WW1 Daybook

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Collecting pieces of Minnesota's past for the future


The Minnesota Historical Society preserves and makes available a wide range of materials chronicling Minnesota's history and culture. The goals of the Collections Department are to collect and preserve; provide access and interpretation; and engage in education and outreach. This blog is a tool to share these stories and let people know what is happening in the department.

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WW1 Daybook

"American Artillery in Action Before Metz" and "The President's Terms of Peace" - Bemidji Daily Pioneer. October 10, 1918.

By: Lori Williamson | WW1 Daybook | October 10, 2018

"Cambri Entered by British--More Gains" and "Woman Soldier Here Tonight" - Rochester Daily Post and Record. October 9, 1918

By: Lori Williamson | WW1 Daybook | October 9, 2018

Ernest Aselton: Killed During Volunteer Mission

By: Lori Williamson | WW1 Daybook | October 8, 2018

Ernest Aselton of Wayzata , Minnesota, was killed in action on this date after volunteering to help repulse an enemy counter attack. He "volunteered and under extremely heavy shell and machine-gun fire, established liaison for his company, bringing reinforcements to the line at a critical time, and thereby assisting materially in repelling a hostile counter-attack. He was killed later during this attack". For his actions, Aselton was awarded the Navy Cross from the President of the United States and the Croix De Guerre by the French government, along with two other medals for bravery. This date also marks the day that the Allies advanced along a 20 mile front from St. Quentin to Cambrai and drove the Germans back 3 miles. This drive resulted in the capture of over 10,000 German soldiers.


Dear Mrs. Aselton:
We were all so grieved to hear of your great loss today; indeed we feel that it is our loss too, for Ernest was dear to us all. […] The flag at school has been at half mast all day, and I am sure that it would have been comforting to you could you have heard all the splendid things that people have said about Ernest. He certainly was a fine example of what a young man could be. […] I wish I could say something that would comfort you and Mr. Aselton, but I know that at such a time words are useless, […]
Your friend,
Amy L. Davis
Nov. 25.


Theodore Roosevelt and the Nonpartisan League

By: Lori Williamson | WW1 Daybook | October 8, 2018

Today's post is from a reminiscence and account of Walter Quigley’s career as an organizer for the Nonpartisan League. Throughout the years 1917-1918, the League's activities slowed because of the loyalty issue during the First World War. Quigley describes a speech given by former President Theodore Roosevelt on this date to workers at the Minneapolis Steel & Machinery Company.


On October 7 former President Theodore Roosevelt again was brought to Minnesota and made one of his most vigorous loyalty speeches against the Farmer-Labor candidates, saing in part: 'Loyal Americans should Stand behind Governor Burnquist, and they should especially stand behind him because of the opposition to him by the Nonpartisan League and I.W.W. Loyal Americans cannot afford to support or give aid and comfort, or to be politically associated with the Nonpartisan League or the I.W.W. while they are under their present leadership." [...]

Citation: Text : 1931-1932. Walter Eli Quigley Out where the west begins. P2302. Minnesota Historical Society.

"Tell the Men They are the Best Men I Ever Handled."

By: Lori Williamson | WW1 Daybook | October 8, 2018

Lieutenant Marshall Peabody was in command of Company “D”, 306th Machine Gun Battalion attached to 308th Infantry of the 77th Division. He died on this date in the Argonne Forest of Charlevoix, France. On the second day of fighting Lieut. Peabody was wounded in the foot. He was quoted saying to Sgt. Hauck "I will never get out of here alive. If I do, I'll lose my leg and be sent back. Tell the men they are the best men I ever handled." The next morning he was killed instantly along with his runner and two other wounded men by a shell from a trench mortar.


Dearest Mother!
We're on the way out after 5 weeks in an active section during which time we advanced five miles. During this time my Co. was in the front lines about 3 weeks, and it seemed 3 years. The Captain & second in command are dead, two Lieutenants wounded. I have been in command for Two weeks during the most severe fighting. […] Ten days was a Terribly long time to be in this sort of a place and we were certainly glad to get the news that we were to be relieved. During the night There was an attack by the Germans and much excitement but they were held and at dawn we were able to get away and I took the Co. back to comparative safety. […]

"Peabody, Marshall G." Minnesota Public Safety Commission. Gold Star Roll. minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul, Minnesota 114.D.4.5B


"All of us forgot our tiredness and with mouths and eyes open they took us right into the burning village ahead of us"

By: Lori Williamson | WW1 Daybook | October 8, 2018

Alonzo Carlyle served in France as a YMCA secretary with the American Expeditionary Forces. In a letter to his family dated October 3, Carlyle describes a march he was on with his regiment into what was formerly German territory. He writes about the coldness of the march and the duties that he does for the soldiers. Carlyle also mentions that the Germans were burning villages as they were retreating and that his regiment "were the first soldiers to enter villages which the boche have held for over four years". Hundreds of German soldiers were captured and Carlyle mentions hearing German voices in the woods when his regiment was sleeping but was so exhausted he fell asleep without investigating.


