100 Years Later: Vermont’s Entry into the First World War


It has been called THE GREAT WAR and THE WAR TO END ALL WARS.

According to Tweets from WWI, the American intervention in the war can be summarized as:

There is only room for one: ‘s idealism vs. German ‘s imperialism (US caricature).

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Today, we know it as World War One (WWI). It began in 1914 and ended with an armistice at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month in 1918. The global toll had already reached nearly 40 million casualties, including American losses of 117,465 dead and 204,002 wounded.

100 Years Ago Today

After War was officially declared (House and Senate) on April 6th, 1917 the U.S. began preparations to enter the quagmire of European trench warfare.

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Vermonter John Corcoran (r) in WWI

In June of 1917, U.S. transport ships carrying nearly 15,000 U.S. troops (many from New England) in the American Expeditionary Force (AEF) approached the shores of France, these soldiers would join the Allied fight against the Central Powers.  They disembarked at the port of Saint Nazaire; the landing site had been kept secret because of the menace of German submarines, but by the time the Americans had lined up to take their first salute on French soil, an enthusiastic crowd had gathered to welcome them. However, the “Doughboys,” as the British referred to the green American troops, were said to be untrained and ill-equipped, untested for the rigors of fighting along the Western Front.

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PortraitsofWar’s WWI Smithsonian Cover

As U.S. troops landed in France, Americans were mindful of a 125+ year old debt owed that nation. France had been the colonists’ most important ally during the Revolutionary War, having supplied money, material and military brains. The Marquis de Lafayette had fought beside Patriot soldiers, equipping some of them at his own expense. He won the affection of George Washington and became a hero to the young nation. Urged on by Lafayette, France had sent ships, troops, and arms that played a key role in the Patriots’ victory. In early July 1917, the newly arrived American Expeditionary Force troops marched under the Arc de Triomphe, cheered by the people of Paris. In a ceremony at Lafayette’s tomb, where the Frenchman lies buried under dirt from Bunker Hill, an American officer lay down a wreath of pink and white roses. Another officer stepped forward, snapped a salute, and declared: “Lafayette, we are here!”

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Earl F. Lavallee of Winooski, VT in Germany, 1918.

As followers of PortraitsofWar will know, we take a great pride in providing interesting and never-before-seen imagery and narration of wartime photography ranging from the American Civil War to the Korean War. In most cases, I take an authentic photograph from my personal collection and work towards uncovering various details that hopefully elucidate some aspect of the photo.

101st Ammunition Train

In this case, I worked the other way around. My familiarity with the First World War history of the State of Vermont is well known to followers of this blog as well as within my home state. One of my favorite Vermont units to serve in the war was the 101st Ammunition Train of the 26th “Yankee Division”.

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Jeannine Russell (Vermont Agency of Transportation Archaeology Officer), Myself (Vermont Agency of Transportation Archaeologist) and David Schütz (Vermont State Curator) inspecting WWI flags

Only a week ago I was lucky enough to be invited into the bowels of the Vermont Historical Society storage area to inspect a series of American Civil War flags with a few colleagues of mine from work. While in the holding area I mentioned that a series of WWI groups had donated regimental flags and/or guidons to the State of Vermont in the years following the war.

Although I can be a bit fuzzy in my recollections, I apparently had my facts straight and we moved a series of shelves to uncover the aforementioned flags. As I fingered through the labels I instantly recognized the attribution: 101st flags. Please see below for a bit of insight into my recollection…

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101st Ammunition Train Guidon Donation Alert, Burlington Free Press, February, 1919

Ok – So my first attempt at searching on the Library of Congress Newspaper website turned up only one reference to the flags, I kept searching (tried COLORS) and came up with this…

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Flags presented

The above snippit from a 1919 Burlington Free Press article reads:

Colors Presented

War Flags and Shields Presented to State

Montpelier, Oct. 23 – The presentation of the colors and shields of the organizations from Vermont participating in the the world war occurred this evening in the State House with some 200 veterans attending and over 400 spectators in the seats of the representative hall and balcony.

The services were fitting and were attended by many of the men who have been prominent in the connection with the war. Col. F.B. Thomas presided over the exercise and the program carried out consisted of the “History of the 57th Pioneer Infantry” Capt. Ernest W. Gibson – Brattleboro

Presentation of colors – First Vermont and 57th Pioneer Infantry, Col. F. B. Thomas… History and presentation of colors of 302nd Field Artillery , Color Sergeant Albert J. Seguin of Newport.

