Yanks In Siberia

SENT ON A HOPELESSLY VAGUE ASSIGNMENT BY WOODROW WILSON, AMERICAN SOLDIERS FOUND THEMSELVES IN THE MIDDLE OF A FEROCIOUS SQUABBLE AMONG BOLSHEVIKS, COSSACKS, CZECHS, JAPANESE, AND OTHERS

During mid-August, 1918, American forces began landing at Vladivostok, the capital of the Soviet Maritime Territory, in one of the more curious side shows of the First World War. From Moscow it appeared that the United States had joined other western nations and Japan in supporting the White counterrevolution, which just then was making dangerous headway against the Red armies, and on August 30, in a speech before a throng of factory workers, Lenin denounced the United States as a fake democracy standing for the “enslavement of millions of workers.” Read more »

“…suddenly We Didn’t Want, To Die”

A Marine Remembers the Bat for Belleau Wood

On the first day of June, 1918, the third great German offensive of the year drove into a tangled old hunting preserve called Belleau Wood. General James Harbord, commanding the Marine Brigade, received an order from the rattled commander of the French 6th Army: “Have your men prepare entrenchments some hundreds of yards to rearward in case of need.” Harbord answered tartly, “We dig no trenches to fall back on. The Marines will hold where they stand.” Read more »

A Summer’s Wait

A young poet’s memories of the old rural America in whose fields he worked for two sunny months while awaiting the call to service in the First World War

Mark Van Doren, who died in 1972, was one of America’s most distinguished poets, critics, and educators. He was born on a farm at Hope, Illinois, in 1894, and upon graduation from the University of Illinois in 1914 went to Columbia University (where he later was to teach literature for many years) to pursue graduate study. In the spring of 1917, with America finally involved in the Great War, he returned to his family home in Urbana, Illinois, and registered for the draft.Read more »

The Lost Battalion

The doughboys numbered only 550 men -- the remnants of four battalions -- and were surrounded by Germans. Then they were given the order to attack.

In the early fall of 1918 five hundred American infantrymen were cut off from their regiment and surrounded by Germans during five days of fighting in the Argonne Forest. Though they would be forever remembered as the Lost Battalion, they were not really a battalion and they were never lost. “We knew exactly where we were,” one of them said later.Read more »

The Greats Wine Flu Epidemic Of 1918

In the last week of October, 1918, 2,700 Americans died “over there” in battle against the kaiser’s army. The same week 21,000 Americans died of influenza in the United States. Read more »

Scott & Zelda

HOW TWO FAMOUS FIGURES OF THE TWENTIES GREW UP, MET, AND FELL IN LOVE

“So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past. …” It was an odd way for a rich and world-famous young writer to end his third novel— The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald. Yet looking back now, now that he is even more famous than he was in his short lifetime, with Gatsby made into a multimillion-dollar movie amidst enormous fanfare, we can see how touchingly appropriate that ending was.Read more »

The Lincoln Highway

Carl Fisher thought Americans should be able to drive across their country, but it took a decade and a world war to finish his road

When Carl Graham Fisher, best known as the builder and promoter of Miami Beach who started the Florida vacation craze, died in 1939 the New York Times pointed out that he brought about a far more significant change in the life-style of modern America in his earlier and less conspicuous role as the creator of the idea of the Lincoln Highway, the first automobile road from New York to California. Read more »

The American Field Service

EQUIPMENT WAS HARD TO COME BY, RED TAPE WAS RAMPANT. BUT AMERICAN VOLUNTEERS IN FRANCE BUILT AN AMBULANCE CORPS THAT PERFORMED BRILLIANTLY IN THE EARLY YEARS OF WORLD WAR I

“Who knows?” Piatt Andrew wrote Isabella Stewart Gardner from shipboard on Christmas night of 1914, “we may spend the winter carting the groceries from Paris to Neuilly.” He had volunteered to drive an ambulance for the American Hospital in France, but beyond that his prospects were utterly uncertain. Yet within months he was to organize and direct an ambulance service that would serve virtually the entire French army until after America’s entry into World War I . Read more »

Amnesty

Although the first recorded amnesty was proclaimed at Athens yi. in 403 B.C., American practice not unexpectedly derives from English usage. Beginning with Ethelbert, the sixth-century king of Kent, and continuing through succeeding monarchies, “the king’s mercy”—what Rlackstone called “the most amiable prerogative” of the British Crown—gradually became a settled part of English common law until it was recognized by parliamentary statute in the sixteenth century.

 

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I Soldiered With Charlie

Charlie and I first met under the most informal conditions imaginable—we were both stark naked. We were not alone in this, for with hundreds of others we were taking a physical examination for acceptance in the first officers’ training camp at Fort Myer, Virginia. The date was May 16, 1917. Read more »