Monthly Archives: February 2019

Why “Doughboy”?

Copied from the Camp Benning 1920-21 yearbook. Source listed below.

“Who, what and why is a ‘doughboy’?” Well, he is an American Infantryman, of course, as distinguished from all other wearers of Uncle Sam’s uniform, and about the best two-fisted and two-legged fighting man of which there is any record anywhere, and he gets his name because – because, why, er, come to think of it, how does he get the name?

And there you are. In an ambitious attempt to solve this mystery of long standing for the benefit of our readers, we went to no less an authority than Lieut. Col. James G. Hannah, Director of the Department of Research, and an officer of long service and deep erudition. “My boy,” said the Colonel sadly, “you ask me the only question this Department has never been able to solve satisfactorily by the critical research method. In my youth, I, too, was intrigued by this mystery and spent many long hours pouring over musty tomes of military lore, delving deep into the official records of our Army back to Revolutionary days, but never have I encountered an explanation that would really explain this perplexed question. This Department can only commend your worthy purpose and wish you success in the task you have set yourselves.”

With our confidence somewhat shaken, but still hopeful nevertheless, we next accosted a grizzled non-com, who bore on his battle-scarred breast all the campaign ribbons since the Black Hawk War. “Can’t say, sir,” he replied to our question. “I’ve heard it all my life, but never took the trouble to find out how we happened to get the name. Some say the Cavalrymen started it, sort of making fun of us, I guess, because we have to plod along through the mud, and I suppose that’s as reasonable as for us to call them Yellow Legs.”

And so it was all along the line. About all our investigation established was that, as regards this question, there are two major schools of thought, one of which adheres to the origin stated by Sergeant Hill just quoted, while the other contends that “doughboy” is a corruption of the words, “dough ball” used to describe a certain type of button worn on the Infantry overcoats in the early parts of the nineteenth century. Still another tenable theory comes from the use of pipe-clay (familiarly known as “dough”) to whiten the trouser stripes of the dress uniform. And here we are forced to rest, leaving the solution of the question to some master mind of the future, if indeed there is a solution. May it not be that, like Topsy, the term was not born, but “jes growed”?

Regardless of how the sobriquet originated or the idea it may at one time have been intended to convey, the title “doughboy” is Infantry property and belongs of right to no other branch, all of which have their own popular nicknames. We are proud of it, and justly resent its misuse. In these days of machinery, when our brethren of the Field Artillery, the Engineers, the Air Service and other branches call to their aid the genius of the gasoline engine to move them from place to place, there is inspiration in the realization that we “doughboys” are not dependent upon any thing but the equipment we were born with, and that while we may churn up a lot of mud in the process, we GET THERE just the same. If we are a little slower than some, why we’ll just stick around a little longer, that’s all.


The WWI Profile of Sgt Forney Mintz referenced the yearbooks from Camp Benning, GA, (now Fort Benning) home of the US Army Infantry School. The yearbook is named “The Doughboy.” The text and photos above were taken from the 1920-21 yearbook.

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WWI Profile: Forney Boston Mintz 1892-1960 (Part 2)

To view this or an earlier profile at any time, click on the veteran’s name on the WWI Brunswick County Veteran list, which is also accessible by the blue button on the top right of the webpage.

Source: Photo from Adams, John Wesley; McCollum, Lee C. Our Company. Seattle, Lumberman printing co. 1919
Forney Boston Mintz
Mill Branch, Brunswick County, NC
U.S. Army
Sergeant

Served:
January 9, 1918 – January 8, 1929
Overseas:
April 6, 1918 – April 28, 1919
Wounded: August 15, 1918; September 27, 1918

Awarded Distinguished Service Cross, Silver Star,
Purple Heart with Oak Leaf Cluster

This is the second part of the Forney Mintz WWI Profile. Due to the amount of documentation about Forney Mintz, along with his multiple medals and association with a famous event, his WWI Profile has been posted in two parts. Read Part 1 here, which includes the story of The Lost Battalion, soldiers from his company and others surrounded by Germans for six days until only 194 of the original 554 soldiers remained.

A recent story in The Washington Post (October 7, 2018) ‘Attacked and starved’: A century-old diary recounts U.S. soldiers trapped behind enemy lines shared details from the diary of a soldier who survived the Lost Battalion. This particular soldier, Sgt Samuel Marcus, was left sterile due to poison gas exposure. Sgt Marcus was the great-great uncle of the author, who wrote the following after visiting the Meuse-Argonne Cemetery,

“The Lost Battalion is one with few descendants: So many young men were killed before having children and many who survived were sterile from gas exposure. Preserving a collective history is a challenge made even more difficult and urgent by the lack of surviving generations. Sam had no children, and to this day, my father and I are the only two people who have read his diary.

I spent hours in the woods and even longer in the cemetery without seeing a single person. Few may be left to visit these graves.

These young men gave their lives and their future — descendants they never had — in a military offensive that reshaped our world, but has nevertheless been largely forgotten. These graves are a testament to the bravery and sacrifice that my uncle’s words resurrect.”

Sgt Forney Mintz also had no children, whether by choice or the effects of war. These are not isolated cases. Many of the WWI veterans, men and women (recall Southport’s Navy Nurse Susie Williams’ WWI Profile), on our list of Brunswick County WWI Veterans and on the WWI Wall of Honor did not have descendants, while those who did have few still living today.

It is left to us to breathe new life into the memories of these soldiers’ lives and sacrifices.

Continuing with Sgt Forney Mintz, with the war over, he arrived in Hoboken, NJ, on April 28, 1919. He entered the Reserves until being discharged on January 8, 1920.

