Wednesday, April 25, 2018

The Georgia Volunteers in the Spanish American War

by Captain William Carraway
Historian, Georgia Army National Guard

On April 25, 1898, the United Stated declared war on Spain following the destruction of the U.S.S. Maine in Havana Harbor. The Treaty of Paris ended the war December 10, 1898. The conflict sandwiched between those dates would be referred to by Col. Theodore Roosevelt as a “splendid little war.” Indeed, the Spanish American War is in large part remembered for the flourish of Roosevelt’s Rough Riders who fought side-by side with the African American Soldiers of the 9th Cavalry Regiment at Kettle Hill and San Juan Hill. The war marked the emergence of the United States as an international power. Victory granted the United States the Spanish colonies of the Philippines, Puerto Rico and Guam and heralded the political rise of Theodore Roosevelt and the progressive movement. But despite the glory of Roosevelt’s “crowded hour,” the Spanish American War would have a deleterious effect on many of the Citizen Soldiers from Georgia who volunteered for service.

Brig. Gen. Phill G. Byrd. Georgia's Adjutant
General, 1900. Georgia Guard
History Archives
On October 17, 1900, the report of the Adjutant General of the State of Georgia for 1899 to 1900 was delivered to Georgia Governor Allen D. Candler. Brigadier General Phill G. Byrd, Adjutant General of the Georgia State Troops, in his foreword to the Governor noted: “…on January 1st, 1899, because of the demoralization growing out of the Spanish-American War, and other causes, the State Troops had become so badly disorganized as to exist in name only.” It is worth exploring what events caused the great demoralization the adjutant general lamented. What organizational ennui befell the Georgia State Troops as a result of their involvement in the Spanish American War?


As 1898 dawned, the modern concept of the National Guard was in its infancy. In Georgia, the military establishment was known as the Georgia Volunteers and would be known thus until a December 21, 1899 act changed the name to the Georgia State Troops. The Volunteers had an authorized strength of more than 12,000 men, but an organized strength of less than 5,000. The Volunteers were organized into six regiments and four battalions of infantry; one regiment, one battalion (not squadron) and one troop of cavalry; three batteries of artillery, a machine gun battery and four companies of Naval Reserve Artillery. African American Citizen Soldiers constituted  three of the infantry battalions, one troop of cavalry and one battery of artillery in the then segregated Volunteer structure.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

April 1918, Back to Baccarat: “They are putting our names down in history it looks like.”

by Captain William Carraway
Historian, Georgia Army National Guard

When the units of the 42nd Division pulled out of the trenches March 23, 1918 they were initially dispatched for further training in the Rolamport area. (MWW, 91) These orders were countermanded due to the spring German offensive and the 151st MGB instead marched to Badmenil March 28, 1918. They did not have long to wait. On March 30th, the 151st received orders to move with its supported units to new positions in the Baccarat Sector. Major Cooper Winn established battalion headquarters at Neufmaison with the 84th Brigade HQ while Company A and B marched with the 167th Infantry Regiment and took up support by fire positions at Vacqueville. From there, they rotated into front line positions near Neuviller or Grand Bois. Companies C and D, moving with the 168th Infantry moved to Pexonne and entered front line positions in Badonvillier and Village Negre.

Upon arriving in Vacqueville, Cpl. Robert Burton humorously advised his family about life in the trenches in spring.