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Record of service in the world war of V. M. I. alumni and their alma mater online

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bridge Battery," and to take command of it. He at once consented, and. In
August, 1917, the battery was mobilized in Richmond. After some months
spent at Camp McClellan, Alabama, the battery went to France, being known
as Battery "F," 111th Field Artillery. It was thoroughly drilled in France,
and was said to be the best trained battery in the brigade of which it formed
a part. The officers and men were eager to get to the front line. In the
early fall of 1918, it was moved nearer and nearer to the front; but It never
reached its objective, the Armistice preventing. It was a sore disappoint-
ment to the splendid battery, but all the members bore the disappointment
like the good soldiers they were. In the Summer of 1919, the battery was
demobilized. Its Captain, a distinguished lawyer, at the age of fifty (young-
est son of Virginia's War Governor) had left his home and family, willing
and ready to give his life for his Country, if there were need of the sacrifice.
He is believed to have been the oldest Volunteer Line Officer in the American
Army, and he was idolized by his men.

Captain Letcher is the Commander of the Rockbridge Post, American
Legion.

Captaiu JAMES NEVILLE COCKE RICHARDS, Class 1914. From Virginia.

2Gth (Regular) Infantry, Company "F," 1st Division, A. E. F.
Killed in action near Solssons, France. Buried, July 21, 1918, where he fell.
His remains were later interred in Plaisy Cemetery.
[Letter from his Chaplain to his Wife.l

"Headquarters, 26th Infantry,

Oct. 28, 1918.
"My dear Mrs. Richards:

"At the request of *Major Youell, an old friend of your husband, and
now commanding the battalion with which your husband served, I am send-
ing him the map location of the grave of Captain Richards.

"I was serving with the same (Second) Battalion before and during
that battle. The last I saw of your husband alive was when we talked
together in the woods in which we camped, the day before going forward
to the attack.

"Captain Richards was killed by a machine-gun bullet which struck him
in the abdomen. His wound was dressed, but apparently he disJ before he
could be carried to our Aid Station, a few hundred yards away.



*Rice M. Youell, his V. M. I. Classmate, so distinguished in the War.



192 Virginia Military Institute — World War Record

"His battalion had gone over the top that morning, across a great
National Highway, the Paris-Soissons Road. The German machine-gun fire
was extremely severe, and we suffered heavily.

"A detail of four soldiers was given me by Major Legge to bury Captain
Richards and Lieutenant Boone. We buried your husband where he fell
and marked the grave with a cross upon which his identification tag was
placed. His personal effects, as I found them, were removed, and later
placed in his bedding-roll. We endeavored to remove his ring, but found it
impossible to do so, so we buried it with him. Records of the location of
the grave were sent to the Adjutant General, American Expeditionary Forces,
and to the Graves Registration Service; so his grave can be readily found
after the War is over.

"It was remarkable what a peaceful and spiritual expression was upon
the face of Captain Richards. It did not seem as if he had suffered greatly,
and we could fancy that he seemed well pleased to pay the supreme sacrifice
upon the field of battle.

"I have heard among the enlisted men and officers who knew your
husband many, many remarks as to Captain Richard's ouiet thoughtfulness.
his constant care for those under his command, his unfailing cheer, and his
courage, and efficiency as a soldier and leader of men. His memory lives
with us, and inspires us to emulate his devoted service to his Country.

"We ask that you will accept our sincere sympathy for the burden of
grief you bear; but we trust that your pride and joy in your husband's
noble life and glorious death will enable you tc bear his loss with courage.

"May God strengthen and help you, and may the promise of our
Saviour comfort you with the thought of meeting your husband in a better
world.

Sincerely yours,

Robert Williams,
Chaplain (Protestant), 26th Infantry."

The copy of the General Order which contains his Citation reads as
follows:

"Second Brigade Headquarters,

Prance, 2 August, 1918.
"General Order No. 2.

