Quincy Sharpe Mills.

One who gave his life; war letters of Quincy Sharpe Mills; online

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One Who Gave His Life

War Letters of
Lieutenant Quincy Sharpe Mills

:a:.i :■..•:• •v.;j;jv>i,^. '

One Who Gave His Lite

War Letters of

Quincy Sharpe Mills

With a Sketch of His Life and Ideals — A Study in
Americanism and Heredity

James I-iihv

Lieutenant, i68th Regiment, U. S. A.
With Portraits

G.P; Putnam's Sons

^iew^Ybrk H London

Q3}C IBLntekcfloeiicr fx%M


One Who Gave His Life

War Letters of

Quincy Sharpe Mills

With a Sketch of His Life and Ideals — A Study in
Americanism and Heredity


James Luby

With Portraits

G.P.Putnam's Sons

N^w^York ^ London




Copyright, 1922

Nannie S. Mills


Made in the United States of America


One ^bo Oave Die Xffe



Many persons have contributed information and, some,
personal narratives or appreciations to this memoir of the
career of Quincy Sharpe Mills. To all, the author offers
his heartfelt thanks. In general, specific mention is made
of the contributors in the appropriate places.

In addition, thanks are due to Mr. Frank A. Munsey,
at present the proprietor of The {Evening Sun, for his
kind permission to reprint editorials and other articles by
Quincy Sharpe Mills, and matter referring to his career.



I. — A Month of Tragic Waiting and its Climax
— Tribute and Inspiration — Traditions
OF AN American Southern Family — The
Spirit of Liberty in Old Days 3

II. — The Civil War and its Aftermath of Gloom
— Tonic Influences of an ex-Confeder-
ate Home — A Picturesque Boy and his
Quaint Surroundings — Evolution of an
Ideal ...... 40

III. — College Days at Chapel Hill, N. C. — An
Earnest Student who was "One of the
Boys" — Footing it through the Blue
Ridge — Verse Grave and Gay 67

IV. — A Bold Step and its Success — Ingenuous
Bohemianism of a Young Newspaperman
in New York — Development of a Criti-
cal Mind — Plays, Politics and Philo-
sophy .110

V. — Activities and Acquaintances of a Star
Reporter — Roosevelt and Mitchel —
College Debts Paid Off — Conventions
AND Vacations — Religious Stirrings 141

VI. — Fighting on the Editorial Front Line — A
Young Apostle of Preparedness — Raps
AT Roosevelt — Clear Prevision of
America's Entry into the War . . 169

X Contents


VII. — Final Training at Plattsburg and a False
Start for France — Depressing Condi-
tions AND AN Inadequate Commission —
Assignment to an Iowa Regiment 204

VIII. — A Cheerful Voyage toward the Unknown —
Soul of an American Crusader — War-
time Types on an Atlantic Liner — In a
British Rest Camp .... 230

IX.— At Last in France— Quaint and Grim
Habitations in a Glittering Winter
Landscape — Langres and Fort de
Peigney — Friendly French Relations . 261

X. — Billeted in a Village — Intimacies of
French Life at St. Ciergues — A Lone
Hand in Running the Company — Gas
Masks — Players in War — A Company
Mascot .301

XL— Real War— The i68th Goes into the
Trenches at Badonviller — Experiences
under Fire — Fighting and Resting —
Marvels of Civilian Courage . . 330

XII. — Peace of a War Training School — Climatic
Paradox of Sunny France — Inspiring
Visit to Domremy — Terrible Cost of a
Victory in Champagne .... 385

XIII. — A Soldier's Dream — After the Champagne
Defensive, the Chateau-Thierry Drive
— Fulfillment of Fate and Supreme
Sacrifice — Asleep in France— Tributes 442

Index 483


QuiNCY Sharpe Mills .... Frontispiece

Lieutenant, i68th Regiment, U. S. A.

Q. S. THE Junior 92

University of North Carolina, 1905-6.

Q. S. Mills Interviewing Theodore Roosevelt in
1912 155

Lieutenant Quincy Sharpe Mills . . . 456

October, 191 7.

