WPA History of Lamar
THE WORLD WAR
On the 18th
day of June, 1916, President Wilson issued his call for troops to
quell the Mexican border troubles. In response to this call
Mississippi offered for service five independent battalions and
several companies of the State National Guard which were formed
into the First Regiment of Mississippi Infantry. Major George C.
Boskins was selected as Colonel of the Regiment and Major E. B.
Boyd as Lieut. Col. Having thoroughly organized and drilled the
regiment they were ordered to report to the Commanding General of
the Southeastern Military Department of the United States at Fort
Sam Houston, Texas, where it arrived on October 19, 1916. It was
placed under different divisions until March 19, 1917 when it was
ordered to Jackson to be mustered out of service. On the morning
of March 27th the troops were officially mustered out and paid
off with the exception of a few men. But at 1:00 o'clock on March
27, 1917, the Adjutant General called up Colonel Hoskins and
issued an order calling the regiment into service again at once.
In less than 10 days every member of the regiment was again on
duty in Jackson, Miss. The regiment remained in Camp until the
United States declared war and orders were received to guard the
public utilities of the state. In August, 1917 the Commanding
Officer received orders to report with the regiment to Col.
Newwill of the National Park, Vicksburg, Miss. for duty at the
Jubilee to the Blue and Grey. The regiment left Jackson for the
hike on September 29th and marched near Clinton where they went
into camp. During the night of that date, while thus encamped in
an old field, the First Mississippi Regiment received orders from
Washington designating the former National Guard Regiment of
State Troops as the 155th Infantry in the Federal Service.
AT HOME DURING THE WAR
During the World War thrift stamps were sold at the Post
Office, after a person bought $5.00 worth of these stamps they
were exchanged for a war savings stamp. Those stamps were sent to
the postmaster and were sold to the people.
Liberty Bonds were sold through the banks by a County
Committee, headed by Mr. R. L. Bennett, then the cashier of Lamar
County Bank of Purvis.
These records are not available as to the amount of Bonds
sold during the war. We are proud to say that Lamar County sold
more than their quota. Application was made at the bank for
bonds, paying for it if the person so wished, or as they wished.
I heard one man say that this was when the installment plan
During the war Lamar County had what was called a local
draft board. The duty of this board was to pass on the
prospective men who were to be drafted. Serving on this board
were, Chairman T. C. King, (deceased), Dr. S. E. Rees,
(deceased), and A. Q. Broadus. All citizens of Purvis, Miss.
The Legal Advisory Board was composed of the Lawyers of
Lamar County, they were, Chairman T. W. Davis, Purvis, Miss. John
A. Yeager, Lumberton, Miss., J. T. Garraway, Purvis, Miss., J. F.
Cooper, Purvis, Miss., J. W. Shanks, Sumrall, Miss., A. Q.
Broadus, Purvis, Miss., T. C. King, Purvis, Miss. (deceased). T.
E. Salter, Purvis, Miss. (deceased).
In asking those veterans who took an active part in the
battles of the World War, to tell of their exploits, very few
will tell anything as they seem to be looking on the war as a bad
dream that they want to forget.
MEN WHO TOOK PART IN BATTLES
Those men who took part in the battles are:
1. C. F. NAMIE: Private, 52d AEF. Artillery. Six months actual
service overseas on front. Gassed Champaigne during the time of
St.Mihiel offense and Argonne Woods.
2, MCRAE MCGRIFFIN: B. B. Battery, 6th Field Artillery, 1st
Regiment. He was in every major battle the Americans fought in
but would not give any of the details.
3. WILLIS MCNEASE: Private, 116th Inf. He went "Over the Top"
seven times, he was never captured or wounded, but has gassed
lungs. He states that the nearest he came to being wounded was
when he was crawling in "No Man's Land" and his overcoat collar
was shot off. He served ten months and nine days. Mr. McNease and
20 comrades spent 4 days in a dugout in the trenches almost to
their knees in mud and water. He was in one hand to hand fight
that lasted three minutes. He states that at one time they buried
12 soldiers in a shell hole and they had no more than covered
them up when a German shell blew them out. During the battle of
Verdune Mr. McNease kept his clothes on 21 days and nights. After
the battle they walked 12 miles to the village of Verdune and had
a few days rest.
