SC -- Columbia -- South Carolina State Museum -- Seeds of Change:
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STATES_071205_04.JPG: The Palmetto State: An Isolated State Before the Great War:
"The vision of a people reunited must be kept before us; a people determined to take advantages of the resources which God has put in our grasp, to develop these resources; to build up our waste [sic] places; to diversify our crop and industries."
-- Inaugural address to the SC State Legislature, Gov. Richard I. Manning, 19 January 1915
Although the visible scars of the Civil War had disappeared, South Carolina remained a poor state five decades after Appomattox. Despite the growth of the textile industry (by 1915 it was the state's second largest portion of the economy), farming remained number one. Most people involved in agriculture were tenant farmers who usually stayed in debt, cultivating cotton and tobacco at low prices.
On the even of World War I, South Carolina continued to wrestle with many social problems as well. Although the state still had a black majority, it was very segregated. African Americans had virtually no representation in state or local governments. The only professions open to them besides agriculture were teaching and the ministry. Most earned their living as tenant farmers or laborers working for whites. Regardless of race, women could not vote and few worked outside the home unless they were employed in the mills or taught school, and at pay scales below that of their male counterparts.
At the same time, efforts had begun to solve some of these problems. In 1913, when Richard I. Manning became governor, South Carolina had a chosen leader with a progressive agenda. He worked with the legislature to increase education funding, develop an adequate highway system, further restrict child labor, and create a more equitable tax system. However, at the same time,. like most whites, he believed strongly in racial segregation.
STATES_071205_06.JPG: The Genesis of World War I:
"The winter of '14 was extremely hard... It was just ditches, the trenches were just waterlogged ditches, and one was often up to one's knees in frozen mud."
-- Private Leonard Haine, Honorable Artillery Co., British Army
"Up we scrambled, bullets whistling past our ears like hailstones. Off we started. The lad on my left dropped all in a heap without a murmur. About five more paces, the lad on my right dropped. Then they dropped all round me in twos and threes. I wondered when my turn would come... I had gone about fifty yards when crack! Got it in the leg. Just throwing my arms up in the air -- bang! Copped it again in the right upper arms. Down I go." -- Private Barlow's account, 137th Brigade, Staffordshire Territorials, British Army, "Going over the top" on the Western Front, 11 October 1915.
While the problems in the Palmetto State were significant, they paled in comparison to the carnage that had enveloped Europe. On June 28, 1914, a Serbian nationalist precipitated the bloodletting on a street in Sarajevo when he assassinated the Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, and his wife during a state visit.
After decades of alliance building and bickering between the great powers, war could no longer be avoided. When Austro-Hungaria demanded reparations from Serbia, Imperial Russia came to the support of its Slavic brethren. Imperial Germany had to support its Austrian cousin, which then brought France into the dispute to support its Russian ally. Faces with a two-front war, Germany decided to strike at France first before turning back to Russia. Its invasion plan (devised by Gen. Alfred Graf von Schlieffen in the 1890s) stipulated that armies go through neutral Belgium. When the kind of Belgium refused to permit this, the German armies invaded the small nation to reach French territory. This brought Great Britain into the conflict to defend Belgian sovereignty.
By early September, German armies were within a few miles of the outskirts of Paris before French and British forces threw them back into northern and eastern Franc and southwestern Belgium. What followed was a long, four-year stalemate of trench warfare. Several attempts to break the deadlock resulted in huge battles, often lasting weeks or months, and several million casualties.
Some major battles with total casualties on both sides (killed, wounded, and missing):
2nd Battle of Ypres (April-May 1915): 105,000,
The Somme (July - November 1916), 1,214,105,
Verdun (February - December 1916): 715,000
Vimy Ridge (9-12 April 1917): 34,000
STATES_071205_09.JPG: South Carolinians and the War:
"Injury to American commerce excites slight resentment. Assault on American citizens is surely arousing the people to sullen anger much as they abhor war..."
-- Editorial, The State, May 8, 1915, a day after the sinking of the Lusitania
Although U.S. national policy during the first years of the conflict was strictly neutral, many in the Palmetto State sympathized with the Allies (Britain and France). This sentiment increased as the German U-boats (submarines) sank more and more ships, including American vessels. In May 1915, the British liner Lusitania, carrying American passengers, was torpedoed and sunk off the coast of Ireland. Along with hundreds of British nationals, 128 Americans perished. Despite a German apology, the American nation was incensed.
