Skip to main content

tv   State Militia Units in World War I  CSPAN  December 23, 2014 11:52am-12:45pm EST

11:52 am
c-span3 at 8 a.m. eastern, the fall of the berlin wall with c-span footage of george w. bush and bob dole with speeches from president's john kennedy and ronald reagan. at noon, fashion experts and first ladies' fashion choices. and 10 p.m., tom brokaw. that's this christmas day on the c-span networks. for a complete schedule, go to c-span.org. >> american history tv visited the macarthur memorial in norfolk, virginia, hosting a symposium marking the world war i centennial. coming up focuses on the rainbow division which soldiers from 51 states.
11:53 am
his talk is about 50 minutes. >> our second speaker is nimrod frazer who is the son of a world war vet. this is the division in which douglas macarthur will serve as chief of staff and brigade commander during world war i. frazer's father received the purple heart for wounds received mr. frazer is a member of the alabama business hall of fame. he's the author of send the alabamians:the history of the 167th infantry regiment. he's a founder and been factor
11:54 am
please join me in welcoming nimrod frazer. >> thank you, dr. orr. it's a great honor for me to be back at this wonderful place. i'm not an academic. better described as a child of the rainbow division. i knew the name of the
11:55 am
commanding officers of the 167th infantry before i could read. i knew the name of the company commander "d" company of the 167th infantry before i could read. my family was divided in later life but the common ground that i had with my father, who was a very complicated guy. a very experienced combat veteran as was his best friend, chester scott who was also in "d" company with him. chester scott took his remington 1911 automatic and blew his brains out in 1937. i like to think of them as willie and joe of the rainbow regiment from alabama. but the military was always the common bond with my old man.
11:56 am
i would go down to visit him. and the one thing we were both comfortable in dealing with was his military service and then later with mine. i must -- before i get serious here, tell you that when i returned from korea, i thought i might have done the best job i could do there. i smelled a little gunpowder and i sat down with will. he'd written me one letter while i was there. it was the only letter i got in my whole life. but he wrote me one letter when i was there. and every word was caution, be careful, get behind a log. so, when i came back, he wanted to know what i'd been doing. and i told him, well, i'd been in three operations and i did the best job i could do.
11:57 am
and i got to tell you, he was underwhemed. the 167th alabama was in four campaigns. and if you want to count the sudan, he was in seven operations. we were both there about ten months. bottom line, he did more in ten months -- he did twice in ten months what i'd done in my ten months. on june 19, 1916, the montgomery advertiser reported the mobilization and federalization of the alabama national guard. with origins of the social
11:58 am
militia. the units made antrable to the governor when four part-time regiments were authorized by the alabama legislature in 1912. that's the date that i mark as the beginning of the training of the 167th infantry. its orders came from the war department. after entering full-time merle service at montgomery's vand built park, montgomery's racetrack, they were no longer answerable to the governor. the alabama national guard had become more professional between 1911 and 1915. in 1912, a full-time regular army captain was assigned as supervisor of training.
11:59 am
well, let's see what we're going to get here. we've got to get this right. yes, yes. i got it. i got it. that's where i want to be. that's bill screws. he graduated local high school montgomery, alabama, was sent to marion military institute for one year.
12:00 pm
made the honor roll one time. that was the extent of his college. he qualified for alabama voluntary regiment's commission at the time of the spanish/american war. he served briefly in the spanish/american war, but brushed up against the regular army there. so much so that he liked it. the regular army was then committed to the adventure in the philippines and they offered screws a job to go out there as a lieutenant and to work against the insurgent morose. so he went down to mindanao, and i retraced his steps down there. had a car and a driver and i said, i want to go right back into that lake district where these guys were doing all of that early fighting. all of the senior guys in world war i had cut their teeth on the morose in the philippines.
