Landmarks Illinois publishes WWI Monuments of Illinois Database containing more than 300 memorials of the Great War
via the Effingham Daily News newspaper (IL) web site
Landmarks Illinois has published its new online database of historic World War I monuments and memorials in Illinois. The Landmarks Illinois WWI Monuments of Illinois Database currently contains information on 311 monuments and memorials such as doughboy statues, plaques, sculptures and public spaces dedicated to honoring those who served in the Great War. Monuments included in the database are located in 158 different Illinois communities.
“We are proud to bring attention to the monuments that honor our fellow Illinoisans who fought or served in the First World War,” said Bonnie McDonald, President & CEO of Landmarks Illinois. “Many of these memorials are now 100 years old or more. These historical markers, and those they honor, deserve to be recognized and celebrated.”
The unique database is the result of a years-long survey of existing WWI monuments throughout the state, made possible through generous financial support from the Pritzker Military Foundation. In 2017, in preparation for the 100th anniversary of the U.S. entry into WWI, Landmarks Illinois launched the statewide survey to better learn about the remaining WWI monuments in Illinois. In partnership with Landmarks Illinois Director of Reinvestment Suzanne Germann, former Landmarks Illinois Regional Advisor, the late Steve Thompson of Mattoon, and preservation consultant Matt Seymour, conducted the comprehensive survey of WWI monuments throughout Illinois.
“This unique program has shined a light on the large number of remaining memorials throughout Illinois dedicated to the Great War,” said Suzanne Germann, Director of Reinvestment for Landmarks Illinois. “We are grateful to all those who helped with the extensive survey and shared information on memorials in their communities. We hope this new database sparks curiosity and inspires people to preserve the WWI memorials in their neighborhoods so they can stand for another 100 years and more.”
In conjunction with the survey, Landmarks Illinois created and carried out a WWI Monument Preservation Grant Program during 2017 and 2018 to provide financial support to communities wanting to preserve their WWI monuments and recover their dedication-era quality and appearance. The Pritzker Military Foundation awarded a $100,000 grant to Landmarks Illinois for the creation of the WWI monument database, survey and grant program. Nearly $75,000 of the funding went toward the WWI Monument Preservation Grant Program, which successfully helped preserve 13 aging WWI monuments and memorials in the state.
Pickelhaube Pyramids - World War I's Strangest Monuments
via the Rare Historical Photos web site
This interesting picture, taken in 1919, shows employees of the New York Central Railroad at a celebration in Victory Way, showing off a pyramid of recovered German helmets in front of Grand Central Terminal. There were over 12,000 German Pickelhaubes on the pyramid, sent from warehouses in Germany at the end of the war.
Victory Way was set up on Park Avenue to raise money for the 5th War Loan, and a pyramid of 12,000 helmets was erected at each end, along with other German war equipment. There is a hollow supporting structure underneath the helmets.
While many of the image’s details have been confirmed, the figure that was placed at the top of the pyramid is still subject to speculation. Some sources believe that it’s Nike, the Goddess of Victory. There are also two cannons located at the left and right of the helmet pyramid.
Beyond a well-framed shot, this photograph is interesting for its symbolism, sociological impact, and historical significance. Many people may find the sight of so many enemy helmets too macabre with each helmet representing a dead or captured soldier.
And how does such a public display affect the psyche of citizens? To be located near Grand Central Terminal means it would have been seen by a lot of people. The cannons in the foreground, the numerous flags, the eagles atop the pillars; the symbolism in this shot is very powerful.
All helmets produced for the infantry before and during 1914 were made of leather. As the war progressed, Germany’s leather stockpiles dwindled. After extensive imports from South America, particularly Argentina, the German government began producing ersatz Pickelhauben made of other materials.
In 1915, some Pickelhauben began to be made from thin sheet steel. However, the German high command needed to produce an even greater number of helmets, leading to the usage of pressurized felt and even paper to construct Pickelhauben.
During the early months of World War I, it was soon discovered that the Pickelhaube did not measure up to the demanding conditions of trench warfare. The leather helmets offered virtually no protection against shell fragments and shrapnel and the conspicuous spike made its wearer a target.
These shortcomings, combined with material shortages, led to the introduction of the simplified model 1915 helmet, with a detachable spike. In September 1915 it was ordered that the new helmets were to be worn without spikes, when in the front line.
