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Kansas History - Autumn 2006

(Vol. 29, No. 3)

Kansas History, Autumn 2006

Remembering World War I: Special Issue

R. Eli Paul, "'In Honor of Those Who Served': Introduction."

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Focusing briefly on the November 1921 dedication of the Liberty Memorial site, Eli Paul, the museum director at National World War I Museum at the Liberty Memorial, introduces this special issue on Kansans and the Great War and highlights the importance of this type of examination. The veterans to whom Kansas City's great monument was dedicated could not have anticipated the extent to which "their world war would become as overlooked, under appreciated, even largely forgotten as it has become a few generations later," writes Paul. "The fog of that collective amnesia may be lifting," however, and we trust "this wide-ranging collection of articles on the experiences of the state's citizens during those years" will contribute to that trend.

Sandra Reddish, "An 'All Kansas' Regiment: The 353d Infantry Goes to War"

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Though "woefully unprepared," the United States of America entered the First World War in April 1917, almost three years after the carnage began in Europe. A shortage of men under arms was the foremost problem, so a "draft" was instituted. "Soon," writes historian Sandra Reddish, "young men from throughout the Great Plains left their farms and small-town homes and donned army uniforms. While some left with their National Guard units, others waited for the draft or volunteered for military service. The majority of Kansans served with the Thirty-fifth or Eighty-ninth Divisions." The former consisted of National Guard units from Kansas and Missouri, while "the Eighty-ninth Division comprised draftees from the Central Plains states, most having no previous encounter with military life." Although both divisions served "over there," they had very different experiences; but drawing on the writings of several enlisted men, Reddish focuses on the Eighty-ninth, which "performed well through the Saint-Mihiel and Meuse-Argonne campaigns and gained favorable notice from General John J. Pershing, commanding general of the American Expeditionary Forces (AEF). Indeed, after the war, Pershing considered the Eighty-ninth Division, which included the 353d Infantry 'All Kansas' Regiment, among his top four divisions that fought in France."

Jonathan Casey, "Training in Kansas for a World War: Camp Funston in Photographs."

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Named for Brigadier General Frederick Funston of Allen County and constructed on the Fort Riley military reservation during the late summer 1917, Camp Funston was the largest of the army's sixteen national training cantonments. Thousands of volunteers and draftees trained here, most coming from Kansas and several other Midwest states, and Jonathan Casey, archivist at the National World War I Museum, captures a portion of their experience with the assistance of a variety of well-selected photographs from the museum's rich collections. "Camp Funston performed its assigned duties as a training ground for the draftees of the national army," concludes Casey. "Like other national training cantonments, Funston was part of the war-making machinery of a new global power that transformed hundreds of thousands of civilians into soldiers to serve and fight for ideals that shaped the twentieth century."

Doran L. Cart, "'With the Tommies': A Kansas Nurse in the British Expeditionary Force, 1918. The Letters of Florence Edith Hemphill."

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Born on February 28, 1887, in Wilson County, Kansas, Florence Hemphill grew up in Chanute, Kansas, the sixth of nine children, and completed her nurse's training at Christ's Hospital Training School in Topeka. She work first as a private duty nurse, but answered the "call to arms" soon after the United States entered the European war on April 16, 1917. Before the end of the year, she was assigned to the British Expeditionary Force and left for France on January 18, 1918. Nurse Hemphill "was embarking on the biggest adventure of her life," writes museum curator Doran Cart, and "she wanted to share this adventure with the folks at home, so she wrote letters, many of which survive today" in the collections of the National World War I Museum at the Liberty Memorial.

Robert H. Ferrell, "Angered to the Core: Henry J. Allen and the U.S. Army."

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Henry Justin Allen, who was elected governor of Kansas in November 1918 while still in Europe, headed the Young Men's Christian Association's work in France with the Thirty-fifth Division, a unit composed of ten thousand Kansas and eighteen thousand Missouri guardsmen. According to the eminent historian Robert H. Ferrell, professor emeritus of history at Indiana University and the author of numerous books on twentieth-century U.S. history, including Collapse at Meuse-Argonne: The Failure of the Missouri-Kansas Division, Allen was "angered to the core" by the manner in which the division was treated by its regular army commanders. Here Professor Ferrell examines Governor Allen's "most ambitious," if ultimately unsuccessful, campaign to reform the post-World War I U.S. Army. It was, nevertheless, a praiseworthy "effort to change an institution that in many ways needed it; an effort to update the institution and bring it into the Progressive Era for which Allen had so much respect and affection."

Doran L. Cart, "Kansas Football 'Over There'."

