A History of Troop A Cavalry, Connecticut National Guard and Its Service in the Great War as Co. D, 102d Machine Gun Battalion online

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Produced by Larry B. Harrison and The Online Distributed
Proofreading Team at (This file was
produced from images generously made available by The
Internet Archive)

Transcriber's Note

The cover image was created by the transcriber and is placed in the
public domain.

Obvious typographical errors have been silently corrected. Variations
in hyphenation have been standardised but all other spelling and
punctuation remains unchanged.

Titles from the Contents, “Casualty List” and “Miscellaneous” have been
added to Pages 81 and 85 respectively.

[Illustration: CAPT. JOHN ALLAN PATON, U. S. A.]


With love for him as a comrade, with respect for him as a leader,
and with joy in the privilege that was his in serving his country
to the utmost, this book is dedicated to the memory of—


Killed in Action
October 27, 1918.

Cavalry, Connecticut National Guard
Co. D, 102^{d..} Machine Gun Battalion



Copyright, 1919, by Robert John McCarthy
All Rights Reserved



Chapter I—Before the War 1

Chapter II—Mobilization 10

Chapter III—Preparation 14

Chapter IV—Going Over 19

Chapter V—Training 24

Chapter VI—Chemin des Dames 34

Chapter VII—Toul Sector 42

Chapter VIII—Chateau Thierry 51

Chapter IX—St. Mihiel 59

Chapter X—North of Verdun 66

Chapter XI—After the Armistice 73

Casualty List 81

Miscellaneous 85



It is hoped that this book will serve as a reminder to all D Company
men and their descendants of the serious and frivolous, sad and happy
moments of an experience which alone could be obtained in a great
conflict. From the time of the first call to service to the final
muster-out of the Company, theirs were the thrills of the silent
secrecy of war-time movements, the glorious reception at home when
the task was completed, the joy of seeing their comrades honored, the
sorrow at their loss, and for those who remain, the satisfaction of
knowing they accomplished the end toward which they were turned when
the declaration of war against Germany was proclaimed.

To the nobility of sacrifice shown by all those who remain in the
hallowed fields of France this work is dedicated, as well as to that of
the one who was singled out as a concrete example of the best D Company
could produce. Not the smallest measure of honor is taken from the
names of Rogers, Parmalee, Kennedy, Kapitzke, Butler, Callahan, Donth,
McAviney, Meickle, Wickwire, Rosenkind and Wilfore by selecting that of
their commander, for in him lived the same spirit which guided them,
and their memory will last as long as free men battle for the right and
champion the cause of justice.

R. J. M.

Westville, Conn., Nov. 30, 1919.



From the dash and romance of cavalry to the plodding machine-gunner of
the Great War, from the gilt-bedecked uniforms of a parade organization
to the grim olive drab of the American army, and from citizen soldiery
who took drilling once each week as a recreation, to mud-spattered,
cootie-infested veterans, was the path of evolution followed by Troop
"A," Cavalry, Connecticut National Guard. It was brought into existence
by act of the General Assembly of Connecticut on the second Thursday of
October, 1808, which authorized the formation of a company of cavalry
to be known as the "Second Company of the Governor's Horse Guards
... to attend upon and escort him in times of peace and war," and by
accepting this obligation and supplying its own equipment and uniforms
to be exempted "from every other kind of military duty."

As a social organization, the Company continued to enlist the élite
of New Haven and the surrounding towns for nearly a hundred years,
appearing in parades as escort for distinguished visitors and vieing
with similar organizations in Connecticut and neighboring states
in making the social seasons a round of gayety for its members and
friends. During its early history, while the seat of the state
government was located in New Haven, the occasions were numerous when
it was called upon to perform its chosen duty of parading. However,
with the advent of the day when men who formerly had fine saddle horses
were provided with automobiles, and with the shifting of the state
capitol to Hartford, interest in the Horse Guards relaxed slightly, and
it was unkindly remarked by envious infantrymen that the mounts used by
the Company had become so accustomed to making their daily rounds with
the milk wagons they attempted to stop at familiar houses along the
route of march.