"1. The Brigade Commander cites the following officers and menfor con-
spicuous gallantry, during the operations, 18-23 July, near Soissons.

(Extract.)
"Captain J. N. C. Richards. 2Gth Infantry, during the attacks of July
18 and 19, displayed marked courage, leadership and coolness in directing
his men against machine-gun nests, and was killed, while leading his men
in the third attack across the Paris-Soissons Road against machine-guns
that were causing heavy losses."

"War Department,
The Adjutant General's Office,

Washington, Dec. 2, 1918.
"Mrs. J. N. C. Richards,
Sewanee, Tenn.

"Dear Madam:

"This office has been advised by cable by the Commanding General,
American Expeditionary Forces, that he has awarded the 'Distinguished
Service Cross,' posthumously, to your husband, Captain J. N. C. Richards,
2Cth Infantry, for displaying valorous leadership, throughout the attack on
July 18, 1919, near Soissons, France, when he was killed, while charging
Enemy machine-guns, at the head of his command.

"The Quarter-Master General of the Army has been directed to cause the



Some of the Specially Distinguished Alumni (Cont'd) 193

'Distinguished Service Cross' to be forwarded to you, and it is believed that
you will receive the same in a short time.

Very respectfully,

Ralph Harrison,
Adjutant General."
"R. H.: R. S."

Captain Richards was of an English family of this name that came
originally from France. On his mother's side he was a grandson of Captain
H. H. Cocke, U. S. Navy, and Captain in the Confederate Navy; on his
father's side he was a grandson of Major James Russell Richards, of Vir-
ginia. He was descended (on both sides) from twenty-two heroes who at
different times bore arms in the defense of their Country.

Captain Richards married Ada Ni(^oll Knight, only daughter of Right
Rev. Albion W. Knight, Vice-Chancellor of the University of the South. He
left one daughter, Elise Knight Richards.

Captain EDWARD TAYLOR DAVANT, Class 1911. From Virginia.

315th Machine-Gun Battalion, 80th Division, A. E. F.
He was commissioned Captain of Infantry at Fort Myer, August 15,
1917, and was assigned to the 318th Infantry, at Camp Lee, August 27,
He was transferred to the 314th Machine-Gun Battalion, September 15, 1917,
and on February 20, 1918, he was transferred to the 315th Machine-Gun
Battalion. On May 19, 1918, he sailed for France with his Battalion. He
served as second in command of the battalion, until April 28, 1919, when
he was transferred to the ofRce of Post Commandant, American Embarka-
tion Centre, Le Mans, France, as Port Inspector. On June 18, 1919, he was
transferred to the Army Service Corps, and commanded the 9th Provisional
Guard Company, until returned to the United States, September 19, 1919.
He served in action with the British Expeditionary' Force from July 26 to
August 19, 1918. He was in the St. Mihiel Offensive, Sept. 12-15, 1918, and in
the Meuse-Argonne Offensive, September ;26-November 1, 1918. On November
1, 1918, he was seriously wounded.

The following Order attests to the manner in which this gallant officer'
served his Country:

"Headquarters, 160th Infantry Brigade,
American Expeditionary Forces,

France, 15 May, 1919.
"General Orders
No. 3.

(Extract Copy.)
"3. Because of their special devotion to duty, and their heroic conduct in
action, it is the desire of the Brigade Commander to cite officially the 315th
Machine-Gun Battalion:

"Captain Edward T. Davant, North of Sommerance, France, the 1st
November, 1918. Captain Davant's Company and the Infantry it was sup-
porting, were held up by an Enemy resistance so fierce that the troops were
on the point of falling back. Captain Davant. at this point, fearlessly ex-
posed himself to a galling machine-gun fire, and, though wounded himself,
re-organized the attack, and directed it successfully, heedless of his own
wound, until the Enemy position was taken.

By order of Brigadier General Brett,

Wm. C. Vandewater,
"A true copy." Captain, Infantry, Adjutant."



