Informational Site NetworkInformational Site Network
Home - World War Stories - American Heros - Hero Stories - War Stories - British Navy

World Wars

The Really Invincible Armada
The northern coast of Scotland is about as far north as the s...

United States Day
United States Day was celebrated in Paris on April 20, 1918. ...

I Knew You Would Come
We are all very proud that America was permitted to have a sh...

A Congressional Message

To Wish To Take Away One From The Immortal Glory Which Belongs
to the Allied armies, nor from the undying gratitude which we o...

The Soldiers Who Go To Sea
If the army or the navy ever gaze on Heaven's scenes, Th...

November 11 1918
Sinners are said sometimes to repent and change their ways at...

Song Of The Aviator
(This poem was written for an entertainment given by the Y.M....

The Capture Of Dun
After the Americans had cleared the Saint Mihiel salient, Mar...

A Carol From Flanders
1914 In Flanders on the Christmas morn The trench...

Blocking The Channel
Bruges is an important city of Belgium made familiar to Ameri...

The Second Line Of Defense
In Norwich, England, stands a memorial which will forever be ...

The Secret Service
The United States did not declare war till nearly three years...

The Searchlights
Political morality differs from individual morality, because ...

The United States At War--at Home
When any nation declares war, it immediately brings upon itse...

The Kaiser's Crown
(VERSAILLES, JANUARY 18, 1871) The wind on the Thames ...

The United States Marines
Our flag's unfurled to every breeze From dawn to setti...

The Yank
The boche went into the war as a robber, the poilu as a crusa...

I think that I shall never see A poem lovely as a tree. ...

The Tommy
John Masefield, the English writer, says, St. George did not ...

The United States At War--at Home

When any nation declares war, it immediately brings upon itself unusual
problems and difficulties, but probably no other nation ever had such
problems to solve and such difficulties to overcome as the United
States, immediately after Congress declared a state of war existed with
Germany. The United States was not ready for war. She had been a
peace loving nation, and although possessed of great natural resources,
she had never developed them, to any extent, for the purpose of
carrying on war. The cosmopolitan people of the United States had
never been put to the severe test of war conditions, and whether or not
they would stand together as one great nation was yet to be proved.
This meant that when war was declared the United States had to start
right at the bottom and build up a mighty fighting nation. This had to
be done as quickly as possible, for Germany's plan was to crush her
enemies before the United States could bring any help.

The first thing that the country was called upon to do was to raise an
army. Under ordinary circumstances, the government would call for
volunteers. In this way an army could be provided which would be
sufficient for usual conditions. The war with Germany, however, was by
no means a war in any way like that Americans had taken part in before.
The government knew this and realized that the United States would have
to raise an army that numbered in the millions. To do this, the
volunteer system was found entirely inadequate. So a system of
drafting men was worked out for which the government passed the draft
law, compelling all men between the ages of 21 and 31 to register for
military service. This plan was accepted with great favor by the
people, and consequently, the day after registration the government had
ten million men in the prime of life from which to pick her army. The
draft system was in charge of General Crowder who, as a result of long
study on the subject, had devised a system which was not in any way
influenced by political pull and was equally fair to both the rich and
the poor. Local boards were established for examining the drafted men,
and those selected were soon on their way to training camps.

To house this great army, the government had to build a great system of
army camps. Contracts were given out soon after war was declared and
the camps began to spring up almost overnight. The government built 16
draft army camps and 16 national guard camps. There were also numerous
other military zones where smaller bodies of troops were trained. The
draft army camps were located so as to house the men from different
sections of the country, as a glance at the list of camps will show:--

Camp Devens, Massachusetts; Camp Upton, New York; Camp Dix, New Jersey;
Camp Meade, Maryland; Camp Lee, Virginia; Camp Jackson, South Carolina;
Camp Gordon, Georgia; Camp Sherman, Ohio; Camp Taylor, Kentucky; Camp
Custer, Michigan; Camp Grant, Illinois; Camp Pike, Arkansas; Camp
Dodge, Iowa; Camp Funston, Kansas; Camp Travis, Texas; Camp Lewis,

These great cities were built in less than four months. If all the
buildings of the sixteen cantonments were placed end to end, they would
make a continuous structure reaching from Washington to Detroit. Each
one of these camps housed between 35,000 and 47,000 men. The sixteen
cantonments were capable of providing for a number equal to the
combined population of Arizona and New Mexico. The hospitals of these
camps were able to take care of as many sick and wounded as are to be
found in all the hospitals west of the Mississippi in normal times.
Each camp covered many square miles of land which had to be cleared of
trees and brush before buildings and roads were completed.

