War History Commission News Letter, July 1920
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2 WAR HISTORY COMMISSION NEWS LETTER History Commission Makes Plans (Continued from page 1)
county or city having complete 50 per cent of its soldiers' records.
Mrs. W. G. Stanard, formerly chairman of the Section "War Word and Relief Organizations," was present for the first time since resigning from the commission because of illness, and, at the suggestion of the chairman, she was given a rising vote of welcome.
Mr. McClenney spoke for the Suffolk and the Nansemond county commissions, saying that he had a full list of the men from his city and county and a list of the men who lost their lives in the mar. He and Mr. Causey, also of Suffolk, were satisfied with the progress of the work and enthusiastic over the results to be secured.
Mr. Goode of Dinwiddie county, reported that the military records being received from that county were being copied, together with all other information concerning the men which could be obtained into losseleaf [loose leaf] binders, a copy of which wold be presented to the commission.
Rev. Mr. Phaup, collaborator-chairman for Topico 3 in Prince George county, reported that he had reports in full from all the Methodist churches in the county with the exception of the records of two men.
Miss Mann, collaborator-chairman for Topico 9, in Petersburg, reported progress made in collecting letters and diaries and in making newspaper clippings.
Mrs. Samuel Rogers, representing Dr. Drewry, chairman of the Petersburg commission, said that Petersburg had decided to employ an executive secretary for six weeks or two months and the work would then be completed. Mr. Rogers spoke of his work at Camp Lee and the personal contarc [contact] he had with the boys from all over the country, stating that no work could be nearer his heart than the work of seeing that Virginia boys were properly represented in the projected history.
Miss Wooldridge, the Art collaborator, reported that she had gotten permission to file the posters made by the school children of Richmond with the commission and that she had written the other schools in the State concerning such posters but had found that they had been destroyed or returned to the children.
Mrs. W. F. Wilbur asked to visit Princess Ann county be sent in August as she would not be home until that time and promised her best help in getting the work there finished by September.
Mr. Davis reported that Mr. George Cole Scott, chairman of the Richmond commission, would get the Richmond committee organized and working before leaving for Europe the latter part of the week.
Mr. Stanard said that he had hopes of having a fairly accurate list of all men from the State who received citations and decorations in the late war.
Mrs. Henry Schmelz of Hampton reported progress being made in securing the Hampton reports and very heartily endorsed both the plan for "road agents" and the idea af weekly drives in July.
Major Opie said that the history of the 116th Infantry which he commanded in France and which was composed of the 1st, 2nd and 4th Infantry, was completed and read a synopsis of what this history contained. Major Opie was enthusiastically applauded when he took his seat, the members present realizing what his contribution would mean to the history. In commenting upon his report General Stern said that this History of the 116th Infantry written by Major Opie was most likely in such shape as to need no editing since he was a newspaper man of great ability and experience. General Stearn added that this completed history of the 116th Infantry is a substantial achievement for the commission.
General Jo. Lane Stearn gave the good news that the History of the 29th Division is now well under way. This is one of the major tasks in connection with the work of the commission. Colonel John A. Cutchins with other officers of the historical branch of the Division will soon have this history ready for publication, as the voluminous mass of records is
Minutes of Meetings March (Continued from page 1.)
Instances of Bravery.
Miss Sully mentioned the fact that she had heard of two colored soldiers who had been cited for bravery, both of whom lost their lives in positions of great danger, and Mr Page told of another instance in his county where a colored soldier had been decorated abroad and he promised to get the account of it for the history records. Miss Sully took her seat amid applause and much favorable comment on the splendid and encouraging report she had rendered. Later, when asked just when she thought the records of the colored people could be completed, Miss Sully stated that she thought the work could mostly be done in three months.
