Genealogy and History
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War In The 60's Different Game From War Today
"War in the 60's was a different game from war today," according to Captain Arthur Dawson, a veteran of the Fifteenth Illinois volunteers, chatting with friends attending the annual reunion of the regiment at Belvidere a few days ago. "The soldiers were not pampered. We had no Y.M.C.A. to furnish us with entertainment or to coach our teams in volley ball. No Salvation Army lassies supplied us with doughnuts. We were glad enough to get hardtack and beans. We kept up our morale by singing. "We had no camions to take us up to our positions. When we went any place, we hiked. The troops were moved on cattle cars and gravel cars. They were so crowded we rode on top or on the bumpers, hanging on any way we could. "Trench warfare was unknown. We stood up and fought. Battles were stand-up-and-knock-'em-down affairs, and we were up against the bravest fighters in the world.
"When we advanced we didn't go over under the shelter of a nicely laid barrage. We used the old Spring field rifle, with bullets about the size of a cigar butt. And there were no heavy explosives and no gas to face, the grape and canister were about as bad. This was improvised ammunition, consisting of tomato cans filled with heavy slugs. We had no rest stations behind the lines. There were no base hospitals. When a man was wounded he was taken back on cattle cars. Antiseptic surgery was unknown, and thousands of men died from gangrene that set in from minor wounds. Lint took the place of absorbent cotton. We had no soup kitchens on the firing line. Armies weren't so mobile in those days." Did you have any cooties in the Civil War?" Capt. Dawson was asked. "Cooties? Yes. Only we didn't call 'em that. We called 'em graybacks, and to get rid of them we had to boil our clothes." Capt. Dawson glanced out of the window. A group of returned doughboys were passing. "I don't want to belittle the achievements of those soldiers of today, he said, "but with all the death-dealing machinery of the last war the machine guns, the poison gas, the airplanes and the high explosives - the casualties didn't begin to compare with those we suffered. "At Shiloh" ---- Capt. Dawson's eyes became dim and had a far-away look ---- at Shiloh, out of 600 of our regiment, we lost fifty-four dead and 200 wounded. Most of us were sick when we went into battle. We were shaking from malaria, for we had been drinking the swamp water.
The rebs thought they could clean us up before Gen. Buell arrived. He had been delayed by rains and mud. The confederates had boasted they would run us into the river. The peach orchards were in bloom as the enemy squared their lines and came on as if on dress parade. We saw the 11th shot to pieces and then our turn came. Buell arrived late that evening, as we were beginning to get the worst of it His men were ferried across the river. Gen Lew Wallace, with his lost division -------- But you are not interested in all this. The story of Shiloh is told now only at the reunions of us old fellows. We will live over those days at our yearly reunions." Fifty-eight years ago -- May 24, 1861 -- the regiment, 1,900 strong, marched out of Freeport on the great adventure. The members were mere boys, many of them from the farm, and they came from the ten towns in the first congressional district. It was not exactly an "awkward squad," as most of the youths had seen service in the state militia. They left with the band playing and flags flying. Four years later, in September, 1865, 640 of the boys came struggling back. No flowers were strewn in their pathway as they filtered into their home towns. No girls turned out to hug and kiss the soldiers. There was no parade. The boys were glad to get home. They had fought at Shiloh, at the Hatchie river, and at Vicksburg. They had marched with Sherman to the sea. At Shiloh they had lost nearly one-third of their members. Others had gone through the living death at Andersonville. Those who survived wounds, death and capture, after beating Johnny Reb, had gone on a hike after the Indians. [Contributed by Karen Fyock - Undated news clipping, appears to be c. 1919]
Three Civil War Vets Still Living
Only three of the fast thinning ranks of civil war veterans remain in Stephenson County. Only one of these was in the parade yesterday, another making a trip to his former home town, Lena, where he participated in services and the third being confined to his bed in his home in Freeport.