[Illustration: This picture shows the standardized style of building
used in every army cantonment in the United States. The tar-paper
structures in the foreground were used for storehouses and general
out-buildings. In the background are the well-built barracks. The
company streets run between them. Camp Devens, Mass.]

To keep these cantonments clean and fit to live in, large numbers of
sanitary engineers, medical officers, and scientific experts were kept
busy planning and installing the most modern sanitation systems. To
command this great army, the government built officers' camps where men
best fitted were trained to be officers, and were then sent to the
cantonments to help in changing the American citizen into a soldier.
War was declared in April, and by the hot weather of summer America was
sending troops by the tens of thousands to Europe. The wonderful way
in which American shipbuilders had made it possible to transport these
soldiers is told later. But before leaving the subject of raising an
army, let us first see by means of figures just what the United States
had accomplished in this work. In August, 1918, the overseas force
alone was seven times as large as the entire United States army sixteen
months before, at the declaration of war. In this time she had
transported a million and a half troops overseas and had the same
number on this side, with the numbers always increasing. In September,
1918, she had another draft and registration, calling men between the
ages of 18 and 45. This gave thirteen million more men.

The colleges of the country had suffered a great deal because of the
two draft laws, as practically all men of college age were liable to
military service. To overcome this difficulty, the government
established in the fall of 1918, the Student Army Training Corps. This
plan allowed all students of military age, who were physically fit, to
enlist in the army and receive military training, and at the same time
obtain a college education. From these men the government planned to
choose future officer material. Although the war came to a close
before the plan could be fully carried out, it gave every promise of
being a success.

It must be evident that perhaps even a greater problem than raising the
army was how it was to be transported to Europe. At the beginning of
the war, the United States had no ships to use for her necessary task
of transporting men and supplies. The ships that were sailing from her
ports were all doing their capacity work and could not be used for the
new demands. The Shipping Board immediately looked around for yards to
place orders for new ships; but there were no yards to fill the orders,
as the few the United States had were all overburdened with work. The
only remaining solution of the problem was to build new yards. America
did it.

The United States went into the war with something like thirty steel
and twenty-four wood shipyards, employing less than eighty thousand
men. In a little over a year's time, there were one hundred and
fifty-five yards turning out ships and employing over three hundred and
eighty-six thousand men. These men turned out more tonnage every month
than the United States had ever turned out in any entire year before
the war. Of the new yards, the greatest was the famous Hog Island
yard. On what was once a swamp on the Delaware River, just below
Philadelphia, the United States built this yard which is the largest in
the world. The demand for speed in building resulted in the plan of
fabricating the steel before sending it to the yards. By this method
the steel is cut and punched before going to the yard where it is then
assembled. Thus steel mills at long distances from the shipyards could
be doing a very considerable part of building the ships. Perhaps the
great increase in shipping can be best stated by a few figures. In the
month of January, 1918, America produced 88,507 tons. Six months later
in July she produced 631,944 tons. Before the war the official
estimate of America's annual shipping production was 200,000 tons. The
estimated production for 1919 was 7,500,000 tons.

The United States navy at the time of the declaration of war was
unprepared for the task ahead of it. It was efficient but not nearly
large enough for the tremendous amount of work it was called upon to
perform. The troop and supply transports needed convoys. There were
hundreds of miles of coast to be patrolled. Merchant ships must be
armed with men and guns. All this had to be done, besides the work of
aiding the Allied fleets in European waters. The government was not
long in seeing the need of a great increase in the naval force and was
soon making plans to bring this about. New yards were constructed
immediately for the building of warships, and the capacity of the old
yards was increased. These yards were soon busy turning out destroyers
and battleships at a remarkable speed. The special work of patrolling
the coasts for submarines called for a great many small and speedy
submarine chasers. Motor boat manufacturers all over the country
immediately began to make these swift little craft which were popularly
called the mosquito fleet. Even the great factories of Henry Ford,
although already busy turning out thousands of motor cars, found room
to build these chasers at their inland factories. They were built on
specially constructed flat cars, which were then drawn to the coast,
where the ships were launched.

