Chapter 10
The County in Three Wars

PORTAGE COUNTY IN THE WORLD WAR --Part I

Portage County has not been one whit behind any American section of the Union in prosecuting the greatest and most intense of war activities which the world has ever known, because no other war of history has so intimately affected the entire known world. The total number of men, who went from the county, either as volunteers or tinder the selective drafts, was 1,535 and thirty-five deaths were reported. At least two of the former residents of the county had already achieved fame in the regular army and navy when hostilities commenced, and were afterward advanced to higher positions of responsibility on land and sea.

GENERAL EDWARD F. MCGLACHLIN

Edward F. McGlachlin was already recognized as a national authority in artillery practice and tactics and was promoted brigadier general in that branch of the service in August, 1917, after the president had declared a state of war. He was one of General Pershing's right-hand men in artillery matters and in 1918 was promoted to be major general. After the armistice with Germany was declared in the fall he led the First Division of the Third American Army of Occupation into the enemy's country,-first across the Moselle River into Luxemburg.

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General McGlachlin was born in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, his father being Edward McGlachlin, a Civil war veteran and pioneer newspaper man of the Badger state and long identified with the Stevens Point Journal. At the time of the General's birth, the father was identified with the Fond du Lac Commonwealth. Like other sons before him, he selected quite another profession than that adopted by the father, and in 1889 graduated from the United States Military Academy.

Besides the practical experience of thirty years of army life, General McGlachlin received special training which made his services of noteworthy value in the trying exigencies of the World war. In 1893 he pursued a special course in submarine mining at the Engineers School of Application, as well as intensive training and instruction in the Artillery School (1896), School of Fire for Field Artillery (1912) and Field Officers' Course, Army Service School (1916). In 1917 he became a member of the Army War College, the highest national body of military tactics. His special record of promotion and service extends from his commission as second lieutenant of artillery, on June 12, 1889, to his appointment as full brigadier general in the National Army, on August 5, 1917, and as major general in the following year with the other honors which came to him during his active service at the western front until the cessation of hostilities on the 11th of November, 1918. Now in his fifty-first year, he has passed steadily through each rank between the grades indicated and none of his years has a more substantial past or a more promising future.

The Stevens Point Journal gives the following account of the awarding of the Distinguished Service Medal. to General McGlachlin: "Among the last and highly-prized honors which conferred upon General McGlachlin was the Distinguished Service Medal awarded by General Pershing. The reasons for the awarding were published in the Army and Navy Register, and, in that connection, the splendid services of the Stevens Point officer are thus specified:

“Maj. Gen. E. F. McGlachlin. For exceptionally meritorious and distinguished services. As commander of the artillery of the First army in its organization and subsequent operations he solved the difficult problems involved with rare military judgment. In St Mihiel and Argonne-Meuse offensives his qualities as a leader were demonstrated by the effective employment of artillery that was planned and conducted under his direction. He later commanded with great ability and success the First Infantry Division of the American Expeditionary Forces.”

"In this connection it may be noted as a somewhat interesting coincidence that one Stevens Point man now commands the First Division of the United States Army and another the First Squadron of the United States Navy. General McGlachlin commands the First Division of the army and his headquarters are at Montabour, Germany, and Vice Admiral Albert W. Grant commands the First Squadron of the United States Navy. Since the return of that part of the American navy that was on duty in foreign waters during the war, what were formerly known as the home and foreign fleets have been consolidated and organized into two squadrons, and Admiral Grant has been placed in charge of the First Squadron."

VICE ADMIRAL ALBERT W. GRANT

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Albert W. Grant, member of the well known Stevens Point family, has long been a prominent figure in the naval matters-of the regular service and early in the war which has just ceased as assigned an important post in connection with the Atlantic fleet. From 1915-17 he commanded the submarine force of the fleet in July 1917 was made commander of the Battleship Force No. I, of the Atlantic division of the naval service. Admiral Grant is an older man than General McGlachlin, but is remarkably sturdy for one in his sixty-third year, and has also advanced to his present high rank through faithful arid continuous service and sheer merit. A Maine man, he graduated from the United States Naval Academy about the time of reaching his majority, and was commissioned an ensign in May, 1881. He advanced through all the. intermediate grades to that of rear admiral, which he reached in September, 1915, having served on the "Massachusetts" during the Spanish-American war. In 1905-07 he had been a member of the staff of the United States Naval Academy; in 1905-09 was chief of staff of the Atlantic fleet; in 1910-13 was commandant of the Philadelphia Navy Yard and in 1914-15 commanded the great battleship Texas, the building of which he had supervised. As stated, since the commencement of the World War Admiral Grant has been identified with the Atlantic fleet, both as commander of its submarine force and of one of its great battleship units. Exactly what he has done and where he has been, have been hidden under the veil of censorship, but his faithful service of many years gives assurance that he has always upheld the traditions of the efficient and gallant American officer of the navy.