An amendment to the original charter was passed by the General Assembly
in 1861, increasing the strength of the Company from sixty to one
hundred and twenty enlisted men, with one major, one captain, four
lieutenants, eight sergeants and eight corporals completing the roster
of officers and non-commissioned officers where there had been but one
captain, two lieutenants, three sergeants and four corporals under the
first charter.

While the company of Horse Guards took no active part as a unit in the
War of 1812, the Mexican War, the Civil War and the Spanish-American
War, men from the organization had left the Company to take important
parts in all four conflicts.

A second amendment to the charter, approved June 17, 1901, provided
that upon application "either or both companies of the Governor's Horse
Guards" could be organized as a troop of cavalry in the Connecticut
National Guard with a personnel of "one captain, one first lieutenant,
one second lieutenant, one first sergeant, one quartermaster sergeant,
six sergeants, six corporals, two farriers, one saddler, two trumpeters
and not more than forty nor less than thirty-five privates." Seeing in
this act an opportunity to become a military unit, the organization
promptly presented a petition, and an order was issued by Adjutant
General Cole July 5, 1901, authorizing the immediate formation of the
troop, to be designated as Troop "A," Connecticut National Guard. This
was followed by the election of Luzerne C. Ludington to the office of
captain of the Troop. William J. Bradnack was chosen first lieutenant
and Robert J. Woodruff second lieutenant, with John Hugo first sergeant
and the following members:—

Q. M. Sergt. Herbert Purmort
Sergt. George McDermott
" Frank A. Atwood
" Henry H. Lord
" Simon M. Hugo
" Herbert F. Tiesing
" Joseph L. Rosenberg
Corp. Henry Klein
" Friel H. Webber
" Albert Newman
" William M. Derickson
" Alexander O. Coburn
" Chas. F. Hofmeister
Cook Floyd Doer
" Harry Salerno
Trumpeter Fred E. Wright
" Robert T. Hibbard
Private Allen, Henry
" Atwood, Frank G. (Farrier)
" Bradnack, John H.
" Brainard, Merrit D.
" Cook, Harry
" Clark, Willard S.
" Clark, Alvin
" Frost, Edward P.
" Guilford, Harry T.
" Hall, Fred W.
" Holbeck, Andrew H.
" Hoyt, Ralph H.
" Johnson, Clifford
" Kirkland, Charles L. (Farrier)
" Knight, Charles K.
" Knight, Noble de R.
" Korte, Rudolph S.
" Landers, Lorenzo S.
" Mongovan, George H.
" Morgan, Benjamin F.
" Mower, George E.
" Ownes, James H.
" Palmatier, Fred W. (Saddler)
" Perkins, George
" Potter, Charles H.
" Reynolds, Charles
" Schwille, George
" Schindler, John
" Smith, Samuel W.
" Smith, Harry A.
" Snow, Clarence S.
" Snow, Dwight B.
" Sparks, William C.
" Todd, Horace I.
" Watson, George E.
" Williams, David G., Jr.
" Woodruff, Walter L.
" Woodruff, Charles B.
" Wooding, Milo N.
" Wright, Floyd E.
" Yale, Howard C.

Shortly after receiving recognition as a militia unit, the Troop was
called together and it was decided that the Second Regiment armory
on Meadow Street was unfitted for cavalry drill, so a committee was
appointed to obtain a site for a new armory. Generous contributions
on the part of prominent citizens enabled the erection of a wooden
structure on the lot at 839 Orange Street. This building was barely
completed when, in January 1905, it was burned to the ground.

Undaunted by this reverse, it was immediately decided to rebuild,
and plans were made to put up a fire-proof structure. Once more men
interested in the success of the Troop aided the building project by
purchasing bonds, and the armory as it now stands was opened with
appropriate ceremony in the Spring of 1906.

