The History of New York State
Book XI, Chapter 7, Part 2

Editor, Dr. James Sullivan

Online Edition by Holice, Deb & Pam

 

While it seems almost incredible that within the space of two years Buffalo could be able to buy $250,000,000 of Liberty bonds, it must not be overlooked that the bonds represented the best security that the nation could offer. To all intents, it was currency--that of the richest Nation in the world. It was therefore truly a loan. The amounts asked for by the auxiliary service organizations, such as the Red Cross and the Y. M. C. A. were, however, in an entirely different category. Their appeals were for gifts, not loans. There was not return, save in personal service to their kin, for what sums were contributed by Buffalo people to the welfare organizations. Bearing this in mind, the enormous sums collected in buffalo by war service organizations being tot he city even greater credit than is its due by reason all its subscriptions to the Liberty Loan issue.

As has been stated earlier in this chapter, the people of Buffalo subscribed more then $2,000,000 to the American Red cross in June, 1917. In May, 1918, Buffalo was asked for a further $1,500,0900 for the Red Cross. It subscribed almost $2,500,000. Again Robert W. Pomeroy was in charge.

A publicity organization that did effective work was commonly known as the Four-Minute Men. This band of more than a hundred public speakers was organized for the Buffalo district in July 1917. Its purpose was to disseminate information regarding the war plans of the national government, and to refute and counteract German propaganda. In the latter aim, especially, the Four-Minute Men did effective work, giving the Nation valuable service. From July, 1917, to December, 1918, these men delivered personally, from the state of sixty-five theaters of buffalo at each performance, a four-minute message explaining or emphasizing some movement of national import and war urgency. Edward H. Butler was the first chairman of the Buffalo Four-minute Men. Later chairmen were Clarence MacGregor and Henry Price. That the efforts of the Four-Minute Men were effective was acknowledged by Franklin D. Roosevelt, assistant secretary of the navy, who wrote, on May 2, 1819, regarding an appeal made to the public, through the Four-Minute Men, for binoculars, chronometers, and sextants, of which necessary instruments of navigation the rapidly increasing United States Navy and Merchant Marine were at that time desperately short: "From information received in letters of transmittal," writes Mr. Roosevelt, "and from glasses forwarded by branches of the Four-Minute men, it has been calculated that 23,852 out of a total of 36,696 received from the time their campaign started, May 1, 1918, are the direct result of their efforts. Such a showing is highly gratifying."

Another method of swelling the national resources during the war

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period was devised in November, 1917, when Secretary of the Treasury William G. McAdoo appointed regional directors of an organization which was to be known as the National War Savings Committee. Hon. William J. Tully was appointed director of New York State outside of New York City. Mr. Tully appointed Edwin G. Husted, of Buffalo, to the directorship of the Erie County Committee. Mr. Husted formed his own committee without delay. The campaign was somewhat different to other drives for funds in that it was long sustained. It opened on January 1, 1918, and was not to close until the end of that year. Mayor Buck, of Buffalo, bought the first War Savings Stamp sold in that city. W. H. Andrews became president of a "Thousand Dollar Limit Club." This very effective organization grew in membership, during Pledge Weeks, to 1,263 members. Altogether, a total of $8,572,121.75 was realized by the sale of Thrift and War Savings Stamps in buffalo during the year. Boy Scouts did excellent work, selling $256,679 worth of War Savings Stamps during the year. G. Barrett Rich, Jr., was scout commissioner. Troop No. 59 won the Satterfield Trophy, with total sales of $68,144.25. the Boy Scouts adopted the slogan "Every Scout to Feed a Soldier,' and stove earnestly to make such a motto true.