12:01 pm
my driver says, i'm not going to go any further. it's dangerous. so, i can tell you today, a sentsent sentry sentry later the mindanaroas are still raising hell. the same ones. screws came back, wanted to stay in the army. they didn't have enough company commands and battalion commands for the west pointers, but they had made him captain, made him a regular army captain. and he considered himself a first-class regular army captain. his first duty after coming back were serving in three states in the west, where he was a supervisor of training for the militia units that were transitioning into what was
12:02 pm
becoming the united states national guard. when he got to alabama in 1912, he immediately caused a shakeup. there was increased federal money coming into the annual budget at the state of alabama for the national guard. standards were immediately raised. one company was unprepared to go to camp and was immediately eliminated. another company was eliminated for general inefficiency. newspapers covered the guard activity and one reported that regiments faced tactical problems, long, sweating hikes in sun blistering on the target range. civilians became involved in the training of these militia troops. they were invited to watch target practice and invited to parades at the end of summer
12:03 pm
camp. individual appearance of guardsmen and standards of military courtesy were improved. shooting competitions were held regularly and one person went to the 1912 olympic shooting competition. captain william preston screws, the supervisor, established an examination board for officers commissioned in 1913. this kind of thing was unheard of in the social militia that had preceded his coming to alabama. a signal corps was established with 72 men in 1913. and more than 150 attended a tactical school taught by regular army officers in 1914. it was considered, quote,
12:04 pm
exactly under the lines of a regular army camp. defishgt guard officers were required to drill as privates in an effort to improve professionalism at drill and ceremony. a correspondence school was established by screws for officers and participation was made mandatory. poor attendance at drill continued to be a problem. and most units were below minimum strength. the mobilization in 1916 did not come as a surprise, but the units were not prepared for the new way. the new high requirements for troops on full-time active duty. the war department required
12:05 pm
dismissal of the officers and enlisted men unwilling to enter federal service or who were physically unfit for such service. in raising units to war strength became a challenge. its units were second class. officers had always been part-timers. and most had little education beyond high school. most enlisted men were simply there for the money, but despite having been ill-trained and poorly equipped in the past, the national guard suddenly offered young men an opportunity to walk away from the simple lives that many had never been able to escape. with little or no education to
12:06 pm
fall back on, some found military service to be his opportunity. my father was one of those. he had seven grades of education and went into the guard at age 19. all of these men, practically without exception, were grandchildren of confederates. at that time, civil war was under way in mexico. and the u.s. army was sent to the border. this has been discussed here in today's previous presentations. mexican irregulars had killed american civilians in a border crossing into new mexico. and president wilson, who had run on a peace ticket, was afraid that the fighting would spill over into our country. that was one of his angles. i'm sure that never was his fear of our being so totally unprepared for a war that was on
12:07 pm
the horizon. he respected revolution in new mexico as an internal matter but the countries shared a 2,000-mile border and had been troubled since 1910. president wilson authorized sending 15,000 regular army troops and 156,000 national guardsmen to the border in 1916. captain william presley screws, this is taken at the time of mobilization, was mustering officers for four regiments. he smoked cigars, tolerated profanity, but he was a very
12:08 pm
rigorous man and was committed to the task before him. few companies were up to authorized strength when he mobilized them. they were at about 2600 men then. rifle companies had three officers and 65 men. there was increased emphasis on the -- at the time of mobilization on physical fitness and on recognizing and controlling venereal disease. battalion marches were practiced with 80 pounds of equipment. this is when they were on active duty for their first mour foss of basic training. major general leonard wood, one of the army's most senior officers and commander of the department of the east, visited montgomery and inspected these men there.
12:09 pm
21 men were court-martialed and sentenced to hard labor for one or two days for being absent after taps. discipline was more strictly enforced. newspapers treated mobilization positively. excitement met the montgomery advertiser's october 13th announcement that the expanded guard, then numbering 4,955, would move to the mexican border. departing montgomery on six trains bound for camp little in nogalis, arizona. they slept on the trains on the way out there and prepared their meals there. these are shots from the mexican border. the one on the left is payday in silver. the one in right was taken on a fairly recent visit to nogalis.