When the State bought the armory from the Troop it was suggested to men
who held bonds covering the indebtedness on the building that the Troop
should own a certain number of horses. Release from the payment of many
obligations allowed the purchase of twenty horses in the Fall of 1909,
and these were installed in the stables in the rear of the armory.

Funds to furnish the club rooms and pay interest on the building bonds
were obtained through the willingness of the men to turn into the
treasury the pay they received for the time spent in camp each year
with the other militia units. These were added to from time to time
by receipts from very popular and successful horse shows held in the
winters of 1907, 1908, 1909 and 1910. These shows attracted exhibits
from the best known fanciers in the East, and were famed as society
events. Features of these shows were the crack drill exhibitions given
by squads selected from the Troop's best riders. A military tournament,
which included all competition that could be arranged for mounted men,
followed when horse shows reached the point of exclusiveness they
attained as the automobile came into common use.

During this period the men were being perfected in field work by road
marches and manœuvers. In many of these they were placed under the
command of regular army officers and rode beside troopers from the
regular army, with due credit to their militia training.

In 1909 Sergeant Harry Denton was detailed by the War Department to
instruct the Troop in the arts of war. The coming of this excellent
soldier marked the advent of a new era for the unit. Riding classes
were organized for ladies and large squads turned out every week for
"monkey drill." Monkey drill taught the men the rudiments of trick
riding and many of them became very well versed in handling their
mounts and themselves in the difficult manœuvers. One of the best
squads developed in the Troop included George Condren and John Paton,
who later commanded the Company in France, Frank E. Wolf, who led the
Company to its training area on the other side, George Wallace and
Harold W. Herrick, who were commissioned officers during the great War,
and others who were prominent in home activities during the period of

Always ready for any action, the Troop was not called upon to aid the
State authorities until June 4, 1911, when rioting in Middletown by
striking employees of the Russell Brothers' mills resulted in a call
received at the Troop armory at 1:30 in the afternoon on that date.
The first platoon, comprised of two officers and thirty-two men, was
loaded on a special train and arrived on the scene of the trouble three
hours later, fully equipped and ready for any eventuality. However, the
presence of the Troop and the businesslike deportment of the men proved
sufficient to prevent further outbreaks, and after four days of duty
the Troopers were ordered home.

For nearly nine years the original officers remained on the active
roster. In 1910 Second Lieutenant Robert J. Woodruff found it necessary
to resign because of his duties in the courts, and Frank E. Wolf was
chosen by the men to take his place. The retirement of First Lieutenant
William J. Bradnack three years later caused the advancement of
Lieutenant Wolf to that rank and then to captain in 1915, when Captain
Luzerne C. Ludington left the service after more than thirty years as
an officer in the old Horse Guards and the Troop.


When Lieutenant Wolf became captain, his junior officers were First
Lieutenant F. T. Maroney and Second Lieutenant William H. Welch. It
was these three men who headed the remodeled Troop which left Niantic,
Conn., their summer manœuvering grounds, for the Mexican border on
June 29, 1916, when National Guard units of the different states were
answering the call to mobilization in order to quell the vicious raids
being made upon American lives and property along the Mexican border

Sergeant Harry Homers, who had relieved Sergeant Denton as instructor
to the Troop and afterward obtained his discharge from the regular
army to enter business, was one of the men to appear for enlistment
when word was sent out that a number were needed to bring the Troop up
to its war strength of one hundred and five men. Men on reserve were
called back, and within four days Sergeant Condren, in charge of the
recruiting, announced that no more were needed. Called out June 19,
the Troop remained at the Armory until June 25, when extra men and
equipment were loaded onto a special train and sent to the state camp
at Niantic, while those with riding experience rode the Troop mounts

Physical examinations in camp reduced the number of men on the roster,
but the required strength was ready for muster into the federal service
and the subsequent trip to Nogales, Arizona. Troop trains carrying
horses move slowly, and nine days passed before the men detrained at
the little border town in the far southwest. The intense heat of the
sun in that climate proved trying for men accustomed to the climate of
the seacoast, so within a few weeks numerous discharges were granted
following persistent examinations by the medical department.

