Monday, March 24, 2008

Prelude - Just Boys

Credit: Hugh D. McPhail papers, Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan

The United States entered the Great War in April, 1917. At the time, their Regular Army and National Guard had a combined strength of less than 210,000 men, which was minute compared to the size of the armies already fighting in Europe. A conscription process was quickly established that would eventually bring 2.7 million men into the the military before the end of the war. [source] The first draft registration was held on June 5, 1917 for all men between the ages of 21 and 31. These men were called up for induction into the Army as soon as construction was finished on the new camps that were needed to house and train them.

Camp Custer (near Battle Creek, Michigan) was the cantonment that was built for the 85th Infantry Division. The 85th was nicknamed the "Custer Division" after Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer, whose boyhood home was in Monroe, Michigan. The 339th Infantry Regiment of the 85th Division became known as "Detroit's Own" due to the large numbers of men it contained who were from Detroit and numerous other location across the state of Michigan.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Good to see someone keeping track of the Polar Bears, Mike. My grandfather also served at Archangel and later chronicled his experiences, and reading through the material gives me a perspective I appreciate.

Hope to see more posts, keep up the good work.