Judge Prentis, chairman for the topic dealing with Political Contributions of Virginia, reported that he had yet received replies form any of the letters he and written to prominent men of the State asking for information on this topic, but that Dr. Lindsay Rogers, of the University, was most optimistic as to the outcome. He then read a telegram from Dr. Rogers in which he stated that the work of the section was proceeding rapidly and would be finished well before September 1st. Judge Prentis said that Dr. Rogers was doing the work, and was therefore, competent to judge of the progress being made. He further stated that the data collected under this head was being subjected to a thorough test by means of access to the archives in Woshington [Washington] and that it was his understand that no record which did not pass this test would be accepted. When asked by the chairman for his
now in hand and marked progress is being made in the preparation of the narrative. Colonel Cutchins reports that he hopes to complete the history by September.
Father Kelliher reported that 75 per cent of the reports from Catholic churches are in hand and he hopes for 100 per cent. He said further that he considered that plan of employing road agents or organizers possibly the most important step that has been taken by the commission for many months.
Agents and Drives.
A departure from precedent was launched a this meeting. The chairman of the commission on behalf of the executive committee outlined two plans which had been approved by the committee. The first was to send out from the central office agents to help local commissions; the other was to institute intensive "drives" by local branches for some particular topic during each week July; and Mr. Davis asked that the commissioners present express their approval or disapproval of these plans.
As to the former, there was unanimous and enthusiastic approval and a majority of the members favored the weekly drives. The chairman informed the commissioners that the plans were optional with them; they could have the agents to visit their sections if they desired and they could have the drives or not as their judgment dictated. Three young gentleman -- Walter F. Beverly, of Wise county; H. H. Simms, of Orange county and Arthur W. James of Richmond, have been selected to represent the commission in this traveling capacity and Dr. McIlwaine outlined briefly the reasons for selecting these young men and gave their qualifications and records.
Colnel McCabe. The History Commission and the State of Virginia had just sustained a severe loss in the death of Colonel W. Gordon McCabe. The chairman appointed Mr. John Stewart Bryan, Mrs. B. B. Munford and Hon. Rosewell Page a committee of three to prepare proper resolutions of respect on the death of this great Virginian and submit them to the meeting to be held on August 31st. The chairman state that specific dates for the several weekly "drives" would be announced in the the forthcoming (this) issue of the News Letter and her urged all members of local branches to co-operate in the plan wherever practicable. interpretation of the topic, Judge Prentis said that he had understood from the beginning that his section was to deal with the activities of men holding high political office, the dollar-a-year men, etc. Dr. Eckenrode, chairman of the section dealing with Camps and Cantonments stated that he had no report to make other than that his associate, Dr. Randall, had consented to assist him in arranging and systematizing his material and that he would try to send an outline of his plan to the office within two weeks. School and Colleges. Dr. Wilson, chairman of the Schools and Colleges section, reported that he had written to the heads of all colleges in the State, but had so far received few replies. He said but little actual work could be done in his section until the material from the colleges was in hand. He started that two time limits had already been set and that now he contemplated setting a third time limit, possibly the first of June, and that he proposed to "keep after" the colleges. Dr. Wilson further state the had tentatively divided the space allotted him in the history into ten chapters with approximately ten pages to a chapter. He asked for information regarding colored colleges, saying that he had not provided for them in his plan. The chairman replied that undoubtedly the colored colleges would come under his section. Dr. Wilson then read a very full and complete outline of his proposed publication, which he stated, was subject to revision as the work progressed. He promised to send a copy of this outline to the central office. Dr. McIlwaine, chairman for the section dealing with War-Letters, Diaries and Incidents, read a tentative outline of his work, which was pronounced most excellent. He stated, upon being questioned by the chairman, that he had not yet decided whether the letters and excerpts from letters would be connected by a thread of explanation, thus weaving them into a continuous story, or whether the story would be told and the letters added as an appendix to the volume. Military Records. General Stern, chairman for the section, Draft Law and Virginia Organizations, reported that another regiment of colored soldiers, mostly from Virginia, had been discovered and that he had the name and was in correspondence with the commander of this regiment. He stated that some local commissions had written him for information concerning