4. WILL AVERY: private, took active part in the following
battles, but wouldn't give the details. July 25th to September
23, 1918, defensive of Center Route Alsace. October 8, 1918,
Battle of Malborough Hill. October 1918 Mellivale Corn. October
11, 1918 attack on Baisod Government. October 16, 1918 battle of
Grande Mountain. October 23 attack on Bois Bellieu.
5. OSCAR BLACK: Corporal, Chemical Warefare Service. He stated
that they manufactured gas 52 times stronger than mustard gas.
They were required to sleep in their gas masks; the danger was
greater from this than being on the front. In the beginning of
the war 300 men were in the department and when the armistice was
signed there were only 50 men mustered out.
6. HUB HARTLEY: Private, 29th Transportation Corp., 29th Co. also
Co. C. of 28th Inf. 1st Division. AEF. He states that his company
arrived on the war scene in June 1918. This company was the first
of the Americans to go "Over the Top". They captured Cantgincy.
This was a daylight battle. The attack being made at eight
o'clock May 28, 1918. The company was supposed to be relieved in
14 hours but they were not relieved until 72 hours of hard
fighting. They had captured 400 prisoners, forcing 250 out of a
tunnel. There were dead Germans and Americans all over the
ground. Mr. Hartley states at four o'clock that same afternoon as
several officers were killed and wounded he took an officers
placed and helped to reinforce the dead and wounded. On June 12,
1918 he was wounded by a shot through the right thigh, his buddy
Garner Herrin was killed. Mr. Hartley won two medals, the Purple
Heart for being wounded and a Silver Star for gallantry.
7. ALBERT ELLIOTT: private, 117 Ammunition Train, was in the
following battles. Champaign Marne Defensive, Epides North to
Cherry Chartuser Toul Sector, August 30 to September 11, 1918.
St. Mihiel Offensive, Seicheppy September 12 to 16, 1918. 4 Toul
Sector September 16 to October 1, 1918. 5 Meuse Argonne Offensive
October 3 to November 11, 1918.
8. SAMUEL T. SHELTON: Corporal, Battery B 64th Coast Artillery
9. PRESTON LANE: private, Co. 305 Machine Gun Division 77 AEF.
Mr. Lane states that he was in the field under 72 hours barrage
in Battle of Muse Argonne. Saw actual fighting. The whole company
was mustered gassed, in Less Lettes. Mr. Lane states that this
Co. really suffered for food, their supply being attacked by
Germans. As the Germans were in retreat they lost a number of
loaves of bread in the mud and that the Americans picked this
bread up and ate it with wild sugar beets.
10. GEORGE RAYBORN: private, AEF.
11. RICHARD RAYBORN: private, AEF.
12. CARL STRAHAN: Sargent, Headquarters Area Corp.
13. DENNIS WHITSETTE: private, 38th Division, Co. B. 152 Inf.
14. GEORGE LEGG: Private, Co. A. Supply Co. Division. AEF.
15. SCOTT SLIMP: Private, 317 Field Artillery. AEF.
16. A. M. MILSTEAD: Private Co. D. 151 Inf. 28th Division AEF.
17. JOHNNY AVERY: Private, Auree Advance AEF.
18. ALBERT BECK: Private, Co. 168 Inf. 42 Div. AEF.
19. JOE CAGLE: Private, Co. E. 128 Inf. Meuse Argonne Sector.
20. M. MILSTEAD: Private, Meuse Argonne, AEF.
21. L. D. FULMER: Private, 29th Transportation Corps, AEF.
22. ED COLEMAN: Sargent, 138 Field Artillery, Battery C. AEF.
23. R. W. WORSTER: Sargent, 138th Field Artillery, Battery C.
24. M. O. BLACKBURN: Co. A. 10th Engineers, AEF.
25. FLOYD BREAZEALE: Private, 49th Inf. Co. Y AEF.
26. CAP TIMMERMAN: Private, 155 Inf. Machine Gun Co. AEF.
27. JAKE BYRD: Private, Replacement Troops.
28. W. A. CARRUTH: 1st. Lieutenant, 155 Inf. AEF.
29. LEON DULIN: Sargent, 155 Inf. AEF.
30. LUTHER HATTEN: AEF.
31. G. W. RUSSELL: AEF.
32. EUGENE SUMRALL: AEF.
33. ALBERT SUMRALL: AEF.
34. SEABORN SUMRALL: AEF.
35. J. W. THOMPSON: AEF.
36. D. D. BOUNDS: AEF.
37. JOHN D. DAVIS: AEF.
38. D. PITTS HINTON: Capt. 8th Co. 4th Battalion 162 Depot
Brigade. Remained in USA.
