The following pages are from "A Call to Arms," a book compiled by Sue Wilkinson and posted with her permission on this website. It contains the stories and listings of the Van Zandt County draftees of the period during World War I, "The War to End All Wars." This volume was compiled and transcribed from original sources from the Canton Herald, the Grand Saline Sun and the Wills Point Chronicle. This book is still available for purchase. For information contact Sue Wilkinson. We thank her very much for her generousity in allowing the society to post this book in its entirety on this site.
"THE WAR TO END ALL WARS" On June 28, 1914, Archduke Francis Ferdinand of Austria-Hungary was assassinated. He was murdered at Serajevo, the capitol of the Austrian province of Bosnia. The assassin was Gavrilo Princip, a Serbian terrorist. Austria claimed that Serbian government officials also were involved with Princip's group. For many years Serbia and Austria-Hungary had been unfriendly because Serbian patriots wanted to unite all Serbs into one single state. Serbs living in Austria-Hungary would be included. Austria-Hungary was very much opposed to this.
Austria-Hungary used the assassination as an excuse to settle its quarrel with Serbia; backed, by Germany. On July 23 Austria presented a war-like ultimatum to Serbia, allowing only 48 hours for an answer. Serbia suggested that some of Austria's demands be taken up with the other European powers, but Austria refused. On July 28, 1914 Austria declared war on Serbia.
All nations of Europe had been expecting this war. For years rival groups of nations had been making treaties and alliances. Europe was divided into two camps. Germany, Austria-Hungary, and Italy were members of the Triple Alliance, or Central Powers. Russia, France and England formed the rival Triple Entente Powers. Later they were called the Allies. The Balkan States sided with Serbia and the Allies. Serbia's enemies were on the side of the Central Powers. These alliances were brought into action July 28 by Austria's declaration of war. Within a week all of Europe was at war.
On July 29, Russia mobilized troops near the Austrian border. Russia stated its reason was to keep Serbia from being crushed. However Russia had other reasons, one being that it wanted to control Constantinople and the Straits from the Black Sea to the Aegean Sea. Germany demanded that Russia stop its war measures, but they refused. On August 3, fighting began on the German Russian frontier.
Germany declared war on France on August 3, after France failed to agree to remain neutral in the war between Germany and Russia. Germany and England had been in disagreement before 1914. Germany, declaring that England was trying to keep Germany from becoming a world power. On August 4, Britain declared war on Germany to protect Belgium's neutrality. Japan entered the war on the side of the allies on August 23, Italy decided to remain neutral for the time being although it was a member of the Triple Alliance.
World War I became the greatest war the world had ever known. The war cost in excess of 200 billion dollars. Countries were destroyed and populations devastated.
The American people had been steadily turning more and more against the Germans since 1914. In January 1917 when Germany launched an unrestricted submarine campaign, stating that all vessels, neutrals, included, were to be sunk without warning if found off the Allied coast, this was a violation of international law. Although President Wilson's desire was for peace, he felt that the United States now had no choice. War was declared on April 6, 1917. The "war to end all wars" involved all nations and the cost in lives and money was to be tremendous, every state, county and town heard the call to arms, and the American people responded with great patriotism. Peace was the prize to be fought for at all cost.
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This page last updated 23July 2007
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