the lists of drafted men and that they should understand that these lists can be found in the Clerk of Courts office of each county. As to the progress of the work under his section, General Stern said that Major Opie had written that he feared he was writing too much; Captain Letcher's history is about complete; General Perry is writing a history of his regiment; Colonel Millar is writing a history and histories of the Blues and the Eightieth Division as well as others are being prepared. Major Leary stated this his story of Draft Laws and Organizations would be completed by the first of June. This will cover figures of every county and city in the State. Bishop O'Connell, chairman of the Pre-War section, was represented by Father Kelleher, who stated that Colonel Cutchins had consented to write a chapter on the work of the American Legion for this section. Local Reports. Mrs. Bradley S. Johnson, chairman of the Goochland County Branch, read a very excellent report of her work in the county, showing, among other things, that 95 questionnaires of soldiers had been secured and copied. Mrs. Johnson's report testified of faithful, constant work and was highly commended. Mrs. Crawford, representing the Williamsburg Commission, said that they had been so lately organized she had no report, but came to the meeting for information. She inquired concerning the appointment of colored collaborators and was answered by Miss Sully to the effect that these would be appointed by the central colored committee here in Richmond. At this stage of the meeting Mr. Davis took occasion to announce the appointment by the Executive Committee of a chairman for the Richmond Branch to succeed Mr. George Bryan, who resigned from this post because of the pressure of other duties. The new chairman, Mr. George Cole Scott, was introduced to the Commission and very graciously accepted the appointment. Mr. Davis then expressed to Mr. Scott on behalf of the Commission their appreciation of his acceptance of this important post. The chairman explained to the members present a new plan for obtaining regular monthly reports from local branches. This plan provides for the filling out each month of a "progress report," showing work down within the month under all sections and indicating material sent to the central office. These report blanks will be mailed the chairman of each local branch monthly. Distinguished Service. Topic 1, Virginians of Distinguished Service was again brought up for discussion. Since the last meeting, when it was decided to have the newspapers of the State open their columns for nominations for the Roll of Honor of the one hundred distinguished civilians of Virginia, and also to have these nominations come from local commissions both for the State roll and the local roll, the Executive Committee, at Colonel Keiley's suggestion, passed an amendment to this resolution which provides for nominations from the various organizations of the State who engaged in war and relief work. Mr. Davis reported that he had recently spent a morning in the office of the Norfolk Commission and that the work of this branch was quite remarkable. Each day in the week two sections of the Norfolk Commission report to the office and in this way the secretary has at hand all information concerning the work to date. He mentioned many admirable features of the work in Norfolk but stated that, splendidly equipped as the Commission there is for work, they have their problems and discouragements just as other local branches do. The chairman announced the meeting on April 6 and 7 [illegible] the National Association of [illegible] Commissions in Washington and requested all section chairmen that could arrange to do so to attend this meeting. He stated that the members of the Executive Committee at some inconvenience to themselves had arranged to go to Washington for this meeting. The question of hold the next monthly meeting of the Commission at the University of Virginia was discussed at length and many opinions expressed. It seemed to be the general opinion that it would be a good thing to hold this meeting at the University if there were a good reason for doing so and if some special topic should be featured. No definite decision regarding the meeting was reached. On motion by General Stern the meeting adjourned. NATIONAL HISTORIANS MEET IN WASH (Continued from page 1.) known by the officials of the various departments in Washington. The piece of business of greatest importance transacted at the meeting of the association held on the afternoon of April 7th was the passage of a resolution creating a special kind of membership in the association - namely, what is to be called a "service membership." To this membership all historical associations in the country are eligible on the payment of a fee of $25. This membership will entitle them to secure the services of the research secretary of the National Association in the performance of special historical investigation in the archives in Washington relating to the war with Germany, the secretary being paid. of course, in proportion to the extent of his work. The fee merely entitles them to secure the services of a man who is thoroughly acquainted with the situation in Washington so far as the records are concerned and who has the entre, so to speak, to the various departments. This man will not, of course, himself do the actual work of transcribing the records desired, but he will find these records and supervise