History and presentation of 101st Ammunition Train Col. William J. Keville of Boston Mass.

Presentation of guidon, Company E. 101st Ammunition Train, Capt. Harold M. Howe of Northfield, VT.

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Ca. 1919 Co. E101st Ammunition Train guidon photo (from Brennan C. Gauthier Collection)

Presentation of guidon, Company F 101st Ammunition Train, Captain McMath

Presentation of guidon, Company G, 101st Ammunition Train, Chester Mooney of Newport.

As I stated earlier, I remembered the fact that the 101st and the 302nd had presented the State of Vermont with standards and guidons from prominent units representing Vermont involvement in the war. The following photos show the results of my inquiries:

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Left to Right: Jeannine Russell (Vermont Agency of Transportation Archaeology Officer), Myself (Vermont Agency of Transportation Archaeologist) an David Schütz (Vermont State Curator)

In the above photo we have just unrolled the 101st Ammunition Train guidons from their muslin cocoons. Present are representative samples of Co. C, G, F and E of the 101st. Each of these matches with the above 1919 article. How amazing is it to read a 98 year old article about a presentation and see the EXACT pieces in living color?

I’m particular excited about the Co. E guidon. I own a ratty panoramic photo taken of the unit when they returned in 1919. Click here to see ever single facial feature of the men in that group.

Ok – so here’s a photo of the guidon taken right before donation in 1919:

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And here’s the guidon today (my big head is at the left edge of the frame):

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WWI guidons of the 101st Ammunition Train

Also, I requested that the regimental flag of the 302nd Field Artillery be brought out for photographing. Special thanks to Jonathan Croft for being the photographer!

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302nd Field Artillery

Has it really been 100 years?

WWI 26th Division Chaplain Photo – Bloomfield, VT Native Arthur LeVeer in France, 1918


It’s always fun to sift through assorted boxes from my collection in search of new material to post here to PortraitofWar. In tonight’s case, I stumbled across a portrait shot of a WWI Catholic chaplain from my adopted home of Vermont!  With only 16,000 soldiers, marines and sailors during WWI, Vermont is a hard state to collect.

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102nd Infantry Regiment Chaplain Arthur J. LeVeer in 1918

Chaplain Arthur Joseph LaVeer was born along the Connecticut River in the Northeast Kingdom (a regional name) town of Bloomfield, Vermont on February 3rd, 1886. Commissioned as a 1st Lt. on August 22nd, 1918, LeVeer was quickly sent overseas to serve as a chaplain with the 102nd Infantry Regiment of the 26th “Yankee Division.”

Identified chaplain photos are incredibly hard to find on the open market, and to find an example taken overseas showing a unit patch and chaplain insignia makes this an exciting acquisition. Father LeVeer served at St. Norbert’s Church in Hardwick for the remainder of his life; this is a spot that I’ve passed hundreds of times during my life without giving a second thought to the WWI history of the area.

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Arthur’s WWI Record

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Arthur’s WWII Draft Card

Rev. Arthur LeVeer is buried in the Mount Cavalry Cemetery in Saint Albans, Franklin County, Vermont.

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LeVeer in the 1960s

Sgt. Rufus M. Pray of the 3rd Vermont Infantry Regiment: Three Times Wounded Veteran From Woodbury/Calais, VT


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Rufus Pray ca. 1861

Little nuggets of historical importance can be found in the strangest of places.  The following photograph was discovered at a local flea market for less than $20.00 US.  The tintype was in terrible condition, with major flaking of the image, oxidation damage and was missing a proper case.  The flea market dealer gave me the family name of the estate the photograph came from and I was content to conduct some research on the image.  At first glance, it appeared to be a standard “armed” shot of a Union Army solider sporting corporal stripes and a pronounced beard.  Colored tint had been added to the cheeks; coloring of images was a common addition by 1860s photographers.

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Calling Card of Lillian M. Pray

Upon carefully inspecting the photograph, it became clear that the image depicted the father of a Lillian Pray; her Victorian era calling card was carefully tucked into the back of the tintype.  Using the power of the internet, I was able to find the identity of her father, as well as a wealth of information related to his wartime exploits and his civilian life here in Vermont.

