Wednesday, December 13, 2017

“If I ever have a son and he says I want to join the Army I am going to beat him nearly to death.” Camp Mills, September-October, 1917

Robert Burton's Letter, Sept. 17, 1917
by Captain William Carraway
Historian, Georgia Army National Guard

Camp Albert Mills, N.Y.
September 1, 1917
Dear mama,
Arrived all OK this afternoon. Was, or has been raining since we left Ga. Saw Rache (Gober’s Brother) at Athens the night we came thru.
I will write a letter as soon as things are straightened out.
Had a nice trip north. Enjoyed it very much.
Co. F 151st MGB Camp Albert Mills Branch PO 12
Hempstead, N.Y.

Camp Mills, located near Hempstead, New York, was named after Maj. Gen. Albert L. Mills who received the Medal of Honor for actions during the Spanish American War. Established in September 1917, Camp Mills soon became the largest training center for troops bound for France from the nearby port of Hoboken, N.J. It was here that the 151st Machine Gun Battalion would become part of the 42nd Division.

The 151st Machine Gun Battalion was formed from Companies B, C and F of the 2nd Georgia Infantry Regiment. In addition, the MGB absorbed non-commissioned officers such as Burton from other companies. The transfer was accomplished August 13, 1917. With the addition of Soldiers from the 1st Georgia regiment, the battalion reached a strength of 591 officers and enlisted men before embarking for Camp Mills.

Burton’s original assignment in Company F, 2nd Georgia was changed to Company A 151st Machine Gun Battalion while companies B and C of the 2nd Georgia were assigned as Company B and C of the new battalion. It seems that the new arrangement took some time to be accomplished according to Burton’s letter of September 1 and 3, 1917.
Robert Burton's return address, Sept. 3, 1917

Camp Mills, Sept 3, 1917
My dearest mama,
Well! I am actually on Long Island New York. What do you think about that?
The funniest thing up here is the way the people talk. You can hardly understand what these Yankees say. Another thing that is queer to the southern boys is that Coca Cola is hardly known at all. But the people treat us fine. Will do anything that they can for you and especially for the southern soldier. They seem to like them very much.
When we unloaded it was raining but I think that before long the weather will clear up and we will like the place OK.
We had a nice trip up the river yesterday morning. Had a good view of New York City.
My address is
Co. F, 151st MGB
Camp Albert Mills
Hempstead, N.Y.
Branch PO
Your devoted son,

Within two weeks of his arrival, the well-traveled Gober wrote of his latest exploits.

Robert Burton's Letter of Sept. 17, 1917

Camp Mills, Monday Night (September 17, 1917)
My dear mama,
Well! I have taken in New York and Coney Island. New York is some big town believe me. I like big crowds and a city, but this suits me most too well. I have ridden on a subway, the elevated and the surface cars. I have seen Broadway by night. I have seen 5th Ave. in the late afternoon. I have seen Chinatown and the Bowery. Also, have seen Central Park, Madison Square Garden, the Flat Iron Building, the Woolworth Building and all the famous parts of N.Y.
I have been to Coney Island during Mardi Gras week and have seen all the wonders there. But greater than that would I rather see my little old mother and father way down in Ga.
Your devoted son,

In his letter of September 27, 1917, Burton responded to his family’s concern for his well-being and uncertain future.