One Who Gave His Life

War Letters of
Lieutenant Quincy Sharpe Mills

One Who Gave His Life

War Letters of
Lieutenant Quincy SHarpe Mills


A Month of Tragic Waiting and its Climax — Tribute and Inspira-
tion — Traditions of an American Southern Family — The Spirit
OF Liberty in Old Days.

In the mid-summer of 191 8 — that summer of universal
dread — there came weeks of anguished waiting to a small
family group and of mournful expectation to a large circle
of friends. At last, on September 4, The Evening Sun of
New York printed the following editorial :

QuiNCY S. Mills

The worst fears are now confirmed regarding the fate of
Lieutenant Quincy S. Mills of the i68th Infantry. He was
killed in battle near fipieds, between Chateau-Thierry and
Fere-en-Tardenois, on July 26, the date from which he
was reported as missing in the War Department Casualty
bulletins. He was buried by Chaplain Robb of the i68th
Infantry, and his resting place is marked and known.

His was a glorious end. He died not merely for his country
but for mankind, for all the things that other men live for
and will live for during countless generations. In one sense
his fate is only an item in an epoch of tragedy and his sacrifice
but a mite in a world of heroism. But to him and his friends

4 One Who Gave His Life

the tragedy and the sacrifice were and are immense because
they are total. He gave all that man can give and those who
loved him suffer utter bereavement which throbs in their souls
with a pain that no faith can dull and no pride can compensate.

We single out this instance from the congeries of cruelties
that is the life of today not because it is exceptional but
because it is typical. And its phases of pain and pride come
home to us with an intimate appeal. Mills was an editorial
writer on The Evening Sun down to the day when he laid down
his pen and took up the sword. He was a man of unusual
qualities and promise, just ripening into the fulness of his
powers. He held a serious attitude toward life. He was a
conscientious student of public questions. He had high
standards of honor and duty and an admirable gift of

The field of journalism held a successful future for him,
or he might have made his way and done good service in poli-
tics, towards which he had a natural bent. Prosperity and
happiness seemed assured to him, when in common with so
many other young Americans he gave up all for an ideal. Now
night has closed over his hopes and his prospects, so far as this
earth is concerned; but we cannot believe that such a spirit is
altogether extinguished.

This book is written in the same spirit as the above
article. Quincy Sharpe Mills was a young American of
Southern birth, descent and tradition. He possessed
remarkable natural gifts; he had an excellent training
for his lif ework ; he was just gaining clear consciousness
and full command of his powers ; he had a career of use-
fulness and distinction before him as certain as anything
can be in life.

He was of cheerful temperament and courageous out-
look; he expected to do much work in the world, to do
it well and to reap the reward in personal success. The
future seemed bright for him in his own eyes as well as in
the estimation of his friends.

The Star of Sacrifice 5

But at an early day in the progress of the Great War,
the star of duty and sacrifice rose on his horizon and its
white gleam pierced his soul. From that time it was
never obscured in his vision. No matter what other light
dazzled or attracted him, that one purest ray wooed him
on. He foresaw the entry of America into the struggle for
freedom and humanity and he devoted himself to a share
in his country's battle, regardless of the cost in hopes or in

He did not speak much about it, he made no great dis-
play of his purpose; but he was quietly resolute and
resolutely practical. He entered at once upon a course
of preparation for the work that he saw ahead. When the
call came, although well above the obligatory age, he at
once volunteered for the fighting line. He toiled his way
into the army with a commission ; he went to France with
his regiment and there won the affection and respect of
his brother officers and the hearts of his men ; he was on
the verge of promotion when death came to him in battle
in the very act of exposing himself for the sake of others.
Such was the climax to a career which combined an ad-
mirable simplicity with exaltation of pitch and amplitude
of tone. Its sequel so far as he is concerned belongs to
the realm of faith; but all higher instinct forbids us to
doubt that his spirit rose out of the storm of combat
through some gateway of new and fair opportunity. All
that is left to those who loved him, here on earth, is a
treasure of memories and a small legacy of the first fruits
of his expanding powers.

