A collection of letters published in newspapers starting in 1917. Despite opposition to the war in Wisconsin, only 2 percent of eligible young men failed to register for the draft. Men from Wisconsin and Michigan formed the 32nd Division, a National Guard unit that was the sixth division to arrive in France. Seven thousand of its soldiers were transferred to the 1st (Regular Army) Division to provide replacements for casualties, but eventually the 32nd fought as an independent unit. These letters provide an interesting and sometimes humorous glimpse of their experiences.
Political support for the war was weak in the Midwest in general and nowhere more so than in Wisconsin. Dubbed “The Traitor State,” its Senator Robert LaFollette became the voice and face of opposition to the war. But many Wisconsin residents served in the 32nd Division, “Les Terribles,” that fought from 30 July to 20 October 1918. It suffered the third highest casualties among American divisions.
I recommend this for anyone with an interest in the effect of the war on America’s warriors and its home front.
The Centennial commemorations are over, but WW1 remains a relevant area of study because of its enormous impact on the 20th and 21st centuries: Many present-day geographic tensions come from the post-war peace and drawing of boundaries. More families than ever are seeking to understand the war’s impact on their ancestors. The war had a profound impact on all facets of society, including post-war re-building. At the time of this writing, the influenza epidemic of 1918-19 is again newsworthy.
In 2020 we are working to increase engagement and communication with the membership. This will include: regular publication of our Journal, World War One Illustrated, and our newsletter, Here and There; a more regular social media presence; and a refreshed website.