WHILBR - Western Maryland's Historical Library
When the United States declared war on Germany April 6, 1917, men from Allegany, Garrett and Washington counties joined the American Expeditionary Forces to fight in France. Women from the three counties joined the Red Cross, Army or Navy as nurses. They joined other volunteers and conscriptees heading off to training camps and for many to France. Those men who had served in the Maryland National Guard, some on the Mexican border, had some military experience. Others were raw recruits, farmers, miners, school teachers who became soldiers and fought in the Meuse Argonne region of France. Numerous died of injuries in France, others died of pneumonia, some in France and some in Camp Meade and other training locations. The following figures are from Maryland in the World War, Maryland, 1933.
|Wounds, disease etc||66||18||33||117|
On April 2, 1917, President Woodrow Wilson went before a joint session of Congress to request a declaration of war against Germany. Wilson cited Germany’s violation of its pledge to suspend unrestricted submarine warfare in the North Atlantic and the Mediterranean, as well as its attempts to entice Mexico into an alliance against the United States, as his reasons for declaring war. On April 4, 1917, the U.S. Senate voted in support of the measure to declare war on Germany. The House concurred two days later. The United States later declared war on German ally Austria-Hungary on December 7, 1917.
At the end of the war, several of the small Western Maryland towns wanted to honor those who fought for their country and those who died. Some towns named on the monument all who went off to war, others emphasized those who died. Garrett and Washington Counties have a countywide memorial, in Garrett located in Kitzmiller, in Washington County in Hagerstown. Each memorial is unique, telling the story of their town and the sacrifices of their sons and daughters.
Thanks to Venessa Stacy and Tiava Beitzel of Ruth Enlow Library who provided the images from The Republican newspaper, and Bonnie Winter who photographed the ephemera. Joseph Berger of Washington County Free Library provided the images from the Hagerstown newspapers and Dick Ebersole researched them. The editors of The Republican Newspaper of Garrett County and the Hagerstown Herald Mail gave permission to use the newspapers of the time. The photographs of the monuments were provided by Diane Kisner and Allen Dunson of Ruth Enlow Library; Renee Mason of Allegany County Library System; Dan Whetzel and Al Feldstein of Allegany County. Allegany College of Maryland and the Special Collections department at Frostburg State University provided photographs, posters and diaries, as did the Western Maryland Room of the Washington County Free Library and Georges Creek Library. Tom Price shared many photographs and letters and, above all, his expertise. Rebecca Thayer provided material on the burials in Rose Hill Cemetery, Cumberland. Much assistance in getting the material online was provided by Emily Myers, Faye Stauch and Karen Kroll. Elizabeth Howe supported the World War I in Your Attic day in the Hagerstown library and Venessa Stacy, Tiava Beitzel and Bonnie Winters initiated the event in the Oakland library.
Above all, we are grateful to the community members who bought in letters, photographs, drawings, dog tags, maps and helmets: Ann Englander, Charles Fridinger, Marsha Fuller, Tammy Gantz, Holly Garrett, Steve Hatleberg, Sara Stanton Jarrett, JoEllen Keeseman, Renee Mason, Bob Miller, Ken Myers, Erston and Nancy Newcomer, Lindsy Pack, Tom Price, Paul Shogren, Gary Smith, Patricia and Richard Smith, Laura Stutzman, Joan Weddle, Jim Widmeyer, Laura Wright and Edie Wallace of the Friends of Tolson's Chapel, as well as the Garrett County Historical Society, through Bob Boal.
The easiest way to view the collection is to select the BROWSE ALL button above. If you are interested in a specific person, town, county, or service like marine or nurse, enter that word in the SEARCH box. All newspaper cuttings are also listed under NEWS, so you can use that as a SEARCH term too.