Matters of conservation of resources became urgent grave necessities to the nation at one period of the war. "An Act to provide for the National Security and Defence by Encouraging the Production, Conserving the Supply and Controlling the Distribution of Food Products and Fuel" was passed by Congress on August 10, 1917. It brought into establishment the United States Grain Corporation, a company which in reality was an emergency Federal department, the whole of the stock being owned by the United States Government. A buffalo resident, Charles Kennedy, was elected a vice-president of the national corporation, and manager of the zone that centered in Buffalo. The Buffalo office purchased outright and resold to July 1, 1918--the end of the crop year--24,191,197 bushels of grain, valued at #54,339,666.74. From these figures one may get an indication of the importance of the department at a time then half the world was famine-stricken. During the next crop-year the dealings were more than doubled, the transactions reaching such magnitude that the elevator space of even such a grain port as buffalo was totally inadequate. To aid in the storage of grain, 117 lake carriers--some of them capable of carrying almost 500,000 bushels of grain--were lying behind the breakwater at Buffalo during the inter of 1918-19, with all holds loaded to fullest capacity with grain. This was the largest fleet of lake carriers that ever wintered in buffalo harbor, the particular reason being the plans of the American Government to aid in relieving famine-stricken Russia. Burt hunger and famine were present or threatening in other European zones before the Russian situation became acute, so, to ensure proper conservation of good products, a food adminis-

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trator was appointed in each American city of district. James B. Stafford became the Erie County Food Administrator, being appointed in February, 1918. His office made a record that gave Erie County an enviable reputation throughout the country. The food administrator was able to curb to some extent, also, the excessive profiteering by retailers in Buffalo.

A very useful unit was the Buffalo branch of the National League for Women's Service. Sixteen hundred women of Buffalo registered during the spring of 1918 ; "to do all kinds of volunteer work" in the home sectors. The Motor Division was organized first under Mrs. Langdon B. wood and Mrs. Charles H. McCullough. The body did excellent work, developing later into a more military organizations, with Mrs. Harry B. Spaulding as captain. Other divisions were formed, all useful. One was the Social Welfare division, which opened a canteen in November, 1917, at the corner of Delaware Avenue and Chippewa Street. Two other service stations were opened, and the three clubs served 125,000 meals before 1918. Mrs. Frank W. Fiske, Jr., was chairman of the Erie County committee.

In the welfare organizations come the Red Cross., the Y. M. c. A., and similar organizations. Reference has already been made to the campaigns to secure funds for these organizations during that portion of the World War in which America took part. But the people of Buffalo, like those of many other communities of this and other States, thought of measures in which they could serve war-stricken Europe long before the United States became actually involved in the war. Soon after the out breaking of war in Europe, almost three years before America was drawn into the struggle, Buffalonians were manifesting concern as to the appalling happenings that were then devastating part of Europe and bringing suffering to innocent helpless non-combatants. On October 4, 1914, a group of women met at the home of Mrs. W. T. Atwater, to discuss the question of how to organize for war-relief work. On October 24th, at the Twentieth Century Club, the Buffalo War Relief committee, with Ansley Wilcox as chairman, was formed. Later, a Red Cross Work-Room committee was formed, with Miss Mable Wilcox at the head. In October, 1915, these were merged into one organization called the American Red Cross Buffalo War-Relief and Workrooms Committee, with Ansley Wilcox as chairman. These bodies were preliminary to the great organization that was destined to develop out of them and to reach such great proportions and such lasting honor. On July 7, 1916, at a meeting held at the Iroquois Hotel, the buffalo chapter of the American Red Cross was organized to take over the work of the existing committee. Frank S. McGraw was elected chairman, and thereafter during the war period the local activities were a part of the effort of the National body. In January, 1917, the Buffalo chapter voted to

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organize a base hospital. This action, it may be remarked, occurred several months before the Untied States was drawn into the war. Ultimately, the base hospital endeavor found entity in Base hospital No. 23, to which reference has already been made.