39. W. W. CAYTEN: private, medical corps.
40. CHESTER C. CARROLL: Aviation Corp.
41. DRUE BOWEN: private, Baker Co. No. 8. USA.
42. O. E. ROUSE: Private, AEF.
43. GLOVER HARVEY: private, USA.
44. J. C. SMITH: Private, USA.
45. JULIUS SMITH: Private, USA.
46. H. L. SWAN: Private, AEF.
47. U. S. DIAMOND: Private. USA.
48. CHARLIE BOUNDS: Private, AEF
49. CHARLIE KEE: Private, AEF.
50. G. S. BYRD: Private AEF.
51. GEORGE BOUND: Private, USA.
52. TILLIS LEE: Private, USA.
53. BUFORD SLADE: Private, USA.
54. CLARENCE DAVIS: Private, USA.
55. LOVOFF ALEXANDRIA: Private, USA.
56. M. D. PIERCE: Private, USA.
(The next page of this list begins with number 81. At least
one and probably two pages are missing here.
81. JOHN A. JOHNSON: US Navy, Ships Alert, Fredrich and O'rian
82. TOM MCCANN: Convoy Duty. 13 trips across, combat with German
83. JAY COOK: US Navy, overseas.
84. G. D. PYLANT: US Navy, overseas
85. WELDON TYNER: US Navy, overseas
86. OSCAR BOND: US Navy, overseas
87. CARL MOORE: US Navy, overseas
88. L. C. BRIDGES: US Navy, overseas
89. GEORGE ROBERTSON: USA Navy.
90 WILL JACOBS: USA Navy.
91. HUGH JACOBS: USA Navy.
92. JESSIE COWAN: Private, AEF.
ARMY UNITS FROM LAMAR COUNTY
(This is transcribed as it appears in the
history. I have been told that the number is incorrect and
that some of the other information is confused or wrong.)
155th Regiment Information: NAMES OF ENLISTED MEN
During the World War the National Guard or the 155th
Regiment were mustered into Federal Service at 1 o'clock, March
27, 1917/ Adjutant General called upon Colonel Hoskins and issued
an order calling the Regiment into Federal Service again. In less
than ten days the regiment was on duty, in Jackson and remained
on duty in Jackson until they received war orders to guard the
public utilities of the United States. Troops were sent to
different points of the state. During the latter part of 1917 the
155th Regiment did guard duty in Cato Parish, La., guarding the
oil fields. They eat from there to Beaureguard, La., went through
a series of intensive training. The 155th Regiment went overseas
with the 39th Division and was made a replacement outfit, in
November 1918, and was placed with a regiment of the 41st
This 155th Infantry was disbanded on November 11, 1918 as
casualties and went to head-quarters of the 41st Division- and
was assigned for duty, and still stands as the 155th Regiment.
1. 52ND FIELD ARTILLERY AEF
Private C. F. Namie -- served six months over seas on
front. He was gassed, Champaigne, during the time of St. Mihiel
offense and Argonne Woods.
2. 6th FIELD ARTILLERY AEF
Private McRae McGriffin, B. Battery 1st Regiment. He
was in every major battle the Americans fought, but would not
3. COMPANY F, 1st DIVISION
Private Gillem S. Byrd--served overseas from the 4th
month 1918, to the 8th month 1919. He went over the top four
times, was in battles, Mounted Nayon, Assine Masie St. Mihielm
Muse Argonne, Army of Occupation. Won the Purple Heart for being
4. COAST ARTILLERY BATTERY B
Corporal Samuel T. Shelton AEF.