Camp Mills
Thursday night, September 27, 1917
My dearest mama,
Tho I haven’t heard from you in a day or so, will write you tonight as it is likely that I will not get to write to you again in some time. I heard today that this was the last night that we would be allowed to write. After this, all of our mail will be censored. It looks now like we will sail before long. From where, I don’t know, or I don’t when, but I played safety first and wrote tonight so that if it was so, I would have written.
Now mama, please don’t you worry about me. I am not looking on the dark side of this so please don’t. Ed had a letter from Wheeler (Will) Mears the other day. He is getting along fine. By the way, perhaps by the time that you get this Ed will be ‘cross. He left the other morning for Norfolk, Va.
I know that it worries you but please don’t break down about it. Mrs. Mears stood it, can’t you? I look on it just about as the Mexican war was. We will stay behind the lines at least six months before we even see a German.
I am going to be OK and I will take good care of myself so when I do come home, we will have all the bigger reception. It won’t be long.
I am going to try and drop all of the children a card tonight. Just keep on writing to me at the same address till you get a card saying that I have reached the other side safely. Then my address will be:
Co A, 151st Machine Gun Bn., American Expeditionary Forces.
We have been working pretty hard for the last week, so I am pretty tired tonight. I don’t know if I will have time to write to Auntie tonight or not but if I can’t please tell her for me that I appreciate all that she has done for me, more than I can tell. I may not be able to put it in words but deep down in my heart, I appreciate it.
Don’t you worry about me. I think that it is my duty to go. The Flag is calling for men who haven’t got a yellow streak. For men who don’t have to be made to go. I want no greater honor than to think that when the need came I was ready. That I am among those selected to go first.

Over the next few weeks the men of the 151st Machine Gun Battalion trained to build up the physical stamina necessary for combat operations. Gober wrote home requesting custom sweaters for the men of his squad and corresponded with “his girl in Jaxville.” For the first time in his letters home he hinted at the prospect of marriage. He informed his parents that Mildred would be writing to them soon.
As the training continued. the ever-present approach of overseas deployment was foremost in the minds of the Soldiers and families. Burton hinted at that notion in correspondence home.

Robert Burton's letter of Oct. 9, 1917

Camp Mills
October 9, 1917
My dearest mama,
It is raining this afternoon so will write you a letter. It started to raining this morning and has been raining all day. We have been sleeping all day.
It won’t be so very long now till we do go across. We are packing up now all the kitchen outfit has been packed that is always the last thing to be packed.
This is just a note to let you know that I am OK.
This will be the address
Co A 151st Machine Gun Battalion
84th Brigade
Paris, France
Via New York, NY
This is the address they gave us today and I suppose that is OK. I will get it the other way I suppose.
I am going to write to papa this afternoon also so will close.
Your devoted son,

One week passed, and preparations for departure continued.

Camp Mills
Wednesday night, October 17, 1917
My dear mama,
Well before long I suppose you can hang one of those signs on the door that says, “a member of this family in France.” For I think that before another week is over we will have sailed. But mama dear, don’t you worry about me. I have been about enough to know how to take care of myself I won’t do anything rash or take any unnecessary risks. But I shall do my duty. Doing your duty does not mean getting killed.
Yesterday I took out $5,000 worth of government insurance paying $2.40 a month on it. For a year it will cost me $29.00. Pretty cheap I think. I made you the first beneficiary and papa the second. If I should happen to be knocked out, it will leave you in pretty good circumstances. Again, if I should become disabled, I would receive about $20.00 per month from it for 20 years. It is an endowment policy, it takes the place of a pension. I am not worth any more than $5,000. Please tell Frank this when you write him as he urged me to take out some.
I feel lots better than I ever felt in my life. But if I ever have a son and he says I want to join the Army I am going to beat him nearly to death.
Your devoted son,

Burton continued to correspond with friends and family in Monroe. He learned that his girl Mildred had indeed corresponded with his family and received letters from his brothers Frank and Rache.

Burton’s letter of October 27, 1917 is filled with the melancholy and foreboding of a Soldier who has received news he cannot relay.

Camp Mills
Saturday afternoon, October 27, 1917
My dearest mama,
I received a letter from you most every day but haven’t had time to write. So, if you don’t hear from me so often as before just take it that I haven’t the time to write.
I am going to do the best I can. Will try and write you at least once a week.
I am well and getting along fine. Feeling good as can be.
From now on, my letters will be kinder short I expect.
I will just tell you how I am. Can’t tell you where we are or anything else.
I am glad to know that you are fixing me up a scrapbook. It will be good reading when I come back.
I don’t know of a thing interesting to write.
Your devoted son,

Four days later, Cpl. Robert Gober Burton along with 569 members of the 151st Machine Gun Battalion embarked from Hoboken. N.J. Aboard the U. S. S. Agamemnon bound for France.