During the years 1917 and 1918 the Buffalo Chapter of the American Red cross received for its own disbursement the total sum of $988,158.07, this amount including its share of the about four millions subscribed in Buffalo for American Red Cross purposes. It also included $111,625.45 of membership fees. From the fact that the Buffalo chapter had a membership of 154,381, it may be confidently stated that the women of Buffalo as a whole identified themselves with Red Cross work. Disbursements over two years included $260,000 for materials, "96 different articles, including yarn," and $634,004.35 for gauze, flannelette, sheeting, cotton, comfort kits, et cetera. The knitting department at one time had more them 20,000 knitters. Not all were women, for even the city firemen applied themselves to the knitting of socks in their spare time in the fire houses. With knitting machines, the firemen produced 30,000 pairs of socks, thus contributing to the 240,897 knitted garments, such as sweaters, helmets, mittens and socks, despatched from buffalo during the period. The garment department of the Buffalo chapter shipped 395,738 pieces, such as hospital garments, hospital linen, and refugee garments. The surgical dressing department made 2,237,009 dressings. In all, Buffalo supplied 2,975,486 piece to the nation, through the Red Cross, the whole conservatively valued at $1,000,888.96. This was a labor of love, for their own an their neighbors' boys and girls, and it was continued until the homecoming of the troops ended the need. Such a story could be written of almost every community of New York State, the figures varying of course with the population, but the percentage being perhaps just as commendable.

The Buffalo chapter of the American Red Cross gave canteen service to more then 500,000 service men who passed though the city. altogether more then 600 trains were met. The Motor Corps,. Working with the Red cross, carried 576 patients in twelve days, during the epidemic of influenza that raged in 1918l the Home Service Section gave aid to needy families of soldiers, 434 families receiving financial help, and 1,286 families being aided in some other way. In reconstruction and salvage work, the Buffalo record is good. The chapter rendered invaluable aid to the returning soldier who had not found his bearings again in civil life. Two hundred and ninety-one nurses were enrolled in the Red Cross Nursing Service through the Buffalo committee; and for the Home Defence Service thirty-seven were enrolled. Two hundred and seventy-seven of the nurses went into active service. Four died overseas and one in an American cantonment.

Buffalo contributed about 125 secretaries to the Young men's Chris-

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tian Association war effort, and there were fourteen Salvation Army workers, some of when gained particular distinction. The Knights of Columbus and the Jewish Welfare Workers contributed eleven secretaries. Among the Buffalo Y. M. C. A. men in war work was the present general secretary, Alfred H. Whitford, who became National Finance Director of the International Y. M. C. A. War committee. Mr. Whitford had supervision of the campaigns that raised $160,000,000 throughout the United States for the welfare organizations. Colonel W. S. Barker, of Buffalo, was in command of all Salvation Army work in France, just as Bishop William Henry Brent, of Buffalo, has command of all chaplains with the American Expeditionary Forces.

Almost 200 of the physicians of Buffalo were commissioned in the army or navy medical service during the war; there was a Volunteer Medical Service Corps of Buffalo women; forty-nine young women were volunteers in the United States Telephone Service; thirty-three dentists were commissioned and went into service; and from the churches of Erie County twenty-eight clergymen went into service as chaplains.

With the Soldiers--Having followed the war as it came to the home sector of the average community of new York State, let us follow the soldiers of buffalo into active service, and from their story be able to see, to some extent, the wartime experience of the average new York civilian, who donned the uniform of the Untied States during the war emergency. In former wars, it was possible to localize regiments, but this war brought into practice the principle of using man-power where it was most needed, regardless of local sentiment. The National guard units, being already established organizations when mustered into the Federal service, were able to hold local personnel to some extent. Thus the movements of some thousands of soldiers of a stated locality can be traced by following the movements of a regiment or battery. But this is not the whole of the story, for the boy who were driven direct from civil life into the National Army were literally "scattered to the winds." The National Guardsmen of buffalo were mainly members of the 27th division, which had a glorious war record. A large number of Selective Service boys of buffalo went overseas in April, 1918, with the 77th Division. Buffalo boys were comparatively numerous in the 309th and 311 Infantry; in the 307th, 308th, and 309th Artillery; in the 303d Trench Mortar Battery; and in the 303d Engineers of the American Expeditionary Forces. There were some companies in which the greater number of the men comprising them were from Buffalo or Rochester, but generally they were under officers who came from other cities; so that the local spirit could not be strongly maintained. Some Buffalo boys were with the Marines at Belleau Wood; one of them Private Lester Bergman, won the Croix de Guerre and was cited for the D. S. C. for exceptional bravery in that engagement. Some Buffalo draft boys were with the 7th Infantry in that engagement. The