5. 305 MACHINE GUN CO. DIVISION 77
Private Preston Lane AEF
6. 8th COMPANY 4TH BATTALION 162 DEPOT BRIGADE
Captain D. Pitts Hinton -- remained in USA
7. MEDICAL CORPS
Private W. W. Cayten USA
8. AVIATION CORPS
Private Chester Carroll USA
9. BAKER CO. NO. 8
Private Drue Bowen USA
10. PRIVATES WHO REMAINED IN THE USA OF WHICH WE HAVE NO
C. H. Bishop
J. C. Smith
C. E. Baxter
U. S. Diamond
N. E. Thompson
H. L. Swann
M. D. Pierce
C. S. Johnson
Jessie Jone Freeman
11. US NAVY SHIPS
John A. Johnson
Tom McCann-- was on Convoy Duty 133 trips
across, combat with German Submarines.
Richard Polk--Santiago. Was on board
when the ship sank
L. C. Bridges,
Gillem B. Bounds as S 2 C
F. 3-c 72C
13. U. S. S. CHAGINE, AMERICAN COUNSIL, TAMPICO, MEXICO
Private Eddie Williamson
14. 138th FIELD ARTILLERY BATTERY C. A.
Sargent R. W. Worster
15. CO. A. 10th ENGINEERS
M. O. Blackburn
16. COMPANY Y 49th INF.
Private Floyed Brazeale AEF
17. 116TH INF.
Private Willis McNease
Private Will Avery
18. 29th CO. 29th TRANSPORTATION
L. D. Fullmer
Private Hub Hartley: He was also in Co.
C. of 18th Inf. 1st Division AEF.
19. 117 AMMUNITION TRAIN
Elliott--was in the following battles. Cahmpa Nare Defensive,
Epides North to Cherry Chartusen, Toul Sector, Aug. 30 to Sept
11, 1918. Toul Sector, Sept 16 to Oct. 1, 1918. Meuse Argonne,
offensive Oct. 3 to Nov. 11, 1918.
20. CO. 50 AMBULANCE
Private Zimmerman AEF
Sargent Ed Coleman AEF
1st Lieutenant W. A. Carrouth--Replacement
Sargent Leon Dulin---
Homer Waitts--Students Training Camps,
CO. D. 1st MISS. REGIMENT
William O. McCann Private
Lester V. Scarborough
John B. Bynum Corp.
Henry D. Moore Corp.
Clifford Messer Corp.
Luther Ruble Cook
Orey Brewton Private
Grady Dulin Private
Clarence Holoman Private
Hatten Messer Private
William J. Messer
Elisha R. Bond 2nd Lt.
Marcus Mitchell Private
Joe Pittman Private
Levi Renfro Private
Arthur Runnels Private
Elliot Sanders Private
Lawrence Sandford Private
Ellis T. Scarborough
Seymour Slade Private
T. J. Tisdale Private
Dewey Welborne Private
CO. G 1ST MISS. REGIMENT
Rowan S. Barefoot Private
Arthur Dubose Private
William E. Stuart Private
Jessie Thompson Private
CO. K. 1ST MISS. REGIMENT
James L. Lee Private
Andrew J. Hutto Private
Jewell McLendon Private
Leland Ray Private
John Bethea Private
Willie Cobb Private
Otho Rouse Private
CO. A 1ST MISS. REGIMENT
Homer Hudson Private
Ben T. Rawles Private
CO. L 1ST MISS. REGIMENT
?. P. Moragne Private
James E. Watts Private
22. CO. A. 152 INF. 38TH DIVISION
Private Dennis Whitsett
23. CO. A. SUPPLY CO. DIVISION
Private George Legg
24. 317 FIELD ARTILLERY AEF
25. CO. B 151ST INF. 38TH DIVISION AEF
Private A. M. Millstead
26. 168 INF. 42ND DIVISION AEF
Private Albert Beck
27. CO. E. 128 INF. AEF
Private M. Millstead -- Muse Argonne, Sector
28. STUDENTS TRAINING CAMP, HATTIESBURG, MISS.
?. B. Cook
Obed Pace Chick Polk
Ellis Patterson Julius Slade
Emmett Allsworth Forest Williamson
M. L. Crook George Cain
CO. L. 1ST MISSISSIPPI REGIMENT
Private D. C. Darcy
30. 61ST ARTILLERY H. C. OGRS. CO. AEF
Private Ava Williamson
31. 145TH FIELD ARTILLERY
Private Ted Lee AEF
32. CO. A. 306 ENGINEERS 81ST DIVISION
Private Osma Whitsett
33. 137TH FIELD ARTILLERY, BATTERY F
138th Regiment Cyclone Division
Private Edgar Slade AEF
34. SERVED OVERSEAS--NO OTHER RECORD(all privates)
I. W. Thompson
35. 334 FIELD ARTILLERY,BAND HEADQUARTERS
D. D. Bounds, Private
36. TROOPS G. 1ST MISS. CAVALRY, 39TH DIV.
John D. Davis
37. 150 INF. 38TH DIV. MISS. CORP.