the work of transcription. The fee will be paid into the treasury of the National Association. MINUTES OF MEETINGS (Continued from Page 1.) lief work and the actual distribution of supplies and the aid which they gave to crews of vessels which had been sunk by submarines. Mr. Weddell recited briefly the peculiar functions of the consulates in Greece, a country which was not a belligerent and bordering on Bulgaria which, though a belligerent, was not at war with the United States. Probably at no point was diplomatic or consular service more varied in character and more exacting in requirements than in Greece, the first European land to be cited by ships streaming westward from Suez, and it will be recalled that the German submarines were particularly active in the eastern part of the Mediterranean. Mr. Weddell's talk, bristling with facts and incidents, was, therefore, extremely illuminating and his suggestion that a study be made of the consular lists was valuable. He said that there were during the war 300 consular posts and fifty embassies and legations, including ambassadors, ministers, secretaries of embassies and legations and military and naval aids. Altogether there were about two thousand me in foreign service, diplomatic and consular, and, aside from these, there were a number of men holding places of consequence in the State Department. He presumed that this being a Democratic administration, a fair proportion of these men would be Virginians, probably many more than was generally supposed Of course, two of the ambassadors were Virginians, one of them, Hon. Thomas Nelson Page, L. L. D., ambassador to Italy during the entire period of the war, is a member of the History Commission, and the other, Hon. Joseph Willard, has been for the past seven years, and is now, United States ambassador to Spain, an appointment which carried with it tremendous responsibility during the wartime, as Spain was the principal European neutral. Since Mr. Weddell spoke the Comsion [Commission] has learned that Hon. George Barclay Rives, of Cobham, Va., was special assistant to the ambassador in Berlin during 1915 and 1916, and that Hon. Gaillard Hunt has been since 1915 special adviser to the Department of State. Incidentally, and as the result of a plan discussed by Mr. Weddell and the secretary of the Commission, a request has been proffered to the Secretary of Cimmerce [Commerce], U. S. A. to the effect the notices he inserted in the Daily Consular Reports, stating that information concerning the activities of Virginians in consular service during the war is greatly desired by the Commission. If these notices are published, undoubtedly a very complete record of Virginians in the service will be obtained. One of the local commissioners present, Dr. Kate Waller Barrett, of Alexandria, said that she knew personally of great service rendered by Virginia consuls in South America, and she mentioned several Virginians who did important work in Europe, among these being Mr. Kenneth Patton, consul general to Serbia; Mr. John G. Moomaw, vice-consul at Weymouth, England, and Messrs. Claiborne, Kent, Barrett and Davis in London and other parts of England. This personal knowledge of one local commissioner may give an idea of the total information obtainable. The chairman summarized briefly the California plan of securing State records through the histories of the various State departments, and he asked for suggestions from the members of the Commission regarding the kind of information that might be secured from Virginia State agencies. The secretary said that, as the executive officer of the Council of Defense, he would furnish an account of the activities of the Council, which was composed entirely of State officials - heads of departments - and that a large part of the departmental work directly connected with war activities was accomplished through the co-operative efforts of men on the Council of Defense. He furthermore informed the meeting that some of the more important departments, important by their relation to the war, were represented on the Commission either by appointment as members or as contributing members or collaborators. Among these was the Adjutant General; the State Library, by the State Librarian; the Department of Education, by the Superintendent of Public Instruction; the State Board of Health, by the Health Commissioner; the State Committee on Law Enforcement, by the Secretary of the State Board of Charities and Corrections. Mr. Harris Hart, Superintendent of Public Instruction, was asked to state his views as to the proper section under which to record the work of the Board of Education and his reply places a very definite responsibility upon the local commissioners. He said that there might possibly be reason to include in the general history a paragraph or two on the general work of the Board of Education, but that he considered the bulk of the information would probably be given in the local reports and be contained in the local histories. He said that so far as archive data might be concerned he had a complete list of all records and orders issued from his office during the war period and that he would gladly give these to the State Librarian or to the central office of the Commission for preservation. The chairman of the Commission expressed his very definite hope that names for inclusion in the State Roll should be sent through the columns of some newspaper as well as directly to the History office and, replying