As the number of ships increased, the man power was accordingly
increased. The navy established a new record by placing a unit of five
14-inch naval guns mounted on specially built railway cars for land
duty in France. These guns were the longest range guns in France and
were out-distanced only by the great German super guns, the destroying
of which was one of their objects. The German super gun fired a small
shell for a distance of from sixty to seventy miles. The naval 14-inch
guns fired a 1400 lb. shell about twenty-five miles. Although this was
a new departure for the navy, it met with the same success which had
crowned all of the other war work of this branch of the service.

[Illustration: A 10-inch caliber naval gun on a railroad mount at the
Aberdeen Proving Grounds, Maryland, where, after official testing, it
was destined for the advance into Germany. Railroad artillery played a
very important part in the late war because of its great mobility and
range. This gun is terrifically effective at a range of fifteen miles.
The oil cylinders visible under the gun where it is mounted are not
sufficient to take up the recoil, hence the braces which protrude
against the wooden platforms sunk into the ground. The bridge-like
structure on the rear platform of the car is part of the carrier for
the shell in loading, and the arched bar over the breech block a part
of the newly invented quick loading device.]

In figures the work of the navy stands out prominently. At the time
war was declared, the navy had 65,777 men in the service and 197 ships
in commission; when the armistice was signed, the navy consisted of
497,030 men and about 2000 ships, out of which 75,000 men and 388 ships
were on duty in foreign waters.

While army and navy preparations were going on, the business of
obtaining munitions and supplies was being very carefully attended to.
Before the war there were very few firms making supplies for the
government. This meant that the government would have to turn to the
great private concerns for its material. These firms dropped all their
pre-war work and attended strictly to government orders. The result
was that at the end of the summer of 1918 the government was doing
business with over 3,000 firms and had over 12,000 contracts in
operation. Even small plants invested heavily in increasing their
capacity so as to be able to turn out more and better work for the
government. The organizing and manufacturing genius of the American
people came to the front with a result that the American overseas
forces were almost entirely supplied by American products, thereby
taking little strength away from the foreign manufacturers.

A few facts concerning the production of motor vehicles will give an
idea of the immensity of America's manufacturing program. The
automobile industry as a whole expended one billion three hundred
million dollars in order to expand its factories to fill government
orders. By the month of October, 1918, 70,000 motor trucks had been
sent overseas. At the end of the war, 5-ton and 10-ton trucks were
being built at the rate of 1000 a day, and all trucks, at the rate of
shipment then prevailing, would have in a year's time made a procession
300 miles long.

If critical persons were to try to point out any weakness in America's
preparedness program, they would probably take the production of
aircraft as an instance where the government had failed. Although
America was slow in producing airplanes, it must be taken into
consideration that this was almost entirely a new departure for
American manufacturers. The delay in airplane production was due to
the fact that there was too much red tape to be unrolled before actual
work was begun. The government soon realized this and appointed one
man to have entire charge of aircraft production. Under his management
the red tape was thrown aside and business-like methods took its place.

The combined ability of the automobile engineers of the country
produced the Liberty motor which proved to be one of the best airplane
engines ever developed to lift great weights. The DeHaviland and
Handley-Page, bombing and reconnaissance planes, were immediately
equipped largely with the new Liberty. 3180 of the former and 101 of
the latter were produced in this country in the year before the
armistice was signed. Out of this number 1379 had been shipped
overseas. In the meantime the production of planes had been far
outstripped by the enlisted and commissioned personnel of the air
service. Thousands of cadets and officers were delayed in the ground
schools, at the flying schools, and at Camp Dick, Texas, the
concentration post for aviation, because of the ruinous shortage of
planes, just when the American forces newly brought into the battle
zones needed the efficient help of a great fleet of aircraft.
Airplanes are rightly called the eyes of the army. It is
unofficially stated that less than 800 American aviators ever saw
service over the German lines, and these men, not having American scout
planes, used largely foreign models equipped with the famous French
Gnome, LeRhone, and Hispano-Suiza motors. American-made machines,
whether for bombing, observing, or scouting, went into action for the
first time in July, 1918.