John Cleveland Jacobs, Private
38. CO. 17 OFFICERS TRAINING SCHOOL U. S. ARMY
Will Pigford, Private
39. BATTERY F. FIELD ARTILLERY
Van Cook, Private
40. CO. E. G. 114 AMMUNITION TRAIN
Chalmers Smith, Private AEF
The following letter was copied from the "Booster" (Lamar
County), Purvis, Miss., October 31 and was written by Butler V.
Avery, Company "A" 315 F.S.B.A.E.F., Wednesday, September 11th,
and Saturday, September 14, 1918, to the folks at home:
Had to pinch myself this morning to see if I was
altogether, Last night we got orders about eight o'clock to pack
up and move out. Knew we were going closer to the front but not
exactly how far. As it happened we come seven kilometers leaving
us only two Ks from the square-heads line.
The seven Ks mentioned above had about as much to them as
one would care to take part in, all the way up the roads were
blocked with troops of every description. Shelling was very
frequent. It took us from nine to 2:30 a. m. to make this short
distance, our time being spent dodging shells mostly. Often while
our truck was stopped for them to finish a place in front a shell
would hit just in the rear, at the side, etc.
They gave us a warm reception upon our arrival here, also
about the time we finished unloading out sets, packs, etc., they
started in, darned if I don't believe till yet the first one
scraped my helmet. They poured them to us by the dozens, hitting
in every direction. All of us were brand new in the burg and
didn't know anything at all about where the dugouts were, we
located them pretty pronto, however. I am certainly anxious for
our artillery to open up on that bunch for I am sure of the
The few of our bunch that was with me kept unusually calm
of course that kept me down quite a bit but I think all of us
pretty nearly had to think of a story I once heard of Mutt and
Jeff while they were on the border. Probably you have heard it
They continued their shelling off an on all last night.
Even sent us over a few for dinner today. I don't mind them any
more, though. We are located in an especially made shell proof
room, walls and top are very thick of logs and stone. Have a
telephone, electric lights, and is fixed up in a pretty decent
way. Our bunks are here and we have two messengers.
I am anxious to see the ball start rolling because I know
how easily we can walk over them. I didn't know there was so many
vannon in the world as I have seen coming up here for the last
week or so, - will wait until after the show to finish this. If I
don't finish it you will know I wasn't here at the end.
Haven't had time to touch this. Entirely too much going
on, and work, Hey Howdy, we have made a peach of a drive and have
had thing going our way from the start. Race house and a mule is
a good comparison.
At one o'clock to the minute and the morning of the 12th
our barrage started, some barrage, the earth fairly shook. We
were behind the light artillery but the heavy was behind us and
in fact all around us, some of the naval guns was as far as five
and six kilos to our rear.
In my station we all knew six hours ahead when the
fireworks would start and I went off duty at 8 o'clock went to
sleep, but told the op to be sure and wake me up a little before
one. He was too busy I guess to wake me but about three seconds
after one I was wide awake. I don't want to hear any prettier
music than the sound of those guns, I knew old Fritz was getting
a little further up the road.
One's imagination who has never seen a barrage can't
compare with the reality. It's worth risking your life to be in a
drive. The whole sky was in flames, our guns fairly shook the
earth. From our guns in the rear you could hear the shells go
over and could easily distinguish the gas shells from the common
explosives, and at first could see them explode on the Germans,
but they soon took to their heels. Fritz returned our shots for
hardly an hour then he was as quiet as a dumb person- you know
that is pretty quiet. Five o'clock was the appointed time for our
boys to go over the top, of course, at that time we were all on
our toes, a fellow couldn't help but wish he was a dough-boy and
going over with them. Some of our men who were near the front
("C" Co. men) did volunteer and go over with them. One of my best
friends in that co. went over with the infantry and got killed.