Michigan-Wisconsin division had major role in World War I
By Graham Jaehnig
via The Daily Mining Gazette newspaper (MI) web site
Romagne-sous-Montfaucon is a tiny community in the Lorraine District of France, with a population of about 200 residents.
It is an ancient town but known by few Americans, even though it is of great significance and historical value to the United States.
The reason for its significance is because Romagne-sous-Montfaucon is home to the Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery, which is about 25 miles northwest of Verdun. It contains the graves of 14,246 American soldiers, making it the largest of all the World War I American cemeteries.
Among those buried there are soldiers from Michigan. They lost their lives in the Meuse-Argonne Offensive of 1918 and lay now in an area of approximately 130 acres. The Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery is, of course, not the only cemetery dedicated to American soldiers who fell in the now nearly forgotten war — but it is the largest.
Among the U.S. military organizations who participated in the Meuse-Argonne Offensive was the U.S. 32nd Division, which was comprised of militia units from both Michigan and Wisconsin.
The French allies called the 32nd “Red Arrow” Division the “Les Terribles,” or The Terrible Division. It had earned that reputation in the year or so it was in France.
The “Red Arrow” Division was organized at Camp MacArthur, Texas, in August and September 1917. The organization of the 32nd Division was completed Oct. 15, 1917.
On Sept. 11, the division’s 63rd Infantry Brigade was organized from the 31st, 32nd and 33nd Michigan Infantry Regiments, which were then reorganized.
“We were young, they say. We have died. Remember us.”
By Margaret Crable
via the University of Southern California's USC Dornsife Magazine web site
World War I is one of America’s most forgotten wars, says Chris Isleib, a retired Navy captain with nearly 30 years in the service. When he began recruiting volunteers for the United States World War One Centennial Commission starting in 2013, he’d ask each person if they had a family member who served in the conflict.
“Hardly anyone knew,” Isleib says. Although the U.S. mobilized more than 4 million men and women and lost nearly 120,000 soldiers during the war, there had been no official memorial built at the nation’s capital in the 100 years since the conflict.
It took effort from people like Isleib, who served as director of public affairs for the Centennial Commission, to secure land and funding to build a memorial.
In April 2021, the site was first opened to visitors. In 2024, the installation of a 58-foot bas-relief by the artist Sabin Howard will mark its completion. The sculpture, titled “A Soldier’s Journey,” depicts the experiences of those who served.
It was a fitting accomplishment for Isleib, who graduated from the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences with a degree in creative writing in 1985. He’s spent his career telling the stories of the military, from Hollywood to the Pentagon, to make sure they don’t get lost.
“It’s always been important for me to tell good stories about our troops, stories about their moral courage, physical courage and integrity,” he says.
Sea, ships and scripts
Isleib’s parents both served in World War II and met while they were stationed in San Diego. A college scholarship through the Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) program brought Isleib from the East Coast to USC.
An Exclusive Preview of the New World War I Memorial
By Jeff MacGregor
via the Smithsonian Magazine website
“Light is everything,” says the sculptor. And, all at once, it is.
You see light as if for the first time. Not as some condition of simple illumination, but as the maker of solids, the hand, the hammer and the chisel, the creator. You see it sifting down from the ceiling and sneaking through the glass doors, cascading from the two big windows up front, the long room filled with it in every angle and on every surface, the whole place swelling with daylight pouring through the glass bricks out back. Iron light, straw light, light bright as brass, sun-yellow light corkscrewing from the skylights to settle across every unfinished face and figure. Light gathering in the folds of the uniforms, washing the boot tops and the rifle barrels, radiant, hard as marble, soft as lambswool, painting the floors, drifting into the corners like snow, sleeping in the shadows. Light on every body—indifferent light, animating light, sanctifying light.
The sculptor is Sabin Howard. While his tools and materials suggest Howard works in clay and bronze, his true medium is light. And this sculpture, A Soldier’s Journey, years in the making, will serve as the centerpiece of the National World War I Memorial in Washington, D.C. When complete, Howard’s immense frieze will tell the story of an American reluctantly answering the call to war—a deeply personal and individual story and the grand symbolic story of the nation all at once. Across five scenes and 38 larger-than-life-size human figures, it will be nearly 60 feet long and ten feet high. And it may become the greatest memorial bronze of the modern age.