This volume is planned to give definite form and longer
duration to these memories and these relics. It is, in the
first place, a tribute of appreciation and love. Many
hearts, many minds and many pens have contributed to it
besides his own. Many who knew him have united in the
passionate wish that his figure should not fade altogether

6 One Who Gave His Life

out of the eyes of living men nor his spirit out of their

But their desire that he should not be forgotten for his
own sake and on his own account is not the sole impulse
that has prompted this compilation. It is believed that
in the life of Mills as citizen and soldier the image of
young American manhood as it shone in the days of crisis
and consecration is typified. In its earnest endeavor, in
its bountiful promise and in its maimed and untimely
end; in its rich store of human interests — friendship, love,
work, pleasure, trial, hope — and in the generous and
willing sacrifice of these in response to a noble sentiment,
his all too short life cannot fail, his friends believe, to
afford some inspiration to others in the future to whom
the challenge of fate and of duty may come hand in hand.

In the very limitation of his career, in the very fact
that his supreme decision robbed him of the time in which
to do all the other brave deeds and to pursue all the other
useful purposes of which he was capable, some young men
yet to live may find a light cast upon their way. They
may see how tragedy when illumined by high principle
can glorify thoughts that had hardly taken form and
works only begun in outline. The lesson Mills taught,
all unconsciously — for it never occurred to him that he
was doing anything unusually fine; the way of duty, es-
pecially of public duty was to him the obvious, the only
way — the lesson of his life is that there is a success higher
than success itself and a recompense more to be prized
than prosperity or happiness.

How he reached this higher achievement and earned
this better reward, it is the purpose of the succeeding
pages to show. They will present him to the reader as he
was. In many of them he will speak for himself, especially
in his letters after he entered the army. The outline of
his family history and the remembrances of associates of

Millses and Sharpes 7

his early life and comrades of his years of work in the
newspaper field will show how he came to be what he was,
clear-eyed, right-minded and strong-hearted, full of the
enjoyment of life and eager for its prizes but willing to give
up all for an ideal.

It will be seen that he fully understood the mortal risk
that he incurred when he chose active service in the field.
There is a final letter in which, as one might say, he seems
to feel the great shadow already falling upon him. But
he faced the danger cheerfully, even gaily, and his last
word is a challenge to the hearts most in unison with his
own to share his exaltation because he had done the one
greatest thing a man can do and shared in the sublimest im-
pulse that has thrilled the civilized world in a hundred years.

There was a blending of strains in Quincy Sharpe Mills
which could not fail to produce a character compacted of
strength and human sympathy. Through the family
history there rings a note of sturdy romance. The record
is in effect the history of the Old North State. From the
wild days of settlement down the patriarchal years of
slavery, through the desperate strain of civil war and in
the cheerless twilight of reconstruction, the Millses and
the Sharpes were always vivid figures in the life of their

The Mills family came to America from England at a
very early period, and, long before the Revolution, had
established a homestead, Mills's Point, on Chaptico Bay,
four miles from the town of Chaptico, Maryland. Un-
fortunately the exact date of the migration and the found-
ing of the house cannot be given. The family records,
brought to North Carolina by Quincy 's great-great-
grandfather Charles Nathaniel Mills — of whom more
hereafter — and all the early correspondence between the
Carolinian and Maryland branches of the family were

8 One Who Gave His Life

destroyed by fire. But the house was built somewhere
between 1620 and 1660. It is still in existence and is
owned by a distant relative. The locaHty, which is the
western part of St. Mary County, itself the most southern
promontory of the state, lying between the Potomac and
the Patuxent rivers, gives ample evidence in place names
of the prevalence of the Millses. Near Mills's Point are
Mills's End and Mills's Run — also Cook's Hope — all homes
belonging to the family and some ten miles south of Chap-
tico is Millstown, a considerable village.

Practically all the settlers in this region were English
Episcopalians of High Church tendencies. They were
large slave owners, and planters on an extensive scale.
They developed and maintained that type of patriarchal
aristocracy which was so characteristic of the entire
South before the Civil War. Mills's Point was only forty
miles distant from Mount Vernon and there was an ac-
quaintance between the owners which was cultivated by
frequent exchange of visits.