The U.S.S  Agamemnon at sea.  U.S. Navy Photo NH 77162

Next Chapter:  Arrival in France.

Friday, November 24, 2017

“All Things in The Army Have to Be in The Right Form.” July-August 1917

by Captain William Carraway
Historian, Georgia Army National Guard

Company H, 2nd Georgia Infantry Regiment returned to Camp Harris, Macon, Ga. June 30, 1917 from their duty in Jacksonville, Fla. and began a rigorous schedule of training as recounted by Sgt. Robert Burton.

July 8, 1917 letter written by Sgt. Robert G. Burton

Camp Harris, Macon, Ga.
July 8, 1917
My dear mama,
My application for discharge was sent back for proper military form. You know, You know, all things in the Army have to be in the right form 
or they are sent back. I think that when it does go thru these headquarters it will go all right and I will get my discharge.
We are working nearly all day these days. Our day starts at 0530 and lasts til six in the afternoon, so I haven’t much time to get into any trouble. At night I am too tired to go to town and spend any money much. I am spending only what I have to have. Don’t you know it looks funny to see me get up at 5:00 o’clock and eat breakfast at 6:10.
Had a letter from my Jaxville girl this morning. I think that after I come home I will go to see her. She asked me when I was coming back to see her.
Write to me real soon and let me know what you think about my coming home.
As ever, your devoted son,

Burton’s discharge and hopes for leave were soon dashed.

Camp Harris
Saturday Morning (July 14, 1917)
My dear mama,
I can’t come this weekend. Lt. Dickinson took one of his crazy notions yesterday afternoon and would not let me come. He told me yesterday morning that I could come, and I had a grip packed ready to get in the car and he told me that I could not come.
He let Jack Felker go and he went home while we were in Fla. He let (Sgt) Tom Hensler go and he was absent without leave while we were in Fla. I have never been absent without leave.
I think that perhaps I can come next Friday and if I can I will stay over till about Wednesday. I hate the very air that Lt. Dickinson breathes. I am going to run him to the dogs when I get there.
I surely did want to come home and be with all the children.
I am getting along just as fine as can be.
There is no news today. Will write to you again this week.
Hoping to see you by this time next week. I am.
Your devoted son,

Burton did get leave the following Friday and spent a joyous weekend at home in Monroe. It was the last time Burton would be home before sailing for France.

Sgt. Robert G. Burton (Right) at home on leave in July, 1917.

Big changes awaited the regiment in the coming weeks as related by Burton.

Hotel Lanier, Macon Ga.
Wednesday Night (August 8, 1917)
My dear mama,
The regiment is being reorganized under the new law and so we have been pretty busy since the 5th of August. A machine gun battalion has been made out of one battalion of the Second. All of the best non-commissioned officers of the regiment have been transferred to it. Out of our company, Ed Williamson, Tom Hensler, C. J. Mears and myself have been transferred as privates so after tomorrow just address my letters as Mr. R. G. Burton. It is expected that we will be sent to Mass or somewhere near New York City. The general opinion is now that we will leave about Tuesday.
I suppose that by the papers you have seen about the Macon companies being reorganized into machine gun companies.
Capt. (Sidney L.) Conner of B Co has been assigned to Co H since the discharge of Capt. Aycock. We all like him fine so far.
I am getting along just as fine as possible I suppose. If I can’t come home will let you know by mail.
Your devoted son,

Sgt. Robert Burton wrote home from the Hotel Lanier August 8, 1917

The machine gun battalion Burton referenced was the 151st Machine Gun Battalion which was destined to serve in the 42nd Infantry Division. But for now, that information was unknown to Burton or his comrades.

