WWI Profile: Lawson Devaun Ballard 1896-1981

Source: NC Digital Collections
Company A, 105th Engineers Regiment, 30th Division; Camp Jackson, SC; probably 1919, before mustering out

Lawson Devaun Ballard
Suburb, Brunswick County, NC
NC National Guard

August 24, 1916 – April 16, 1919
May 26, 1918 – April 13, 1919
Wounded: September 29, 1918
Severely Gassed

Lawson Devaun Ballard was born and raised in Brunswick County, NC. Most of his family is buried in Bolivia or Wilmington. Two of Lawson’s brothers, John Thomas Ballard and Edgar Levett Ballard, are also WWI veterans. His family tree can be viewed on FamilySearch.

In 1916, Lawson joined the NC National Guard. A year later, the United States was drawn into the war in Europe.

January 31, 1917: Germany announced its U-boats would sink without warning all ships traveling to and from British or French ports.

March 1917: U-boats sank three American merchant ships with a heavy loss of life.

April 2, 1917: President Woodrow Wilson urged Congress to declare war against Germany.

April 6, 1917: America entered the Great War.

When the United States entered World War I, the country faced the enormous task of creating a modern army and transporting it overseas.

World War I remains one of the defining events in the history of the U.S. Army. The conflict transformed the Army from a small dispersed organization to a modern industrialized fighting force capable of global reach and influence.

Source of table: WWI Fact Sheet

U.S. Army Statistics:
April 1, 1917: November 11, 1918:
Regular Army:

Philippine Scouts:

National Guard:

  • Federal:
  • State:




  • 80,446
  • 101,174

  • Commissioned:
  • Inducted:
  • Enlisted:


  • 203,786
  • 2,801,373
  • 877,458
Total Available: 213,557 Total Army Forces: 4,176,297


New divisions were created using existing National Guard units such as Lawson’s.

Source of table: Maneuver and Firepower: The Evolution of Divisions and Separate Brigades

Lawson’s new division, the 30th, was nicknamed “Old Hickory” after Andrew Jackson because of his historic connection between the three states (North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee) furnishing the majority of the personnel. The division’s organization included the 117th, 118th, 119th, and 120th Infantry Regiments, the 113th, 114th, 115th Artillery Regiments, the 113th, 114th, 115th Machine Gun Battalions, and the 105th Engineer Regiment, along with other supporting units.

In all, six Brunswick County men served the duration of the war in the 105th Engineers of the 30th Division. Rosters are listed in The History of the 105th Engineering Regiment of Engineers

Lawson Devaun Ballard Enlisted:
National Guard
August 1916 Company A
George Harker Hewett Enlisted:
National Guard
August 1916 Company A
Vander L. Simmons Enlisted:
National Guard
October 1916 Company A
Harvey T. Chadwick Ordered to Report March 1918 Company D
Samuel Peter Cox Ordered to Report March 1918 Company A
Thedford S. Lewis Ordered to Report March 1918 Company D
Note: Pvt Carl Jefferson Danford died of pneumonia before the roster in the document referenced above was created. He trained in Company D until his death in December 1917.
Pvt Henry W. Cannon trained in Company B until his discharge in March 1918, due to dependent relatives.


Late in the conflict, in August 1918, the distinction between National Guard, Reserve Corps, Regular Army, and National Army was legally dissolved and all four elements were fused into one organization, the United States Army. This was the first time in American history that career soldiers, citizen soldiers, and drafted men of the infantry found themselves on the same legal basis.

On May 26, 1918, Lawson boarded Talthybius to France, along with the other five Brunswick County men. After a short training period, the division was transferred to the British troops in Belgium to help construct defensive positions. This was followed by more training and offensives. Their defining battle was the assault on the Hindenburg Line, which began at 5:50am on September 29, 1918. The action was part of a series of Allied assaults known as the Hundred Days Offensive, which led to the Armistice of November 1918.

Lawson was seriously wounded by German gas shells on September 29, 1918, the day of the assault on the Hindenburg Line. (More details on the 105th Engineers will follow.)

Lawson’s gas injury is listed on page 283 as part of the Special Order from the Headquarters of the 105th Engineering Regiment found on pages 280 – 285 of the book The History of the 105th Regiment of Engineers, located in the NC Digital Collections. The order gave him the right to wear a wound chevron. (Wound chevrons were replaced by the Purple Heart in 1932.)

Lawson returned to Brunswick County, married, and raised his family in Wilmington. In 1981, he was laid to rest alongside his wife in a cemetery there.

If you would like to help us honor Lawson Devaun Ballard or another Brunswick County WWI veteran, please use the following links:

Click here for the announcement: Announcement: Honor a Brunswick County World War I Veteran
Click here for directions to donate and honor a veteran: How to Honor a Brunswick County World War I Veteran

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