The 1920 Census shows Forney and two brothers, Owen and Martin, living at home in Brunswick County. All three had been wounded in the war. By August, Forney was once again serving in the US Army.

On November 26, 1921, Lt. Col. Charles White Whittlesey, the former commander of The Lost Battalion and the first WWI recipient of the Medal of Honor, after battling inner demons for three years, threw himself over the side of a ship bound for Cuba. His body was never recovered.

In 1919, the events of The Lost Battalion were made into a silent film. Actual maps, documents, and the German note asking for surrender were used. Many of the soldiers, including Lt. Col. Charles Whittlesey, portrayed themselves.

In 2001, A&E made a television movie called The Lost Battalion based on accounts of the battle. In that portrayal Major Whittlesey was played by Ricky Schroder.

Newsletters and newspapers from Fort Benning, GA, include information about both Forney and his brother Leob, who was also stationed there for some time. Excerpts below are taken from the Fort Benning archives and may be found here: http://www.benning.army.mil/Library/Virtual.html

“The Doughboy” yearbooks are also located at this site and while they contain no pictures or information about the Mintz brothers, they do describe the 29th Infantry, in which both served while at Fort Benning. Fort Benning is the home of the US Army Infantry School.

The 29th Infantry

The 29th Infantry is located at Camp Benning for the principle purpose of furnishing the necessary demonstration troops for the Infantry School. The regiment functions under all of the various departments of the School, as well as the Infantry Board and the Department of Experiment, and is frequently drawn upon for various details necessitated by the present evolutionary stage of the work of the School and Camp.

Some of the junior officers of the regiment are graduates of the Basic course of the Infantry School, but the great majority are veterans of the World War who have recently returned to service.

January 29, 1925:
“Sergt. Forney B. Mintz and Sergt. Leob Mintz wrote us last week and will be glad to be back with the boys again sometime this month. The two brothers are on a three month’s furlough.”

December 25, 1925:
“Sergeants Forney B. Mintz and Leob Mintz left on a 30 day furlough, in order to attend the wedding of their sister at Ash, North Carolina.”

February 19, 1926: Sgt Mintz is seated on the far right of the first row.

April 15, 1926:

On September 28, 1918, a flank platoon of Company A, 308th Infantry, was facing the Germans near Binarville, France, not far from Verdun. Since the early morning of September 28th this platoon had been slowly advancing against stubborn opposition from enemy machine gun nests. In command was a sergeant of five years’ service in the Regulars. The American artillery fire swept forward in front, but Co. “A” had no orders to advance. When the barrage had gone forward more than a mile, the orders to advance arrived. The Sergeant led his men forward. How well he performed his duty that day is best indicated by the following citation which accompanied the award to him of the Distinguished Service Cross.

“Forney B. Mintz, Sgt. Co. A, 308th Inf., for extra ordinary heroism in action near Binarville, France, Sept. 28, 1918. Sgt. Mintz, in command of a platoon, worked his way through the enemy rear guard and captured 5 machine guns and an ammunition carrying party. Altho badly wounded when an organized position of the enemy was encountered, he made his way back to request reinforcements and brought with him two German prisoners from whom valuable information was obtained.”

Even before the War, Sergt. Mintz was no stranger to death and disaster as two years after his original enlistment, January 8, 1913 at Columbus Barracks, he was serving with the 23rd Infantry stationed at Galveston, when the flood struck that Texas port. Mintz, then a private, assisted ably in the rescue work, the burial of the victims, the removal of the debris from the city and the reconstruction of the post.

On January 8, 1916, Mintz was furloughed to the Regular Army Reserve, but when Villa’s raid sent American troops hurrying to the border, he was recalled to the colors and served in Brownsville, Texas, and Gettysburg, Pa. with the 4th Infantry. During this period he was first made corporal and later sergeant. In June, 1917 he was transferred to the 58th Infantry and in August to the 77th Division, with which he went overseas thruout that National Army Division’s stay in France.

After being again furloughed to the Reserves in 1919, Sergt. Mintz was discharged January 8, 1920, but the lure of the service was too strong and on August 27, 1920, he came back for another takeout. He served with the 61st Infantry until its demobilization in July 1921, and was then assigned to Co. B, 29th Infantry, where he is still serving. In 1925 another discharge was given him per e.t.s. And again he went back to Bluff City, his home in the North Carolina hills; but as on other occasions, back he came for more, signing up again on May 17, 1924.

Sergt. Mintz is 34 years old, a North Carolinian by birth and inclination and before becoming part of the backbone of Uncle Sam’s Army was a tiller of the soil. Calm and collected during the most trying situations, decisive action when once started and withal having a thorough knowledge of his duties, Sergt. Mintz is one of the most efficient non-coms in the crack demonstration regiment. His comrades says he’s the kind you’d expect to take a corn cob pipe out of his mouth and spit twice before answering a question. And that’s a good kind of man to have around in an emergency.

July 9, 1926:
“Sergeant Mintz has made the high score with the rifle, his score being .317. No wonder he likes to shoot the bull in the eye.”

October 21, 1927:
“The Mintz brothers are back from furlough and reported having a very fine time in N.C., didn’t notice any tar on their heels, must have moved pretty fast while there.”

The February 8, 1929 issue announced that Sgt. Mintz had been given the honor of serving as an orderly for the Assistant Secretary of War during his visit to Fort Benning.

The 1930 Census shows Sgt Mintz and his brother Leob still serving with the 29th Infantry at Fort Benning in Chattahoochee, Georgia.