194 Virginia Military Institute — World War Eecord

While suffering from his wound, Captain Davant learned of the death of
his wife from influenza followed by pneumonia, on October 16, 191 s. Their
marriage had occurred only a little over a year before he went overseas.

Captain Davant is the youngest of four brothers — ^all ex-Cadets of the
V. M. I., and three of them Graduates. One had died before the War; the
others, Captain Henry W. Davant and Lieutenant Charles R. Davant, were
also in the Service, throughout the War.

Captain Davant was honourably discharged from the Service, October
8, 1919.

Captain ATWELL THERON LINCOLN, Class 1897. From Mississippi, but

later, a resident of St. Louis, Mo.

o54th Infantry, 89th Division, A. E. F.

Killed in action in France.

Captain Lincoln first saw military service in the Spanish-American War,
being a sergeant in the "Columbus (Miss.) Riflemen" which his father.
Colonel C. L. Lincoln, commanded.

He enlisted in the Officers' Training School at Fort Riley, in May, 1917,
and was commissioned Captain in the following August, and was at once
assigned to Camp Funston where he served as Regimental Adjutant, 354th
Infantry, 89th Division, until in June, 1918, upon his request, he was trans-
ferred to the line, as Captain of Company "B." He left for France, the
latter part of June, 1918. Arrived in France, he was placed in command
of a Machine-Gun Company. He was one month at the Machine-Gun School,
and thisn entered the front line trenches in command of a Maohine-Gun
Company. At about 2 P. M., September 18, 1918, he was killed in the fighting
that followed the wiping out of the St. Mihiel Salient. He was buried at
Xames, twelve and one-half miles Southwest of Metz. He left a widow who
was Miss Annie Lou Porter, of St. Louis, and one son, Lee, aged three years.
A brother. Lieutenant L. W. Lincoln, served in the U. S. Tank Corps in
the World War.

The details of Captain Atwell T. Lincoln's death in action were furnished
by 1st Lieutenant Fred. W. Fickett, Jr., of his Company, as follows:

"France, September 30. 1918.

"Whatever information is given in this brief paper is not the evidence
of eye-witnesses, but is the result of information obtained from several
parties who were in position to know of the Captain's death and burial.
On Monday afternoon, September 16, while I was in Bouillonville, attending
to some matters relative to our Company Train (this, upon orders of Captain
Lincoln), he received an order from Colonel Babcock, the Regimental C. 0.,
requiring that our Company put four machine-guns in the front line trenches,
which did not then exist, but which were to be established and dug. that
night, by the 3rd Battalion. The order also stated that the position for
these 4 guns should be chosen by the C. 0., M. G. Co. Captain Lincoln
designated me to take command of the platoon; and so we went out across
'No Man's Land' for 1,500 yards, that night, together. He chose the posi-
tions, helped me to get the men started digging, issued final instructions,
and then left, about midnight, for Beney.

"The next day, Lieutenant Clancy, our second in command, returned
from the Corps Machine-Gun School which he had been attending for a
month; and, so, on the following night, September 17, Captain Lincoln and
Lieutenant Clancy oame out to visit me, and to acquaint Lieutenant Clancy



