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WHILBR - Western Maryland's Historical Library

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About this collection

World War I.  Men from Allegany, Garrett and Washington counties joined the American Expeditionary Forces  in 1917 to fight in France. Women from the three counties joined the Red Cross, Army or Navy as nurses.  From Allegany 2893 enlisted in the Army - 93 were African American, 19 women nurses and 2794 white men. 94 men enlisted in the Navy. From Garrett, 687 enlisted - 7 were African American, 1 women nurse and 664 white men. 18 from Garrett joined the Navy. From Washington County, 1957 enlisted in the Army -150  were African American, 7 women nurses and 1807 white men. 166 joined the Navy. Deaths, those killed in action or died of disease: from Allegany 106 men and one woman died, 36 in battle, 66 from wounds, disease, accidents of other causes. The nurse was not from Cumberland but she attended Western Maryland Hospital's nursing program and registered while in the state. From Washington county 68 men died, 35 in battle, 33 from other causes, and from Garrett 33, 15 in battle, 18 of other causes.(Maryland in the World War, Maryland, 1933). Five African Americans were listed in Maryland in the World War as dying during the war, one died in an accident, the others died of disease. Sgt. Clifford Robinson of Hagerstown died of pneumonia and is buried in France. 

 

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.

 

Men from Western Maryland joined many others 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, the principal training location for Maryland men.

 

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.  Each memorial is unique, telling the story of their town and the sacrifices of their sons and daughters. 

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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 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 and Faye Stauch. 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, 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.

 

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