112 years young: Houstonian Elizabeth Francis celebrates her big day in a big way
By Melissa Correa
via the KHOU television station (TX) web site
HOUSTON — Elizabeth Francis celebrated her 112th birthday on Sunday.
At 112, Francis deserves the parade neighbors put on at her north Houston home. She had an escort, wore a tiara, set up a well-positioned fan and was serenaded. The front-row seat to see her friends and family was all she needed to enjoy the day.
She even got a visit from Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner and Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee.
Francis' granddaughter, 66-year-old Ethel Harrison, said the pandemic put a damper on the celebration last year.
"Last year, with the pandemic, we didn’t get to do a whole lot," Harrison said. "So, we're just so blessed that we still have her."
At 112, Francis still recognizes her loved ones, watches the news and carries hope.
"She’s very, very spiritual. And a lot of her strength comes from her faith that she has in God," Harrison said.
Francis was born in 1909. William Taft had just become President of the United States. The NAACP was in its infancy, only a few months old. At 7, Francis watched women fight for the right to vote. She lived through World War I and the Spanish Flu. She survived the Great Depression and lived through World War II. The March on Washington happened days after her 54th birthday. She saw the images from Vietnam and kept up with the space race. She's seen technology evolve and saw a monumental shift in civil rights for Americans.
History Informs the Future Of American Sea Power at the U.S. Naval War College
via the U.S. Naval War College Foundation web site
The U.S. Naval War College (USNWC) and the Naval War College Foundation (NWCF) have used the centenary of the first “great war” and the pandemic of 1918 to reconsider the historical influence upon contemporary discussions of future maritime strategy. Research in original documentary sources has enabled practitioners at the USNWC to develop fresh strategic perspectives about the future of American sea power. Just as Admirals Stephen B. Luce and Alfred Thayer Mahan used history with an applied purpose, the NWCF has encouraged contemporary historical research with the gracious support of the Pritzker Military Foundation, on behalf of the Pritzker Military Museum and Library.
Led by the experts at the Naval War College’s Hattendorf Historical Center, we have continued to discover fresh historical perspectives about the lasting influence of the First World War upon contemporary concepts of American sea power and the future of maritime strategy in the twenty-first century. The Naval War College Museum exhibit, To Win or Lose All, features singular artifacts recently donated to by the family of Admiral William S. Sims. As the first to command foreign naval forces in combat during the First World War, Sims also twice served as President of the Naval War College. Having learned from the methods pioneered by Sir Julian Corbett in the “Historical Section” of the Imperial Staff in London, Sims returned to the Naval War College to establish a “Historical Section” with Captain Dudley W. Knox and reserve Lieutenant Tracy Barrett Kittredge. The organization established in Newport later influenced the development of the “Historical Section” within the Office of Naval Intelligence under Dudley W. Knox. Within twenty years, the Historical Sections of the Naval War College and Office of Naval Intelligence evolved into the Office of Naval History within the context of the Second World War.
Naval War College efforts to use history as the foundation for achieving decisive results in both peace and war remained a guiding principle for the Office of Naval History. Notably, the President of the Naval War College, Admiral Edward C. Kalbfus, served as the first Director of Naval History with Commodore Dudley W. Knox serving as the deputy director. Meanwhile, Captain Tracy Barrett Kittredge helped synthesize the efforts of the Naval War College and the Office of Naval History. During service in Europe during the Second World War, Kittredge worked at the direction of Kalbfus and Knox to drive efforts behind enemy lines to secure enemy intelligence sources. In this role, Kittredge worked directly with U.S. Army Reserve Colonel John Nicholas Brown II. Brown remained closely involved with Kittredge during their postwar work together at the Naval War College, and, later, Brown became a founding member of the Naval War College Foundation.
Pursuant to understanding the influence of sea power upon history, the Naval War College continued developing means to use the past as a foundation for future strategy. After 1943, the President of the Naval War College, Vice Admiral William S. Pye expanded the historical research mission at the College — working in direct collaboration with the Office of Naval History, Office of Naval Intelligence, and joint service equivalents for the primary postwar purposes of establishing conditions for a sustainable peacetime end under the United Nations. Pye also built from the earlier work of the Naval War College. As the Second World War ended, Commodore Richard S. Bates also formed the Battle Studies Group with the assistance of other former Naval War College historians, including Knox and Kittredge. Notably, Bates also later joined forces with John Nicholas Brown II as a founding member of the NWCF. The Bates papers and those of the Battle Studies Group in the historical collections of the Naval War College remain a rich repository of documents and other sources, which will keep historians busy for many years to come.