Days later, Burton sent the following telegraph informing his parents of his impending reassignment.

Western Union Telegram Camp Harris, Macon, Ga. 1045 AM August 28, 1917

Next Chapter:  Camp Mills, New York

Thursday, November 16, 2017

“250 Degrees In The Shade.” March-June 1917

by Captain William Carraway
Historian, Georgia Army National Guard

Within days of their return from the Mexican Border, the Georgia Guardsmen of the 2nd Georgia Infantry were on the move. Across the nation, cities were taking precautions to protect water supplies from poisoning by German agents. On March 31, 1917, At the request of the Macon Water Commission, the Albany Guards of the 2nd Georgia were dispatched to guard a waterworks plant north of Macon. Additional Soldiers were detailed to a reservoir south of Macon. Other units were on the move to secure vital infrastructure sites and Burton wrote to his family of his expectation that they would soon be detailed to South Georgia.

On April 2, 1917, President Woodrow Wilson asked a special joint session of Congress for a declaration of war against Germany. Congress voted to approve the declaration April 6, 1917. Following the declaration, Company H, 2nd Georgia Infantry was dispatched to Jacksonville, Fla. where it would guard the railroad bridge spanning the Saint Johns River. Company H went into camp on the south bank near the present location of the Baptist Medical Center while a detail of ten Soldiers led by 2nd Lt. Dennie Launius were sent to Homestead, Fla. near Miami.

Burton, writing home to his mother April 8, 1917 recalls the movement to 

Jacksonville, Fla.
Sunday Afternoon (April 8th, 1917)
My dear mama,
We arrived here last night or this morning as you know by the cards I have written you.
We did not know when we got on the train exactly where we were going but as I wired you, we came to Jacksonville. We are down here guarding the Florida East Coast RR bridge. I like this place all OK. We crossed the St. Johns River and are now in South Jacksonville. The people here are mighty nice to us so far. We are on the river nearly and get the sea breeze all of the time. I think that fishing will be good. That is about all we will have to do. I hope that we will stay here for some time. I had rather be here than in Macon so far. Of course, we happen to be farther away from home but this is a nice place.
I think that this is about all the news that I know at this time. My address is Co. H. 2nd Ga. Inf., South Jacksonville, Fla.
Write to me soon.
As ever, your devoted son,

Robert Burton photo of the Florida East Coast Railroad Bridge
According to Burton’s recollections, the citizens of Jacksonville were very welcoming towards the Monroe Soldiers. Burton expressed relief to have been sent to Jacksonville, far away from Camp Harris and the discipline and rigor of camp life.
Nearly three weeks later Burton wrote of his recreational exploits.

So. Jax Fla. April 27, 1917
My dear mama,
Well! I have seen the ocean!! I think that it is the most wonderful thing I most ever saw.
One of the superintendents of a Sunday school here came down and took four of the boys down to Atlantic Beach and Pablo Beach. We had one grand time surf bathing and fishing. We saw all kinds of sea life. (Sgt.) Tom Hensler and I caught a sack full of crabs. Then we caught a string of fish. It was a grand day for us.
I am going out to a six o’clock dinner tonight. (Sgt. Augustus S.) Clay, (Pfc. Emory J.) E. J. Moore and myself. A Miss White is giving it. She is from Ga. and she has been more than nice to us since we have been here. Some class to your son eh?
The people here continue to be so nice to us. The ladies of the Presbyterian Church gave a little party at one of the club houses for us the other night. We met the nicest girls and had a big time generally. I talked to a girl from Maryland most of the time.
If I don’t forget it I am sending a picture of the bridge that we are guarding. It is 5/8ths of a mile long and has a draw bridge that turns around nearly in the center of it.
Tell all the children my address and tell them to write me sometime. I would like very much to hear from all of them.
The weather is hot as the mischief, but we get a breeze from the sea most of the time, so it is not so bad. The mosquitoes are as big as automobiles down here. They don’t worry us too much as we have mosquito nets. I had lots rather be down here under Maj. Beck than under Col. Thomas.
Well Mama, write me another letter soon. I surely did appreciate the money that papa sent.
Your devoted son
-I have been to church every Sunday that we have been here. -G