November 14, 1930:
“The two Mintz boys are back and their ninety days in Carolina certainly agreed with them, and especially with Sergeant Mintz as he has been unable to find a pair of pants that will fit him, since he came back.”

The January 30, 1931 issue mentions the Company Quartet, accompanied by three sergeants playing coronet, saxophone, and Sgt. Mintz on piano. An earlier issue mentions his brother, Leob Mintz, being an artist.

In 1939, the Mintz family’s father passed away. His obituary was printed in The State Port Pilot.

Source: [The State Port Pilot; 1939, Feb. 22, P.1].

Ash Merchant Died Last Week

Funeral rites for Samuel K. Mintz, 83, former merchant of the Ash section, who died at his home after a lingering illness, were held at the graveside in the Mintz cemetery near Shallotte on Thursday afternoon.

The Rec. R.B. Gerald conducted the services.

He is survived by his wife, Mrs. Ida Mintz; and six children, O.R. Mintz, Newman Mintz, Mina Mintz, and Cora Ludlum, all of Ash; Sergeant F.B. Mintz, of Fort Benning, GA; and Leob Mintz, of Washington, D.C.

Mr. Mintz was married four times. His first wife was Miss Mary Bennette, of the Shingletree section, and from this union five children are living. His second wife was Maggie Bennette; his third, Mary Allen, of Tar Hill; and his fourth Ida Goodwin Caines.

In 1940, the Census shows Sgt Mintz still stationed at Fort Benning.

The Fort Benning Bayonet, July 22, 1943 issue, p.2 includes the following story about Sgt Mintz.

Lost Battalion Survivor To Get Discharge Soon
Germans Had Unit Completely Surrounded In Argonne Forest

One of the few survivors of the famous “Lost Battalion” of World War I, Sgt. Forney B. Mintz of Company C of the Academic Regiment, soon will be discharged from the Army, after more than 29 years service.

The be-ribboned sergeant is the holder of the Distinguished Service Cross, the Purple Heart, the World War ribbon, the Mexican Border ribbons, and the pre-Pearl Harbor ribbon. Two of them were awarded for his heroism with the 1st (“Lost”) Battalion of the 308th Infantry, 77th Division.

Describing his experience, Sergeant Minta said, “We were completely surrounded by the Germans in the Argonne. They sent a blind-folded soldier over to ask us to surrender. Our major told them to “go to hell.” Of course, after that we always called him “Go to Hell Whittlesey.”

Tough Spot
“We were in a tough spot,” the 51-year-old sergeant recalls. “They shot everything at us. Gas – one pounders – machine guns. I didn’t have to do any bayoneting, but some of my men did. I had to throw plenty of hand grenades, though.”

Stating that they could get supplies only by plane, Sergeant Mintz said they ate nothing but oak leaves and water for days because the Germans would get everything that was dropped for them.

“As soon as we made a move to go for some food or water that had been dropped, they picked us off,” the sergeant relates. “Finally, when there were only 20 or 30 of us left, the battalions to the right and left of us advanced, and the Germans fell back. We were saved. And when I got out of there, I went straight to the hospital with two wounds.”

Gets D.S.C.
The day after Christmas, 1918, Maj. Gen. Robert Alexander pinned the D.S.C. on Mintz’s chest. Thirteen years later he was awarded the Purple Heart for the same action.

Originally from Ash, N.C., Sergeant Mintz signed up for the Army in 1913. He was on reserve during 1916 when he was called back to the colors to serve on outpost duty during the Mexican trouble, thus earning his first ribbon. When war broke out, he was transferred to Camp Upton as a cadre-sergeant with the 77th Division in the battalion later to be called “Lost Battalion.”

Since the first World War he has been with several units, including the 29th Infantry, and was an acting first sergeant in a CCC unit in Tennessee in 1933. He has been with the Academic Regiment since April, 1942.

As with many stories from the war, myths and distortions grow and become accepted facts. Major Whittlesey never uttered the words, “Go to Hell” although the message was implied when he ignored the demand to surrender. And the 308th Infantry in its entirety had become “The Lost Battalion.”

Read more at the WWI Centennial Lost Battalion webpage (https://www.worldwar1centennial.org/index.php/finding-the-lost-battalion-myths-and-legends.html).

After his retirement date of November 30, 1943, The Fort Benning Bayonet, December 2, 1943 issue, p.12 published the following story about Sgt Mintz.

Member of Lost Battalion Given Discharge After 30-Years Service

Sgt. Forney B. Mintz, of Ash, N.C., one of the 20 or so heroic survivors of the famed “Lost Battalion,” was discharged from the Academic Regiment Tuesday after 30 years with the colors.

Seeing his first active duty during the Mexican border trouble of 1916, Mintz went overseas as a sergeant with the 77th Division. As a result of his service with the almost wiped out “Lost Battalion,” he earned the Distinguished Service Cross and the Purple Heart. He was twice wounded during crucial days when the battalion was surrounded, starving and being cut to pieces. When relief came only a score of Yanks were alive to tell the tale.

Mintz has served with various infantry regiments “between the wars,” and was an acting topkick in a CCC unit in Tennessee in 1933. He came to the Academic Regiment in April of 1942.

Source: findagrave
On December 14, 1960, after nearly 4 months at the Fayetteville Veterans Hospital, Forney Boston Mintz passed away from prostate cancer. He had never married. He was laid to rest in Mintz Cemetery in Ocean Isle Beach. A military headstone is shown.

Medals Received:

DSC: Distinguished Service Cross
SS: Silver Star
PH & OLC: Purple Heart with one Oak Leaf Cluster, indicating he was wounded on two separate occasions.