The American and Joint Origins of Operational Depth in the Meuse-Argonne Campaign
By Thomas Bruscino, PhD
via the Marine Corps University Press web site
Abstract: A common view is that the U.S. military adopted wholesale the Soviet concept of operational depth in the 1970s and 1980s. However, a closer look at U.S. Army concepts, doctrine, and planning reveals that the concept, word, and definition of depth existed in the U.S. military prior to the 1970s. The beginnings of depth in the U.S. Army predate even the great interwar Soviet theorists. The American idea traces to the World War I era, during which it was made manifest in the Joint campaign and operations known as the Meuse-Argonne offensive.
In the mid-1970s, the U.S. military was trying to recover, like the rest of the country, from the travails of the Vietnam War. Since it seemed safe to say that the United States would avoid Vietnam-type interventions for a while, much of its armed forces returned to a more singular focus on a potential war with the Soviet Union in Europe. This focus helped the Services rebuild, and the armed forces improved tremendously in their recruiting, training, education, and technology. Revitalized schools and rigorous training events, especially in Europe, led to a closer look at the Soviet armed forces and their fighting doctrines and theories. Out of such studies of the enemy came the formal adoption into U.S. doctrine of the Soviet concept of operational art, the level of war between strategy and tactics. With Soviet operational art came the tenet of depth.1
Or at least so the story goes. The Soviets, led by such thinkers as Alexander A. Svechin, Mikhail N. Tukhachevsky, Vladimir K. Triandafillov, and Georgii S. Isserson, had invented the concepts of operational art and depth during the interwar period between the First and Second World Wars. Their focus was on the activities of large units—armies, corps, and divisions—in the field, along with a Marxist-Leninist emphasis on revolutionary changes in warfare. For them, operational art was a deviation from the old strategy of a “single point,” whereby armies would maneuver until they came together for a decisive battle. Greater numbers of soldiers, extended ranges and rates of firepower, and the extension of continuous lines had created the necessity of campaigns that consisted of multiple large units engaged in simultaneous, successive, and distributed operations. Depth was the central feature of modern operations that drove operational art. This had been evident in World War I, with deep-echeloned defensive formations and long-range artillery. But the Soviets quickly moved past that depth and focused on the advent of faster and more durable tanks, longer-range attack and bombing aviation, and large long-range airborne units. Their deep operations included deep fires, especially using aviation, simultaneous to the advance of a ground attack on the front lines to achieve a penetration, which would be followed by a breakthrough of mechanized and motorized forces deep into the enemy’s defensive echelons and reserves, causing shock and collapse of enemy forces.2
In the 1970s, the U.S. Army, the confidence of which had been hit especially hard by the Vietnam War, took the lead in the United States in developing more well-defined operational concepts. Through an agreement with the U.S. Air Force, Army leaders developed the operating concept of AirLand Battle in the 1980s. This new operating concept explicitly used operational art and emphasized depth. In Operations, Field Manual (FM) 100-5, published in 1986, offensive depth was described as follows:
Ernest Peixotto: The Enlisted WWI Artist on the Western Front
By Pamela D. Toler
via the historynet.com web site
In late July 1914, American artist Ernest Peixotto and his wife, Mary, returned from a sketching trip in Portugal to the small studio-home in the French village of Samois-sur-Seine that had been their base for 15 years. The town was filled with people enjoying the summer weather: families boating on the river, ladies hosting outdoor tea parties under colored awnings, soldiers on leave sauntering along the streets.
A week later, Germany and France declared war on each other. Overnight, the atmosphere of gaiety disappeared. Five days after the French government posted an order for general mobilization, Peixotto joined the local communal guard. For six weeks, from early August to the First Battle of the Marne on September 12, Peixotto helped patrol the local roads, woods, and fields, watching for spies and deserters.