Western Union Telegraph Dated April 17, 1917 from Cpl. Burton to his father

Presently, camp life gave way to routine. With little to do other than daily guard mounts, the Soldiers made the best of their surroundings by visiting the beach and organizing a baseball team. Burton wrote home requesting his old baseball glove and shoes. Orders were passed down that Soldiers were not to leave camp in civilian clothes, but the Soldiers simply took civilian clothes with them and changed once outside the camp boundaries.

In the weeks of idle time, Burton’s parent suggested that he request a discharge from the Guard and resume his studies at the University of Georgia. Burton’s response was adamant.

May 15, 1917
Hotel Flagler, Jacksonville, Fla. (on Hotel Flagler Stationery)
My dear mama,
Your letter came today. Was indeed glad to hear from you.
I think that I would drop that about getting me a discharge. There is no chance now. Would you have me desert the flag now when it is in the greatest danger when men are needed? Men who have had the experience? The flag is in danger. Do you think what the flag means to every American citizen?

Guard duty droned on. Rumors swept the camp that the Guardsmen would be sent to the Florida Keys. 1st Lt. Launius Dickinson, commanding Company H, was hopeful that the unit could be thus transferred but orders were not forthcoming.

In June Robert’s brother Frank visited the camp of Company H and found Gober Burton acting as company clerk, a duty he was not exceptionally pleased with.
Writing home June 2, 1917, Burton described the weather as “hot as blue blazes. It feels like 250 degrees in the shade.”

By June 8, Burton had been promoted to sergeant and his pay had been increased to $17.00 per month. His discharge papers had been approved and forwarded to 1st Lt. Dickinson for approval. 

The Soldiers of Company H visited Saint Augustine and surf bathed to pass the time. Local churches held socials for the visiting Georgia Soldiers and Burton began attending a local church. He kept his mother informed of his regular church attendance and advised her that he had been “out to see the preacher’s daughter several times.” In the months to come, Burton and the preacher’s daughter, Miss Mildred Richards, corresponded regularly. Burton reported to his mother after giving Mildred a picture of himself in uniform that Mildred exclaimed “Gober, I know you have a grand disposition. Your face tells me that.”  

At the end of June, Company H received orders recalling them to Camp Harris in Macon. Burton bade good bye to the Richards family and promised to write.

On June 30, 1917, Company H returned to Camp Harris carrying with them Burton’s budding romance and uncertain future in the Army. 

Next chapter: Reorganization

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

“We Are Having a Big Time Now.” January-March 1917

by Captain William Carraway
Historian, Georgia Army National Guard

American Military Novelty Company cartoon marks a new year on the border.
Georgia National Guard Archives

January 1, 1917 marked a new year for the Georgia Guardsmen stationed on the Texas / Mexico border. From his tent, not two hundred yards from Mexico, Corporal Robert Gober Burton of Company H, 2nd Georgia Infantry, balanced a book over his knee and wrote a letter home to his mother in Monroe Ga. Rather than travel with the rest of the Georgia Brigade on a fifteen-mile march as he had earlier reported, Burton and his fellows from Monroe remained to guard Camp Cotton.
Georgia Guardsmen of Company H, 2nd Georgia Infantry
Georgia National Guard Archives
Burton wrote that word was sweeping the camp that Brig. Gen. John Pershing would be recalled from Mexico soon and that the Guardsmen encamped in posts along the border would soon be sent home. Burton enclosed Kodak images with the letter and returned some clothing items that had been sent as gifts.