12:10 pm
they little in the area has changed from -- as it existed in 1916 except that it's no longer gringo town. it's now essentially a mexican town. four and a half months of advanced infantry training in arizona introduced rifle companies to reconnaissance patrols. more complicated, heavily armed patrols of platoon and larger strength were practiced. the men learn to set up ambushes for the capture of prisoners and to -- and to conduct raids and surprise and kill groups of the enemy. a practiced trench was constructed and techniques to get relief troops in and out of those trenches and outposts in
12:11 pm
no man's land were practiced during this advanced infantry training long before these men went to france. various methods of rotating platoons and companies were practiced. troops returned home in january of 1917. most believed, despite many weaknesses shown during their service on the border, that there was overwhelming evidence for the national guard of this period was a very different force than the militia which had on numerous occasions in the past combat history of the country proved to be unreliable. from april 6, 1917, when they ended the war, the alabama soldiers guarded railroad
12:12 pm
bridges until washington decided what to do with them. did not take long. the demeaning work of guarding railroad bridges ended in august when the car department ordered the name of the 4th alabama infantry to be changed to the 167th united states infantry, permission of infantry regiment, and promoted screws to full colonel. orders authorized the regiment to immediately grow from 1400 to 3,720. and rifle company strength was increased from 150 to 250. even the band expanded from 22 men to 49. the 1st alabama infantry, the
12:13 pm
2nd alabama infantry, the 1st alabama cavalry and the 4th alabama infantry regiment had a total of 5,025 men. screws had worked with all of them, which helped him to cherry-pick the best 3,720 for his -- for his new regiment. he had written an officer efficiency report on every officer in the alabama national guard at that time and had gazed into the eyes of every soldier in that regiment as he inspected all of -- went from town to town, inspecting all of them in ranks. so, he picked the best 3,720 out of 5,000. and nobody was as well equipped to do that as he was. higher-ups believed that the national guard could be trusted to fight in france.
12:14 pm
and this, in fact, would make it a major distinct military asset. prepared for the birth of the t rainbow division. the national guard units from 26 states were brought to camp mills, new york, and made up into four infantry regiments. the ohio 166th, which was always under the watchful gaze of secretary of war baker, the alabama 167th, the new york 165th, usually called the fighting 69th in reference to its civil war designation, and the iowa 168th. with 27,000 men there, with the four regiments and support groups, they came from 26 states in the nation.
12:15 pm
douglas macarthur was really a public relations man in the office of militia, major general bit name of mann. when baker said he wanted a unit created that would bring the nation from coast to coast into it and it would represent all the people of the nation. a reporter -- when macarthur was telling him that this division was in the -- was in the process of being created, a reporter asked him, you know, what you were going to call it and he remarked that it stretches across the country like a rainbow. and macarthur said, we'll call it the rainbow division, and that was one of his fingerprints on this great organization.
12:16 pm
macarthur was ten years younger than screws. i gegs i have to say that i always felt the alabama regiment was diminished until the time for the fighting came. as they moved from the united stat states, and the encampment at long island where they were. this is the encampment at long island where they were. this is the last parade they had at long island. secretary of war baker was present there. and they had -- the paper said there was 60,000 people in attendance to this final parade. let's go back to this 15th infantry.
12:17 pm
a lot of physical training, drilling, not much open field stuff at camp mills because it was a relatively small reservation and they were not there that long, but they brought the division together at that point. there was conflict as you brought the diverse groups across the nation together. it was pretty constant first fights between the irish of the 165th, called the 69th, and some of the new york soldiers had told these 15th cavalry guys, who had come from the mexican border back up to camp mills, that these alabamians are going to be out to get you. so, there was tension. there's no question about it.
12:18 pm
there was an incident that took place at a local railroad station. a black railroad worker was at the station. happened to be standing there doing nothing except standing there when a bunch of these drunk guys from alabama coming into the city created havoc with him. and i went back and checked with the new york public library, taking a look at the black press at the time. it was an incendiary event, there's no question about it. you cannot belittle a situation like that. but i think in all fairness, we must say that "the new york times" wrote an article that said there had been an incident. and the black press reported it regularly and its situation. father duffy, who was the priest
12:19 pm
and chaplain of the 165th, said it's a small family row down at camp mills. all of that stuff went away when they went to europe. every ship that we had was involved in the transportation of soldiers to europe at that time. and all of the confiscated german ships that were in our possession were used for that transportation. while at camp mills, there had been a pretty big pick up in the officer corps of the regiment. every regiment in the division benefitted from product ofl he officer's training camp at
12:20 pm
plattsburg, new york, which had been in existence before we got into the war. and most of these guys who volunteered for plattsburg and volunteered for these commissions were filtered into the established regiments that existed at that time. the alabama unit got a pretty healthy boost from these new officers. most of them had a few years of college, which was a lot more than their national guard trained counterparts from alabama had. and all were -- had volunteered. at this point, every person in the rainbow division was a volunteer. the spirit of the volunteer was quite significant in its espirit and preparation for what they were going to face in europe. screws continued to be very
12:21 pm
demanding and very disciplined as he built the regiment. with this influx of new college boys, he required night classes and they were all enthusiastic about the way they were received by the alabama soldiers and by the espirit and attitude and condition at that fim. the rainbow division became more cohesive and. a mormon replacement brought in
12:22 pm
from idaho wrote home. the boys i'm with now are from the south. of course, they're good fellows and all that, but they have different ways and seem a bit funny to me. in a post-war interview, that medal honor recipient gave a vivid description of the alabamians. quote, they were a bit rough and a bit rowdy, but there were no boys who'd stand by closer. i'll tell you how it was. they were so full of life and pep, that they had to be doing something all the time. if there was nothing doing, then they'd have to try to do something. they'd raise hell. the drummer continued after the african-american soldiers at camp mills had been told by these irish boys that the alabamians were going to be lay in wait for them.