Germany tried to avoid sinking neutral shipping, especially American vessels, but U-boats could not avoid sinking non-belligerent shipping at times, further adding to anti-German feelings. In January 1917, when Berlin renewed its policy of unrestricted submarine warfare on all vessels found in the German war zone, President Wilson broke off diplomatic relations. Soon after, the infamous Zimmerman telegram, intercepted by the British and revealed to the Americans, made war inevitable. In that document, the German foreign minister, Arthur Zimmerman, offered Mexico the return of the southwestern United States if it agreed to an alliance with the Kaiser's government.
These breaches forced President Wilson to reverse the nation's long policy of neutrality. On April 2nd, he addressed Congress to ask for a declaration of war on Germany and her allies. Four days later, a large majority in the House voted in favor of the president's request (373-50). The Senate did as well (82-5). America and South Carolina had now entered the world's biggest conflict.
STATES_071205_16.JPG: Dissenting Voices:
Those Americans Who Opposed War:
"I regard it then and still regard it, as England's war... deliberately begun for the purpose of regaining her mastery of the world, which she was losing through the peaceful evolution of commerce."
-- John P. Grace, editor, Charleston American, 3 February 1917.
Although most South Carolinians supported President Wilson's declaration of war, some did not. Former Governor Coleman Blease was an outspoken opponent to war and his mouthpiece during the first months was the Charleston American, established in 1916 by former Charleston Mayor John P. Grace.
Certain communities in South Carolina spoke out against the war, especially those with large ethnic German populations such as Newberry, Lexington, Walhalla, and Charleston. After Congress declared war in April, anti-war demonstrations were organized in these areas. Few seem to have been anti-American, but they all opposed war. In April 1917, one local leader in the Dutch Fork area of the Midlands, an old German ethnic settlement, explained that although his community stood ready and willing to offer their lives, they saw it as a useless war.
War Opponents in other parts of the Nation:
Some regions where German ethnic groups lived, especially in the Mid-west and the West, opposed the war. The nation's greatest opponent to war was Senator Robert La Follette of Wisconsin. Although vilified by most of his Senate colleagues and the national press, La Follette denounced the war. He claimed it would only increase the profits of large corporations while causing the deaths of maiming of thousands of Americans. He barely avoided expulsion from the Senate.
South Carolina Leaders Opposed to the War;
Coleman Blease, former governor and arch rival of new Gov. Richard I. Manning, was the state's most visible opponent to war. He blasted Manning for supporting it, going to the extreme of calling the sitting governor in July 1917, "a coward" who "instead of going as a commander-in-chief with out troops and leading them like a brave man, lies in his feather bed in the mansion."
The other noted anti-war leader was John P. Grace, sometime mayor of Charleston and editor of the Charleston American. An Irish nationalist born and raised in the lowcountry, he oppose any alliance with Britain or France. In April 1917, he argued in his newspaper that "Anglo-mania" is found mostly on Wall Street and other money centers, and branded these sectors of society as not real, patriotic Americans but Anglo-Saxon at heart.
Both men were silenced by the end of summer, 1917, by the pro-war administrations in Columbia and Washington DC. Dissent was heavily suppressed by the new Patriotic Laws instituted by Congress. Although Grace's newspapers remained in print, another anti-war paper, the Abbeville Scimitar, was shut down in the fall for its continued attacks against the war.
STATES_071205_20.JPG: Gearing Up For War:
The Palmetto State Becomes a Major Training Center:
"Yes, Columbia has been selected as the site of one of our camps, but details concerning how many men will go there, just when they will be sent, and how long they will remain there must... [wait]... Columbia displaying the pluck that has ever characterized her efforts, has again scored a victory."
-- The State, May 20, 1917
In August 1916, President Wilson authorized legislation to increase the nation's military preparedness. This allowed the country to form a Council of National Defense with a mandate to develop plans to prepare the nation for possible war. One of the architects of this was South Carolina native, Bernard Baruch.
Many communities across the nation and in South Carolina soon began to lobby the Army to place training posts near them. Not only was it a patriotic gesture, but more importantly it provided new economic opportunities for business.
City fathers in Columbia, Greenville, and Spartanburg began this process in 1916, using all the influence they could muster. To improve their chances, these city leaders purchased or leased property for the specific purpose of building a post. While these efforts may have helped, other factors influenced military leaders in making their decisions. Mild weather, cheap land, and lower labor costs for construction all were factors in bringing the Army to these South Carolina communities.
On the coast, the Navy had already established the Navy Yard in North Charleston on the Cooper River (1901) and a Marine training center at Parris Island (1915). The coming of war led to a large acceleration in new construction, reviving the economies of both areas.