“I am thinking of sending the muffler and laundry bag home as everything here is so dirty that I am afraid that I will spoil them. The muffler is surely nice but I can’t wear it as it doesn’t suit very well with government clothes. Besides, we are furnished all the war clothes that we can wear. I have some under clothes much heavier than those I wore at home. We have a big overcoat that weighs about 15 pounds and a hood that goes over the head so I keep very warm and comfortable.”

In his letters home, Burton continued to comfort his mother and reassure her that the men were in no danger.

El Paso, Texas
Monday Night (envelope post marked January 6, 1917)
Mama Dear,
Mama, you need not be afraid that the Mexicans will get us as there are just 129,000 more Soldiers here besides us and I think that the Mexicans are not hankering to come over and see how straight we can shoot.
I don’t see why we are being kept down here. The border is sleeping like a top and we are not really needed down here. I fear that a petition has been gotten up in Ga. asking the War Department to recall us. If it gets to you, I know that both you and papa will sign it. The Macon Board of Trade has sent one to the War Dept, also the Savannah B of T.
I have already shaved off the moustache and am again my natural self. I hope that by this time the picture has reached you. Also the letter with the Kodak pictures that I sent you.
Miss Bessie is coming out here to see Capt. Aycock. She left Atlanta tonight. Lt. Launius is due to come with her, but I think that his leave of absence will be extended so that he can stay with his father.
Now Mama, don’t get the blues because if I can stand it, I think you should. If you write blue letters I get blue and it makes both of us unhappy.
The Company is on guard tonight and I haven’t very much longer so will close. Write soon.
As ever, your Devt Son

By January 14, 1917 the 2nd Georgia received orders to man guard posts along the Southern El Paso Railroad linking Columbus, N.M. with El Paso.

My Dearest Mama,
We find that we will have to go out on the outpost duty after all. We are going to go with the First Ga. Regiment. I do not know whether we will get any mail out there or not but I will try and write you from out there. I think that we can mail our mail from there. We are going down into New Mexico so by that I will add another state to my list of states that I have been in.
Mama, please don’t worry about me being out there. I will be OK. The whole 1st Georgia will be with us.
I hear mess call sounding so will go eat dinner, then come back and finish this letter.
A light snow fell last night but melted away this morning. The weather this morning was not cold enough to wear a sweater and much of the boys are in their shirt sleeves.
I hope that by the middle of Feb. or the finish of March we will be on our way to the red hills of Ga. The middle of Feb. seems to be the most likely time.
Things along the border are as peaceful as in Ga. Things go on just as anywhere else, only you see Soldiers everywhere, and at all times.
When you wrote me about the turkey, I though that I would have some of the town boys down to eat dinner with me. Capt. Aycock, Miss Bessie, James Matthews, Jack Felker, Charlie Mears and Ed Winslo. How do you think that would be?
This may be the last letter in 15 days so I am making a long one of it. I think that we will get to post letters out their tho.
Miss Bessie’s coming was certainly liked by the whole company. We are more than glad to see her.
What is worrying me most is what I am going to do when I do get back home. Tell the boys to keep looking for me a job.
Well, will write again as soon as I get a chance. Write again soon
Your devoted son,
Noria New Mexico, station of Company H, 2nd Georgia
Infantry. Photo by Capt. William Carraway
On January 17, Burton and his comrades in Company H loaded into trucks and were driven 40 miles west along the border on a road that paralleled the El Paso Southwestern railroad. Reaching Noria, the troops unloaded and surveyed their newly assigned post. Save for an east-west railroad, a water tower and a depot building, there was nothing much to look at. Although the terrain was flat, the wind had shaped the sand into a series of undulating dunes topped with sage brush. The effect of these wind-formed terrain features was that a Soldier could stand on the flat ground in Noria and not be able to see the Mexican border just one mile south.