The War of the Revolution found Mills's Point in the
possession of Quincy's great-great-great-grandfather, John
Mills, through whose wife, Elizabeth Rial, daughter of
Admiral Rial of Marseilles, France, a strain of Gallic
blood was introduced into the family. John Mills was
the father of five sons, including John Mills, Jr., and
Quincy's great-great-grandfather, Charles Nathaniel, who
was born at Mills's Point on January 12, 1758. It was an
incident of the Revolution in which these two figured that
caused the removal of a branch of the family to North
Carolina. The elder John Mills served as a captain under
Washington in the Continental army. He was accom-
panied by his son John Mills, Jr., who was an ensign in the
regiment with his father. Together they took part in the
fighting around New York, and later John Mills, Jr.,
served with the rank of captain under General Nathaniel

A Mills Migration 9

Greene in the Will-o-the-Wisp game which that able
soldier played with Cornwallis from January 24, 1781,
a week after the battle of the Cowpens, to March 15th,
the date of the fight at Guilford Court House. This
curious speed contest between the opposed armies had its
course in part through the section of North Carolina lying
between the Catawba and Yadkin rivers.

The weather was very bad throughout that wild March.
It rained almost continuously, flooding all the streams, a
circumstance which was highly favorable to the patriotic
commander's strategy though not calculated to charm the
soldiers or to render the country attractive in their eyes.
Prayerful thanks are still offered up by the people of that
country for the fortunate downpour which helped in the
ruin of the British army, but the men in the ranks and
the company officers must often have said left-handed
prayers as they squashed over the soggy roads while
rivulets trickled down their backs. Yet, through the
dismal conditions, one man saw the possibilities of the
region. Captain John Mills observed the fertility of the
soil and noted the abundance of game. The picture
remained in his mind as of a good place to live in, a place
to develop and to grow rich with.

When the war was over and the great prize of freedom
won, and he returned to Mills's Point, he told his neigh-
bors about it. He praised it so convincingly that the
curiosity and the enterprise of his younger brother, Charles
Nathaniel Mills, were awakened. Charles started an
agitation among his friends which caused the migration
in 1794 of ten or twelve families, including his own, to
what is now the southern part of Iredell County, North
Carolina. Charles Nathaniel Mills took with him his
wife — also named Elizabeth Rial and his first cousin,
whom he had married on January 17, 1779 — several chil-
dren and a number of slaves. Among the names of fami-

10 One Who Gave His Life

lies accompanying him are found Turner, Barber, Burrus,
Alexander, Cook, Poston and Reeves. All these are extant
in Iredell County, North Carolina, to-day, among the
numerous descendants of the original settlers. An Epis-
copal clergyman, the Rev. Hatch Dent, a relative of the
Mills and Turner families, went with the Marylanders to
their new home and remained for a year.

Charles Nathaniel Mills and his son William, who was
bom in Maryland, November 7, 1784, revisited the old
home in 1799. They were about to visit, also, their
distinguished neighbor at Mount Vernon when the news
of Washington's death was brought to them. This was
the last recorded pilgrimage of the North Carolina branch
to the original Mills settlement. The first John Mills had
died shortly before and Charles Nathaniel took back to
Iredell County several slaves as his share of the inheritance.
The party of migrants which went over from Maryland
to the hilly section of western North Carolina brought a
new element into the population of the region. They
were "all faithful Church of England communicants and
they were the first settlers of that persuasion to penetrate
so far west, although there was already a considerable
population. It would seem that they must have regarded
themselves as an oasis of orthodoxy in a waste of non-
conformity, for all around and about them to the east,
west, north and south, stretching far down into South
Carolina, there was a numerous settlement of Scotch-
Irish Presbyterians. Charles Nathaniel Mills, the leading
spirit of the expedition, was, as has been indicated, the
great-great-grandfather of QuincySharpe Mills. From
among the Scotch-Irish population living all about came
the latter's ancestors on his mother's side.

It is unnecessary here to tell in any detail the story of
the Scotch-Irish immigration to America or to descant
upon the type of men and women who took part in it.

The Sharpe Tradition ii

Only so much need be said as will illustrate the influence of
the strain upon the character and temperament of their
descendant who is here commemorated. Very full notes
on the family history have been furnished by Quincy
Mills's mother, Mrs. Nannie Sharpe Mills, and the
matter which follows is derived from these in combination
with other sources.