Sabin Howard is avid. Born and raised in Manhattan, in his youth he and his parents, both educators, routinely visited Italy, where his mother was born. He spent summers there with his grandparents. Back and forth, back and forth. Florence, Turin, Milan, walking museum after museum after museum. Those long cool marble hallways echoing, echoing. He spent almost as much time there as he did in the States, almost as much time in the 15th century as in the 20th. Very early, in his teens, immersed in the art of the Renaissance, he knew what he was called to and what he was born for and where his gifts were meant to take him.
Those talents, honed for years as both student and teacher at places like the New York Academy of Art and the University of the Arts in Philadelphia and in his Bronx studio and across tens of thousands of hours of drawing and sculpting and succeeding and failing, have led him here: a converted printing plant in Englewood, New Jersey, and perhaps the most ambitious artistic commission of the 21st century.
Reviewing A Machine-Gunner In France
By David Retherford
via The Strategy Bridge web site
In A Machine-Gunner In France, Captain Ward Schrantz has written a detailed account of his personal experiences during a 22-month deployment covering his mobilization in the United States, his combat involvement on The Western Front, and his demobilization back to the United States during the First World War. Schrantz’s memoir was written with the goal of leaving a record of Company A, 128th Machine Gun Battalion (MGB), 35th Infantry Division’s involvement in the First World War.
Editor Jeffrey L. Patrick should be commended for compiling Schrantz’s unfinished memoir and adding research material from archival sources, newspapers, and other memoirs to produce a well-rounded account of the 128th MGB. Schrantz’s account was executed with minute details that highlight the sacrifices and hardships endured by the soldiers of Company A, and a general reader with limited knowledge of the 35th Infantry Division’s role in the First World War may not benefit as much from the elaborate detail left by Schrantz or the archival work added by Patrick. But this is ultimately a book about one soldier before, during, and after the First World War.
Captain Schrantz served as the company commander of A CO, 128th MGB, 35th Infantry Division, a National Guard unit before and during the First World War. Along with most of the soldiers serving with him, Schrantz was born and raised in Carthage, Missouri, and began his military career in 1909. When the United States declared war on Germany, Schrantz was voted to the rank of Captain, a position he maintained throughout the war.
Readers looking for a detailed account of the 35th Infantry Division’s involvement during the Meuse-Argonne Offensive will only find Schrantz’s personal viewpoint as a company commander, not a strategic view of the campaign. Schrantz purposely refrained from discussing the failures of the 35th Infantry Division. Academic researchers looking for supporting material, however, will find beneficial research material that warrants reading.
Academic researchers or general readers looking for a story about military camp life will find precise and specific detail in Schrantz’s book. Nearly one-third of the book deals with mobilization and troop movements prior to the unit entering the trenches. Readers interested in the weather faced by the soldiers at Camp Doniphan, Oklahoma, will find a detailed account of the living conditions faced by the 128th. Army camp life and cultural observation with troop movements were well documented.
A few major observations made in the book warrant a detailed review. The first was the lack of clear internal communications within the units of the 35th Division. Second, the contemptuous relationship between officers and medical officers. And third, machine gun equipment layout.
'America’s First Brain Surgeon' Served During Civil War and World War I
By Janet Aker
via the Defense Visual Information Distribution Service (DIVDS) web site
Army Maj. (Dr.) William Williams Keen Jr. was a pioneering military doctor whose career spanned surgical duty on the bloody battlefields of the American Civil War through influential research work during World War I.
Once known as "America's first brain surgeon," Keen helped propel numerous advances in medicine. He played a key role in the birth of bacteriology, neurology, use of antisepsis, sterile surgical techniques, brain surgery, and the breakthrough discovery that insects carry and spread diseases.
With a unique perspective after serving in two cataclysmic wars, Keen wrote a 1918 paperJournal article, Military Surgery in 1861 and in 1918 on JSTOR's website called "Military Surgery in 1861 and in 1918."
In it, he marveled at the knowledge gained in the field of military medicine during his 50 years of service and expressed his excitement for what was to come in the next 50 years and beyond, according to staff at the National Museum of Health and MedicineNational Museum of Health and Medicine website in Silver Spring, Maryland.