Sources:
Adams, John Wesley; McCollum, Lee C. (1919) Our Company. Seattle, Lumberman printing co.

Laplander, Robert John (2017). Finding the Lost Battalion: Beyond the Rumors, Myths and Legends of America’s Famous WWI Epic. Waterford, WI: Lulu Press.

Sherwood, Elmer W. (1929). Diary of a Rainbow Veteran. Terre Haute, IN: Moore-Langen.

History of the 77th Division (1919). NY: 77th Division Association

If you would like to help us honor Forney Boston Mintz 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

Click the category: Veteran Profile here or at the bottom of any veteran profile post to see all of the veteran profiles published. Follow or subscribe to the blog to stay updated on all new profiles.

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WWI Profile: Forney Boston Mintz 1892-1960 (Part 1)

To view this or an earlier profile at any time, click on the veteran’s name on the WWI Brunswick County Veteran list, which is also accessible by the blue button on the top right of the webpage.

Source: Photo from Adams, John Wesley; McCollum, Lee C. Our Company. Seattle, Lumberman printing co. 1919
Forney Boston Mintz
Mill Branch, Brunswick County, NC
U.S. Army
Sergeant

Served:
January 9, 1918 – January 8, 1929
Overseas:
April 6, 1918 – April 28, 1919
Wounded: August 15, 1918; September 27, 1918

Awarded Distinguished Service Cross, Silver Star,
Purple Heart with Oak Leaf Cluster

Due to the amount of documentation about Forney Mintz, along with his multiple medals and association with a famous event, his WWI Profile will be posted in two parts.

Forney Boston Mintz was born and raised in Mill Branch, NC. He was the third of four brothers, all serving in WWI.

Forney was the first brother to enlist in the US Army in 1913 at age 21. His enlistment, found in Ancestry, shows his height was 5′ 5 3/4″. He was transferred to the Army Reserves on January 8, 1916, then returned to active duty on August 22, 1916.

Half brother Samuel Leob Mintz enlisted in 1916; brothers Martin Newman Mintz and Owen Ransom Mintz were drafted.

All four brothers served overseas. Like Forney, Martin and Owen were wounded. WWI Profiles have been posted for Martin Newman Mintz and Owen Ransom Mintz.

Leob and Forney made a career in the Army.

Forney was the only soldier from Brunswick County to serve in the 77th Division. He was assigned on September 5, 1917, to Company A, 308th Infantry, 77th Division. At that point he had been promoted to Sergeant.

The 77th Division, first called the Metropolitan Division but popularly known as the “Statue of Liberty Division” due to the insignia shown, was organized from New York City draftees. Most of the enlisted men were recent immigrants or were poor working class from the streets of New York City. This gave rise to the popular theory that fighting from a young age for food and other attributes acquired on the streets contributed to their survival in the Argonne.

Soldiers from 25 different nationalities were part of the division, reflecting the melting pot of NYC.

“The recruits represented all races and all creeds – men who had only recently been subjected to the pogroms of Russia, gunmen and gangsters, a type peculiar to New York City, Italians, Chinamen, the Jews and the Irish, a heterogeneous mass, truly representative both of the varied human flotsam and the sturdy American manhood which comprise the civil population of New York City.”

One of those members was songwriter Irving Berlin, then age 30. Berlin who was already famous, wrote and produced a musical show called “Yip, Yip, Yaphank” about the experience of training at Camp Upton.

The show featured the song “Oh, How I Hate to Get Up in The Morning” which Berlin performed. The song related how the Soldier hated the bugler who woke up the troops each day.
Source: World War I draftees from New York City made history in the 77th Division

Photo source: Library of Congress; Lady Liberty striking the Kaiser
Sgt Mintz trained with the 77th Division at Camp Upton, one of the two military bases on Long Island. The other was Camp Mills, where the 42nd Division was assembled. (Recall that the 42nd Division included many Brunswick County men.) Both divisions captured the hearts of the citizens of New York.

The photo below is included in “Our Company” a book about Company A of the 308th Infantry. This photo was used to isolate Sgt Mintz, pictured at top of page. Sgt Mintz is in the second row, fourth from the right.


The book is in rhyme form. About Sgt Mintz, the book includes the following:


On April 6, 1918, Sgt. Mintz sailed on Lapland for France. The 77th Division was the first draftee division to arrive in France and the first to take front line positions.

By the end of August, the division had losses equal to nearly one third of its strength.

In early September, the Regiment was moved to the Argonne Forest as part of the Meuse-Argonne Offensive. The Meuse-Argonne Offensive was the largest and deadliest battle in US military history, involving 1.2 million American soldiers. It occurred at the same time influenza was raging, claiming lives in Europe and back home. The 308th had been continually in the front line from June 20th until September 15th. Facing the Argonne Forest, the 77th Division was positioned at the left flank of the American forces, with the 308th Infantry at the extreme left. The exhaustion from continuous fighting, the pandemic, and the soon to be exposed left flank all contributed to the tragedy that followed.

To the 77th Division was assigned the task of direct attack through the forest. After the first day, this Division operated alone within the confines of this forest, and fought its way through its entire length.

On the night of September 25th, the Infantry of the 77th Division quietly moved into the front line.
~ History of the 77th Division

The battle began in the early hours of September 26, 1918, through a dense fog. That day, Pfc Louis “Lolly” B. Doerr, from our World War I Wall of Honor, was KIA. He served with the 302nd Engineers of the 77th Division.