[Illustration: A photograph from an airplane at 7900 feet, showing Love
Field, Dallas, Texas, and a parachute jumper in the Flying Frolic,
November 12, 1918. Parachutes were used by observers to escape from
kite balloons ignited by German artillery fire, and a new type is
being perfected by which aviators may also escape from disabled

The American people before the war were the most wasteful people in the
world. This was probably due to the fact that the people had never
been confronted by a real necessity for economizing. However, when war
was declared the government immediately demanded that the people
conserve their food. The result was that Americans were soon observing
wheatless, meatless, and porkless days with great patriotic fervor.
12,000,000 families signed pledges to observe the rules of the food
administration, and hotels and restaurants joined in the great
conservation effort. War gardens sprang up by the millions. The
country was soon conserving millions of pounds of foodstuffs that would
ordinarily have been wasted. A food hog was considered in the same
light as a traitor!

On the same plan as the food administration, the government conducted
the conservation of coal. The result was that the essential industries
received coal first and the people could get only what was absolutely
necessary for heating their homes. Lights were turned out in cities
early to save fuel. The daylight saving plan from April to November
turned the clocks ahead one hour. As a result of all these
precautions, the factories were kept going, the ships were not hindered
for lack of coal, and America's great preparedness program was carried
on without hindrance or delay.

It is difficult to realize what gigantic efforts America was putting
forth. An illustration from the manufacture of ordnance will help such
an understanding. In the fall of 1918, the United States government
was spending upon the making of ordnance alone, every thirty days, an
amount equal to the cost of the Panama Canal, and it was spending as
much or more in several other departments. What a terrible loss war
brings to the world!

[Illustration: The Red Cross War Fund and Membership poster by A. E.
Foringer was one of the most effective produced during the War.]

To finance these tremendous preparedness projects, the government
called upon the people to lend their money by buying government liberty
bonds. This was an entirely new thing for the American people of any
generation, but they responded in a manner that showed the government
that the people were backing it to the last inch, and that they were
out to win as quickly as possible, regardless of cost, or other
sacrifices they were called upon to make. The government conducted
great loan campaigns. Each one met with greater success than the one
preceding it. The bonds were bought by all classes of people, and a
man without a bond was like a dog without a home. Of course the great
banks and corporations bought millions of dollars worth of bonds, but
the great number of small denomination bonds bought by the wage-earning
classes was what spelled the success of the loans. The total amount
raised by the five loans was approximately twenty-two billion dollars.

Besides these great loans, the American people contributed $300,000,000
to two Red Cross funds inside of a year. There were also enormous
contributions to the Y. M. C. A., the Knights of Columbus, the War Camp
Community Service, the Salvation Army, and allied funds.

Although a great deal of credit for the remarkable success of America's
preparedness program is due to the fact that she had such wonderful
resources, the true underlying reason for her success is the
magnificent spirit of the American people. Germany thought that,
because of the cosmopolitan make-up of the people and the immensity of
the country they occupied, they would not unite as one great nation.
The United States has proved for all time that she is one solid
indivisible nation with ho thought of anything but the progress and
liberty of her country and the world, of the unsullied honor and
unquestioned defense of her flag, and of all for which it stands.


It was not his olive valleys and orange groves which made the Greece of
the Greek; it was not for his apple orchards or potato fields that the
farmer of New England and New York left his plough in the furrow and
marched to Bunker Hill, to Bennington, to Saratoga. A man's country is
not a certain area of land, but it is a principle; and patriotism is
loyalty to that principle. The secret sanctification of the soil and
symbol of a country is the idea which they represent; and this idea the
patriot worships through the name and the symbol. . . .

We of America, with our soil sanctified and our symbol glorified by the
great ideas of liberty and religion,--love of freedom and of God,--are
in the foremost vanguard of this great caravan of humanity. To us
rulers look, and learn justice, while they tremble; to us the nations
look, and learn to hope, while they rejoice. Our heritage is all the
love and heroism of liberty in the past; and all the great of the Old
World are our teachers.


Next: A Congressional Message

Previous: The United States At War--in France

Add to Informational Site Network

Viewed 3555

Untitled Document