Link to Vice Admiral Grant Full Biography.

SOME OTHER OFFICERS

Besides General McGlachlin and Vice Admiral Grant. the following Portage County men have become commissioned officers; doubtless the list is not complete, but it will serve a good purpose, even though it do but partial justice to the leading part which its citizens have played both in the fighting, the working and the giving, to win the war: Capt. James Burns, Lieut. Frank Hyer, Lieut. Harold O. Little, Lieut. Russell Moen, Lieut. Lyman A. Copps, Lieut. Lyman B. Park, Lieut. (Dr.) Lawrence W. Park, Lieut. George G. Macnish.

LOCAL WAR ITEMS

The local events connected with the progress of the war were so numerous and so varied that they defy close classification, although they may be said, in a general way, to refer to the activities which sent the men to the fighting line and those which sustained their morale at home. They were to know first, last and all the time that they were backed to the limit by those who could not don the uniform, but had enlisted in the invaluable army of home workers and fire-keepers. As only a disconnected picture can be presented of what Portage County accomplished during the trying and nerve-racking period of 1917-18, a few characteristic items are extracted from the local press.

It appears that in March, 1917, Walter B. Murat, city attorney, and Charles W. Swan, of the post office, were prominent in the work of enlistments, and Fritz R. Rosenow, recently of Company A, Second Wisconsin Regiment, serving on the Mexican border, had asked for a transfer from the infantry to the cavalry. Fred Hyer, member of a company which was a unit of the Third Wisconsin, also had "jined."

COUNTY COUNCIL OF DEFENSE FORMED

On April 20th a number of citizens met at the courthouse and formed a County Council of Defense to co-operate with the state organization. Gilbert L. Park was chosen chairman, and A. E. Bourn, the county clerk, secretary. The following were also selected to represent various interests and classes in Portage County: Manufactures- Carl Haertel, manager of the Jackson Milling Company; labor- Thomas E. Cauley, highway commissioner; farmers-J. M. Coyner, county agricultural agent; physicians-Dr. F. A. Southwick, president of the County Medical Society; merchants-Alfred M. Copps, secretary of the Copps Company; women-Mrs. D. J. Healy; banks-Louis A. Pomeroy, cashier of the International Bank, Amherst.

TROOP I, FIRST WISCONSIN CAVALRY

On the same day there was a parade of the cavalry troop which had just been formed seventy-three strong-a-full war strength to be 105. Its officers were: Captain, Charles W. Swan; first lieutenant, Russell Moen, 'of the post office; second lieutenant, Lyman B. Park. When entirely organized, the unit was known as Troop I, First Wisconsin Cavalry.

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HONORS OF FIRST ENLISTMENT

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For some time there was considerable good-natured dispute as to whether Russell Moen or George Macnish should have the honor of first entering the service of the National army from Portage County. As the facts were finally sifted, the honors were divided; or, as a card player would say, "honors were easy." Mr. Moen was the first to pass his examination for the service, on the 4th of April, 1917, but as the official blanks had not been received from Washington he could not be formally sworn in. Was examined by Lieut. J. C. Bryant, Wausau, of the Third Regiment Medical Corps, the ordeal being successfully passed in a room on the second floor of the post office. It happened, however, that when the necessary papers did come, George Macnish, who had passed his examination soon afterward, was formally accepted a short time before Russell Moen.

In the early part of May the papers were urging the boys, as they did during certain periods of the Civil war, to "enlist now and avoid the draft."

On May 26, 1917, it was announced that the Wisconsin National Guard, including the Stevens Point troop of cavalry, had been ordered to be mobilized at Camp Douglas, six miles west of New Lisbon, July 15th, and there transferred to the Federal service.

The registration of those liable to military service in Portage County, made on the 5th of June, showed a total of 2,597, of whom it was estimated that 1,423 would be exempt. In the latter class were 47 aliens and 20 alien enemies.

The Home Guards of Stevens Point were organized in June, 1917, with a membership of sixty-six. The president of the association by which the body was organized was Dr. Frank A. Walters. Myron G. Goodsell was drillmaster.

On July 17, 1917, Frank Hyer, son of Prof. Frank S. Hyer, of the State Normal School, applied for aviation service, perhaps the first to be accepted for that branch in Stevens Point.

About a week afterward it was announced that Cavalry Troop I was in camp, 104 strong, and that three Stevens Point men had entered the officers' training camp at Fort Sheridan-George. Macnish, Martin Paulson and Forrest G. Houlehan.