In his influential paperJournal article, Military Surgery in 1861 and in 1918 on JSTOR's website, Keen lamented the countless deaths during the Civil War that could have been avoided with better military field surgical techniques and surgeons with advanced knowledge.
"Between these two dates is a veritable chasm of ignorance which we can only really appreciate when we peer over its edge and discover how broad and deep it is," he wrote.
"Clinical observation has done much, but research and chiefly experimental research, has done far more."
"Research has not yet ceased to give us better and better methods of coping with disease and death, and – thank God – it will never cease so long as disease and death continue to afflict the human race," he wrote.
Keen's work played an important role in the significant improvements in battlefield survival rates during conflicts in the 20th century.
10 New Attractions to Visit in Washington, D.C.
By Kitty Bean Yancey
via the AARP web site
The free Smithsonian museums, majestic monuments and spring cherry blossoms are tourist staples in Washington, D.C. But even if you’ve been-there-done-that, there are loads of new reasons to visit our nation’s capital in 2022 — including a few visitor favorites now reopened after pandemic shutdowns.
Planet Word Museum
The museum is fully accessible and lends visitors a limited number of wheelchairs.
Visit: Open Wednesday through Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; reserve tickets online (there’s no entrance fee, though donations of $10–$15 are encouraged); 925 13th St. NW; 202-931-3139; planetwordmuseum.org
Revived White House tours
Public tours restarted in April, after a long COVID-related pause. The free peeks into public rooms are first come, first served and must be booked through the office of a member of Congress. Reach out to your member of Congress and Congressional Tour Coordinator through the U.S. House of Representatives switchboard at 202-225-3121, the U.S. Senate switchboard at 202-224-3121, or online at www.congress.gov/members. You’ll want to plan ahead: Requests for tickets must be submitted three weeks to 90 days in advance. The self-guided tours of the East Wing include the State Dining Room, Red Room, Green Room, Blue Room and the China Room, which displays tableware of past presidents — but the Oval Office is off-limits. Secret Service members stationed in the rooms can answer questions.
Visit: The free tours are currently only available from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.
Hidden History: The "Hello Girls" of World War I
By Lenny Flank
via the Daily Kos web site
During the First World War, the US Army depended for most of its tactical communications upon a small group of female volunteers called “the Hello Girls”.
Between the American Civil War in 1860 and the First World War in 1914, the world’s militaries had changed significantly. At Gettysburg and Petersburg, division generals usually led from the front, and were able to examine the frontlines and see for themselves where their forces were and what situation they were in. Most tactical orders were hand-written on the spot and went by courier.
By 1914, however, armies had become so huge and so widely scattered that nobody at the front could see the bigger picture, and commanding generals were now ensconced at the rear, in a central headquarters where they had to piece together a picture of the battlefield from reports which they received from the frontline commanders, then issue their orders.
During the Civil War, some of these rear-area communications came and went by telegraph, but this was slow, vulnerable to enemy disruption, and required specially trained operators. By the First World War, a new invention had appeared—wireless radio. It promised to revolutionize military communications. But in 1914 radio was not yet suitable for use at the front: unless they were securely encrypted, radio signals could be easily intercepted by the enemy, and the process of encoding and decoding meant that radio was of limited usefulness for rapid battlefield communications.
Instead, the armies of the First World War turned to another new technology—the telephone. Unlike radio signals which could be easily intercepted, telephone signals traveled by wires which were inaccessible to enemy eavesdroppers and allowed secure communications. During the Great War, troops on all sides laid thousands of miles of telephone wires that radiated out from the rear headquarters to connect the generals with their units in the front lines. In both the Entente and the Central Powers armies, nearly every order to advance, retreat or hold ground was carried by a telephone line.
When the United States entered the war in 1917, General John “Black Jack” Pershing needed to set up a similar communications network. But in this area, as in so many others, the US Army found itself utterly unprepared for a major war: the US Signal Corps had fewer than 1600 men, and most of them were telegraph operators who had never been trained to run a telephone switchboard.
