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Wisconsin and Michigan National Guard Soldiers commenced training as the 32nd Division 100 years ago at Camp MacArthur, Texas in preparation for overseas service in World War I.

While the Wisconsin National Guard organized and prepared a 15,000-troop force during the summer of 1917 that would join with Michigan to become the 32nd Division, Army planners sought to build a place for them to train. When war was declared on April 6, 1917, the U.S. Army possessed exactly one base capable of training a whole division.

155 Soldiers of Company C, Second Wisconsin Regiment posed for a unit photo on Aug. 5, 1917, the day before they left Sheboygan on a journey that would ultimately take them to France as Company C, 127th Infantry Regiment. This was the second time in a year that the unit responded to our nation's call in its time of need; both times under the command of Capt. Paul Schmidt. #WWI #32ndDivision

The 1st Wisconsin Cavalry traded horses for howitzers two days after it arrived at Camp MacArthur, Texas. Modern warfare in #WWIlimited the need for horse-mounted cavalry, while artillery had emerged as the King of Battle. The #32ndDivision required a whole artillery brigade but had zero cavalry units. As a result, the 1st Wisconsin Cavalry became 120th Field Artillery Regiment under the command of Col. Carl Penner and started training with 3-inch howitzers (EAU CLAIRE LEADER, Sep. 22, 1917).

Camp life at the Wisconsin Military Reservation near Camp Douglas had grown tedious for the men of Sheboygan’s Company C, 2nd Wisconsin Infantry. Ten-mile hikes with full pack were the norm along with lectures on various military topics. Laundry, chores and organized sports filled much of the spare time. Uniforms and equipment had been issued, medical checks and inoculations completed and training initiated. Company C was ready to move on.

"Physically, the members of the Wisconsin National Guard are the finest body of soldiers I have ever seen," declared Col. E.N. Jones, the Regular Army officer assigned to muster Wisconsin Guardsmen into federal service.

Jones delivered these compliments to Guard officers assembled at the Wisconsin Military Reservation at Camp Douglas at the conclusion of required physical examinations for military service. Ensuring that Guardsmen were medically qualified was a key task of the Wisconsin National Guard and with this final check complete, it would only be a few days before Wisconsin's Soldiers would depart for Camp MacArthur, Texas, and join with Michigan troops to become the #32ndDivision. (WAUSAU DAILY HERALD, Sep. 20, 1917).

#OTD in 1917, the Milwaukee-based 157th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade Headquarters was born as the 57th Field Artillery Brigade of the 32nd Division. #RedArrowStrong #100years

September is the birthday month for many units of the Wisconsin and Michigan National Guard who originated as part of the 32nd Division.

When today’s Soldiers in the Wisconsin National Guard’s 2-127 Infantry look at their unit insignia, many ask, “Why is that rainbow in there?”. The answer to that question dates to World War I and northeastern Wisconsin’s 150th Machine Gun Battalion.

#OTD . . . . It was a profitable day for Wisconsin National Guard troops. Uncle Sam decided to pay them Regular Army pay of $2 a day for the month spent training at their home armories rather than the Guard rate of $1 a day! (SHEBOYGAN PRESS, Aug. 24, 1917).

Today, cars and trucks whiz by the beautiful towering stone bluffs and orderly, if not quiet, assortment of military buildings near the Camp Douglas I-94 freeway exit. However, one hundred years ago, thousands of Wisconsin National Guard Soldiers gathered here in the first step of a long journey that would eventually find them in France for service in World War I with the 32nd “Red Arrow” Division.

#OTD . . . . Companies E, F and G of the 2nd Infantry Regiment, Wisconsin National Guard (Fond du Lac, Oshkosh and Appleton) were transferred to the 42nd "Rainbow" Division and would later form its 150th Machine Gun Battalion. These were the only Wisconsin National Guard units that would not be part of the 32nd Division. The 42nd Division has a great WWI story and the 150th Machine Gun Battalion played a very important role in it. Look for a feature story here soon! (OSHKOSH NORTHWESTERN, Aug. 14, 1917) #WWI

Said the first line of the front-page story in the August 6, 1917 issue of the SHEBOYGAN PRESS. Earlier that day, 15,000 citizens of Sheboygan watched Company C, 2nd Wisconsin Infantry of the Wisconsin National Guard march from their armory and board a train destined for the Wisconsin Military Reservation near Camp Douglas, Wisconsin -- the first step of a journey that ultimately would take them to the battlefields of France.