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77th Division, or part of it, spent May and part of June, 1918, brigaded with British troops in the Flanders sector, at Ypes and Mount Kemmel. On June 19th the 77th Division was withdrawn to the Lorraine front, and was the first National Army division to take over apart of the front line. In July, the Baccarat sector had become "an all-American affair, with nearly 2,000 Buffalo and Erie county boys doing their bit there." Buffalo boys were at the Marne when the Germans launched their last desperate great offensive. Major William J. Donovan, former captain of Buffalo's cavalry unit, Troop I, was with the 69th at the Oureq on July 27th. He won the Croix de Guerre there. The 108th Infantry, which was the old 74th, entered the front line at Mount Kemmel in July, cooperating with the British; and the Buffalo regiment was there until late in August, as part of the 27th Division. On September 3d the division went into reserve near Amiens. The 27th division was withdrawn from what was termed the Front Line Training Sector on August 1, and 2, and having been "seasoned," was now to be used for "front line action." On the night of August 11, part of the 77th Division was in the "Hell-Hole Valley of the Vesle," and a few days later the whole of the 77th division was in position. the 78th Division, in which so many Buffalo boys of the Selective Service detachments were to be found, was one of those selected to participate in the all-American battle, St. Mihiel, which started off like a rocket at 1 a. m. of September 12th, and within a remarkably short time won back a dangerous spur which the Germans had tenaciously held since the early period of the war. Distinctly American methods won it back, At St. Mihiel, and in the greater Meuse-Argonne battle the American attack appeared to be defying all the rules and precedents which war on the western front had established,. In order to make sure of a surprise, General Pershing avoided many details of preparations which hitherto had been considered essential preliminaries to success. General Perishing chose the kind of manoeuvre that could make or break the commander. There were no half measures. Perishing dared all for immediate victory, rather than wait until spring to be sure. It was by such tactics that the German resistance was fully overcome.

The 77th Division was moved up into the Argonne on September 23d. From that time until the end, the great American effort was in the Meuse Argonne. Colonel Jewettt, a Buffalonian and in command of the 316th engineers, was awarded the Distinguished ?Service Cross in that offensive, and many other Buffalonians gave valiant account of themselves., Alas! many reached their final accounting.

Buffalo units, particularly the 108th Infantry, had part in the breaking of the Hindenberg Line, September 29 to October 1. Lieutenant Henry Adzit of Buffalo there won the Military Cross of Great Britain, the Distinguished Service Cross of the Untied States, and eventually the Congressional Medal of Honor. And there also Private Frank Gaffney won the Congressional Medal, the highest honor possible.

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Before Grand Pré, in early October, many Buffalo soldiers were killed.

The fighting was hard and long-continued there, so hard indeed that Grand Pré has been termed "a Buffalo sepulchre." The old 74th was at St. Souplet and, in all, saw service in three battles, three major engagements, and two minor engagements. The 106th Artillery was fighting up to exactly eleven o'clock on the morning of Armistice Day, November 11th. The regiment had been in action for two months, but had suffered remarkably few casualties. Troop I was to be found in the 102d Trench Mortar Battery, which kept company with the 106th in its course through the Meuse-Argonne battle.

Lieutenant Walter a Davenport, of Buffalo, gave a graphic description of Armistice Day on the Western Front. He wrote:

About 9:30 a.m. on November 11 (1918), the Germans must have gotten word that the Armistice had been signed. We were dug in the mud of the Bois de Dommartin. They had shelled us all night--shrapnel, trench mortars, mustard gas, and phosgene gas and high explosives. But their shelling was only normal; it was nothing unusual. But about 9:30 a.m. every boche gun between Dommartin and Metz, inclusive, opened up on us. My God, how they strafed us!. Everything from minenwerfers to 210s descended upon those woods. The soft ground billowed like an ocean. And our artillery came back at them.