The Allied victory at the Marne dashed hopes on both sides that the war would be brief. Faced with the prospect of a long and brutal conflict, the Peixottos decided to return to the United States.
Four years later Ernest Peixotto would return to France as one of eight artists attached to the American Expeditionary Forces. As a unit, the uniformed artists were charged with the often conflicting tasks of documenting the war for the historical record while creating stirring images of American soldiers in battle that could be used for propaganda at home.
Peixotto recorded his experiences in sketches and paintings he produced for the War Department and in a powerful memoir of his months as an official army artist, The American Front, published by Charles Scribner’s Sons in 1919.
Peixotto was born into a prominent San Francisco merchant family in 1869. He studied painting first at San Francisco’s School of Fine Arts and then at the Académie Julian in Paris, one of the most respected art schools in the world at the time. By the time the war began, he was well established as a painter and illustrator. He showed paintings at important exhibitions in Paris, New York, and San Francisco and acquired an international reputation as a muralist. He wrote and illustrated his own travel books, and he illustrated books written by others, including Theodore Roosevelt’s Oliver Cromwell: The Story of His Life and Work (1904).
Check Out Mammoth Cave's Hidden World War I Memorial
By Blake Stilwell
via the Military.com web site
In the years between the first and second world wars, most people thought World War I really was the “War to End All Wars,” and they reacted appropriately. Memorials were raised all over the country to men who died in the trenches “over there.”
At the time, there weren’t really national memorials dedicated to those who died in America’s wars, and those that were built weren’t in Washington, D.C.
A national memorial to the Civil War’s Union soldiers was dedicated on the grounds of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., in 1897. The National World War I Museum and Memorial in Kansas City, Missouri -- then called the Liberty Memorial -- was dedicated by Congress in 1926.
There are dozens of federally administered monuments, cemeteries and memorials around the world. The nation’s first national memorial was erected in 1780, dedicated to Revolutionary War Gen. Richard Montgomery. Montgomery was killed during the battle to take the war to Quebec.
World War I saw the return of the remains of the Unknown Soldier, who was interred at Arlington National Cemetery. The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is a national memorial to those whose remains are unidentified long after the war’s end.
Until the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall was finished in 1982, there were no national memorials to all soldiers and veterans of a single war. Memorials and monuments were built and administered at the state and local level.
After the unprecedented destruction and loss of life that came with World War I, municipalities across the United States began dedicating memorials to their local war dead. Barren County, Kentucky, was no different. Through the local American Legion post, the people of the county placed the tribute to their fallen loved ones inside of nearby Mammoth Cave.
Free speech wasn’t so free 103 years ago, when ‘seditious’ and ‘unpatriotic’ speech was criminalized in the US
By Eric P. Robinson
via The Conversation web site
Just over a century ago, the United States government – in the midst of World War I – undertook unprecedented efforts to control and restrict what it saw as “unpatriotic” speech through passage of the Sedition Act of 1918, signed by President Woodrow Wilson on May 16 of that year.
The restrictions – and the courts’ reactions to them – mark an important landmark in testing the limits of the First Amendment, and the beginnings of the current understanding of free speech in the U.S.
As a scholar and lawyer focused on freedom of speech in the U.S., I have studied the federal government’s attempts to restrict speech, including during World War I, and the legal cases that challenged them. These cases helped form the modern idea of the First Amendment right of free speech. But the conflict between patriotism and free expression continues to be an issue a century later.
Government’s pursuit of ‘radicals’
The onset of war led to a patriotic fervor, fed by an intense government propaganda campaign. It also led to new challenges to the concept of free speech.
Within a few weeks of declaring war in 1917, President Woodrow Wilson signed the Espionage Act.
This law, which is still largely in effect, makes it a crime to do three things. First, to convey false information in order to interfere with the American military, or promote the success of America’s enemies. Second, to cause or attempt to cause insubordination within the military. Third, to willfully obstruct military recruitment or enlistment.
Both the Obama and Trump administrations used this law to investigate unauthorized leaks of government information, including obtaining reporters’ phone records.
The more restrictive Sedition Act of 1918 went further, amending the Espionage Act to criminalize “disloyal, profane, scurrilous or abusive” speech about the United States or its symbols; speech to impede war production; and statements supporting a country with which the U.S. is at war.