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Rufus Pray after Photoshop

Please enjoy the following information regarding Sgt. Rufus M. Pray.

The following biography can be found on page 326 of:

Men of Vermont: An Illustrated Biographical History of Vermonters and Sons of Vermont

Compiled by: Jacob G. Ullery

“Rufus M. Pray, of South Woodbury, son of Thomas and Polly (King) Pray, was born in Calais, April 8th, 1844.

His father’s calling was that of a carpenter and joiner, who was a long time resident of the town, in the schools of which Rufus received his education.  The latter, a mere lad of seventeen, did not resist the patriotic impulse that moved him to enter the rank of the Union army, and enlisted in the 2nd New Hampshire Volunteer Infantry Regiment, which for three months garrisoned at old Fort Constitution on the seacoast of that state.  On his journey homewards, he stopped at St. Johnsbury, where Co. J, of Calais, 3rd Regt. Vt. Volunteers were engaged in their daily drill, and such was the enthusiasm of the young volunteer, that he at once re-enlisted without bidding farewell to the loved ones at home or crossing the paternal threshold.  Mr. Pray share the fortunes of the gallant third in all its numerous engagements from Lewinsville and Lee’s Mills, to the bloody Battle of the Wilderness, where he was wounded in foot and forehead, and was sent to the S.A. Douglas hospital in Washington, from thence transferred to the U.S. General Hospital at Montpelier, from which he boldly returned to active duty before his wounds were wholly healed.  He then experienced the vicissitudes of Sheridan’s Shenandoah campaign, and at Cedar Creek, while on the skirmish line, received a dangerous wound in his hip, which was traversed by a minie-ball.  He was carried twelve miles in an army wagon to Sheridan Hospital, then sent to Frederick, Maryland, and later to Montpelier, where he received an honorable discharge after a gallant service of four years, one month, and twenty-six days, during which time he was not excused from duty a single hour, except when wounded.

US Minie Ball

US Minie Ball

Since his return from the army, though for more than a year a cripple, he has been able to labor a little at his trade of carpentry and joiner, and to cultivate with effort a small farm.

Mr. Pray was married August 8th, 1864 to Nellie A., daughter of David and Sabrina (Chase) Whitham of Woodbury.  One child has been the fruit of this wedlock: Lillian M. (Mrs. Robert B. Tassie of Montpelier).

Mr. Pray is still a member of that party for whose political principles he fought and bled.  He was appointed postmaster at South Woodbury, July 12th, 1889, under President Harrison, and held that position until his resignation on being elected to the Legislature of 1892 by an unusual majority.  He was town treasurer 1891-1892.”

Rufus appears in a number of Vermont newspapers for his civic duty as well as his attendance at national Civil War events. He was quite active in the local unit:

August 1890 GAR Encampment

August 1890 GAR Encampment

The 1890 GAR Encampment was in Boston

The 1890 GAR Encampment was in Boston

Templar Cake and Ice Cream Party at the May House

Templar Cake and Ice Cream Party at the Pray House

Rufus Moves Home to Calais

Rufus Moves Home to Calais

WWI Burlington, VT Portrait Photo – William W. Putnam 310th Cav. Fort Ethan Allen


William W. Putnam of Thomaston, Maine came to Vermont as part of the Machine Gun Troop of the 310th Cav in 1918.  He posed for a photo in a Burlington, VT photo studio while training at Fort Ethan Allen.  He had his photo taken in Burlington after his promotion to sgt (1/1918) at the studio of H. Raymond Paige of 22 Church Street.

 

Maine service record:
Name: William W. Putnam
Serial Number: 371805
Birth Place: Brewer, Maine
Birth Date: 03 Sep 1897
Residence: Thomaston
Comment: Enl: Ft. Slocum, N. Y., May 10/18. Pvt; Sgt Aug. 1/18. Org: MG Tr 310 Cav to disch. Overseas service: None. Hon disch on demob: Dec. 20, 1918.