The “Wilderness Battle” of the Great War had begun. Overcoats and blankets had been discarded and very limited amounts of food were carried by each man.
Through a tangled jungle of trees, clinging vines and thickly braided brush, through swamps and muddy morasses flooded by constant rains that were falling, over steeps and across wild valleys, through the mud and the wet and the cold, the unfaltering soldiers of the 77th Division were obliged to push on day after day, against invisible machine guns, against trenches concealed by foliage and underbrush, against positions whose forward areas were perfectly protected by numerous lines of barbed wire and chicken wire interlaced among trees, against an enemy who could not be seen to be fired at and who could only be nosed out and routed by attacking parties that crawled along the ground and scouted from tree to tree until they could engage him in hand-to-hand combat.

Told to “push forward without regard to flanks”, by October 2, six companies of the 308th Infantry, commanded by Major Charles S. Whittlesey, along with one company from the 307th Infantry and two companies of the 306th Machine Gun Battalion, penetrated a gap in the German trenches and advanced to a ravine at Charlevaux Mill. At this point, a total of about 700 men were cut off and surrounded on all sides by the Germans and remained there for five days. Food and medical supplies depleted, men were lost one by one, shot while trying to find food or water or retrieve supplies dropped in the area, fallen by illnesses or effects of no food and water, or died of wounds.

Communications were a problem. Runners couldn’t successfully deliver messages, so homing pigeons were used. In one incident, when the battalions were being hit by American artillery, a homing pigeon sent a famous message to stop the barrage and became a hero.

“Five days later, 194 survivors walked out of the ravine and into history…”
~ Robert J. Laplander

WWI Profile: Cher Ami 1910-1919

Cher Ami (“dear friend”)
US Army
Served:
1914-1918
Wounded: October 3, 1918
Awarded Croix de Guerre Medal with a palm Oak Leaf Cluster

Cher Ami carried the famous message back to headquarters.

We are along the road parallel to 276.4. Our own artillery is dropping a barrage directly on us. For heavens sake stop it.

While the artillery had discovered their mistake minutes before Cher Ami returned, she nevertheless became a hero. She had been shot through the breast, blinded in one eye, and had a leg hanging only by a tendon. 77th Division medics worked to save her life. Her leg could not be saved, so a small wooden one was carved for her.

When she died in 1919, Cher Ami’s body was mounted by a taxidermist (who discovered the male pigeon was actually a female) and put on display at the Smithsonian Institution.

Sgt Mintz had been wounded on September 28. Was he a member of the Lost Battalion? He did not appear on the Lost Battalion list. Robert J. Laplander, the world’s leading historian of the Lost Battalion and WWI Centennial Commission’s Managing Director of Finding the Lost Battalion, was contacted to confirm. No, Sgt Mintz was not a member of the Lost Battalion.

“Sergeant Mintz was rescued from the field after he was wounded by Private Stephan Wondowlowsky [a Polish immigrant living in Brooklyn] of Company A, who dressed his wounds and carried him back to a safer area, from which Mintz then rounded up the two prisoners and headed back to a first aid station behind the lines. His combat days were pretty much behind him after that, although he did return to Company A and was with them for the final drive to the Meuse River and returned home with them on April 28th, 1919.”

Three members of the Regiment were awarded the Medal of Honor for their service during the First World War. Two of these men, Major Charles W. Whittlesey and Captain George G. McMurtry, were recognized for their actions during the “Lost Battalion” period while in command of the units trapped in the ravine. Additionally, seventy-five members of the Regiment were awarded the Distinguished Service Cross and a further two the Croix de Guerre.

Sgt Forney B. Mintz was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross. The following citation accompanied the award.

“Forney B. Mintz, Sgt. Co. A, 308th Inf., for extra ordinary heroism in action near Binarville, France, Sept. 28, 1918. Sgt. Mintz, in command of a platoon, worked his way through the enemy rear guard and captured 5 machine guns and an ammunition carrying party. Although badly wounded when an organized position of the enemy was encountered, he made his way back to request reinforcements and brought with him two German prisoners from whom valuable information was obtained.”

Throughout its service in France the 77th Division sustained 10,194 casualties: 1,486 killed and 8,708 wounded.

The story of the Lost Battalion was one of the most talked about events of World War I. It even made its way into a soldier’s diary. Diary of a Rainbow Veteran (source listed at bottom) entry of October 9, 1918, includes the following.

The division that is now getting the “razz” is the 77th (New York). Their emblem is the Statue of Liberty. Now since the lost battalion has become famous, all the other divisions say that this insignia represents a French mademoiselle carrying a torch and looking for the lost battalion.

Click to read the WWI Profile of Forney Mintz (Part 2)

Sources:
Adams, John Wesley; McCollum, Lee C. (1919) Our Company. Seattle, Lumberman printing co.

Laplander, Robert John (2017). Finding the Lost Battalion: Beyond the Rumors, Myths and Legends of America’s Famous WWI Epic. Waterford, WI: Lulu Press.

Sherwood, Elmer W. (1929). Diary of a Rainbow Veteran. Terre Haute, IN: Moore-Langen.

History of the 77th Division (1919). NY: 77th Division Association

If you would like to help us honor Forney Boston Mintz 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

Click the category: Veteran Profile here or at the bottom of any veteran profile post to see all of the veteran profiles published. Follow or subscribe to the blog to stay updated on all new profiles.

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WWI Profile: Jesse Lee Fayette Inman 1891-1935

To view this or an earlier profile at any time, click on the veteran’s name on the WWI Brunswick County Veteran list, which is also accessible by the blue button on the top right of the webpage.