#OTD. . . . Although the Wisconsin National Guard already was in federal service and was training at its armories across the state, the National Defense Act of 1916 required that President Woodrow Wilson draft each of these Soldiers into the U.S. Army before they could deploy overseas. The War Department's General Order No. 90 put these events in motion and the troops of the Wisconsin National Guard were drafted into federal service on August 5, 1917. They would soon depart their hometowns for training first at the Wisconsin Military Reservation and then at Camp MacArthur, Texas.  #32ndDivision

The #32ndDivision was officially created 100 years ago with the publication of General Order 95 on July 18, 1917. This video examines the build up of troops and units in Wisconsin and culminates with the combination of Michigan and Wisconsin's National Guards into the 32nd Division at Camp MacArthur in Texas. This video is our first release of a chapter from the full #DawnOfTheRedArrow documentary to be released this October.
Today, the legacy continues with the 32nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, which recently welcomed the 3-126 Infantry Regiment of Michigan back into its ranks.

The SHEBOYGAN PRESS profiled on July 14, 1917 the leadership of Company C, 2nd Wisconsin Infantry as it mobilized for service in World War I. 1st Lieut. William N. Jensen and 2nd Lieut. August Wolf joined Capt. Paul W. Schmidt to lead the unit as it became Company C, 127th Infantry Regiment, 32nd Division. All three were enlisted Soldiers before earning their officer commissions in the Wisconsin National Guard.  #WWI #32ndDivision #LesTerribles

Today we found this project's "holy grail": the diary of MG William Haan, Commander of the 32nd Division throughout their combat in World War I. Here is a little taste:

August Stahl, a musically inclined recruit with Sheboygan's Company C, 2nd Regiment, wrote some new lyrics to popular songs of the day. By the far the most recognizable was cast to the melody of "On Wisconsin," which was written a few years earlier as the University of Wisconsin's fight song.

The 32nd Division was constituted on July 18, 1917 as a National Guard division to be filled with Guardsmen from Wisconsin and Michigan. A simple line item in a War Department order, the division was a shell ready to accept those Soldiers who would start its long and proud history of serving both state and nation. You are invited to join the 32nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team on July 18 to celebrate the 32nd's 100th Anniversary. #32ndDivision

The July 5, 1917 issue of the SHEBOYGAN PRESS announced that Company C, 2nd Wisconsin Infantry and the rest of the Wisconsin National Guard would mobilize for federal service on July 15th.

The last units of the Wisconsin National Guard had returned from Mexican Border Service only weeks prior to the United States’ declaration of war on Germany on April 6, 1917. About 5,000 Wisconsin troops had answered that call and spent nine months in Texas. It was the state’s largest deployment since the Civil War.

Eau Claire's two National Guard units spent their Fourth of July marching in that city's holiday parade. Company E, 3rd Wisconsin Infantry and Troop L, 1st Wisconsin Cavalry were expected to mobilize on July 15th and the parade was one of the final opportunities for the community to see their troops (EAU CLAIRE LEADER, July 3, 1917).

Adjutant General Orlando Holway announced that all Wisconsin National Guard units had been recognized by the War Department and were available for mobilization (WAUSAU DAILY HERALD, June 30, 1917).

Sheboygan's two National Guard units on June 28, 1917 marched as part of Military Night to celebrate Sheboygan County's substantial contributions to a Red Cross fundraising effort. The units marched through the streets and conducted drills. It was expected that both units would depart soon for the Wisconsin Military Reservation at Camp Douglas and this was considered one of the final opportunities for local residents to show their support of their Guardsmen.

Company C, 2nd Regiment was not the only unit pounding Sheboygan's streets for recruits. Creation of a new unit was also underway to help bring the Wisconsin National Guard's wartime strength to 15,000. Troop M, 1st Wisconsin Cavalry by late June had already met the state standard for a new unit; however, it was still waiting on federal recognition.

As we prepare for the offical 100th birthday of the 32nd Division on July 18th, consider the training the Division's Soldiers faced as a new organization, blending with counterparts from Michigan and incorporating the volunteers from throughout Wisconsin and Michigan. Here is page one of the 32nd Division's training plan for their time at Camp MacArthur, TX. "All instructions must contemplate the assumption of a vigorous offensive." (32nd Division WWI Collection--National Archives).

Sheboygan's Company C suffered a severe setback when Sgt. Peter Stoiber passed away suddenly. Born in Germany, Stoiber was the unit's supply sergeant and had joined the unit in 1898. Stoiber was married with eight children and thus eligible for an exemption from war service; however, he refused the offer so he could stay with Company C.

Like many Wisconsin communities, the citizens of Antigo organized a National Guard unit soon after war was declared. One daunting task for a new unit was to find an armory. John Hanousek solved that problem for Antigo's unit when he donated $10,000 to purchase a foreclosed opera house, which essentially was a community building with a large open hall and plenty of other rooms for storage. 