 

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Henry  Raymond Paige Studio Logo, Burlington, VT

 

January 1918 Article About the Return of Raymond Paige

January 1918 Article About the Return of Raymond Paige

 

Raymond Paige in 1920

Raymond Paige in 1920

 

WWI Portrait Photo – WWI Pilot Walter V. Monger of Benson, Vermont


World War One Vermonter photos are far and few between, so I always jump on the opportunity to add one to my growing collection.  Today’s portrait photo recently arrived in the mail from a fellow collector who discovered it at an estate sale on the West Coast.  This crisp and clear 8×10 portrait was sadly damaged during shipping but still retains it’s incredible details depicting the bullion wings and cap insignia.

Walter Monger WWI Portrait

Walter Monger WWI Portrait

Walter V. Monger was born on December 18th, 1892 and passed away on October 18th, 1975.  I’ve tracked down a number of documents on Ancestry.com that can be viewed below:

WWI Draft Registration Card

WWI Draft Registration Card

WWII Draft Registration

WWII Draft Registration

1919 School Photo

1919 School Photo

 

8th Vermont Infantry Regiment Civil War Soldier – Henry N. Derby Dies of Disease in Louisiana


Henry N. Derby was born in Wardsboro, VT on April 15th, 1846, later moved to Townshend where he enlisted for Federal service on December 8th, 1863 and mustered in on December 29th.  He signed up for a three year enlistment with Company C of the 8th Vermont Infantry Regiment and traveled from Vermont to Louisiana, where he quickly became ill.  He died on March 31st, 1864 presumably of disease; one of 241 from the regiment that died of such causes.

This photo just arrived in the mail from an eBay auction where the name of the soldier was not revealed.  Luckily, I was able to tweak the lighting/contrast with photoshop to discover the name of the soldier before I bid.  CSI: Civil War style!

Henry N. Derby
Brennan C. Gauthier Collection

Brattleboro Backmark

Henry N. Derby Grave in Chalmette National Cemetery, LA
Source: http://vermontcivilwar.org/cem/virtual/getnatcem.php?input=13809
Photographer: Dan Taylor

Here’s a great link to a Vermont Historical Society collection from a Vermont soldier who also served with the 8th VT and also died in Louisiana.

http://www.vermonthistory.org/index.php/george-e-parker-letters.html

WWI The University of Vermont at War – Williams Hall Army Training Detachment – August 1918


Authors Collection


My recent trip to the local Burlington antique shop yielded some WWI gold; yet another WWI UVM panoramic photo to add to my extensive collection of war photography.  This one was taken in August of 1918 in front of Williams Hall at the University of Vermont.  I spent countless hours studying anthropology and archaeology in the hallowed halls of Williams, and I know the front facade well.  From the looks of it, not much has changed!   This photo shows Company C of the US Army Training Detachment which was housed at UVM in the months preceding the end of the war.

Looking at some of the details of the photo actually helped elucidate a bit of Louis McAllister’s business.  Check out the writing on each of the benches – it appears that McAllister wrote his name on each bench in his typical flowery style.  Very interesting!

WWI University of Vermont Alumni 1917 – Missing in Action – USS Cyclops, Carroll Goddard Page


Page in Washington, D.C – Courtesy of The University of Vermont Special Collections

 

One of the biggest naval mysteries of WWI is the inexplicable loss of the USS Cyclops while transporting 300+ passengers and a load of manganese from Brazil to Baltimore.  Carroll Goddard Page, UVM Class of 1917, was aboard as paymaster when the ship disappeared without a trace on March 4th, 1918.  Although a structural failure in the engine is likely the cause, we may never know the true reasons behind the disappearance.
Carroll was a member of the Class of 1917, originally from Hyde Park, he studied business and banking at UVM.  His nickname was “flunko”, and his ambitions at UVM included “raising a mustache that resembles a cross between the Kaiser’s and a hair-lip.”

1917 Yearbook Entry

Carroll’s Alumni Database Entry

Special thanks to the University of Vermont Special Collections!

Civil War 150th Anniversary Posting – 6th Vermont Surgeon Edwin Phillips


Just in time for the 150th anniversary of the American Civil War!  One of my favorite Civil War portrait photos comes from a pawn shop in Shelburne Vermont.

After purchasing the image, I went on a rampage of research and documentation to figure out who this fella’ was.  Turns out he was a prominent surgeon in the 6th Vermont during the war.  I still have more reading and writing to do on this piece, but I wanted to post it as a kick-off for the 150 year celebration of the Civil War.

More to come…………………………….