to the question from Dr. Barrett as to the reason for the newspaper publicity, he said that his method precluded the possibility of criticism which involved the accusation of partiality, and he repeated what has been said and written so often that, so far as the State Honor Roll might be concerned, the chairman of the section having the matter in charge would be the final arbiter as to the right of any one to be included, but that in local rolls the local commissioners were paramount, the State Committee would not presume to review the judgment of local commissioners. He very strongly urged the local commissioners in attendance to do their utmost to expedite nominations for the State Roll, both military and civilian. It cannot be denied that, up to the present time, the help of the American Legion has been negligible so far as securing information from former service men i concerned. The chairman said that he had personally appeared three times before the Legion in Petersburg in an effort to secure its co-operation, but he attributed the delay or failure in his city, not so much to the Legion as to the members of the local Commission, who had been too busy to meet the Legion's committee. He was very careful to explain that his statement should not be construed as lack of interest on the part of the Petersburg Commission, for he knew that they were overburdened with work, but he cited this instance to show that it was not in every case the fault of the Legion when its co-operation was not secured. Mrs. Homer L. Ferguson, the Newport News chairman, stated that the American Legion in her city had promised to do intensive work in the way of securing soldiers' records during the next two or three weeks, that she hoped for results from this drive, but that she did not disguise her doubts as to the ultimate results, and said that she had been having great trouble in getting the questionnaires filled out. Other local commissioners who discussed this topic were not particularly hopeful, but all realized the value of the aid that could be given by the Legion if it could be induced to undertake the work, and this led to the creation of a committee, Mr. William R. Meredith as chairman, and it was decided to allow him to appoint his fellow-members. Mrs. Bradly S. Johnson, chairman of the Goochland County Branch, had worked without any reference to outside agencies and reported the receipt of the complete records of 59 white and 43 colored soldiers from her county. This is about 40 per cent of the county's quota and is certainly one of the best showings made up to the present time. Mrs. Johnson did not overemphasize the difficulties which she had encountered in the collection of this material, but her experience certainly goes far to prove that these records can be gotten if they are gone after, whether help is secured from the outside or the commissioners do the work personally. The secretary told the Commission that recently, while in Norfolk, he had been told that certain firms there had received Certificates of Merit from the War Department testifying to the satisfactory manner in which they had lived up to their contracts with the government. Subsequently to the meeting the secretary requested the War Department to furnish, if possible, a list of the Virginia firms so honored, and it may be interesting to know that forty-two firms received the certificates: The chairman of the Commission said that the Executive Committee had laid plans to secure information concerning every industrial and mercantile firm in the State of Virginia which had had contracts with the government, but in such endeavors it is always possible to miss some contributor. Therefore, it would be advisable to have each local commission, so far as possible, secure information of this character and let the central office know just what firms within their territory held contracts, either as prime contractors or subcontractors with the government during the war. The advisability of each local branch appointing a clipping committee to make newspaper clippings relating to pre-war and post-war conditions, was discussed, as was also the appointment of high school pupils in each locality to secure interviews with prominent business men with reference to the same subjects. Mr. Harris Hart cordially endorsed the latter part of the plan as excellent for training high school students but he expressed grave doubt as to securing anything of actual value to the Commission. General Stern's report was particularly interesting and most satisfactory. He explained the increasing importance of the State's military participation, and remarked that the original figure of 60,000 men accorded to Virginia had already grown to 94,000, and there was a strong probability of it reaching 100,000. He gave the very cheering information that complete reports from eleven of his collaborators would be ready by June 15th. Major John P. Leary, who is collaborating with General Stern, and who is preparing a general outline of the Draft Law as it operated in the counties and cities of Virginia said that his work was nearly completed; that he was giving complete statistical and detailed information and would prepare a narrative history of the draft law operations in the State. This should prove a most valuable and interesting section of the history. It may be noted that Major Leary was the draft officer of Virginia and represented the National Government in the State Adjutant General's office.