Myron A. Lawver, 91, 120 South Cherry Avenue born on a farm near Lena March 7, 1847, and believed to be one of the very few surviving civil war veterans who was confined to Andersonville Prison. Mr. Lawver enlisted in Lena in 1861 in Co G 15th Volunteer Infantry and later, while in Georgia, was transferred to Co B, in another regiment, originally organized at Belvidere. Mr. Lawver is now in splendid health and walks almost daily to the business section of the city to chat with friends and acquaintances. [From the Freeport Journay 31 May 1938]
Alex M. Kauffman, 91, 617 East Garden Street, born in York County Pennsylvania Jan. 5, 1847 and in 1864 enlisted in Co E 207th PA Inf. and served till the end of the war. Mr. Kauffmann, the only one of the three surviving Freeport civil war veterans who participated in the parade yesterday, enjoys good health and is planning to attend the reunion of Union and Confederate soldiers which is to be held at the scene of the Battle of Gettysburg from June 29 - July 4th. Over 2000 Union and Confederate soldiers have already signified their intention of attending. All expenses for the veterans and an attendant are being paid by the government. [From the Freeport Journay 31 May 1938]
Thaddeus M. Kauffman, 88, 519 South Beaver avenue, born in York Co PA November 25, 1849, a brother of Alex M. Kauffman, mentioned above. He enlisted in 1864 in Co A 215th Reg. PA Volunteers and served until the end of the war. Mr. Kauffmann was accessor of Freeport for several terms. He was not able to be in the parade yesterday as he has been confined to his bed for the past four months. [From the Freeport Journal, 31 May 1938]
WORLD WAR 1
Private Carl Krueger, who was injured in the battle of Chateau Thierry on July 18, arrived home on Sunday morning. He was granted a ten day furlough. The young man was one of the first Freeporters to go to the front. While serving his country he was injured, a shrapnel shell entering his lung after carrying away part of two ribs. He was returned a number of weeks ago and since that time has been convalescing in a base hospital at Camp Dodge, Des Moines, Iowa. The young man is making a rapid recovery but is still in a weakened condition as a result of his experience. The shrapnel which entered his body passed through the bodies of two other soldiers and killed them. An operation was held recently on Private Krueger and the shell removed, the same now being in his possession. (Contributed by Karen Fyock - dated December 24, 1918)
Departure, First Group, For Camp Grant Recalled
County's First 12 World War Soldiers Left 10 Years Ago -- All Sent Overseas, Return Safely, All Alive Today -- Experiences of Some of Them in Training Camp Quite Amusing
Harry A. Story, Freeport
Julius J. Guhl, Freeport
Elmer A. McCool, Freeport
Newell Crockett, Freeport
Ralph Fisher, Freeport
William Osborne, Freeport
Herbert L. Mellick, Freeport
Lyell Garbrick, Dakota
Heite Ackerman, German Valley
Roy C. Meinert, Rock City
Charles J. Snyder, Lena
George Howard, Lena
Ten years ago yesterday the twelve Stephenson county men whose names appear above, answered their country's call to arms, and at 9:55 o'clock on that morning, Sept. 5, 1917, these men, comprising the first contingent and representing five per cent of this country's quota which was to form a part of a great army of American soldiers that later joined the Allied forces in their conflict with the central powers of Europe, entrained for Camp Grant. The departure of the men was marked with solemnity, but they left knowing full well that the best wishes of everyone in the community went with them. The ovation which they received at the depot as they were awaiting the departure of the train was one which is still a pleasant recollection to them, it was not an event of gaiety, but instead a solemn and serious affair. Mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers and sweethearts assembled on the depot platform, and with tears bade their loved ones what they feared might be a last farewell, for they knew not then that all twelve would return again to their homes, victorious in the great fight which was before them. Before leaving Freeport each man was presented with a small silk flag, gifts of Mrs. Emilyn Allington, who was known as "Mother of Company D." of Spanish American War fame. These appropriate little remembrances were cherished by the boys, most of whom still have them in their possession today. Arriving at Camp Grant the men were assigned to different companies, six of them to Co. K. _42nd Infantry. Some very amusing incidents occurred when they arrived at camp. As they were being questioned as to what branch of the service they believed they were qualified to enter. Julius Guhl, at present senior alderman from the first ward, and Lyell Garbrick, now operating a farm near Dakota applied thinking it would be a "soft" job, for an assignment to the artillery division where they could take care of horses and perform other duties of a supposedly minor