks, or until well up into the month of May, and will be begun next week. If orders should come to move to France before this Schedule is completed, there will be no hitch in the proceedings; as soon as the division is reassembled “over there” the schedule will go on again.
The camp is starting the new year with a “clean slate” so far as sickness is concerned. The sickness has been reduced to a minimum, and there are now only 750 cases of illness of all kinds in the base hospital, which is at or slightly below the normal amount for a division the size of Camp Bowie.
A few Hearne people visited the boys at the camp the last few days, among them being Miss Alice Mathews, with John Wood Mathews, who came to see Fish Mathews and spent the week-end here. Sig Epstein is in camp to relieve Mr. Ferney and manage his concessions here while Mr. Ferney takes a visit to Hearne.
Excerpts from article which appeared in The Hearne Democrat for February 1, 1918
Weekly News Items from Camp Bowie
A distinct honor has been accorded the thirty men from Hearne who are in training at Camp Bowie, by the designation of Battery E, 131st Field Artillery of which the men are members as the crack battery of the 61st Field Artillery Brigade.
Brigadier General Blakely, commander of the brigade, picked Battery E as the best drilled, best disciplined and most efficient battery of the eighteen composing his command. It is composed entirely of Hearne and Waco men.
The personnel of the battery is said to be the highest in the brigade and a large percentage of the men are college graduates and practical men of action. Every man in the battery is an American.
The officers of the battery are proud of its accomplishments and are advertising the supremacy of the organization throughout the camp. They lose no opportunity to tell their fellow officers that they are with “Battery E, 131st Field Artillery--the crack battery, if you please”.
Every man in the organization takes personal pride in its accomplishment and is striving to keep up the high standing already earned by exhibition drills and perfect maneuvering on the parade grounds. “Snap”, “pep”, “punch”. “steam” and “ginger” are the passwords and bywords among the men. They are holding to their reputation of being the best fighting battery in the brigade and Captain Dudley K. Lansing declares that the men will help make Texas distinguished for its production of fighters when the men go “over there” to punish the contemptuous Hun.
Hearne men are hungry! Not that they do not have plenty to eat, but because they are missing the cookies, pies, cakes and fried chicken cooked like only mother can prepare them.
“We don’t get the little boxes of ’eats’ like we did when we first came here”, one of the men said. We sure do miss them too. Of course we had all we could eat when we went home Christmas but the taste of the holiday feasts do not last forever.
The men have been all robust and strong as shown by the comparatively light sick list of Hearne men stationed here. Perhaps it’s not real hunger that makes them think of home, it’s just epicurean appetite for “home cooking”.
Every Hearne man in Camp Bowie was present last Saturday afternoon when ninety-five members of the Waco Women’s Patriotic League, presented Major General Edwin St. John Greble, commander of the 36th division, with a silk flag which the division will carry to France. Mrs. E. W. Spell, president of the league, presented the flag to the commanding officer in a patriotic address, calling upon the men who were sworn to uphold the honor of its colors to carry it over the top in France for the things which humanity holds sacred and for which this country is mustering its brains, its men, its money and its industries to preserve. Major C. C. Wren, divisional judge advocate, responded.
The new flag was then raised, after which the Hearne men had an opportunity to shake hands with the women, many of whom they knew. They chatted with the women about home and home folks for more than two hours before they finally returned to their quarters.
Page Modified: 20 January 2012