Wednesday, November 7, 2012 12:00 AM
After only 30 years into the twentieth century, an event transpired that affected the citizenship in every village, town, city, county and state in the United States of America, as well as every country in Europe and most of the rest of the world.
On Aug. 3, 1914, the government of the Republic of Germany ordered forward 78 divisions of infantry toward a line consisting of 73 French, six Belgian and five British divisions, and the war to end all wars, World War I, commenced.
With most Americans opposing involvement in a war in Europe, President Woodrow Wilson quickly asserted the neutrality of the United States.
Following a few months of hostilities, it became evident that machine guns, tanks, airplanes and chemical gasses had transformed the order of battle.
Trench warfare had changed the old tactics of war and turned battlefields into bloody stalemates.
After Germany sank a British passenger liner near Ireland, the war sentiment in America began to change.
The sinking of the Lusitania claimed 1,198 lives, mostly civilians, including 128 American.
On April 2, 1917, President Wilson spoke to Congress, stating: "It is a fearful thing to lead this great people into war but right is more precious than peace, and we shall fight for the things carried nearest our hearts-for democracy, for the rights and liberties of small nations. The day has come when America is privileged to send her blood and her might for the principles that gave her birth and happiness. God bless her, she can do no other."
Four days later, on April 6, 1917, the United States declared war on the German Empire.
Notwithstanding the patriotic words of Woodrow Wilson, America was ill-prepared for any war, much less that a contest between millions of combatants.
With a standing army of only about 125,000 in April 1917, the United States Congress had to quickly institute a draft system.
The National Draft Board initially established the service ages as 21 to 35, but soon expanded the range to 18 to 45.
The National Board set Neshoba's draft quota at 176, but 28 volunteers by July 1917 reduced the draft need to 147.
The local Board ordered a pool of 300-400 men to report, as medical requirements, physical conditions, and other reasons eliminated many from active service.
By the middle of 1918, nearly 2,000,000 soldiers were at or headed to the front lines in France.
The infusion of these men helped turn the stalemate into victory for the Allies.
On Nov. 11, 1918, the war ended with the signing of an Armistice.
Mississippi eventually furnished about 62,000 troops to the Allied cause, and 26 earned the Distinguished Service Cross.
Neshoba County saw 14 of its military contingency pay the ultimate price: Newton Cannon, July 15, 1919; Benjamin F. Cheatham, Nov. 30, 1918; Frank Clifton Clark, Jan. 24, 1919; Louis Ingram and George W. Johnson, Nov. 30, 1918; Tommie T. Luke, James M. Manning and Everett B. Nance, January 31, 1918; Marvin Peebles and Glover Willis Pilgrim, Sept. 13, 1918; Irvin M. Robinson, George Smith and Roger Grayson Williams, Dec. 16, 1917 and Lonnie L. Wilson, Oct. 12, 1918.
The warring parties inked a treaty at Versailles, France, on June 28, 1919, but instead of producing everlasting world peace, the pact, in actuality, planted the seeds for an even more horrific conflict twenty years later.
Philadelphia-Neshoba County Historical Museum Steven H. Stubbs, Curator
303 Water Avenue South
Philadelphia, Mississippi 39350 (601) 656-1284
10:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.
Monday thru Friday