Some of the Specially Disti^^guisiied Alumni (Cont'd) 195

with the tactical situation. In the course of my conversation with the
Captain. I jokingly asked about relief of my platoon, for 1 thought we had
been 'hitting the ball' rather hard; and I was told by him that our only
relief would be going foncard. He then explained further by saying that
another platoon of 4 guns was coming up the following night to take up
positions in the front line, on my right. I did not talk with him much
further. The next afternoon, shortly after dinner, Captain Lincoln, Lieu-
tenant Clancy. Lieutenant Roderick (who was to command the platoon com-
ing up that night), Sergeant Reagan (Platoon Sergeant), Sergeant Sindelar,
and Private 1st Class Harbin (who was the Captain's orderly) left Beney,
to reconnoiter the front line, looking for positions for the additional four
guns. The Huns wore shelling some, but not heavily. The party had little
difficulty, and, having completed its reconnaissance, was making its way
down the reverse slope, back of the front lines, along the little grove of pine
trees there located, towards 3rd Battalion Headquarters. Captain Lincoln
was leading the party. As he approached the corner of the woods (indicated
on the map), he was accosted by some Lieutenant, inquiring for informa-
tion concerning the location of certain units. The other members of tli/e
party, who had been separated by a considerable distance, closed up on the
two. All were standing in this group, when a high explosive shell burst
near them. Captain Lincoln and his orderly, Pvt. 1st Class Audley W.
Harbin, were killed immediately. Lieutenant Roderick's leg was shot off.
Lieutenant Clancy's knee cap was blown away, and Sgt. Reagan was seriously
injured about the body. It appears that Captain Lincoln received the full
force of the explosion, for he was badly cut in several places on his back, and
he is not known to have spoken a word after the accident.

(Signed) Fkf.d. W. Fickett, Jr.,

1st Lieut, 354th Inf."

Captain FREDERICK WILLIAM A.DAMS, Class 1909. From Missouri.

16th Infantry (Regular), First Division, A. E. F.
At the completion of three months' training at the first O. T. School, at
Fort Riley, Kansas, he was commissioned 1st Lieutenant, Infantry. Sailed
from Hoboken for France, Sept. 7, 1917. Attended Infantry Army School,
B. E. F.. at Hardelot, France, from Sept. 1!S to Nov. 3, 1917. Reported to
the C. O., 16th Infantry, Nov. 11, 1917, and was assigned to "B" Company.
Placed on S. D., on Operations Section, 16th Inf., Nov. 15. Returned to duty
with Company, Jan'y 15, 1918. Assigned to 1st Platoon. Brigade took over
trench section on Toul Front. Jan'y 15 (Post at Xivray). Relieved March
3, by Second Brigade. On April 14, 1918, took over sector in front of
Montdidier, from French. May 2S, Cantigny taken by 28th Inf. 1st Division
relieved July 7. by French. July 18, started attack near Soissons. July 19.
automatically took command of Co. "B," after all other officers were casual-
ties. Continued attack on July 19, 20, 21 and 22. Relieved on night of
July 22-23, by a Scotch Division. Slightly wounded by shrapnel, July 20,
but not evacuated. Casualties in Company evacuated— 5 out of 6 officers and
141 out of 203 enlisted men (16 of the 203 had been left back in the kitchen,
and were not engaged).

Division took over Toul Sector. August 5, in front of Regmeville.
August 15. ordered to return to the United States, to be assigned to a new
Division, as Instructor. Landed, Hoboken, N. J., Sept. 9. 1918. Accepted
commission as Captain, Infantry, U. S. A., Sept. 17, 1918 (commission dated
July 30, 1918.) Assigned to 18th Division, 85th Infantry, at Camp Travis,
Texas, Sept. 17, 1918. Assigned to Infantry Officers' School. Camp Lee, Va.,
March 1, 1918.



196 Virginia Military Institute — World War Record

I i i .
Citation, and Award of D. S. C:

"G. O. No. 125, W. D., Dec. 12, 1918.

"1. By direction of the President, under the provisions of the Act of
Congress approved July 9, 1918 (Bui. 43, W. D., 1918), the 'Distinguished
Service Cross' was awarded by the Commanding General, A. E. P., for extra-
ordinary heroism in action in France, to the following-named officers and
enlisted men of the American Expeditionary Forces and of the Allied
Armies: * * *

"Fred. W. Adams, First Lieutenant, 85th Infantry, 18th Division
For extraordinary heroism in action, near Soissons, France, July 22, 1918.
"During the violent figh.ting of July 22, 1918, he distinguished himself
by his courage, judgment and efficient leadership. After the strength of the
regiment had been seriously reduced by losses, he took command of a large
number of the remaining troops, disposed them, in effective positions,- — walk-
ing up and down the lines, under constant fire from the Enemy, and, by his
example of coolness and bravery, inspired his men to hold the positions
they had gained.