Turning Sons into Sammies: Just Call It “Camp Quick”
By Mike Nichols
via the Hometown by Handlebar (TX) web site
Imagine the Fort Worth of a century ago. Imagine what the Star-Telegram at the time described as “a wind-swept, untrampled tract of a prairie” on the western edge of town (today’s Casa Manana would be at that edge).
Now imagine that in just three months that wind-swept, untrampled tract of prairie would become decidedly trampled, would become transformed, would become a city of thirty thousand people—the population of Cleburne or Waxahachie or Farmers Branch.
But this instant city would be different. It would have a rifle range, an artillery range, battlefield trenches. And its population of thirty thousand would be mostly male. This was the Army’s Camp Bowie in the summer of 1917, and in terms of America’s response to our declaration of war against Germany in World War I, Camp Bowie was Camp Quick.
Think of it: The United States declared war on April 6. In late May Fort Worth city officials proposed that the Army build one of its planned mobilization camps just west of town.
On June 11 the War Department announced that Fort Worth had indeed been selected for a National Guard mobilization camp.
Camp Bowie would be “operated like a separate city, with the best of water, gas, electric, telephone and street car service.” Northern Texas Traction Company said the route of its Arlington Heights line would be changed to accommodate the camp. Part of the line would also be double-tracked.
Construction of Camp Bowie began on July 18, 1917 as the Army’s 36th Infantry Division was organized from Texas and Oklahoma National Guard troops. Camp commander was Edwin St. John Greble (he not only graduated from West Point but also was born at West Point).
Honoring the Doughboys: Taps at the National World War I Memorial
via the Taps Bugler web site
Taps is sounded each day at 5 pm at the New National World War I Memorial in Washington DC. The National World War I Memorial is located in Pershing Park on Pennsylvania Ave between 14th and 15th Streets.
Taps is sounded by a bugler each day at 5 pm to honor the memory of 4.7 million Americans who finished a fight they did not start, in a land they had never visited, for peace and liberty for people they did not know. We honor those Doughboys who did their ‘bit’ for their country.
The daily sounding of Taps began Monday May 24th and will continue through Veterans Day. The call will be sounded at the foot of the flagpole at the Memorial.
The daily sounding is with cooperation of The WWI Commission, The Doughboy Foundation, The America Battlefield Monuments Commission, the National Park Service and Taps For Veterans.
More than its statuary, the new National World War I Memorial is a public gathering place for reflection on the war that changed the world. It is here in the Nation’s Capital that the playing of Taps—the sonorous 24-note melody embodies egalitarianism, patriotism, democracy, and equality—will enable us to fulfill an obligation to keep faith with the American Doughboy.
17 photos that show how great-grandpa got ready for WWI
By Logan Nye
via the We Are The Mighty web site
Basic training sucks, but it follows a predictable pattern. A bunch of kids show up, someone shaves their heads, and they learn to shoot rifles.
But it turns out that training can be so, so much better than that. In World War I, it included mascots, tarantulas, and snowmen.
Check out these 18 photos to learn about what it was like to prepare for war 100 years ago:
1. If the old photos in the National Archives are any indication, almost no one made it to a training camp without a train ride.
The National World War I Memorial in Washington, D.C.
By Thomas J. Brown
via the HISTORY@WORK (The NCPH Blog) web site
Public monuments chart development within a cultural form at the same time they commemorate historical events. Maya Lin found inspiration in British architect Edwin Lutyens’s enduring World War I monuments when she designed her brilliant Vietnam Veterans Memorial (1981-82). In contrast, the World War I Memorial recently inaugurated with the raising of its first flag in Pershing Park on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D. C., renews the longstanding American tendency to base commemoration of that conflict on a vocabulary forged in the making of Civil War monuments that glorified war rather than promoting a just peace. This formulaic thinking presents an ironic remembrance of what the World War I Memorial Commission rightly calls “the war that changed the world” and misses an opportunity to participate in an extraordinary period in the history of public monuments.