Oct 3rd 1918
Dear Burt
[…] I always march along with the officers of a certain company carrying my blanket and haversack and generally a box of smokes or sweets. We waited there on the side hill until dark before we were ordered to march. We followed a very narrow path which ran along the side hill with a steep embankment on one side and a trench on the other. The night was so dark we had to hold onto the man in front of us to keep the path. It started to rain very hard. I did not have a rain coat as I lost mine on the drive so I soon felt the water next to my skin. We made a very steep descent finaly [sic] and came to a road which we followed for about two kilometers when we were ordered to halt and make our beds in the woods upon the side hill as Lieut. H and myself started to look around it was still raining hard and my blankets were wet for I had no corsing for them. We saw a good sized tree and made for it, but I thought perhaps I could find something better, so I said I will go up the hill and see what there is. I had not gone very far before I fell head long into a trench. I climbed out hurredly and started down towards the Lieut. When in again I went into another trench, this time I wrenched my knee, but did not say anything as it did not hurt a great deal. When I arrived back I was minus my reserve rations of two boxes of hard tack and a can of salmon and some chocolate which fell out of my haversack when I fell. The Lieut in the meantime had found the other officers who had scouted around and found a place to sleep in the basement of a house which had been shelled to ruins and the basement was the only thing left. Four wet officers and myself laid down on the floor with no corsing and would have no doubt gone to sleep but the hour was one A.M the time set when all the guns in France it seemed like barked out. It was the start of a nine hour barrage and the guns were large and very close to us. We did not sleep but laid there huddled close to keep warm with our fingers in our ears to keep out the noise. […]

Alonzo Carlyle Letters. Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul, Minnesota. P127


Sabra Hardy part 5

By: Lori Williamson | WW1 Daybook | October 4, 2018

Sabra Hardy was a Red Cross Nurse from Minnesota. On this day she died of pneumonia, one week after arriving in France. It is believed that she contracted the illness on the boat over while caring for soldiers on board. She had sent her parents a note upon her arrival to inform them she had landed safely. Hardy was the first Minneapolis Red Cross nurse to give her life overseas.


Dear Mother and Dave:-
Have just arrived safely in Eng. I will write more later when located. Had a wonderful voyage. Have been feeding some beautiful Eng. horses crackers & I have a victrola I must investigate.
Loads love. Sabra

"Hardy, Sabra R." Minnesota Public Safety Commission. Gold Star Roll. Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul, Minnesota 114.D.4.3B


Minnesota Sergeant killed at the Battle of Blanc Mont Ridge when helping dress his men's wounds

By: Lori Williamson | WW1 Daybook | October 3, 2018

Sergeant Hugh Kidder of the U.S. Marines was killed on this date during the Battle of Blanc Mont, while helping dress one of his mens wounds after he had led them successfully to their objective. Kidder was honored for his heroic sacrifice with the Croix de Guerre and the American Distinguished Service Cross and Navy Cross. He also had a U.S. destroyer named after him, the destroyer Kidder.


While leading a patrol in the enemy trenches he occupied two machine gun positions, which had been a serious menace to his company. On Oct 2, 1918 he lead his section during the attack of Blanc Mont. After having reached his objective he went to where 2 of his men were lying wounded. He dressed their wounds and was killed while doing so by an Austrian 88. (Taken from Croix de Guerre citation).

 Citation: "Kidder, Hugh P." Minnesota Public Safety Commission. Gold Star Roll. Minnesota Historical Society, St Paul, Minnesota. 114.D.4.4F


The Importance of Gas Masks

By: Lori Williamson | WW1 Daybook | October 2, 2018

This memorandum was given out on this date by Headquarters of the 350th Infantry, then stationed in France. It pertained to concerns involving gas instructions and notes that any man who may not know about gas or how to wear/adjust gas masks must be taught immediately. The list of men included more than just soldiers themselves, cooks, medical works, mechanics and clerks were also instructed to be taught these important instructions. Additionally this memorandum reports that "there are a great number of men in the regiment who can put respirators on but who know nothing about the dangers of gas because they do not speak English." These men were to be taught by the end of the week about gas warfare through an interpreter. On this day as well the Battle of the Argonne Forest was underway.


Citation: U.S. Army, 350th Infantry Regiment, Co. G, records 1917-1919. Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul, Minnesota. BG6/.U584/350th

Fears of Illness in Saint Paul

By: Lori Williamson | WW1 Daybook | October 1, 2018

The wartime diaries of Mary T. Hill, wife of railroad magnet James J. Hill, give insight into the Minnesota home front of the First World War. She talks about illness the entry for this date, as those on the home front were worrying about illness just as the soldiers on the front lines were. Hill was worried about an epidemic of Spanish Influenza in Saint Paul.


October Tuesday 1st 1918
A clear sunny windy day- Went to town this morning to attend to several things. [...] Rachel has a cold and Tudie was not well. Every one alarmed at reports of influenza [...]

Citation: 1915-1920. Mary T. Hill Papers. Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul, Minnesota 64. C.5.6


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