Camped at the top of a hill not far from Nogales, the majority of
the men had their first experience in soldiering and considered the
treatment they received in the light of hardship until they looked back
on this trip as a picnic from the battlefields of Europe. Here they
learned to ride, shoot, mount guard and do kitchen police according to
the steel-bound regulations of the army. They learned something of the
value and meaning of discipline, learned how to care for themselves
and their horses, and for the first time, as soldiers, carried loaded
ammunition in their belts when they walked guard in the streets of the
little border town, always in sight of the squalid, sneaky-looking
Mexican sentries just across that narrow strip of neutral territory on
the boundary line.

New horses were issued by the government so that each man had a mount
to care for and call his own, and when, during the latter part of
August, the Troop was called upon to take part in manœuvers, they rode
like veterans, drawing commendation for both officers and men.

One of the most serious blows to the morale of the organization was
felt by the Troop not long after it reached Nogales. The carefully
selected cook, who enlisted for the tour of duty, proved better at
handling cards than he did at conjuring food out of army rations.
Instructor Sergeant Arthur J. Fisher, assigned to the Troop a couple
of years previously when Sergeant Homers left the army, stepped
into the breach, however, and gave the men the benefit of his years
of experience in regular army kitchens. Under his direction Arthur
Parmalee and Francis Foley gained expert knowledge and the Troop
kitchen became as efficient as any in the district.

Assigned to relieve a troop of the regular cavalry doing patrol duty
near the custom house at Lochiel, twenty-eight miles east of Nogales,
the Troop spent a month there patrolling and perfecting the prescribed
drills. The surroundings of the new camp were ideal for out-door life
and the twenty miles that intervened between the men and the nearest
army post tended to foster organization spirit. Card games, letter
writing and rides over the hills occupied the spare time the men found
on their hands at rare intervals. It was only the persistent rumors and
chilly nights which came with fall weather that made the men anxious to
leave for home.

There being no further necessity of maintaining such a large force of
men at the border, the Troop was named as one of the units to start the
homeward trip. Returning to Nogales September 30, Troop A occupied,
as barracks, mess halls of the type they had built when they first
arrived. There they worked on the problems of turning over horses and
equipment to the authorities, only thirty-two horses and equipment for
that number being allotted to the Troop by the War Department, and
entrained, bound for home, October 10.

A long trip through the mountainous section of the southwest and the
prairie region of the west with only short daily stops to water and
feed the horses, found the Troopers willing to take the first chance
that offered to relieve the monotony of the journey. When the train
stopped at Kansas City for a short time many of the men visited the
city. Supplies were purchased from the Troop fund to add to the issued
rations of corned beef hash and beans and the train pulled out with a
happy crowd of soldiers.

Mysterious bottles made their appearance from under coats and inside
shirts to add their share to the celebration. There was no sleep in the
Pullmans that night. Making friends with the guard at the door of the
kitchen car was easy, for he was Irish and inclined to be friendly, so
a case of fresh eggs was soon in the hands of the men nearest the door.
These they used with great abandon to the discomfort of the porter and
members of the guard. The next morning omelets were dripping from the
lighting fixtures and walls and formed a thick film over hats and shoes
exposed to the attack. The violent character of the barrage prevented
investigation during the battle and when the affair had quieted down it
was judged by First Sergeant Herrick that the entire car-load was at
fault so all were pressed into service to police the car.

The rest of the trip home was long and tedious. Innumerable delays were
experienced, for, with the emergency at an end, the railroads shifted
troop trains aside at the least excuse. The journey was brightened,
however, by a trip to Niagara Falls for the men who took advantage of a
stop at Buffalo. New Haven people lined the streets in an unprecedented
outpouring of welcome when the train pulled into the home station
October 22.

Parades followed during the next week, with a city banquet for all
returned men, and the Troop was mustered out of the federal service,
November 4, 1916, after four months experience in the field. Early
the following week the members of the organization were fêted by the
hustling organization of Troop A veterans and prominent New Haven men
paid tribute to the spirit the unit had shown in its first attempt at
regular soldiering.