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Precious few of America's citizen soldiers were eager to stay on in Europe after the November 11, 1918, armistice. But occupation duty beckoned, and as Doran Cart explains, "American unit commanders tried a number of activities to keep the soldiers busy and entertained when not on duty. . . . The Eighty-ninth Division, which included many Kansans in its ranks, became a powerhouse of the football competitions" in Germany and France during the early months of 1919. Drawing heavily on the unpublished manuscript of Sergeant Charles S. Stevenson of Olathe, Kansas, Cart recounts the championship game played between the squads of the Eighty-ninth and Thirty-sixth Divisions on March 29, 1919. Numerous former and future gridiron stars engaged in a hard fought but more pleasant kind of battle that day on a field in Paris.

Steven Trout, "Forgotten Reminders: Kansas World War I Memorials."

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Steven Trout, author and professor of English at Fort Hays State University, explores the ways in which "Americans at a given moment in history collectively remember a past conflict" and here examines efforts of Kansans to honor the sacrifice of the World War I generation. "At first glance," writes Trout, "the desire to memorialize American soldiers, especially the war dead, and to celebrate the nation's role in the Allied victory seems to have been universal during the interwar years. . . . If judged by the number and scale of the memorials that it inspired, World War I produced an outpouring of pride and patriotism unparalleled in American history." Upon closer examination, however, war memorialization efforts during the 1920s and 1930s seem to reveal a "growing public apathy, intense disagreement over the form that memorials should take, and widespread uncertainty over the meaning of American participation in World War I."

Book Notes

American Women in World War I: They Also Served. By Lettie Gavin. (Boulder: University Press of Colorado, 2006. xiv + 295 pages, paper $23.95.)

First published in 1997, this paperback edition of American Women in World War I is a welcome addition to World War I literature, making as it does this valuable overview of women's contributions to the war effort even more widely available. Seattle journalist Lettie Gavin, who drew on the resources of the National World War I Museum (formerly the Liberty Memorial Museum) and the National Archives, among other repositories, examines the role played by women in the navy, the army, the signal corps, the YMCA, the Red Cross, and the Salvation Army, offers a number of some interesting illustrations, and provides additional data in two useful appendixes. The region is well represented throughout the volume, with one "famous" Kansas letter, from "Lt. Col. Fred Fitzpatrick to his wife in Salina," quoted at length.

Thunderbolt From a Clear Sky: The Irrepressible Life of Robert W. S. Stevens. By Robert C. Stevens, with Betty Adams. (Rochester, N.Y.: WME Books, 2006. xii + 311 pages, cloth $39.95.)

In order "to present as much as possible of Robert 's [Robert W. S. Stevens'] life from his many letters and historical records and let the reader understand how this remarkable man experienced and reacted to the turbulent period of social and economic growth in which he lived," and perhaps to enhance a historically tarnished reputation, the subject's great, great grandson Robert C. Stevens has assembled Thunderbolt From a Clear Sky in abridged and "unabridged" editions. Stevens, who removed to the troubled territory during the fall of 1856, was a friend and associate of Charles Robinson and many of the other business and political leaders of early Kansas, and these privately published volumes, recently donated by the author to the Society, should be of use to all students of Civil War era Kansas, as well as to those interested in the acquisition of Indian lands and railroad development in the nineteenth century American West.

Forging the Shield: Eisenhower and National Security for the 21st Century. Edited by Dennis E. Showalter. (Chicago: Imprint Publications, 2005. xiii + 235 pages, paper $24.95.)

With its fine introduction by historian Dennis Showalter and excellent, perceptive summation of President Dwight D. Eisenhower's national security legacy by Harvard's Ernest May, Forging the Shield offers a collection of important essays, new scholarship on the Eisenhower presidency that emerged from a 2005 symposium, "Eisenhower and National Security for the 21st Century." Attention is focused here on one aspect of the man from Abilene's presidency, but it is a timely one that deserves consideration by all Kansans and all Americans. The "hallmark" of Ike's leadership during the 1950s, according to Professor May, was "prudence," which positively impacted the Kansan's decision-making process in many areas. "Eisenhower was one of the few presidents-and the only one in recent decades-to follow the example developed by [George] Washington, insisting on knowing the judgments of every constitutional officer before he, and he alone, took responsibility for a decision and its consequences.

Banners South: A Northern Community at War. By Edmund J. Raus Jr. (Kent, Ohio: The Kent State University Press, 2006. xiv + 333 pages, cloth $39.00.)

An interesting and innovative history of the Twenty-Third New York Volunteers Regiment, Banners South seeks "to illuminate the major themes and events of the first two years of the Civil War in the eastern theater from the perspective and experience of Cortland [New York] soldiers and civilian." For both, writes historian Ed Raus, "the one sustaining surety . . . was their belief in and commitment to the cause of the Union and a reunited nation."

"Behind Bayonets": The Civil War in Northern Ohio. By David D. Van Tassel, with John Vacha. (Kent, Ohio: The Kent State University Press, 2006. x + 125 pages, cloth $35.00.)