America's Experimental Helmets of World War I
By Peter Suciu
via Springfield Armory's The Armory Life web site
When the United States declared war on Germany in April 1917 and entered the First World War, it was woefully unprepared for the horrors that lay ahead. The conflict, which had devolved into a bloody stalemate, had seen the development of much new military technology. Tanks and airplanes had been employed to turn the tide, while horrific new tactics that involved poison gas and even tunneling under the trenches to blow up the enemy were introduced.
Millions were already dead by the time America joined the fray. It was truly a different conflict than what had begun in August 1914. The colorful French uniforms that included red trousers and the German spiked helmets (pickelhaube) had given way to muted colors and steel helmets.
While the United States military was equipped with the then-modern Model 1903 Springfield rifle, it lagged behind when it came to machine guns — and in the early stages of the American involvement, Doughboys were equipped with the French Chauchat.
Meanwhile, most U.S. soldiers were issued a helmet that wasn’t really all that different from the British MkI “Tin Hat,” which had been introduced in the early months of 1916. The United States would continue to wear the basic helmet — albeit with an updated liner — until 1940.
Yet, largely forgotten is the fact that the United States had sought to develop its own helmet. Several models were actually considered, and that is where the name Dr. Bashford Dean typically enters the story. While his work in WWI American helmet development was significant, Dean’s greatest contribution to the world of helmet collecting actually was his book, Helmets and Body Armor in Modern Warfare, which was first published just after his death by the Yale University Press. That book has been the premier reference for helmets of the early 20th century, but it has also served to perpetrate the myth of Dean.
While it is true that Dean played an important role in the development of various experimental helmets, Dean was not the only individual involved in the effort to develop a superior helmet.
“The French had an active experimental helmet program during the First World War, and they had some half dozen models, even as they stuck with the Model 1915 ‘Adrian’ helmet,” explained advanced helmet collector Ian Henry, author of a forthcoming book on U.S. experimental helmets of the era.
“What we know about Dean is that he was quite enthusiastic about designing a U.S. helmet, and that came from his interest in armor,” added Henry.
First Colors Ceremony at National World War I Memorial Honored with Multiple Awards
via Susan Davis International
Susan Davis International (SDI), and the United States World War One Centennial Commission have recently been recognized with a Gold Stevie Award for PR Campaign of the Year - Events & Observances for the First Colors Ceremony at the new national World War I Memorial. The Stevie American Business Awards is one of the premier business awards programs in the U.S.
SDI, a full-service international public affairs, strategic communications and special events agency based in Washington, D.C., and the commission have worked together since 2017. SDI has helped the Commission fulfill its mission of honoring the centennial anniversary of the heroism and sacrifice of the 4.7 million Americans who served in World War I.
In spring 2021, SDI led the media outreach for the First Colors Ceremony, the first official raising of the colors at the new national World War l Memorial. The ceremony featured remarks from President Joe Biden and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Gen. Mark Milley. The flag raising ceremony and opening of the World War I Memorial attracted international coverage from the New York Times, The Guardian, Good Morning America, Gray TV affiliate stations and more.
The First Colors Ceremony also won PRNews’ Platinum PR Award for Event PR/Marketing. The Platinum PR Awards have been described as the “most coveted and competitive award” in the communications space. Other recognition of the event includes an honorable mention in the Event PR category for PRNews’ Nonprofit awards for the “First Colors Ceremony.”
This is not the first time SDI and the World War I Commission have been honored for their work together. In 2018, the American Business Awards honored the “In Sacrifice for Liberty and Peace: Centennial Commemoration of America’s entry into World War I” event with a Gold Stevie in the Best Event category. That event took place at the National WWI Museum and Memorial in Kansas City
Finally, in 2019 PR Daily Media Relation awards recognized “A First Look at the National World War I Memorial, Washington D.C” for the Stunt or Special Event category.
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What Was a Doughboy?
By Mary McMahon
via the wisegeek.com web site
The slang term “doughboy” was used to refer to American infantry soldiers through the First World War, although the term fell out of popularity after that point. Despite the rumor that Europeans coined the term because Americans were “slow to rise” to join the First World War, infantry soldiers were also called doughboys during the Mexican American War, from 1846-1847, and it is likely that the term because widespread during that period. Like slang terms in many languages, the origins of the word are rather murky, and there are a number of competing theories to explain how the doughboy came to be.