12:23 pm
the officers of the 167th before they went to europe played down these instances. the tensions that did arise and the violence that did occur were discouraged by the army at its highest levels. conflicts among the ethnic and geographical groups were also being addressed at the highest levels by president wilson. he created the commission on training camp activities called the ctca. immediately after the nation had entered the war. it was charged with protecting the newly mobilized american
12:24 pm
soldiers from the ravages of venereal disease. the reformer's goal was to reshape the country's culture and society and the image of their white, urban, middle-class backgrounds to make all soldiers fit in their vision of a new american man. two national guard divisions went to europe at that time. the 42nd and 26th new england. there they joined the regular army 1st division, which had gone over a little bit earlier with j.j. pershing as their leader. the 2nd division -- 2nd regular army division was created in france by can balancizing units
12:25 pm
in united states and shipping them to france. you've got the 26th new england and then the rainbow over there. these four divisions, they were about equal in training with the only american combat units in france through the winter of 1917 and 1918. they were called the winter divisions. the 167th had a good opinion of itself as evidenced by a letter a company commander sent to his brother. his last letter before sailing. he wrote, our division is in the peak of condition and moral is very high. our regiment is the most feared and respected here. the 165th have long ago learned that there was one regiment they'd better not mess with. it is a solemn fact that the alabamians have gone to the
12:26 pm
goat -- got the goat of everybody here. a new york officer told me that our boys were the only ones that his crowd of new yorkers were not afraid of. screws and his men reached their first destination in lorraine. let's go back and get this. all right. they came into liverpool, crossed the channel, went down to valcors, got off the train there and spent about a month waiting for charmont to decide what to do with them. valcools was about 60 miles from chamand. that's where the headquarters
12:27 pm
was located and had been since july. france provided the americans with two large maneuver areas and 21 smaller training areas. all having rifle machine gun and grenade rages. each stood near a village or barracks. all were functional and had been used by french forces. official training started when 30 american officers and 2 french instructors joined the regiment on december 3, 1917. on december 26th the 42nd division started the three-day march from san blin to rolenpor during a great storm. the troops needed to be closer to chamont for training purposes and the march ordered by
12:28 pm
macarthur also constituted part of an attempt to toughen up the soldiers. this hardship march was 167th's most challenging trip yet. it was a test of endurance and tenacity. some identified it as a beginning of the division's reputation for a liability and toughness. the 42nd division had not yet seen combat and this experience brought the men and units closer together than anything they had previously endured. high command called for additional training of as many u.s. personnel as possible. training of the rainbow regiments was done with the french. all of the british conducted some specialty training. the national guard made every effort to more closely resemble the regular army.