Over the next two weeks, Burton and the Soldiers of Company H found much to enjoy about their new post. Whereas at Camp Cotton, the troops were subject to camp rules and discipline, in Noria they were their own bosses. Burton established a canteen in the newly formed tent city of Noria and reported doing brisk business. Bessie Aycock, Capt. Aycock’s wife traveled with the company to Noria where she stayed at the depot office. By day she circulated about the camp bringing good cheer and encouragement to the Soldiers who welcomed the addition of a friendly face from home.
Bessie Aycock, wife of Capt. John Aycock with Company H, 2nd Georgia Infantry
Georgia National Guard Archives
Days passed without incident. The Soldiers watched as trains passed east and west while clouds drifted lazily in the sky. While the Georgians marked time guarding the railroad, news reached them that as many as 25,000 Guardsmen had left the border. This again buoyed expectations of a swift return home, but Capt. Aycock cautioned the men to expect a duty extension.

By January 31, 1917, Burton appeared resigned to a long stay on the New Mexico border.

Jan 31, 1917
My dearest mama,
We will be stationed here indefinitely. You just send the coke and the candy to my old address. We get the mail every day.
I had lots rather be here where we are than at camp in El Paso. Here we are our own boss, get up any time of day that we choose and go to bed when we please.
I went down to Columbus, N.M. the other day. That is the place where Villa made his raid about a year ago. Nothing can be seen except at some places where a bullet spattered.
The El Paso (paper) says that several thousand more National Guard are to be ordered home. We believe that we will be stationed here until they are ready to send us home. I hope that this will be the way they do.
You just send the coke and things right on. I will enjoy them more out here than I would at El Paso.
Write me soon at El Paso
Your devoted son,

Before Gober’s letter reached Monroe, the Georgians were recalled from Noria to Camp Cotton. Returning by truck February 1, 1917, the Georgians began preparing to return to their home state. Although they were no longer independent of camp regulations, Burton noted that they were glad to return to tents with wooden floors. He was happy also to receive a box of chocolates “from my girl in Winder” and Coca Cola from home.

Shortly after the Georgia Guardsmen returned to Camp Cotton, Brig. Gen. John Pershing was recalled to Fort Bliss ending the punitive expedition. The return of the regulars was greeted with a wave of celebration and rumors of the Guard units returning home. Burton reported camp duties greatly slackened and the men enjoyed liberal leave to El Paso. There was so much revelry that Burton wrote for his mother to send him a suit to wear to town.

“Mama, get my heavy suit of clothes, about two shirts, half dozen collar, buy me a cap and necktie or two. Cap size 7 1/8 and make it a loud one. My pair of slippers, pack them up and send them to me. We want to dress up sometime on Sunday and it is no longer against the rules to wear civilian clothes. Don’t forget to send me a collar button or two. We are having a big time now.”

On March 8, 1917, four inches of snow fell but Burton and Sgt. Williamson, sharing six blankets between them, suffered no ill effects from the cold snap. The next day, the 2nd Georgia Infantry Regiment received preliminary orders to prepare for a return to Georgia. The 1st Georgia Infantry Regiment was scheduled to return first, followed by the 5th and 2nd Georgia.

El Paso Herald Headline
Georgia National Guard Archives
Transportation of the units commenced March 22, 1917. The Georgians packed their tents and baggage and began a long spine-jarring ride home by rail through Dallas, Memphis, and Birmingham on the way to Atlanta and, ultimately Macon, Ga., headquarters of the 2nd Georgia Infantry.

Medal presented to Soldiers
of the 2nd Georgia by the
City of Macon
Author's collection
Upon their return, Soldiers of the 2nd Georgia Infantry Regiment were formed into ranks along Cherry Street in downtown Macon Georgia. There they were presented with medals custom ordered by the City of Macon in honor of the regiment’s service. Following the medal presentation, the Soldiers were treated to a barbecue in the city’s central park. Their medals glistening in the spring sunlight, the Soldiers of the 2nd Georgia had completed their Mexican border mobilization. But war clouds loomed, and a second mobilization was less than one week away.

Next Chapter: War Declaration and Mobilization

Blog Archive