Such as that is what makes a fellows blood boil and makes him
want to discard the headgear of a wireless set, a thousand miles
from action, grab a musket and get into the thick of the thing.
Starting where I left off just before five o'clock our
barrage as was expected got speedier and sounded like machine gun
fire. It was certainly interesting to watch after the boys went
over, about every fifteen or twenty minutes you would see a
certain rocket go up to notify our artillery to raise their
barrage, meaning of course that the Germans were retreating at a
good clip; what is more interesting still is the fact that they
have been on the run to this hour from the time we started after
At nine o'clock of the morning we started the drive we
had reached our objective for the whole day, about 9:30 the
prisoners came rolling in. Saw one bunch of 900. Looked like a
whole army coming down the road. There were men of every
description. Some looked to be boys of 13 or 14 and some about 50
or 60, while some were in their prime. They all seemed to be glad
they were captured. A few that could speak English said they were
tired of the war and saw they had no chance of winning. They
seemed to be afraid of the American fighting and from the looks
of this battle it pays them to be. We were in a fine position to
keep up with the whole thing. During the battle everything is
sent in the clear. There is no time to incode and decode
messages. So we kept up with the other division also. Went up to
"No Man's Land" yesterday morning. It was certainly a sight. You
could hardly walk without stepping on the dead. There was by a
large number more Germans than Americans. I saw lots of things
that if I had read in a paper I would have take it for a Sunday's
morning story. The boys coming back with the prisoners, etc.,
have some awful tales to tell. One told me he captured several
German boys that looked to be under 14, chained to their
artillery guns. Said they were just standing there nearly
frightened to death and not trying to fight .
I could write on this a year and not finish. I am not
allowed to tell you where I am but refer you to the Times
Picayune of September 13th and 14th and you will know exactly. If
they print it like the Paris Herald they certainly have it
Butler V. Avery, Co. A. 315 F.B.A. AEF
Reference: Booster, October 31, 1918.
It will not be too long before I come home to you, the
same pure boy that I was when I went to war. I am longing to get
back to the states, so I can have a home once more. I am so sorry
that you are so sick. Will help nurse you. Will not write much at
this time, just send this clipping, keep it for me. You will see
what we have here yet. I am still at this hospital helping the
doctors and nurses.
H. H. McDonald
The clipping is as follows:
SICK AND WOUNDED HAVE VALETS ON
Twenty-five kilometers from
Ft. Nazarie at the top of a hill overlooking the broad lazy
river, which makes that town possible as a base port, are 9000
members of the AEF ticketed "to the states without delay".
But G. H. A. wouldn't think of sending them without
valets for these men can't be bothered with baggage, or packs or
rifles, or any of the trying incidents in connection with their
trip homeward. For them the winter weather, not even the chow
lines of the embarkation camps, hold no terrors. They will be
shown places in a train at their present station, and with
perhaps an overnight stop at Kerhon, if they leave France by way
of Brest they will go directly aboard a transport.
They are the wounded doughboys and casuals, honored men
of the AEF, and they are now at Savenay, which is unknown except
for the fact that it is the largest and finest clearing house for
all those who have been unfortunate enough to stop a piece of
metal flung over by the enemy or unlucky enough to get so sick
that they are slated for the states. The trip across the Atlantic
will develop into a palatial ocean voyage. There will be privates
and lieutenants, even Captains to spring to their commands for
steamrugs when they loll in the sun. Three meals will be brought
to them each day if they only say, "Boy I am ready to eat."
(Illegible) hospitals... to make Cavenay the greatest
medical center in France today. Hundreds of motor ambulances,
trucks and touring cars...in and around the building 24 hours
every day. All with one purpose, to speed up the transport of the
wounded to the states.
34,000 enlisted men, 500 nurses, together with many
officers are required to keep the center moving. Besides this
number there are 800 corporals who are eagerly waiting to be
assigned as valets for these returning men. Also there are
approximately 140 officers designated "chiefs of convoys" who
will perform this function.
To Dear Brother Matthew:
I take much pleasure in writing you this letter about
myself. I am now in the ordinance department. This is the branch
of the army that supplies the soldiers with all the property that
is used by a man in uniform.