The projected focal point of the new memorial, Sabin Howard’s sixty-foot-long frieze “A Soldier’s Journey,” tells a stock tale about warfare as maturation. The sequence of thirty-eight larger-than-life-sized figures scheduled for installation in 2024 begins with a soldier taking leave of his family. Most figures appear in scenes of combat, imagined as a dramatic charge into a tumultuous battlefield where some doughboys fall dead or wounded. A sculpture in which the hero stands upright and looks directly outward in the aftermath of the ordeal highlights the forward momentum of the composition. Triumphant soldiers marching beneath the American flag separate the war zone from home, to which the protagonist returns at the end of the frieze. The narrative proposes a parallel between the individual and the nation both “coming of age through the conflict.”
Hundreds of Civil War monuments told similar stories in the quarter-century before World War I, and American remembrance of the Great War was remarkable for the extent to which the country stuck to its established patterns rather than sharing in Allied responses to the unprecedented event. Jennifer Wingate’s Sculpting Doughboys: Memory, Gender, and Taste in America’s World War I Memorials (2013) reports that more than 60% of American soldier statues depicted combat scenes. The centerpiece of Howard’s frieze follows directly from E. M. Viquesney’s best-selling Spirit of the American Doughboy (1920) and Karl Illava’s 107th Infantry Memorial in Central Park (1924-27). British and French monuments generally did not exalt danger and aggressive energy. Within the figurative tradition endorsed by the American centennial commission, for example, veteran Charles Sargeant Jagger’s Royal Artillery Memorial in Hyde Park (1922-25) demonstrated the potential for innovation in designing a monument as a powerful, sensitive witness. The most widely adopted British stock statues featured soldiers in a mourning pose with weapon inverted rather than modeling the belligerence common in US Civil War monuments since the 1890s.
Persistence in pre-World War I commemorative convention is especially disappointing in a monument commissioned a century after the event, when the passage of time and a vast scholarship have further illuminated its significance. Philippe Prost’s The Ring of Remembrance in Ablain-Saint-Nazaire, France (2011-14), shows that a thoughtful memorial might animate a past that no longer draws on the force of living memory. This variation on monumental listing of names honors 579,606 soldiers from forty different countries who died in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais region. The monument recognizes the tragic results of militarized nationalism in World War I and underscores that European cooperation since the 1950s, especially the partnership of France and Germany, is one of the central achievements of modern history. The emphasis of the Washington centennial project on American emergence as a world power is a less timely theme and disregards the disastrous World War I consequences for which the United States shared responsibility.
Latin American Neutrality During the First World War
By Larry Slawson
via the Owlcation web site
In recent decades, historians have expressed a newfound interest in reexamining the role of non-European countries in World War I, as well as the contributions that these nations made in regard to the diplomatic, political, and economic policies adopted by the Allies and Central Powers.
While largely ignored in prior years, more recent historical works have focused on the importance of Latin America to the war effort, as well as the decision of many South American countries to remain neutral throughout the duration of the conflict.
This article seeks to examine these works through a historiographical analysis of trends surrounding Latin American participation in the Great War. Specifically, this article is concerned with the issue of Latin American neutrality during the war; why did it occur, and what causative factors have historians assigned to their decision to maintain a position of non-alignment?
In the 1920s, historian Percy Alvin Martin offered one of the first attempts to answer questions such as these in his work, Latin America and the War. In his analysis of Latin American countries that remained neutral throughout the First World War, Martin argues that these nations sought a position of nonalignment due to their desire to “counteract” the growing influence and pressure of the United States over South America (Martin, 27).
Upon entering the war in 1917, Martin argues that the United States attempted to use its regional authority as a means of coercing “nations south of the Rio Grande” to follow suit in “the war against Germany" (Martin, 24). However, in the early twentieth century, Martin posits that many Latin Americans viewed any encroachment of the United States (whether diplomatic or political) with both “suspicion and distrust” as a result ofAmerica’s “past actions” in the War of 1848, the Panama Canal, as well as their recent establishment of political hegemony in several “Caribbean and Central American republics" (Martin, 24-25).
As a result, Martin argues that many Latin Americans “firmly believed the United States was aiming at the establishment of a political preponderance over the entire Western Hemisphere” and, in turn, actively sought measures to counteract this ambition from reaching fruition (Martin, 25). Consequently, Martin states: “Latin Americans honestly believed that the best interests of their own nations, and even those of civilization and humanity, could best be subserved by adherence to a strict neutrality” to the war effort, regardless of whatever sympathies they held toward the Allied cause (Martin, 29).