"By order of the Secretary of War:

Peyton C. March,
Genera], Chief of Staff."
"Official:"

"J. T. Kekk, Adjutant General."

This order was read, and the Distinguished Service Cross presented, in
the presence of a large number of officers (Captain Adams being escorted
by the 19th and 35th Infantry Regiments), by Brig. Gen. George H. Estes,
Commander of the 18th Division, in front of Camp Headquarters, Camp
Travis, at 9:30 o'clock, Saturday morning, Feb'y 8, 1919, the cross having
been won by Captain Adams, while he was a Lieutenant with the 16th
Infantry.

Before pinning this coveted token of honour on Captain Adams, General
Estes said:

"Captain Adams, I esteem it a distinct honour that I am permitted to
transmit to you this distinctive mark of appreciation and of gratitude of
a great Nation for an act of heroism and unselfish devotion in her behalf.

"As long as men are willing to forget self and all selfish interests, and
are gladly v/illing to make the Supreme Sacrifice for their beloved Country,
so long may we feel sure that their Country will not be interrupted on her
march for the supreme and glorious heights of development to which her
destiny points "

Citation from Commander-in-Chief, French Armies, with the Croix de
Guerre.

"General Headquarters of the
Armies of the North and North East, Staff,

Personnel Bureau (Decorations).

"Order No. 11,220-D."

(Extract.)

"With the approbation of the Commander-in-Chief of the American Ex-
peditionary Forces in France, the General Commander-in-Chief of the French
Armies of "the North and North East cites in the -Order of the Army: * * * *

"Lieutenant F. W. Adams, of the IGth Regiment, American Infantry.
Has shown great presence of mind and courage in command of his com-
pany, and has thus aided in the advance of his regiment, and in the estab-
lishment of a new line.



Some of the Specially Distinguished Alumni (Cont'd) 197

"At General Headquarters, November 6, 1918.

The General Commander-in-Chief,

(Signed) Petain.
"Original Extract:

"The Lieutenant Colonel, .

Chief of Personnel Bureau."
Captain Adams had two brothers also in the Service, and in the A. E. F. :
Sergeant Calvert B. Adams and Private Walcott G. Adams. Captain Adams
continues in the Service he has so greatly honoured.

Captain ROBERT YOUNG CONRAD, Class 1905. From Virginia.

Company "I," llGth Infantry, 29th Division, A. E. F.

Mortally w^ounded in action in France.

On June 19, 1916, the National Guard was called out, and Captain Conrad

went to the Border with the Second Virginia Regiment, and was stationed

at Brownsville, Tex., for eight months. The Second Virginia was mustered

out of Service in February, 1917, but was called into Federal Service again

in a few weeks. Captain Conrad, as commanding officer of Company "L,"

then did guard duty on the Southern and Norfolk and Western Railroads

for five months, after which the Second Virginia was ordered to Camp Mc-

Clellan, Anniston, Ala., and there became a part of the Twenty-ninth, or

"Blue and Gray" Division. After nine months' training, the regiment sailed

for France, June 15, 1918.

[Letters from two of his Lieutenants:!

"Captain Greenlee D. Letcher,

Battery 'F,' 111th F. A., A. E. F.

"At your request, it gives me pleasure to write of my C. O., Captain
Robert Y. Conrad, Co. 'I,' 116th Inf., A. E. F. I was one of his Second
Lieutenants, and was from Newark, N. J., of the 'Blue and Gray' Division.
I either served immediately under him, or with him. in the 116th Infantry,
from May 1, 1918, and I knew him well, and admired him greatly. A fine
big fellow, and every inch a man and a soldier. Loved by all his men who
expressed their confidence in him by saying they would follow him through
Hell, and they would, and they did.