12:29 pm
to facilitate it, commander general j.j. pershing created an aef school system and selected the trusted major robert lee bullad, former alabamian to head it. the french provided four additional schools to train officers as platoon leaders and weapon specialists. he later became a three-star and commanding general of the 3rd army when it was created. three-fourths of original officers of the 167th and many non-commissioned officers attended the first u.s. school -- the first corps u.s. school at garlanpor and most
12:30 pm
hated it. they understood many of them had been judged inadequate and they complained the school was boring and repettive. some resented they were being considered as held back, but others found that the close order drill required deficient officers to be very embarrassing and demeaning experience. the core of the regiment, dough boys underwent maneuvers closer to the villages and spent time on the rifle and machine gun ranges. they would be the men for patrols, assault troops and shock troops, the 30 new american officers and 2 experienced french officers with the regiment since early december conducted classes in platoon, company and battalion tact and operated machine gun and rifle ranges and held daily
12:31 pm
bayonet training. this reflects the doctrine imposed on the aef by general pershing to conduct a -- be prepared to conduct a mobile warfare. the men moved from -- the men moved from bacarat -- moved from golin to baccarat and then went into the champaign in part of that great win and from that point they were called on -- by planning to participate in cory farm, san millet and in the -- and in the argon forest. there they fought their greatest challenge when the reputation of macarthur was made at cote de
12:32 pm
chaleon. in you don't know that story, you need to buy my book in the bookstore today. i would like to spend more time talking about this great unit but my instructions were to dealing with the training. i hope i've adequately done that. if you have questions, i'd be glad to take them here or later. [ applause ] >> we have about ten minutes for questions. >> you talked a lot about -- this is the state of the 29th division, blue and gray, new jersey, maryland and virginia coming together. i was curious if -- particularly as you looked at the history of the 42nd if there was any -- you
12:33 pm
talked about the confederate ancestry of a lot of the alabamians and union ancestry of the new yorkers that were involved. i was curious if there was any sense of, you know, we are the reunification of the country personified or if you have any sense of that. >> i think that came later, after they all came together and were big winners. when they returned to -- it must be observed that "the new york times" was always in the division commander's headquarters. "the new york times" was constantly tracking the new york regiment, the 165th. they were in the paper all the time. no -- there's no evidence of any single reporter from alabama every visiting the 167th when it was in combat. not a single politician of standing from alabama visited this regiment when it was in combat. it's like it was diminished. it's like when macarthur was -- after bacaratt, he had the french -- he was very close to the french. i'm sure it was his influence
12:34 pm
with the french that caused the french to give a cradegraw to the new york commander, to a commander of the 165th regiment. conspicuously absent was bill screws being decorated. the counterpoint to that was in 1923 bill screws came to alabama and brought with him a french legion of honor and pinned it -- bill screws didn't come to alabama. he was in alabama. and general girroux who was the company commander at the great victory of champaign came to alabama and decorated on behalf of of the nation of france bill screws with that great decoration. by then those boys had come home. they were treated differently than anybody in their towns had ever treated anybody.
12:35 pm
they had come home to a glorious homecoming. there was 75,000 people on the capitol grounds in montgomery, at their arrival in montgomery. they were different. the french -- when giroux came to alabama and decorated those boys, he was decorating the nation. and they were different. these guys were all grandchildren. confederate. my grandmother was born in 1960. i knew many confederates -- i mean, previous slaves. there was a period of transition. when they were finally recognized by the united states and by the nation of france, as great warriors, which they were, then it certainly created a shift. it certainly created a different -- i can tell you during world war ii, when people would talk about doug out dug,
12:36 pm
they didn't do it in my father's presence. there was tremendous macarthur loyalty among the common people of the state of alabama. does that direct -- okay. are there other questions? i love to talk about this outfit. i tell you, i'm a child of this division, so don't let me overdo it. i'm going to step down now. yes -- no, i'm being told to step down. >> no, no, rod. another question. i saw in your presentation, you have a picture of the caroush farm memorial in your book. can you tell us about that and your reception by the french. >> thank you, amanda. macarthur came to birmingham to a 42nd division reunion. and he -- this was in the early '20s. he said, there must be a memorial for this division, and
12:37 pm
it must be where we have shed our blood. he wanted to do it then. he wanted to do it in the '20s, when the economy was good. the feeling about the military was good. it didn't happen. well, i told you about the tension that existed in my family between -- this wonderful, typical family from josepha daniels resonated with me. so, after the old man died, my brother and i published some of my mother's genealogical collections. and i said, you know, he dwe di nice thing for my mother. but we haven't done a damn thing for the old man. we wouldn't be here if it weren't for him. then my brother died. and i made it a point to find out where the old man had been
12:38 pm
shot up. i'd hear him talk about croesh farm. i'd never been to france on any kind of quest about the rainbow, but i went to france and there it was. nothing changes in france. these tree lines, roads, even trails are exactly as they were with these 19, 18, 17 maps. and there i was. i went to and saw -- found coesh farm. i went to the cemetery, 4,000 americans buried four miles from where this great battle was fought. it was a house trailer there. a derelict piece of property. owned by three owners. but it stood right square in the middle of this battlefield at craish farm and there were remanenants -- are remnants the of this fortified 16th century farmhouse. so, i bought it. it took three years to buy. three different owners.