The regulation number of men in a regiment is one
Sargent, one corporal and six privates on detailed service from
Division Ordinances. I am with the (illegible) infantry Ration
Cloths and my (illegible) are with the Supply Co. This means it
is for me to handle the property that comes to the regiment.
We have one private was in the hospital and one Corporal
is in the states and was gassed on the (illegible) front.
I have seen many wonderful things which is impossible to
explain in a letter. You cannot realize what a war consists of
until you serve your time in the line. I will certainly be proud
to get back in the good old U. S. A. where I will be a free man
You cannot imagine the prices of things over here, for
the French are scarce of money as well as food and clothing.
Fruit is out of reason, a small orange costs ten cents. Grapes
are $2.30 per lb. A small can of sardines costs 50 cents.
The French take the Americans to be millionaires and make
paupers of them. Some times I wish that a soldier didn't have to
buy a thing of them for they just rob us in every possible way.
Ninety percent of the money paid to the American Soldier is spent
with the French, the remaining ten percent with the thievish Y.
M. C. A.
There is over a million American soldiers sleeping in
(illegible) when French will permit it, the officers take up all
of the vacant rooms in town.
You can talk with any one who has been in the trenches
and over the top. They will tell you that an infantry man has to
contend with. Going over the top is not as easy done as said.
Neither is it a dream or a joke. Both sides catch hell. Well I
can tell all about that when I get home. This is no time to talk.
I have so many friends in the division, yet I get
Priv. W. B. Cobb
Most of the veterans did
not wish to talk. Some of them have been gassed and are too
nervous to give information as memories of their past experiences
in the war make them "go to pieces". Very few relatives remember
correct dates and names. Only a few had letters and papers. The
general attitude is to forget what happened "over there".
RICHARD "COTTON" POLK--(deceased)
U. S. A. NAVY, ON SHIP SANTIAGO
In talking with friends and
comrades of "Cotton" Polk we learned that he was on Ship Santiago
22 months and was on it when it was torpedoed by German
submarines. He was afloat seven hours in the ocean, his clothing
was so heavy that he pulled it all off and the sun blistered his
back. When they were almost exhausted they were sighted by an
aeroplane from New York, which sent a ship to their rescue.
Mrs. Polk, his mother, is old and feeble and could hardly
give the information clearly. She has no record of his service.
GILLEM S. BYRD, WORLD WAR VETERAN
On interviewing Gillem S. Byrd, World War Veteran. He
refused to give any of the facts concerning his life "over
there", other than his discharge record. He said that he wears a
No. 3 shoe and that while in service was given a No. 11. This was
what probably kept him from "running away". He was wounded in his
right eye, some stitches having to be taken. Although he went
over the top four times he refused to give any details. So many
others could tell such lurid tales, often made up, that he was
afraid his wouldn't sound convincing.
FOUGHT IN FOUR WARS. AN AGED VETERAN WHO BREAKS ALL THE RECORDS
Uncle Billy Johnson of Purvis, Miss., William Johnson,
familiarly knows as Uncle Billy is a well known farmer living
near Purvis, Miss. There are several hundred farmers residing in
the same section. But what distinguishes Uncle Billy from his
neighbors is his extreme old age, and the fact that he is a
veteran of four wars, something which can hardly be said of any
other living man. He is 91 years of age and is looked up to with
great reverence by all the inhabitants of Marion County. A
commercial representative who visited Purvis in his travels
recently got from the old gentleman a sketch of his war record
with some of the incidents that occurred during his military
life, which cannot but prove interesting reading. It is best told
in his own language.
"My first military service was in the war between the
United States and Great Britain in 1814. I was quite young then,
reckless and full of vigor. The first battle of any consequence
that occurred after my enlistment was the one which saved the
City of New Orleans from destruction at the had of the British
and which brought Gen. Jackson to the front and landed him in the
Presidents chair. This is all well known history and I will not
dwell upon it."
"The next military service I saw was the Florida Indian
War away back in the thirties. This war occurred here among our
home people and it is all familiar history, but what I want to
tell you about is the war between the United States and Mexico,
the horrors and the true history of which has never been fully
known in the United States. How well I do remember that memorable
day that we stormed the Heights of Chepultepec and virtually
ended the war. The morning of the battle opened still and calm,
with a hot sun pouring down upon us. The greasers had fortified
themselves and planted heavy batteries on top of the walls.