"In the Meuse-Argonne Offensive, Captain Conrad's Company was in
the thick of it, being assaulting Company, the first day.

"Captain Conrad was shot through the head, leading his men, on the
morning of October 8, 1918, between nine and ten o'clock, at the Enemy's
third line trenches.

"In the violence of their assault, they (his Company) had swept beyond
the objective set for them, and, at the third line trench, met a murderous
machine-gun fire, and Captain Conrad fell mortally wounded.

"His men gave him first aid, and German prisoners (captured by his
Company) carried him to the rear.

"Private I. AUemange of his Company told me that tlie Captain urged
his men to go forward, saying: 'Don't bother with me. Go ahead!' He
died the same day at Gloneux, in sight of Verdun, to the South-west.

"He was shot in the Bois Brabant-Sur-Meuse. I write these details as
they were given to me. I was at the time on Detached Service at Grondue
Courts. With this letter I give you a photograph of Captain Conrad's grave,
made by me on the 24th of March. And I also give you the negative, as you
desire to have an enlargement made, to present to the V. M. I. ivhere Captain
Conrad received his military education. The School should be proud of him,
and it is a pleasure to me to write this remembrance of my Captain Conrad.

Yours, &c.,

Harky a. Douglass,
2nd Lt., 116th Inf., 29th Div.'"



198 ViRGixTA Military Institute — World War Record

"Our Captain, Robert Young Conrad, commanding Company I, 116th
Infantry, a man's man, beloved by all who knew him! Time after time, his
men spoke of him, saying they would follow him through Hell. With his
face to the foe, he fell upon the Field of Honour, mortally wounded, while
leading his men forward toward the Enenay's third line trenches, the morning
of the 8th of October, 1918. His Company was the assaulting Company, on
the right. As the hour approached, he was among his men speaking words
of cheer.

"At the first gun, the shrill blast of his whistle started the men forward
across 'No Man's Land' toward the German lines. He was like a boy at a
picnic, going hither and thither, encouraging here and driving there. On
and on he led them, until the objective was almost reached — when a murder-
ous stream of machine-gun fire from the Bois-Brabant-Sur-Meuse temporarily
haulted his men. Undaunted, fearless, he passed among them; gathering
them together, he led them forward, until he fell mortally wounded. Hur-
riedly, he was evacuated to the rear by German prisoners captured by his
men, and a noble effort was made to save his life.

'.The Supreme Sacrifice was made, and an American Hero sleeps on
the sunny fields of France.

Haev)ld C. Dingtss,
1st Lt., Co. 'I,' 116th Infantry."

His young wife wrote:

''It makes me so happy to hear of his beautiful deeds; he was always
helping some one and mostly by the example of his happy, trustful nature.
His mother sent me the last three letters he wrote her, and in one of them
he says: 'All old people will have me for a friend forever. I never saw
one that I remember who couldn't teach me something, and very, very few
',vb.o were not very kind and very generous.' Isn't it strange that he should
write that, just as you tell me about his stand for General Shipp?

"He only taught me 'the glory of the trenches,' and, so, that is all I have
ever been able to see, and I know he is content."

The "Distinguished Service Cross" was awarded to him, posthumously,
by direction of the President, tb rough the Commanding General, A. E. F.,
with the Citation as follows:

"Robert Y. Conrad, Captain. 116th Infantry.

"For extraordinary heroism in action near Samogneux, France, Octo-
ber 8, 1918.

"Captain Conrad led his Company in assault, capturing many prisoners
and machine-guns. He continually inspired h's men by utter disregard of
danger, and was mortally wounded, while leading a charge on a machine-
gun nest."

A daughter was born to Captain and Mrs. Conrad, after his death, and
has been named for her fath,er, and will be called "Robbie."

"In Memoriam."

"Robert Young Conrad, Captain, Co. 'I,' 116th Infantry, killed in action
October 8, 1918.

"They tell me with solemn pride that you have fallen on the field of



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