12:39 pm
you can't do business in france reasonably. and you certainly can't negotiate price. you just pay what they ask for. so, i bought it. and business was good then. with some considerable help, identified the best sculptor in england. a guy named jim butler. he'd done the green howard memorial at normandy. he'd done the royal navy memorial on the banks of the tomz. i knew he was the real thing, but i was always an advocate and an admirer of the world war i sculptor, sergeant jagger. you have all seen his work. it's on the corner between hyde park and st. james park next to
12:40 pm
the duke of we willington. great stuff. and so i saw butler and he -- i told him, i said, look, i'm a devotee of sergeant jagger's stuff. i don't want any modern things. i want to take it back like it was. and i said, if you have in your heart wanted to do something, some sculpture that would resonate with you -- he reached back -- i was in his born up at b banberry. he took a piece of paper off a nail on the wall and drew a stick figure here. i said, it's -- it's in rome. that's mary holding the body of christ. this is the rainbow soldier. he said, i'm not a religious man.
12:41 pm
he said, i can't call it the rainbow soldier. it's the soldier. and we made the decision right there to do this work, which he did in mud. took several months. we had it cast in scotland. moved it by truck down to the royal academy in london at piccadilly. it was seen by thousands of people in the summer of 2011 in the fourth quarter of the royal academy. there was a great reception there in the royal academy beautifully attended by french and british dignitaries. paid for by goldman sachs, incidentally. there we go. amanda is calling me down again. then we moved it to france. and erected it on the monument. it's an hour and a half from notre dame. so if you're in paris, you have no excuse not to go down there and see it. and it's beautiful. and it's serene. we've given it to the nearby town of ferrin and four miles from the great wazine cemetery.
12:42 pm
so, we gave macarthur his memorial. [ applause ] you've been watching c-span's american history tv. we want to hear from you. follow us on twitte twitter @c-span/history. followous facebook where you can leave comments, too. check out our upcoming programs at our website c-span.org/history. we'd like to tell you about some of our other american history tv programs. join us every saturday at 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. eastern for a special look at the civil war. we'll bring you to the battlefields, we'll let you hear from scholars and reenactors and bring you the latest historical forms on the subject. that's programs on the civil war every saturday at 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. eastern here on american history tv on c-span3.
12:43 pm
here's a look at some of the programs you'll find christmas day on the c-span networks. holiday festivities start at 10 a.m. eastern on c-span with the lighting of the national christmas tree. followed by the whougs christmas decorations with first lady michelle obama and the lighting of the capitol christmas tree. and just after 12:30 p.m., celebrity activists talk about their causes. then at 8:00, supreme court justice samuel alito and former florida governor jeb bush on the bill of rights and founding fathers. on c-span2 at 10 a.m. eastern venture into the art of good writing with steve pinker. at 12:30 see the feminist side of a super hero at jill lapore searches the secret history of wonder woman. at 7 p.m. arthur pamela paul and others talk about their reading habits. on american history tv on c-span3 at 8 p.m. eastern, the fall of the berlin wall with c-span footage of george bush and bob dole with speeches from presidents john kennedy and ronald reagan. at noon, fashion experts on
12:44 pm
first ladies' fashion choices and how they represented the styles of the times in which they lived. then at 10:00, former nbc news anchor tom brokaw on his more than 50 years of reporting on world events. that's this christmas day on the c-span networks. for a complete schedule g to c-span.org. american history tv visited the macarthur memorial in norfolk, virginia, which was hosting a symposium marking the world war i centennial. coming up next, historians and authors discuss world war i's legacy. they talk about how the war is remembered and the lasting legacy of american economic involvement in europe. this panel is about an hour. our final session of the day answers a question that no matter what type of historiy you really talk about here at macarthur memorial, we find oe often have to answer the question, what's the

29 Views

info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on