Like many Wisconsin communities, the citizens of Antigo organized a National Guard unit soon after war was declared. One daunting task for a new unit was to find an armory.

The U.S. Army was still trying to organize and expand into a modern force capable of fighting in World War I. Part of that task was to integrate the National Guard into its force structure. The initial plan was for the Guard from Wisconsin and Michigan to join together as the 11th Division.

Accounts state that the Wisconsin National Guard was having little problem recruiting its force up to 15,000 Soldiers; however, equipping those troops was a different story. The June 10, 1917 issue of the EAU CLAIRE LEADER reported that Adjutant General Orlando Holway had postponed the Guard's June 15th mobilization citing lack of equipment.

The June 9, 1917 edition of the EAU CLAIRE LEADER reported that the entire town baseball team had joined the newly formed National Guard unit in Stanley, a city of 2,700 in west central Wisconsin. Captain J.C.P. Healey organized the company soon after war was declared and soon had 152 recruits.

While the first U.S. troops had reached France, the mission of Sheboygan's Company C was recruiting its ranks to its wartime strength. Recruiting officer Lt. William Jensen urged in the June 8, 1917 issue of the SHEBOYGAN PRESS to those who were about to be drafted, "Do not wait until Uncle Sam takes you by the shoulder and says 'Young man, I am going to take you for your country needs you,' when you have the opportunity of enlisting in an organization which has made a name for itself not only in the state, but throughout the United States."

President Woodrow Wilson signed the Selective Service Act on May 18, 1917 in order to create an army ready to fight in World War I. At the time, the Army numbered 165,000 Soldiers while the strength of the National Guard of all the states totaled 181,000. While two million Americans ultimately volunteered for all branches of the military, additional men were needed to raise what would be at the time the largest army in American history.

The April 26, 1917 edition of the GRAND RAPIDS TRIBUNE reported that Wisconsin Rapids' new cavalry unit had been busy locating an armory building, horse stable and rifle range. Next on the list before acceptance of the unit into the Wisconsin National Guard was appointing officers and measuring for uniforms.

Supporting a National Guard unit as it prepared for war was very much a local affair with only limited support available from the U.S. Army. The nearby city of Plymouth supported Sheboygan's Company C by raising money for uniforms for any Plymouth man who would join the unit. 

A World War I army required more officers than West Point could possibly train and the Army needed them quickly. As reported by the April 18, 1917 edition of the EAU CLAIRE LEADER, the Army authorized several officer training camps throughout the Midwest with prospective officers from Wisconsin and Michigan sent to Fort Sheridan, Illinois.

Sheboygan's Company C suffered a setback in its mobilization prep when the War Department ordered the discharge of National Guard enlisted soldiers with supported dependents.

A small notice tucked into the lower right corner of the SHEBOYGAN PRESS's front page coverage of the declaration of war on Germany announced the impending mobilization of Sheboygan's Company C.

Professors Ruff and Matzke discuss the circumstances surrounding America's decision to enter the first World War on April 6, 1917.

 

The April 5, 1917 edition of the GRAND RAPIDS TRIBUNE (Wisconsin Rapids) reported that fifty-seven men enlisted in a newly created cavalry troop that sought to join the Wisconsin National Guard.

A pair of stories in the April 3, 1917 edition of the GREEN BAY PRESS-GAZETTE commented on different National Guard issues.

1917

The GREEN BAY PRESS-GAZETTE headlines President Woodrow Wilson's April 2, 1917 address to a joint session of Congress where he made his case for a declaration of war on Germany.

While Eau Claire's Company E had been mobilized earlier in the week, Lieut. C.A. Johnson continued his work raising a cavalry troop for enrollment into the Wisconsin National Guard. Adjutant General Holway encouraged Johnson's efforts and stated that he needed "not less than 75 men" before he would send an officer to administer the oath of enlistment and consider the unit part of the Wisconsin National Guard (EAU CLAIRE LEADER, April 1, 1917).

In March 1917, war with Germany seemed all but inevitable. The March 29 edition of the GRAND RAPIDS TRIBUNE (Wisconsin Rapids) noted that Adjutant General Orlando Holway expected a rapid mobilization of all Wisconsin National Guard units and was preparing equipment and supplies for such an event.

War news dominated headlines of Wisconsin’s newspapers in the winter and spring of 1917.

As President Woodrow Wilson prepared his early April address to Congress about entering World War I, the March 23, 1917 edition of the OSHKOSH DAILY NORTHWESTERN warned that the Wisconsin National Guard could be mobilized soon after war was declared.