This handsome, large format volume includes ninety-one nicely reproduced illustrations, one of which features Charles Langston among the twenty "Oberlin rescuers" who were "jailed" at Cleveland during the spring of 1859. Kansas History reproduced this particular image in an article about Langston, who moved to Kansas in 1862, in its winter 1999/2000 issue. "Behind Bayonets" originated as part of a Western Reserve Historical Society exhibit project, "Civil War, of God, Union and Glory," curated by the late author.

Wind Across the Prairie. By Linda F. Slebodnik. (Baltimore: Publish America, 2005. 379 pages, paper $24.95.)

Born and raised in the Kansas City area and currently living in Olathe, author Linda Slebodnik sets her historical novel, Wind Across the Prairie, in Civil War era Kansas. Her fictional characters, especially Joseph and Molly Malone, struggle with the turmoil that was Bleeding Kansas, the hardships of frontier settlement, and the tragedy of the Kansas conflict writ from the spring of 1861 to the summer of 1865.

At Home on This Moveable Earth. By William Kloefkorn. (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2005. 217 pages, cloth $22.95.)

The author of This Death by Drowning and Restoring the Burnt Child, poet William Kloefkorn turns his attention to "the perpetual human struggle between building foundations and abandoning them, digging in and moving on" in At Home on This Moveable Earth, the third installment in his Kansas memoir. Kloefkorn is professor emeritus of English at Nebraska Wesleyan University and the state poet of Nebraska.

A Paratrooper's Panoramic View: Training with the 464th Parachute Field Artillery Battalion for Operation Varsity's "Rhine Jump" with the 17th Airborne Division. By Robert L. Wilson and Philip K. Wilson. (Bloomington, Ind.: AuthorHouse, 2005. xiv + 229 pages, paper $13.40.)

A Paratrooper's Panoramic View, the privately published World War II memoir of Robert L. Wilson, a retired Wichita salesman, will no doubt be of interest to a number of the journal's readers. Assisting with the project was his University of Kansas trained son, Dr. Philip K. Wilson, an associate professor in the Humanities Department at Penn State College of Medicine. The volume includes a nice bibliography and an appendix listing the members of the 464th Parachute Field Artillery Battalion.


Flint Hills Cowboys: Tales of the Tallgrass Prairie
by Jim Hoy
xii + 319 pages, photographs, index.
Lawrence, Kans: University Press of Kansas, 2006, cloth $29.95.
Reviewed by Roy Bird, director, Kansas Center for the Book, State Library of Kansas.

Terrible Swift Sword: The Legacy of John Brown
edited by Peggy A. Russo and Paul M. Finkelman
xxx + 228 pages, illustrations, notes, index.
Athens: Ohio University Press, 2005, paper $24.95.
Reviewed by Brian Dirck, assistant professor of history, Anderson University, Anderson, Indiana.

To Intermix With Our White Brothers: Indian Mixed Bloods in the United States from Earliest Times to the Indian Removals
by Thomas Ingersoll
v + 450 pages, photos, notes, bibliography, index.
Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2005, cloth $39.95.
Reviewed by Todd Leahy, assistant professor of history, Fort Hays State University, Hays, Kansas.

Charlie Siringo's West: An Interpretive Biography
by Howard R. Lamar
xiii + 370 pages, maps, photographs, notes, bibliography, index.
Albuquerque: University of New Press, 2005, cloth $ 29.95
Reviewed by Ron McCoy, professor of history, Emporia State University.

Autobiography of Samuel S. Hildebrand: The Renowned Missouri Bushwhacker
edited by Kirby Ross
xii + 172 pages, notes, bibliography, index.
Fayetteville: University of Arkansas Press, 2005, cloth, $24.95.
Reviewed by Diane Mutti Burke, assistant professor of history, University of Missouri - Kansas City.

Revolutionary Heart: The Life of Clarina Nichols and the Pioneering Crusade for Women's Rights
by Diane Eickhoff
216 pages, appendixes, notes, index.
Kansas City, Kans.: Quindaro Press, 2006, paper $14.95.
Reviewed by Kristen Tegtmeier Oertel, associate professor of history, Millsaps College, Jackson, Mississippi.

"Take Up the Black Man's Burden": Kansas City's African American Communities, 1865-1939
by Charles E. Coulter
vii + 345 pages, photographs, tables, appendixes, notes, bibliography, index.
Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 2006, cloth $39.95.
Reviewed by Kim Warren, assistant professor of history, University of Kansas, Lawrence.

John Brown, Abolitionist: The Man Who Killed Slavery, Sparked the Civil War, and Seeded Civil Rights
by David S. Reynolds
x + 574 pages, notes, index.
New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2005, cloth $35.00.
Reviewed by Kenneth J. Winkle, professor of history, University of Nebraska-Lincoln.