Source: Soldiers of the Great War, Vol. II
Jesse Lee Fayette Inman
Freeland, Brunswick County, NC
US Army
Private

Served:
May 27, 1918 – May 9, 1919
Overseas:
July 31, 1918 – April 25, 1919
Wounded: September 29, 1918

Jesse Lee Fayette Inman was born and raised in Freeland, NC. A partial family tree is located in FamilySearch. Jesse’s brother Joel “Joe” Robert Inman also served in WWI.

Jesse’s WWI Draft Registration shows he was single, living in Ash, and working on the family farm.

Jesse and his brother Joe were ordered to report for duty on May 27, 1918, along with 35 other men from Brunswick County [Source: Ancestry]. Included in the 37 were John Hillery Caison, David Bertram Frink, and Zade McLoud Williams (NC WWI Service Record not found). Jesse, John, David, and Zade were sent to Camp Jackson, SC, to train with the 81st Division, but transferred to the 42nd Division in August. (His brother Joe Inman was honorably discharged with a Surgeon’s Certificate of Discharge in September, classified as 33 1/3% disabled.)

Jesse Lee Fayette Inman and John Hillery Caison became replacements for Company A, 168th Infantry, 42nd “Rainbow” Division. David Bertram Frink was assigned to the 166th Infantry and Zade McLoud Williams to the 167th Infantry, all with the 42nd Division.

Previous posts described the formation and training of the 42nd Rainbow Division, along with the months in France up to August 17, 1918, when the Rainbow Division, victorious in many battles, was finally given a chance to rest and resupply. Replacements such as Pvts Caison, Inman, Frink, and Williams arrived to serve with the battle hardened troops. Those drafted at a late date such as these men were typically not trained and never even held a rifle before boarding ships to France. They were given uniforms and sent overseas quickly, which earned them the gruesome nickname “Cannon fodder.”

Pvt Caison’s WWI Profile described the St. Mihiel Offensive, the first all-American offensive of the war, along with casualty totals. Pvt Inman was reportedly “slightly wounded” during the operation on September 29. No details are available.

On October 1, 1918, the 42nd Division withdrew and went south. They were a shock division now, elite troops, and must wait until they were needed.

Note: Source information for the diary entries can be found at bottom. Corporal Sherwood served in the 67th Artillery Brigade of the 42nd Rainbow Division from April 12, 1917 until May 10, 1919.

This gang doesn’t act like lambs going forth to slaughter. In fact, we are happy that the Rainbow is going into the line.

We turned into blankets early to the sound of a fierce cannonading from the distant battle front, and in my sleep I dreamed, not of war, but of home and loved ones waiting there, of those at home who really suffer and endure more of the mental agony than we who are in the midst of the war.
~ Diary of a Rainbow Veteran, October 3

Along the way, when troops ask their outfit, they sometimes respond with pride, “Rainbow.”

This always has the desired effect of creating a wholesome awe and respect among the bystanders who watch us pass, and many are the remarks of encouragement and references to our past victories addressed to us.
~ Diary of a Rainbow Veteran, October 4

As they started for the front, the destruction around them was devastating.

In our path lay the four-year-old trenches and defenses of both French and German. What a picture of desolation! We came into what had been a great forest, now shorn of life. What few trees remain standing are naked, burnt and scarred. Gas has killed every living thing.

Our engineers are busy building bridges across this forsaken country, for shell holes are so thick that a gun or even a cart can’t start across it without upsetting. In fact, it is all a foot soldier can do to walk across it.
~ Diary of a Rainbow Veteran, October 6

The 84th Brigade (167th Infantry of Pvt Frink and 168th Infantry of Pvt Inman) relieved the 1st Division in the front lines north of Exermont on October 13, 1918. Their attack began at 5:30am.

The Rainbow attack today netted four kilometers and a great number of prisoners, but our losses exceeded a thousand. For the first time since we have been on the line in this drive the fog cleared away today and a great rainbow emerged from the clouds. Our men regard this as an omen of good luck, and shout to each other encouragements and orders to press on.
~ Diary of a Rainbow Veteran, October 15

I talked to a sergeant whom I had known back in Lorraine. He told me that replacements had filled the great gaps in the lines of the old regiments until only non-coms and a few officers remained of those who had come across with the Division.

He said the new men were filling the places well and got right into the spirit of the Division.
~ Diary of a Rainbow Veteran, October 17

The captain read an order this morning to the non-coms of the battery stating that since our infantry has been so terribly shot up it will be necessary for each artillery outfit to furnish 68 privates, seven non-coms, and one officer to go into the line as infantry on the next advance. …every man volunteered to go over the top with a rifle and doughboy pack.
~ Diary of a Rainbow Veteran, October 22

Replacements are coming in regularly now to fill up the gaps in our ranks caused by losses in action. At first the men of this outfit hated the idea of rank outsiders getting into this volunteer outfit, but of course it has to be done. Then we are Americans after all, and all have one purpose – to win the war; so we have assimilated the green drafts from the States and find that, generally speaking, they make good soldiers.

The new men bring into the outfit news of the States and what the folks at home are doing. They also bring along various training camp songs and jokes.
~ Diary of a Rainbow Veteran, October 24

The 42nd Division broke through the Hindenburg Line in that area and were relieved on October 31 by the 2nd Division. Troops of the 42nd still held the front line but the 2nd Division passed through the lines and attacked the morning of November 1.

The hard-boiled Rainbow infantry doesn’t like the idea of letting the marines make the attack. [November 1]Many Rainbow doughboys pressed on in spite of orders to hold up and let the marines filter through.
~ Diary of a Rainbow Veteran, October 31/November 1

The Division moved further north, past the areas that had seen years of fighting.