Before examining the theories for the origins of the term, it is important to look at how it was used. Initially, members of the mounted cavalry used "doughboy" as a derogatory term for members of the infantry, who were generally looked down upon by other members of the armed forces. Infantry kits and supplies were also referred to using the moniker “doughboy,” to distinguish them from cavalry supplies, which were often of higher quality. By World War One, however, the doughboys had adopted the term for themselves, and were using it in letters home and to describe themselves. Official military dispatches and publications also began to refer to members of the infantry as doughboys, and Europeans used the word as a blanket term for all American soldiers, or Yanks.
The most likely explanation for the origins of “doughboy” is tied in with the Mexican American War. During long marches, the infantry would stir up large amounts of dust and dirt, closing the day looking like clay figures. Their dirty faces and uniforms resembled the adobe structures used throughout the American Southwest, and it is possible that the cavalry teased the infantry by calling them “adobe boys,” and that the term was corrupted into “doughboy”.
The term may also be related to baked goods. The mounded buttons on infantry uniforms resembled the small pastries known as doughboys, and it is also probable that a number of young bakers apprentices sought their fortunes in the war. Some theorists have also suggested that many infantry meals included doughy breads baked in camp fires, although this theory is not very plausible, since the whole army presumably ate the same food. However, since the infantry moved at a slower rate than the cavalry, it is possible that their bread tended to be more doughy, since it did not have time to cook properly, and this is a possible explanation for the doughboy title.
Holworthy Hall’s The Man Nobody Knew and Facial Wound Narratives after World War I
By Evan P. Sullivan
via the Nursing Clio collaborative blog project web site
In his 1919 novel The Man Nobody Knew, Holworthy Hall introduced readers to Richard Morgan, a fictional American soldier who enlisted in the French Foreign Legion during World War I. Disaffected from his hometown of Syracuse, New York and a broken engagement, Morgan fought in the war to prove his worth to society. Authorities reported Richard Morgan as dead shortly after he arrived in France in 1915, but he had actually suffered a severe facial wound and was recuperating, anonymously, in a French hospital. Despondent about his disfigurement, he found hope after hearing that surgeons could reconstruct his face to appear as it had before the war, as long as Morgan gave them a photograph of himself to guide their reconstruction. Rather than lend a pre-war photo, Morgan gave surgeons a postcard that depicted an attractive image of Jesus Christ. Morgan obtained his new sanctified face and went home to reclaim his lost love. It might be easy to write this story off as silly fiction, but Hall’s Richard Morgan saga reflected the American public’s simultaneous confidence in medicine, and searing unease about the facial reconstruction of wounded soldiers after World War I.
Facial wounds loomed large in the cultural milieu of belligerent societies after the war. Shrapnel, mustard gas, and bullets disfigured hundreds of thousands of soldiers’ faces. There were even specific terms in France and Germany that invoked the traumatic nature of facial wounds: the French called them les gueules cassées (the men with broken faces); the Germans called them Gesichts-Entstellten (twisted face) or Menschen ohne Gesicht (men without faces) Historian Marjorie Gehrhardt has argued that such wounds were both “very personal and extremely public,” and though these men tried to live ordinary lives after 1918, they became embodied reminders of the war’s carnage. When leaders of the belligerent nations came together to sign the Treaty of Versailles, for example, the French delegation sent a group of facially-wounded veterans to serve as “a living protest to the German delegation.”
The US Army struggled to reintegrate facially wounded veterans into postwar society. Over 2,000 American soldiers had facial or jaw wounds, and 600 of those soldiers required extensive surgery in hospitals in the United States. At US Army General Hospital No. 40 in St. Louis, American surgeon Vilray Blair assumed a similar role to his European counterpart, Harold Gillies, who famously operated on facially wounded soldiers at Queens Hospital in England. Under Blair’s direction, the St. Louis hospital kept American patients under a “visual quarantine”; the men lived in a building that was physically separated from the rest of the hospital by a wooden ramp. The isolated patients usually endured eight to ten surgeries over a period of months or sometimes years in order to achieve restoration to a “normal type.” The ramp that separated them, one observer optimistically wrote, was a bridge “not of sighs” but of “joy and light and laughter, for over it men pass, their jaws show away, every tooth gone, noses and cheeks cruelly torn, a sight to make angels weep; and back again they may come in time, restored to a normal type.”