nature. After a few weeks' service in this department they returned to their original assignment, where hard work was not so plentiful. Elmer McCool, now connected with the sales department of the W. T. Rawleigh company,and WIlliam J. Osborne, president of the Osborne Oil company, were especially desirous of "getting in on the ground floor." They did. When men were wanted to do service in the officers' quarters, McCool and Osbourne quickly volunteered. They were assigned to washing windows. Six men of the first contingent from Stephenson county remained together during their services in the war, while others were sent across with the 33rd Division. Story, McCool, Guhl, Snyder, Ackerman and Mellick remained at Camp Grant for nearly a year, during part of which time they were engaged in training of recruits. In September of the following year they sailed for France and were at different times stationed at Bordeaux and other places in southern France. On November 9, two days before the Armistice was signed, they entrained for the front. They journeyed as far as LeManz, France, and while they were at that place the war was terminated. They remained overseas however, until the following April when they returned to the states .This first contingent of men from Stephenson county, is "present and accounted for." Harry Story is connected with the Stephens Service company of this city. Prior to the war he was with the Stephens Motor Car company. Julius Guhl is connected with the Guhl Bakery of Freeport and is the senior alderman from the first ward. Elmer McCool, also connected with the Stephens Motor Car company prior to the war, is now with the sales department of the W. T. Rawleigh company of Freeport. Newell Crockett is manager of a fence factory in Fort Madison, Ia., owned by a Chicago mail order house. Ralph Fisher, brother of Lawrence Fisher, who entered the Italian army before the United States entered the war and was the first Freeporter to be injured in the war, is operating a farm near Freeport. William J. Osborne is president of the Osborne Oil company. Prior to the war he was connected with the Stephens Motor Car company. Herbert Mellick is located at San Francisco, Calif. Lylle Garbrick is operating a farm on the outskirts of Dakota. Hite Ackerman is also engaged in farming and is located near German Valley. Roy Meinert is at Rock City and Charles Snyder is located at Lena, while George Howard is in California. [Contributed by Karen Fyock -- dated September 6, 1927]
Memories of Armistice
Walter Marsh and his comrades of the 362nd Infantry Regiment had distinguished themselves in the battles of St. Mihiel and Meuse-Argonne since arriving in France during July 1918. "The night of November 10th we'd moved into the town," Marsh said. "The town was very similar to Freeport, lying on two sides of a small river. From the damaged hotel building where we were, we could look down to the river and figured the Germans were on the other side. The captain and I were sitting there that morning speculating on when the armistice would be signed when the damndest noise broke loose outside. We didn't know if it was the Germans of what. When we looked out everyone was pouring out of the buildings - civilians, our troops and some other Allied forces that were with us. Every body was kissing bottles of wine and champagne were flowing and the troops were shooting their guns in the air. A messenger had evidently arrived and told the other troops. I know the captain said 'Marsh, you better stay sober. Someone has got to get the company together.' The celebration continued on through the day. We got word later the Germans had pulled out from the other side of the river immediately after dark the night before."
"Wars are always lost causes. They never solve anything," said Marsh, a receiver of the Distinguished Service Medal, Purple Heart and two French Croix du Guerres. "Maybe for a while they help, but as soon as a country gets over being licked they start building. Wars seem a way of nature."
Fred Niemeier and about 30 other Freeport area doughboys, were thousands of miles away from the scarred trenches of France. The armistice was learned of in a dreary Siberian city of Khabarovsk on the Amur River. There the 27th Infantry Division had settled down to winter quarters as part of the Allied Siberian Expeditionary Forces. In a grand design about 8,000 American troops had been dispatched by sea to Vladivostok, Russia in 1918 to drive overland across the length of Siberia with Japanese soldiers, defeat the Bolsheviks and re-establish the Eastern Front against Germany. "I remember we got word of the armistice at retreat," Niemeier said. "The sergeant had given the command to fall out, when the company clerk came running out to 'hold it.' THen we learned. It must have been on November 12 or 13. A wild celebration? You couldn't hold the bunch back." Niemeier was to remain in Siberia on occupational duties until December 1919 when he sailed for home from Vladivostok.