The villages we now occupy are not demolished and ravaged by war like most of the communities we have been used to seeing along the front. Aside from a few bullet marks and an occasional shell hole, these are peaceful looking villages and hills. These villages had been occupied since 1914.

The French peasants were overjoyed. They hung out of their windows hastily made replicas of “The Stars and Stripes” and wept and laughed and sang.
~ Diary of a Rainbow Veteran, November 4

The enemy was in full retreat. The 42nd attacked once more from November 7 until November 10 when they were relieved by the 77th Division, ending their participation in the war. It is not known whether Pvt Inman was in combat during that time.

The air is charged with expectancy today, as we await word of peace.

At eleven, the great rumble of artillery and small arms was stilled.

Eleven o’clock!

How strangely solemn, almost painful to ears long accustomed to the din and tumult of the front!

Our men seem strangely silent. Our thoughts in this hour of triumph cannot but turn to those missing comrades who have shed their blood yielded up their lives for America.

We think, too, of their sorrowing mothers who will have no sons to welcome home.
~ Diary of a Rainbow Veteran, November 11

The 42nd Division had suffered nearly 15,000 casualties during the war. Its total days of combat has been claimed as the highest of all American divisions during the war at 264 days.

Their service not complete, they were chosen for the Army of Occupation and began marching for Germany on November 20. The first troops crossed into Germany on December 2. They remained there until they left to return to the US.

Pvt Inman left Brest, France, on April 18, 1919, with the other members of the 168th Infantry [Source: Ancestry]. On May 9, 1919, he was honorably discharged.

Jesse Inman returned to his family in Waccamaw Township (1920 Census) to continue farming. He married Virginia Dare King the next year. The 1930 Census shows him living in the same area with his wife and working on his own farm. There were no children.

Sadly, his wife passed away in 1931 at age 26 from an embolism after surgery. Jesse also passed away at a young age, 42, in 1935. They were both laid to rest in New Britton Church Cemetery in Ash, NC. No military honors are shown.

Sources:
Reilly, Henry J. (1936). Americans All, The Rainbow at War:Official History of the 42nd Rainbow Division in the World War. Columbus, OH: Heer.

Sherwood, Elmer W. (1929). Diary of a Rainbow Veteran. Terre Haute, IN: Moore-Langen.

Thompkins, Raymond S. (1919). The Story of the Rainbow Division. NY: Boni & Liveright.

World War I American Battle Monuments Commission (1944). 42d Division Summary of Operations in the World War. Washington DC: GPO.

If you would like to help us honor Jesse Lee Fayette Inman 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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A new year brings new goals

Caswell Beach Mayor Deborah Ahlers poses in front of the WWI Monument after receiving the WWI Centennial Memorial Certificate

A year of hard work, contributions, and support from the community for the Honor a Brunswick County World War I Veteran program culminated on Veterans Day 2018 with the installation and dedication of the Brunswick County WWI Monument at the Fort Caswell Rifle Range.

We thank the community for their help and for sharing the stories of the sacrifices made not only by the men, women, and families of Brunswick County during World War I, but our ancestors around the country. (Posted Brunswick County WWI Profiles begin with Wagoner Dorman Mercer, while submitted photos and stories can be read on our WWI Wall of Honor.)

In a few weeks, we’ll conclude the weekly WWI Profiles on the website for Brunswick County veterans identified as wounded or died while serving. WWI Profiles will then be posted for the Brunswick County veterans on the WWI Wall of Honor. (Note that the website is about 5 months ahead with profiles that The Brunswick Beacon has not yet published.)

We are grateful that The Brunswick Beacon continues to publish the weekly WWI Profiles. To see the list of the profiles published on the website and those in The Brunswick Beacon as well as other local newspapers, see the list here.

WWI photos and information are always welcome.

New Goals

Stabilization of the target pit has been achieved; restoration is next. A book is planned this year, which will require funding. The Honor a Brunswick County WWI veteran program will continue; donations of any amount are encouraged to honor all of the Brunswick County WWI veterans. To date, 401 of 724 have been honored.

Goals and a detailed list of funds needed will be posted soon.

Events

The Fundraising tab at the top of the website has been replaced by the Events tab. There are several events already planned, such as commemorating the US Entry into WWI, the Armistice, and the Installation and Dedication of the military marker to honor the only known WWI POW Pvt Robert Bollie Stanley.

New Fundraisers

2018 was the sixth and last of the Kentucky Derby Day fundraisers. New fundraising events are planned. These will be posted in the Events section of the website.

New Board Members

With the completion of the memorial and the designation of the Fort Caswell Rifle Range as an official US WWI Centennial Memorial, new board members have been selected. Information will be posted soon.

Thank you for your support!

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WWI Profile: John Hillery Caison 1895-1984

To view this or an earlier profile at any time, click on the veteran’s name on the WWI Brunswick County Veteran list, which is also accessible by the blue button on the top right of the webpage.

Source: findagrave
John Hillery Caison
Supply, Brunswick County, NC
US Army
Private

Served:
May 27, 1918 – April 8, 1919
Overseas:
July 31, 1918 – March 21, 1919
Wounded: September 23, 1918

John Hillery Caison was born and raised in Brunswick County, NC. His younger brother, James Cline Caison, and brother-in-law, Herman Dan Fulford, also served in WWI. There is a partial family tree in FamilySearch.

His WWI Draft Registration card shows he was single, living in Supply, and working on the family farm.