The Sharpe family to which she belonged departed from
the north of Ireland among the thousands of refugees who
came to America in the early part of the eighteenth cen-
tury in search of liberty of conscience, freedom from op-
pressive taxation and release from restriction of their
industry. The tradition of the Sharpes down to the
present day is that they, Scotch Covenanters, were twice
driven from their homes by religious persecution. The
first time, they moved from Ayrshire, Scotland, to Ulster
on that account. Again, in 1 704, an Act of Parliament re-
quired all public officials in Ireland to take the Sacrament
according to the rites of the EstabHshed Church. Presby-
terian magistrates and other public servants were removed
from office in the Ulster counties which had been * ' planted ' '
with Scotch settlers. Presbyterians were disciplined for
being married by their own ministers. Presbyterian
schoolmasters were imprisoned and the doors of their
houses of worship nailed up. The raising of cattle for the
English markets was first suppressed and then the exporta-
tion of woolen goods, which had become a great Ulster

The resulting emigration to America began in 1698,
when, it is estimated 200,000 people came over. By the
time of the Revolution the Scotch-Irish settlers numbered
in the neighborhood of 400,000. Many states received
their quota, but the group that interests us here came in
early in the seventeen-hundreds. Large numbers who
refused to take the test oath imposed in 1704 landed at

12 One Who Gave His Life

New Castle, Delaware, then a part of Pennsylvania.
While the bulk of the later immigrants went westward,
this earlier group passed into Maryland and formed a
fringe of settlement along the eastern coast of Chesapeake
Bay which came to be known as ' ' The Cradle of American
Presbyterianism." The religious toleration of Lord Balti-
more, the Catholic governor, attracted these refugees.
Only later when a more bigoted regime set in did they join
their brethren in the southward and westward movement.

Among these early comers was Thomas Sharp, first of
the name in the American line. He arrived some years
prior to 1718, but the exact date is unknown. No list of
the incomers was kept until 1724; in fact no accurate re-
cord was ever made. He was among those who, having
first choice, took up the desirable lands near the head of
Chesapeake Bay. He was the great-great-great-grand-
father of Quincy Sharpe Mills on his mother's side. His
will which is dated January 9, 1747, describes him as "of
Cecil County in the province of Maryland, Yeoman."
It disposes of what must have been a goodly estate at that
time. One third of all his movable estate is left to his
wife, Isabella, absolutely, with a life interest in one third
of his real estate. Sums ranging from sixty to twenty
pounds, and totaling three hundred pounds, go to his five
sons, two daughters and two sons-in-law. There must, in
view of the bequest to the widow, have been a substantial
residual estate, but no specific disposal is made of it.

Thomas Sharp, Sr., must have been a highly successful
yeoman and colonist. His plantation, "Sharp's Industry,"
embraced 640 acres of land near Fair Hill, Cecil County,
Maryland; it was in the section where the boundary
between Pennsylvania and Maryland was in bitter dispute
until the Mason and Dixon line was established in 1767.
He built on his land a large dwelling of stone which re-
mained in existence until a few years ago. There is extant

Prosperity in Iredell 13

sufficient evidence of his prominence in the community.
There being need of a new Presbyterian church in or near
Cecil County in 1720, the preliminary steps were taken
toward the organization of the Rock Church, one of the
landmarks of Colonial piety. Sharp was active in the
founding of it. A list of Elders given in the history of the
congregation by the Reverend J. H. Johns, published in
1872, shows that he was chosen Commissioner June 28,
1720, and later an Elder. The first home of the church,
a log building, was at the Old Stone Graveyard near
Lewisville, Pennsylvania. The second church, of stone,
erected in 1741, was at Sharp's Graveyard near Fair Hill.
The graveyard was a tract of land donated by the Elder
about the time of the founding of the church.

Thomas Sharp died in 1 749. The successor to his honors
and the bulk of his estate was Thomas Sharp, Jr., who was
an Elder of the Rock Church for more than thirty years.
His will, made in October 1785, like his father's, distributes
a healthy estate in land, cash and slaves among his progeny.
He was twice married and had thirteen children, twelve
of whom survived him. He died November 1 1 , 1 785, and
lies buried in Sharp's Graveyard. The inscription on his
tombstone is still plainly visible. His eldest son, William,
was the first of the family to settle in North Carolina ; his

Online LibraryQuincy Sharpe MillsOne who gave his life; war letters of Quincy Sharpe Mills; → online text (page 1 of 38)