The winter which followed was filled with preparation for
eventualities. The shadow of war spreading irresistibly from the
European battlefields grew more ominous over the country until
unrestricted submarine warfare brought to a focus the indignities
the United States had suffered from Germany since the sinking of the
_Lusitania_. After the declaration of war April 6, 1917, an order was
issued causing four troops of cavalry to be formed, from the two then
in existence in the State, to make up the Third Separate Squadron of
Militia Cavalry.

The nucleus for M Troop, formed in New Haven, was taken from among the
non-commissioned officers and privates of Troop A. Lieutenant William
H. Welch, who had been made first lieutenant upon the resignation of
Lieutenant Maroney, became captain of the new troop. First Sergeant
Herrick was made first lieutenant and Stable Sergeant George M. Wallace
was advanced to the rank of second lieutenant. This change resulted
in the appointment of Sergeant George D. Condren as first lieutenant
of Troop A and Supply Sergeant John A. Paton was commissioned second



Activity preparatory to the mobilization of national guard units began
with Troop A early in April when the usual weekly drill was augmented
by an extra session later in the week for the non-commissioned
officers and ambitious privates who cared to attend. Hikes on Saturday
afternoons and several trips to Montgomery's farm in Mt. Carmel were
added to the training. This program was filled with interest by the
proclamation of President Wilson in May calling all militiamen in
the northeastern department into active service on July 25th. Then
a period was given over to equipping the men and forming them into
units of correct proportions during which there were endless amounts
of paper-work to be handled and a large percentage of recruits to be

As the 26th Division never saw a concentration camp, this early
training was of such a nature as to physically fit the men for active
duty, but at no time tended to increase their knowledge of the
particular work they were to do. On responding to the call to report
at the Troop A armory in Orange Street on the morning of July 25th the
men found that their soldierly duties lay largely in packing equipment
to be shipped to camp, a little kitchen police and cleaning out the
armory. Considered as necessary evils, these tasks were cared for with
good will. However, the departure of Lieutenant Condren with thirty-one
men and the Troop's complement of horses on July 27 for Niantic was
an appreciated move in the direction of desired activity, and the
following day the remainder of the organization experienced the varied
emotions of a leave-taking on the Green with Mayor Campner on hand to
bid them good-bye in the name of the city, and a cheering crowd lining
the streets to the station.

Soft muscles felt the strain of unloading the freight from the special
train which bore the unit to Niantic, and with the camp erected, the
kitchen operating and a guard posted, the rigors of the first night in
camp for many of the men were softened by slumber which soon overcame
any objection men from offices and factories might have taken to
sleeping on cots long since past the stage of usefulness.

In the meantime the men under the command of Lieutenant Condren had
arrived at camp, put up picket lines and cared for their horses.
They had made the march from New Haven to Niantic by easy stages and
had been extensively fêted in the village of Westbrook by one of the
residents who had befriended the Troop on former occasions. Thus field
conditions obtained for the first time for the new Troop A.

Sunday in camp was its usual delight with visitors from home and
Monday was given over to perfecting the camp arrangements. Other units
on the state reservation were Troops B, L and M, forming with Troop
A the 3d Separate Squadron of Connecticut Cavalry, Troop A, Signal
Corps, the 1st Ambulance Company, the Field Hospital, the 1st Separate
Company (Infantry), and batteries E and F, 10th Field Artillery, all
units of the Connecticut militia. All were placed under the command
of Lieutenant Colonel Shuttleworth, U. S. A., for training and

The following week both mounted and dismounted drills were inaugurated
and camp routine began with a formal guard mount on July 31, the first
few attempts at this ceremony affording great amusement for all except
those participating. Social lions in the ranks of the Company were
establishing themselves in the hearts of the fair inhabitants of Pine
Grove and carrying off the honors at the dance pavilion and under the
energetic leadership of Sergeant Rogers a baseball team was being

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