From 10 o'clock to 11--the hours for the cessation of hostilities--the opposed batteries simply raised hell. . . .it was not a barrage; it was a deluge. All along out front the earth was flying skyward, geyserlike; and above us roared about fifty Allied planes. . . . Oh! It was a jolly affair. . . . I don't know how many thousand tons of steel, copper, cupro-nickel, and lead were poured into, over, and upon Jerry, but it was fearful to see.

Nothing quite so electrical in effect as the sudden stop that came at 11 o'clock has ever occurred to me. It was 10.60 precisely and--the road stopped, like a motor car hitting a wall. The resultant quiet was uncanny. From somewhere far below ground Germans began to appear. They clambered to the parapets and began to shout wildly. They threw their rifles, hats, bandoliers, bayonets, and trench knives toward us. They began to sing. Come on whiskered Hun with a concertina, and he began goose-stepping along the paradoes, followed in close file by fifty others--all goose-stepping.

Our boys stood up, watching the show. . . .Finally, the strain was too great. A big Yank, named Carter, ran out into No Man's Land and planted the Star and Stripes on a signal pole, in the lip of a shell hole. Keasby, a bugler, got out in front and began playing "The Star spangled Banner" on a German trumpet. . . .And they sang--Gee! How they sang.

The Buffalo regiments later marched into Germany, and in course of time returned home.

Peace came somewhat differently to the home folk. Buffalo, in common with all American centers, had two Armistice Day Celebrations, the second and proper one being tempered by the first premature one, which was uproarious and was prompted by the false report cabled from France. However, the eleventh of November was a memorable day in Buffalo.

The Homecoming--the first to return were the veterans of the 102nd Trench Mortar Battery, the old Troop I. They reached Buffalo on February 5, 1919. Only a small band, but welcomed by thousands, as

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they marched down Main Street. the report, next day, in the "Buffalo Express" reads, in part, as follows: "With heads erect, eyes slight with vigor and health, and their faces tanned to a ruddy glow, the thirty-six men tramped through Main Street to the accompaniment of hand-clapping, cheers, and the shrieking of whistles. Flags fluttered from every point of vantage and automobiles sirens joined in the pandemonium of welcome."

In march, the 108th Regiment returned to the Untied States on the British liner "Mauretania," and it was arranged that both Buffalo regiments, the 106h Artillery and the 108th Infantry, should be mustered out on the same day. On march 25th they paraded with other units of the 27th Division in New York City, and on march 31st reached buffalo. The event is well reported in the "Buffalo Evening Times," of that day.

Eighteen months ago-- September, 1917--Buffalo had bade Godspeed to her soldier sons, members of the 74th Regiments and the 3d Artillery, formerly the old 65th, as they marched away at the nations call to crush Prussian autocracy

Today buffalo poured our her heart to these same soldier sons, welcoming them home as among the greatest heroes of the World War, the city literally out doing itself when 250,000 people lined every inch of the curb, thronged windows and all point of vantage, as the heroes of the 108th Regiment, the Hindenberg Line Busters, and the 106th field Artillery marched. . . . through a lane of cheering, crying, and sobbing people, and under a canopy of colors and flags such as the city had never before seen.

And Those boys! What an inspiring sight they made as they marched up that old Main Street, youths in years but veterans in war. There was no mistaking the change in their souls that the hell fires of war had wrought. Gold service stripes. . . .and wound stripes on the majority told the story And among the vast hundreds of thousands there was not a soul so dead that it was not awakened to a frenzy of cheers, as the gallant heroes swept up Main Street.