The World War I Army-Navy Baseball Game Played for the King of England
By Matt Fratus
via the Coffee or Die web site
On July 4, 1918, the biggest sports competition in Europe wasn’t soccer, rugby, or cricket. Rather, two teams of “Yanks” — one from the Army and another of Navy personnel, drawn from soldiers and sailors sent to England for World War I — squared off in what British newspapers called the “extraordinary baseball match” pairing teenagers off hometown sandlots with major leaguers. The game brought a stoppage to wartime London and was watched from the stands by no less than King George V and Winston Churchill.
The game was the brainchild of Rear Adm. William Sims. The president of the Naval War College had sailed to London on a secret mission in April 1917. It was the first time the United States had entered a coalition force, and Sims was the first senior American commander to arrive on the European front. In order to improve morale among the American Expeditionary Forces in Europe, Sims established the Anglo-American Baseball League and informed all inbound ships from America to Europe to carry baseball teams.
The arrival of the foreign pastime brought forth American culture and identity and Allied cohesion the Europeans hadn’t seen before. Early on, 30 expatriate American businessmen in the London area had formed the new league, and by the summer of 1918 eight teams were entertaining Allied troops stationed in the area. The four American and four Canadian teams played routine games throughout the year, but Sims prepared to make the day of America’s national independence one not to soon forget.
King George and Queen Mary reviewing American troops marching past Buckingham Palace, 1918. King George V welcomed US troops to England and to the war effort. When the Anglo-American Baseball League planned an Army-versus-Navy baseball game to celebrate the Fourth of July, the monarch accepted an invitation to attend. What London newspapers called the “baseball match” became important news on both sides of the Atlantic. Photo courtesy of the Anglo-American Baseball Project Inc.
Ahead of the special planned baseball game held at Stamford Bridge, home to the Chelsea football club, umpire Arlie Latham visited the gardens of Buckingham Palace to teach King George V how to throw out the ceremonial first pitch. “He had a middling fair arm but it was hard to break him of the habit of his stiff arm way from playing cricket,” Latham said, who had played for the New York Giants and was known as a brawler and jokester. He told the monarch the key to woo the crowd was “More speed!”
Although a protective netting canceled the king’s honorary pitch, he still took the field before the game to shake hands with the team’s captains. He even used a fountain pen to sign and date the game ball, which would be presented to the game’s winner, and ultimately to President Woodrow Wilson. Also in attendance was a young Winston Churchill, who made a speech.
The Story Of The Harlem Hellfighters, The Overlooked Black Heroes Of World War I
By Annie Garau
via the All That’s Interesting web site
To soldiers fighting in World War I, the front lines were hell on Earth. But one American regiment fought hellfire with hellfire. Dubbed the “Harlem Hellfighters” by their terrified German foes, this all-Black group of soldiers proved their mettle on the battlefield despite overcoming extraordinary obstacles.
The Hellfighters, officially the 369th Infantry Regiment of the New York Army National Guard, fearlessly fought the Germans for longer than any other American unit. Before long, stories of their bravery quickly spread around the globe.
But the Hellfighters never truly got their due — and had to fight much more than the enemy in the trenches. From the beginning, they faced racial discrimination from their own country, which did nothing to let up even after they returned home as heroes at war’s end.
For decades after the war, their valiant efforts went all but overlooked. Only in recent years have the Harlem Hellfighters begun to earn their rightful place in history.
How The Harlem Hellfighters Were Formed
Before they became the Harlem Hellfighters, they were the 15th New York National Guard Regiment — a rare all-Black unit.
New York’s governor, Charles Whitman, had bowed to pressure from Black political leaders to create the unit in 1916. It included men from all walks of life like Melville Miller, who was just 16, and Henry Johnson, whose bravery would later distinguish him on the battlefield.
They were led by William Hayward, a white former Nebraska National Guard colonel who’d managed Whitman’s campaign. Hayward advocated for his unit. He hired both Black and white officers. And he told the white officers that if they “intended to take a narrower attitude, [they] had better stay out.”