The Wisconsin Veterans Museum opens on April 21st a new exhibit: WWI Beyond the Trenches: Stories From The Front.

We are wrapping up our week at the US National Archives and we thank the extremely knowledgable and professional staff who assisted us.

Sheboygan's Company C, Second Regiment of the Wisconsin National Guard received their copy of a Joint Resolution of the Wisconsin State Legislature and Governor thanking the organization for its exemplary performance during the Mexican Border Crisis.

We are at the US National Archives in College Park, MD, this week researching the WWI records of the 32nd Division!

For those who really enjoy digging into the actual documents of history, the National Archives has digitized a number of its records related to the Zimmermann Telegram.

The Soldiers of Rhinelander’s Company L, 2nd Wisconsin Regiment finally returned home on February 28, 1917 after nearly eight months of service in Texas as part of the nation’s response to the Mexican Border Crisis.

The public learned on Mar. 1, 1917 of the Zimmermann Telegram and its proposed alliance between Mexico and Germany. Newspapers across the state delivered the story differently.

Sheboygan’s Company C returns home from Mexican Border Service

We are researching Wausau's Company G, 128th Infantry today at the Marathon County Historical Society.

We are working on an exciting piece of the Dawn of the Red Arrow Project. A book titled From Army Camps and Battlefields, by Chaplain (Captain) Gustav Stearns from 1919 documents his experiences as Chaplain of 127th Infantry Regiment from Texas to Germany and back. Throughout the war, Stearns wrote home to his congregation in Milwaukee, WI. The book is the complete collection of his 78 letters.

Dawn of the Red Arrow is only a small part of the national commemoration of World War I. Interested in other stories and materials about the Great War?

Some very exciting news today: the National Archives has completed the transfer of almost two hours of film of the 32d Division in France to digits for us!

The SHEBOYGAN PRESS reported on Valentine's Day 1917 that Sheboygan's Company C, 2nd Regiment of the Wisconsin National Guard was one step closer to home after service near the Mexican Border. The unit arrived at Fort Sheridan north of Chicago, but was quarantined to prevent the men from catching measles. Also noted by the paper was the sinking of an American schooner by a German submarine -- the sinking of American ships by the Germans escalated in early 1917 and each sinking moved the two nations closer to war.

The Library of Congress has put the 1918 and 1919 editions of the Stars & Stripes newspaper online!

The Wisconsin State Legislature in 1917 recognized the service of the Wisconsin National Guard during the Mexican Border Crisis and ordered Wisconsin's Adjutant General to create the Mexican Border Service Badge and award that badge to the 5,000 Guardsmen who answered the call.

The Zimmermann Telegram was sent January 16, 1917. Professors Rebecca Matzke of Ripon College and Julian Ruff of Marquette University explain its importance in bringing America into the global conflict.

The SHEBOYGAN PRESS reported on January 25, 1917 that Company C, 2nd Wisconsin Infantry Regiment of the Wisconsin National Guard was soon to return after its Mexican Border Service deployment to Camp Wilson, Texas. The unit would return to Texas a few months later and become part of the 32nd Division. We will be highlighting the journey of Sheboygan's Company C from Wisconsin to France as part of this project. #WWI #32ndDivision #LesTerribles

CAMP GRAYLING, Mich. — On Sept. 11, 1917, Michigan’s 2nd Infantry Regiment reorganized as the 126th Infantry Regiment and became part of the storied 32nd Division.

The Wisconsin National Guard announced plans to commemorate the 100-year anniversary of the 32nd Division’s service in World War I and honor its historic legacy.

Follow as we explore the roots of the 32nd "Red Arrow" Division from the state militias taking part in the Mexican Border Crisis through earning the moniker "Les Terribles" in combat alongside the French in World War I.

From the summer of 1916 to the spring of 1917, over 5,000 Soldiers of the Wisconsin National Guard were stationed at Camp Wilson near San Antonio, Texas, during the Mexican Border Crisis.

The EAU CLAIRE LEADER reported on January 2, 1917 that the Wisconsin National Guard’s 1st Regiment welcomed New Year’s Day 1917 in comfortable barracks at Fort Sheridan, Illinois.

On this day in 1916, the men of the 1st Wisc. Regt had departed Texas after nearly six months of duty during the Mexican Border Crisis

The holidays in December 1916 still found many Wisconsin National Guardsmen stationed near San Antonio, Texas, as part of the nation’s response to the Mexican Border Crisis.

One hundred years ago Wisconsin National Guard troops were closing out their role defending the nation’s southern border during the Mexican Border Crisis of 1916. Their work set the state for their entry into World War I - and the beginning of the 32nd Infantry Division’s rich history.