But what of those who were not in the line of march, those who would never march again? Almost a thousand men of Buffalo "gave their lives in order that the world might be made safe for Democracy." All were heroes. Some came under the particular notice of their commanders, but on that vast field many of these who died, while attempting to carry through heroic acts that were beyond the strict line of duty, passed unnoticed. As the novelist, H. G. Wells, after a visit to the French war-front, remarked: "Heroism is common.," All who could stand firm in that almost inconceivable tornado of death-dealing missiles, arms, gases and flames, were of the material from which heroes and martyrs come. Many were truly martyrs to the cause of liberty and right, and as such their memory is for all time enshrined in the archives of their home places. Some of the Buffalo heroes who came under notice in the acts of valor that cost them their lives received posthumous reward, in the Distinguished Service Cross, which an admiring Nation tendered to the relatives of the deceased. But every man and woman who died for the nation during the great struggle is classed among the heroes of the Republic. Buffalo was bled on the battlefield; and stabs of pain came to the thousands

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Of hearts in buffalo, as, day by day, the casualty lists were scanned by anxious home-folk. Buffalo's pain; and Buffalo's pride are in her contribution in lives to the Nation; properly, her desire is to head her World War record with the list of her "Heroic Dead." In even this one list, she has a regiment of heroes.

Some of those who went fearlessly into the zone of greatest danger and risked their lives in acts of extreme heroism were fortunate enough to emerge with their lives, if not unscathed. Upon their return home, they were given ample indication of the admiration of their towns-people and countrymen. Some bear on their breasts the highest decoration within the giving of the Nation--the Congressional medal of Honor. Many wear the Distinguished Service Cross. If all the decorations awarded by Foreign Nations to Buffalonians for deeds of valor were gathered together and placed with those awarded by the Untied States, they would make a most impressive exhibit. Only the briefest outline of a few of the acts of heroism that merited such admiration and recognition of American soldiers by governmental departments can here be given. For instance, Henry Adzit, one of the Medal Of Honor men, won it by extraordinary heroism beyond the line of duty. He was a lieutenant of the machine gun company of the 107th Infantry. During an attack at La Haie Menneresse, on October 13, 1918, Lieutenant Adzit, after having been severely wounded by a shell, found that the command of the company rested with him, the other officers having been killed or wounded. Recognizing his responsibility, as well as the power of example, Lieutenant Adzit, "had himself carried forward to the objective with the advance, and saw personally to the placing of his machine guns in the most advantageous positions, though he was again wounded by a machine gun bullet during the advance." He survived, however, and received six official citations, and also British honors. Private Frank Gaffney, another Medal of Honor man, was an automatic rifleman of the 108th Infantry. He :pushed forward alone with his gun, after all the other members of his squad had been killed, and discovered several Germans placing a heavy machine gun into position." he killed the crew, captured the gun, bombed several dug-pouts, and, after killing four more of the enemy with his pistol, held the position until reinforcements came up, when eighty prisoners were captured." He has been "called by untied States military men the second bravest man in the United States Army." He was awarded the British Distinguished Service Medal, the French Croix de Guerre with palm, the Montenegrin War medal, and the French Legion of Honor.

A Buffalo clergyman, serving as an American chaplain, won the British Military Cross, two chaplains were awarded the American Distinguished Service Cross, a Y. M. C. A. war secretary was awarded the Italian War Cross, two Red Cross workers were decorated by the King

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of Rumania, for hazardous and gallant Red Cross work in the Balkans; and two Buffalo sisters in Salvation Army Service were awarded the French Medal for their war work in France.

It will thus be realized that Americans who went into the struggle to save the world from domination by the militaristic power of Germany went with strong purpose. The contribution of the district of Buffalo to the American forced of war was probably 20,000 men and women. #3 The contribution of every other New York city and village was probably equal to this, in percentage of population, and its experience in home and war sectors during the war period was much like that of Buffalo. Patriotism rose to the same high pitch in all communities; true American hearts were throbbing strongly and determinedly in every place; and by merely changing the names and dates in reading this chapter, most New York people will be able to bring to mind their own exciting experiences of the World War period. With this object this review of a typical city's part in the World War has been written.

 

The History of New York State, Lewis Historical Publishing Company, Inc., 1927

This book is owned by Pam Rietsch and is a part of the Mardos Memorial Library

Transcribed by Holice B. Young

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