John was ordered to report for duty on May 27, 1918, along with 36 other men from Brunswick County [Source: Ancestry]. Included in the 36 were Jesse Lee Fayette Inman, David Bertram Frink, and Zade McLoud Williams (NC WWI Service Record not found). All four were sent to Camp Jackson, SC, to train with the 81st Division, but transferred to the 42nd Division in August.

John Hillery Caison and Jesse Lee Fayette Inman became replacements for Company A, 168th Infantry, 42nd “Rainbow” Division. Jesse’s WWI Profile will follow this one next week. David Bertram Frink was assigned to the 166th Infantry and Zade McLoud Williams to the 167th Infantry, both with the 42nd Division.

Previous posts described the formation and training of the 42nd Rainbow Division, along with the months in France up to August 17, 1918, when the Rainbow Division, victorious in many battles, was finally given a chance to rest and resupply. Replacements such as Pvts Caison, Inman, Frink, and Williams arrived to serve with the battle hardened troops. Those drafted at a late date such as these men were typically not trained and never even held a rifle before boarding ships to France. They were given uniforms and sent overseas quickly, which earned them the gruesome nickname “Cannon fodder.”

During the 42nd’s rest in Bourmont area, changes were made. General Douglas MacArthur had been made a Brigadier General and placed in command of the 84th Infantry Brigade, which included the 167th and 168th Infantries. Pvts Caison and Inman served in the 168th. The men from the 168th were originally National Guard members from Iowa. With ranks depleted from the heavy fighting, replacements had to be accepted.

Note: Rosters of Brunswick County veterans and Organizations of the Divisions can be found on the World War I Army/Marine Division Roster webpage.

Excerpts below taken from The Story of the Rainbow Division, source listed at bottom.

Replacements, those freshly arrived, untried soldiers at whose advent the veteran survivors of hard battles look askance, and without whom no division could continue its career as a division, came to the Rainbow in great numbers. The gaps in the ranks were filled. Lost and battle scarred equipment was replaced by new, up-to-date fighting material. The Rainbow Division, in a sort of new Camp Mills, having found its fighting spirit in the field, now was being made over—getting its second wind, so to speak.

The WWI Profile of Herbert Burnell Ward (5th Division) described their next battle. It was the first all-American operation of the war: St. Mihiel. Fourteen American divisions were gathered for the operation: 1, 2, 4, 5, 26, 42, 82, 89, 90; Reserve: 3, 35, 78, 80, 91.

The Rainbow Division had started forward on August 30. Moving always at night and resting during the day in inconspicuous places (for the attack was to be a surprise) it marched about one hundred and twenty kilometers to the Foret de la Reine. There it went into camp in shelter tents. It became a division of mud-dwellers, lying quietly in the sticky black muck all day and wallowing about in it through the night, for by daylight no movement of men or transportation was permitted.

Rain fell steadily and the roads became horrors. Through the downpour and the absolute blackness the men of the 117th Supply Train and the 117th Ammunition Train struggled forward inches at a time with the deep mud sucking their trucks back and the pitch-dark roads seeming to fall away beneath them. Nearly always about twenty-five per cent of all the Rainbow’s transportation was stalled impotently in the mud and wrecking crews were at work day and night.

Soldiers of the 167th Infantry (42nd Division) dug in near St. Benoit on the Meuse River during the St. Mihiel offensive in September 1918. (National Archives)

The attack began on September 12. Brunswick County men Pvt Jimmie Griffin from the 2nd Division had been killed by sentry the night before, while Cpl Herbert Ward from the 5th Division was KIA that day.

The Germans were taken by surprise.

Intelligence found on captured prisoners showed that the Germans did not expect the attack during the rain, and that they considered it a rather mean thing to do—an advantage that would not have been taken by the French and British.

The Germans retreated to the Hindenburg Line, which they thought was impenetrable. It too would be defeated soon.

Under constant fire from the German artillery, the Rainbow Division remained in place, sending raiding parties out to keep the Germans unaware of the Army’s plans elsewhere. The 42nd remained in the area until October 1.

Pvt Caison was severely wounded on September 23, while the Division remained in the area. It appears that he did not return to combat. During the operations, Pvt Caison’s 168th Infantry reported 61 KIA, 30 Died of Wounds, and 289 Wounded.  Pvt Inman was also wounded during these operations (WWI Profile to follow this one next week).

Source: Ancestry.com. U.S., Army Transport Service, Passenger Lists, 1910-1939 [database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2016.
Pvt Caison returned to the US with other casualties from North Carolina on March 6, 1919, from Marseille Embarkation Camp, as shown in the passenger list above. There are no details of his severe wound or if he was recovering from that one or a new illness/injury, but his status is indicated as “B2” which means he could no longer serve in combat. That seems to indicate his injury was disabling but there was no disability at discharge reported on his NC WWI Service Record.

According to the 1920 Census, John returned to Lockwoods Folly to the family farm. When his father died, he remained with his mother (1940 Census). There is no record of him marrying.

John Hillery Caison passed away in 1989 and was laid to rest with his family in Holden Beach. A military flat marker is shown.

Sources:
Reilly, Henry J. (1936). Americans All, The Rainbow at War:Official History of the 42nd Rainbow Division in the World War. Columbus, OH: Heer.

Sherwood, Elmer W. (1929). Diary of a Rainbow Veteran. Terre Haute, IN: Moore-Langen.

Thompkins, Raymond S. (1919). The Story of the Rainbow Division. NY: Boni & Liveright.

World War I American Battle Monuments Commission (1944). 42d Division Summary of Operations in the World War. Washington DC: GPO.

If you would like to help us honor John Hillery Caison 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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