The welcome message of an armistice came to Ben Dunning in a hospital bed at Nevera, France. "There's not much of a celebration in a hospital," Dunning said. " Men lying around with legs and arms off or faces shot up take it pretty quiet." Dunning had fallen victim to a mustard gas attack the day after his division had gone on the lines in October 1918 and spent the remainder of the war in hospitals. He was released in the early part of 1919. "I couldn't talk or see well for a while because of the gassing, but I'm lucky that the only permanent thing was a very tender throat," said Dunning, now a retired Freeport mail carrier. "We lost an awful lot of young men and it didn't do any good." Skepticism greeted the armistice news when it reached the USS Utah on convoy duty in the easter Atlantic, according to Jack Lewis. Lewis was a teen-aged seaman on the battleship back in 1918 after he signed his mother's name on an affidavit to get into the Navy. "We knew about the war's end immediately," Lewis said. "But there was no celebration because no one believed it."
Earl Manning traces Armistice Day back to a bustling airfield in France where he and other soldiers in the fledgling Army Air Service had created the first U. S. flying base in Europe. "We had just got going real good when the armistice was signed. They sent over the old Liberty bombers and we assembled them at the airfield." Manning, 71, recalls the armistice message came after supper. First it was not believed, but was then followed by some noise making with pans and parading around. "After is was all over everyone thought there would be no more wars. The cycle seems to run every 20 years that there has to be a big war. My son was in Korea and now my grandson in Vietnam."
Royal "Pete" Wheat, now 74, arrived in France just before the war ended. He was awaiting transfer at the American Expeditionary Force headquarters at LeMans when fighting ceased. "The French soldiers there were running around kissing the Americans," Wheat exclaimed. [Excerpts from a clipping dated November 11, 1968 by Duncan Birdsell; Contributed by Karen Fyock]
WORLD WAR 2
Cpl. Walter J. Hybarger 19, son of Mr. and Mrs. Elmer Hybarger, 407 West Cottonwood street, Freeport, is a member of an engineering outfit that pops up in odd spots on the map of northern Burma to blast the top off a mountain for an emergency landing strip or even bridge a stream in the jungle with bamboo. Theirs is one of the youngest American units in the far east. What they did before the war isn't so important. Right now they have the ledo road behind them and the Japanese in front. Wild baboons swing through trees over their tents, snakes, and dynamiting for 10 pound fish in the rivers are everyday experiences. Once in a while there is a little excitement like the time when two wild elephants strolled into their camp. A naive American shot at one with a .45 caliber pistol. From then on nobody knew just what did happen but all ended up in foxholes. The elephants didn't even look where they stepped as they went roaring through the camp, kitchen and all. In their initiation into the type of war the allies will fight to wrest Burma from Japanese control, the American engineers hiked up mountains for seven days before establishing a camp on a mountain top. All water and food had to be portered a mile and a half to the top. Last word Mr. and Mrs. Hybarger had from their son was a letter which arrived last week. In it he told them of his promotion from private, first class, to corporal. Before he enlisted in the army on Jan. 6, 1943, he was employed on a farm near Plano. He embarked for overseas duty the following July, going to Burma by way of India. Previously he trained at Fort Sheridan, Jefferson Barracks, MO and Westoverfield MA. Cpl. Hybarger and his buddies were once airborne engineers but now they call themselves the Mountain Goat Cavalry of the East!". [Sunday, January 9, 1944; Morning Star (Rockford, IL) Page: 17]
MORE CURRENT TIMES
Calvin L. Barklow, eldest son of Mr. and Mrs. Victor Barklow in army training the past year called home Sunday night from his base in California informing his parents of his flight Monday to Fort Dix, N. J., from where he will go to Germany. [The Stephenson Farmer, 19 October 1961 Contributed by Karen Fyock]
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