Immediately in front of the wall was a ditch twelve feet wide and
sixteen feet deep in water. You can well imagine what terrible
odds our small army had to contend with. We made the attack early
but was repulsed with a terrific fire from the big guns on the
walls. Again we reformed our lines and charged but each time met
that deadly fire. Our commander, Gen. Scott, saw that if we kept
up our charge in the hope of storming the heights without first
silencing the funs we would all have been unmercifully butchered
and left a prey for the buzzards and wolves upon the
"A council of war was held and it was decided to offer a
reward of $5,000 to any man who would suggest a plan to silence
the batteries of the Greasers. I immediately volunteered my
service to accomplish this task, without any reward, but my plan
was ridiculed by the commanding officers. I insisted that it be
tried, at last before being condemned Gen. Scott, after a few
minutes of deep thought, drawled out, :well young man, if you
have the nerve we will try it but you will certainly be killed. I
hurried off to my pack mule and procured the uniform of a Mexican
major, which I had captured on a former battlefield, and put it
on over my regular blue uniform. After providing myself with
rattail files and a hammer I returned to Gen. Scott, who ordered
that the lines be reformed. Riding in front of the line on a
white steed, the general doffed his hat and requested the
chaplain, a short, heavy-set man with a few scattered chinchalla,
as the boys, to make the BLESSING OF THE DEITY. The Chaplain, who
hailed from Texas, was a natural born fighter and he carried a
musket on the battlefield and conducted religious services at
night. He laid down his gun and stepping forward a few paces
raised his hands heavenward and delivered a prayer that a great
many of the boys claimed gained the victory for us. As near as I
can remember his words ran something like this, "Oh, Lord, Thou
art all powerful and can control the destinies of all men. We
implore your blessings and ask forgiveness for any misdeeds that
we may have committed. We are now about to join battle with
vastly superior numbers of the enemy and Heavenly Father we would
like mightily for you to be on our side and help us; but if you
can't do it for heaven's sake don't go over to the Greasers, but
just lie low and keep quiet and you will see one of the toughest
fights you ever saw in all your natural life. Amen"
"The patriotic invocation was met with a yell from our
soldiers that shook the foundation of the mighty wall where the
Greasers were fortified. We charged at a double quick and when
some distance from the parapet I started on my desperate plan (
It makes me shudder now to think of it). I dashed away from our
lines for the big battery which was causing all the trouble.
Several of our soldiers fired a volley over my head, while a
number of others gave chase. While the astonished greasers on the
wall were watching the exciting race yelling at me in Spanish
every step. They forgot to reload the guns and in a few seconds
more I had cleared the ditch at a bound, scaled the wall and was
right up among the enemy and going on in my work by spiking the
fuse holes of the guns before they caught on to our ruse. But it
was too late, just as I was spiking the last gun a villainous
looking gun wiper made a savage thrust at me with a saber, but
our brave boys clearing the wall saved my life by running a
bayonet through his body. I came out of the war with a slight
"General Scott offered me the money but I declined. I
afterwards received letters from President Polk and the Secretary
of War asking that I accept the reward, but I refused. I
afterwards received a gold medal for bravery which was stolen by
Federal soldiers during the late war. I served two years in the
confederate army and would have carried a musket all through the
conflict but I was taken sick with swamp fever near Vicksburg in
1863 and was sent home"
Mr. Johnson's War Record is well known history in South
Miss. During the lifetime of Jefferson Davis, Uncle was a
frequent and welcome visitor at the Beauvoir Mansion. He was
drawing a pension from the Nation Government for his service in
the three wars in which he followed the Stars and Stripes and he
lived comfortably and enjoyed life on his farm, six miles west of
He was tall, slender and well kept for a man his age, he
was quite retiring in his nature, he had a terror of notoriety
and this is no doubt the cause that led him to settle in the
lonely pine forest.
He still retains the letters from President James Polk
and Gen. Scott commending his bravery and it took hard work too
persuade the old gentleman to allow the reporter to get a glance
at the documents.
Reference: Lumberton Head Block, August 6, 1890.