FIRST SOLDIERS DRAFTED FROM PORTAGE COUNTY

Under the original apportionment, the quota of Portage County was 314. Up to the time of the first draft, July 20, 1917, 135 men had enlisted, leaving 179 subject to selection under the new regulations. The first boys to be drawn for service in Portage County and in Stevens Point were Carl M. Lynse and Charles C. Miller, and the particulars of their selection are thus narrated: When Secretary of War Baker, having first been blindfolded, put his hand in the big glass bowl in. the capitol at Washington on July 20, 1917, Carl Magnus Lynse was working on a farm in the Town of Good Hope, a little east of Nelsonville. And, as the entire country has now been told, the number the Secretary drew out was 258. It also happened that the number of Carl Mangus Lynse was 258, and therefore Mr. Lynse has the honor among several thousands of others, of being one of the first men called to the defense of their country under the new law; and he was, of course, under these conditions, the first man called to the colors, as the Germans would say, from this county. Mr. Lynse belongs to one of the oldest Norwegian families in Portage County. His father, Henry Lynse, served in the Civil War as a musician in Company H, Forty-sixth Wisconsin Infantry. He enlisted at Amherst February 7, 1865, and was mustered out with other members of the regiment September 27th of the same year.

The second number drawn from the big bowl, which was 2,522, gave Charles C. Miller the distinction of being the first man selected from the city. Mr. Miller lived at 742 Church Street. He is a son of Nick Miller, the wells known South Side butcher, and worked in his father's market. He had a wife and one child.

DEATH OF FENTON H. MCGLACHLIN

The announcement was made in August that Edward F. McGlachlin had been assigned to the 165th Field Artillery brigade, Camp Travis, San Antonio, Texas. His son, Fenton H. McGlachlin, had graduated from West Point in April, 1917, and was then serving as second lieutenant of field artillery, at that camp. He was twenty-four years of age and planned to follow in the honorable footsteps of his father. One of his Stevens Point friends was Lieutenant John Frost, of the aviation corps, and the two were taking a sail over the field in an airplane operated by the former, when the machine got out of control and was dashed to the ground. Lieutenant McGlachlin's injuries were such that he died on the 13th of October, 1917.

Toward the last of September Troop I was transferred from the cavalry branch of the service to the artillery.

In August also the adjutant general of the state ordered the selected men to be sent either to the camps at Battle Creek, Michigan, or Rockford, Illinois' (Camp Grant). The Portage County boys were thereafter sent to Camp Grant, Rockford. It seems that of the seventy-six men selected from Portage County in September that nine were sent to Camp Grant, under the August orders of the adjutant general. They were Harold Ule, William D. O'Connell, Romulus C. Berens, Pari Allen, Ernest A. Sawsaw, Walter G. Butler and Irvin F. Holman, all of Stevens Point; Floyd Scott, of Plover, and Felix Waldoch, rural route 6.

At about this time Dr. Benjamin Wyatt, son of A. F. Wyatt, who had been attending the first officers' training camp at Fort Riley received his commission as second lieutenant; Russell C. Moen was serving as first lieutenant of Troop I, and Myron H. Moen 'in the dental department of the medical corps, while Lyman B. Park was second lieutenant in Troop I and Dr. Lawrence W. Park, first lieutenant in the dental department also.

In November, 1917, Battery E;, 120th Field Artillery, departed from Wisconsin to Waco, Texas. The unit comprised Troop E, of Kenosha, and Troop I, of Stevens Point.

The Poles of Stevens Point also opened enlisting headquarters, and eight men were accepted and went to the European front the first contingent of several hundred which joined the cause of the allies from Portage County before the war was over.

Also in November, 1917, the Frame Memorial Church unfurled a service flag bearing eleven stars, the first religious society to thus honor itself in the city.

In December, 1917, Mrs. Eliza Chapman made the first application to the Government for the $10.000 insurance due because of the death of her son, Reynolds Chapman, at Camp Funston, Texas.

All through the winter of 1917-18 and the spring and summer of 1918, the war activities conducted in Portage County by men and women, as well as children, of all classes, were bewildering in their variety and intensity. The stream of men to the camps and the western front, to the armies of Poland, of Italy and all the countries of Europe which were fighting for freedom, both volunteers and drafted men, was a steady flood. The Red Cross, Young Men's Christian Association, Young Women's Christian Association, Knights of Columbus, Liberty Loans, individual demands on those who had sons, brothers, husbands and sweethearts depending upon the home fires to keep their hearts glowing under the awful demands made upon their manhood by the stress and storm of their new experiences-all these agencies and forces, with scores of others which are of such recent experience as not to require even mention, were thrown into nineteen months of the most volcanic period of America's history and, necessarily, that of Portage County.

Go to 1919 History of Portage Cty -- WWI - Part II

 

     

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