Saturday, January 1, 2022

A New Year on the Border

By Maj. William Carraway

Historian, Georgia Army National Guard


American Military Novelty cartoon marks a New Year on the border. Georgia National Guard Archives.

In October 1916, more than 3,600 Georgia National Guard Soldiers were dispatched to the Mexican border in response to cross-border unrest. Writing home from El Paso, Texas, Cpl. Robert Gober Burton of the Monroe-based Company H, 2nd Georgia Infantry Regiment recalled spending New Year’s Day 1917 in remote outpost duty along the border.

Georgia Army National Guard Soldiers of the 2nd Georgia Infantry Regiment man “Sentry Post Number 1” near El Paso, Texas in 1917.
Photo by 2nd Lt. Vivian Robertson.

January 5, 1917

My Dearest Mama,

Not having heard from you in several days I shall write. The regiment has gone for 15 days outpost duty and the mail has not been attended to as it should.

From all indications, we will not remain much longer on the border.[1] There is strong talk of bringing Pershing out of Mexico, and if he does, I fervently believe that we will be sent home. The sooner the better with me.

I had a real nice letter from Auntie[2] the other day. Was certainly glad to hear from her.

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.

Ed (Williamson)[3] and myself are getting along very nicely. I have had a slight cold, but it is well now. I used Vicks salve and it was soon broken up.

Write to me soon

As ever, your devoted son,



Company H, 2nd Georgia Infantry Regiment at Camp Cotton, El Paso, Texas. Sergeant Ed Williamson stands far left with Burton standing to his left.
Georgia National Guard Archives.

 In September, the 2nd Georgia Infantry Regiment was redesignated the 121st Infantry Regiment. The 121st Continues in Georgia National Guard service today as part of the Macon-based 48th Infantry Brigade Combat Team. Monroe is now the home of the 178th Military Police Company, part of the 170th Military Police Battalion and the Marietta-based 201st Regional Support Group.

[1] Despite the rumor mill, the Georgians would not return home until March 1917.

[2] Auntie refers to Mary Eulalia Nunally, wife of William Hartwell Nunnally. Before he mobilized to Europe in October 1917, Burton’s aunt presented him with a pocket testament which ultimately saved his life by stopping a bullet July 30, 1918.

[3] Sergeant Augustus Williamson of Rock Mart, Ga. Williamson and Burton served together from June 1919 in Company H, 2nd Georgia Infantry Regiment. They mobilized to France with Company A, 151st Machine Gun Battalion. For valor in combat, Williamson was nominated for the Distinguished Service Cross. He was instrumental in the reorganization of the Walton Guards following World War I and served as its first commanding officer before being selected to serve as the United States Property and Disbursement Officer. He died May 20, 1976 and is buried in Rest Haven Cemetery in Monroe, Ga. not far from the headquarters of the unit he helped to reorganize. Today, the 178th Military Police Company carry on the tradition of National Guard service in Monroe.

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