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Captain Fitch Harwood
McLean County, Illinois
[McLean County, Illinois, in the World War, 1917-1918; by Edward E. Pierson & Jacob Louis Hasbrouck c 1921]
(Transcribed by: Teri Moncelle Colglazier)
Of the many men from McLean county who saw service as officers in the American army, perhaps none felt the call earlier than did Capt. Fitch Harwood, who gained a commission in the infantry and spent most of his time after receiving his commission as an officer of a machine gun unit. The ink was hardly dry on the official declaration of war by the United States against Germany, until Capt. Harwood was getting busy.
One of his first tasks was drilling students of the Wesleyan university in their elemental military instruction which they undertook in the early spring of 1917. Capt. Harwood 's summer spent at a citizens' camp at Plattsburg had given him a taste and capacity in that direction.
He was next appointed Bloomington representative for securing candidates for examination to enter the government training camp for officers at Fort Sheridan, which was broached in April, 1917. Eighty men applied and were examined under Harwood 's direction for this purpose, and fifty of these were accepted. Mr. Harwood and others of the first selections for the Fort Sheridan school reported there May 15, and during his training period he was first sergeant of his training company.
In August Harwood was commissioned a captain of infantry, was ordered to Camp Grant, and placed in command of the machine gun company of the 343rd Infantry, a part of the 86th Division then organizing. Capt. Harwood was kept at Camp Grant for practically a year, being engaged all that time in the hardest kind of work drilling and instructing the successive contingents of young men who were being transformed from ordinary civilians into a military machine with which to break the power of the enemy.
Almost exactly a year after he entered Camp Grant, Capt. Harwood set out with the other officers and men of the 86th Division for Camp Mills, the last lap of the journey preparatory for sailing for Europe. This division was aptly called the Wildcat Division, being made up of men from all sections of the country and of seventeen different nationalities; many of them came from the mountains of Virginia, Tennessee and the Carolinas. The division finally set sail on September 14, 1918, and landed at Southampton, England, where they went into camp for two weeks.
The influenza was widespread in this camp, and many men died. When the division arrived at Bordeaux, France, it was broken up, and Capt. Harwood was sent to the officers' machine gun school of the Second Army corps at Chattillon-sur-Seine.
There he remained until the armistice, after which he was assigned to Company B of the 316th machine gun battalion of the 81st division. A few weeks later he was transferred to the 165th infantry, part of the 42d division, which had taken part in much of the hardest fighting of the previous six months. This regiment was then stationed at Remagen, Germany. He never, however, actually assumed command, for he was ordered the next day to return to the States.
He next found himself at St. Aignan with a contingent of casuals, all awaiting shipping orders for home. He finally sailed from Marseilles on the Italian ship Guiseppe Verdi. The ship stopped six days at Gibraltar on the voyage home, and while there Capt. Harwood chartered a small boat and took a party of friends over to Tangiers, Morrocco.
Capt. Harwood was in command of the 1,800 soldiers making the return trip on the home-bound ship. They landed at New York March 21, 1919, and two days later Capt. Harwood received his discharge at Camp Dix. He had been in the military service of his country for a total of twenty-two months.
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