Some Carolina Enthusiastically Enlist:
"The Navy Calls for Recruits at Once..." -- Charleston News and Courier, March 26, 1917
"... recruiting stations have been unable to handle the flood of application of men and women which has followed Secretary [of the Navy] Daniels' call..." -- Charleston News and Courier, April 7, 1917
It did not take long for young men across the state to offer their service to the armed forces. Hundreds crowded into army and navy recruiting stations in towns and cities. Gov. Manning encountered this enthusiasm for whites but not for African Americans. Even though minorities tried to enlist by the thousands in the weeks after war was declared, Manning advised them to return to their jobs. He feared that if too many minorities left, there would not be enough labor to harvest the drops. Furthermore, some whites feared the loyalty of African Americans even though such sentiments were groundless. Consequently, Manning advised them to wait until they were drafted. Thus most black South Carolinians did not enter service until the fall, 1917, when they received their draft notices.
In all, nearly 65,000 South Carolinians served. A little more than 2,000 perished during the conflict.
STATES_071205_23.JPG: Camp Jackson:
"The transformation of the streets of Columbia on Saturday night is little short of marvelous."
-- Major William Cooper, U.S. Army supervisor, Camp Jackson construction, on workers during the weekends, August 6, 1917.
Shortly after the formal announcement of May 19, 1917 by Maj. Douglas MacArthur that Columbia had been awarded a "military cantonment," hundreds of workers began to build the camp. Although the first recruits began training in the fall, constructions of the post did not end until January, 1918.
By mid-summer, under the direction of Maj. William Couper, 10,000 men were building barracks, stables for horses, an infirmary, airfield, and even a balloon installation among other things. By the time the camp was completed, the government had spent $8.9 million, half in wages to laborers working 10 hour days, and the rest for materials that amounted to 5,748 train carloads, half of it lumber. When complete, the post had 1,554 buildings on 2,237 acres.
Such frenetic activity did not go without problems. Couper had to deal with local landowners and businessmen who thought they knew better. Frank Hampton, landowner bordering the new camp, thought Couper paid his workers too much. Before the war, most laborers had earned a dollar per day but now they could make $4 a day. At the same time, a local politician pestered Couper to increase wages. Hampton also haggled with the Army officer over rights of way and drainage of the swamps near his property. Yet as the camp neared completion in October, Couper was proud of the results; for him, Camp Jackson looked like another city that had always been there.
Training at Camp Jackson:
"When they sounded reveille the next morning, I slept right through it, and they had to yank me out of the be... [after this] I've stood out many a morning with my shoes and overcoat on and not have another darn thing on except my drawers." -- David N. Edwards recalling first days at Camp Jackson, 1918
"It's a hard life, in fact, it's a dog's life." -- W.M. Reedy, Clio, SC, Civil War veterans to his sons about army life.
The new post, named after South Carolina native and fifth President of the United States, Andrew Jackson, trained 200,000 soldiers during the war. Most of these men were civilians who had to be molded into disciplined soldiers in a few short months. American allies in France were desperate for new troops to aid in the war against Germany.
Horses still had a major role to play in World War I, so many stables with horses existed at Camp Jackson. Troops had to learn how to harness teams to wagons to pull artillery. Even though many recruits came from farms, some had difficulty working with army horses. One North Carolina recruit found it difficult to climb onto the large animals harnessed to pull artillery pieces, needing assistance to get on the large steed. When he finally got on its back, the "sharp backbones... wore off my back end."
The new recruits had to learn how to fire a weapon, drill in formation, obey orders, and eat and sleep together. One of the first divisions to be formed was the 81st, or Wildcat, Division, made up mostly of men drafted from South Carolina, North Carolina, and Florida. Half of this original division was transferred to the 10th Division, which trained in Greenville's Camp Sevier, but its numbers were replenished with new draftees, from both the Carolinas and Northern states. It would serve with distinction in France during the summer and fall of 1918.
STATES_071205_27.JPG: Camp Sevier:
"The general attitude of... Greenville [citizens]... has been to aid in the construction of Camp Sevier. On many occasions, these men of Greenville have left their offices and work and given their time to advance construction..."
-- Major Alex Dingle, Construction at Camp Sevier (?), December 1917
In comparison to Camp Jackson, the post constructed on the outskirts of Greenville was smaller. Most of its barracks were tends with wooden floors each housing eight men. Although smaller than the Midlands post Sevier still required months to work by both hired workers and soldiers to build roads, railheads, latrines, and horse stables. The structures included an infirmary, theater, mess halls, and a church. At its peak of construction in August 1917, the post employed nearly 4,000 workers.
By the war's end, Sevier had trained 100,000 troops. Best known as the 30th Division, a National Guard unit created of men mostly from the Carolinas and Tennessee. It later fought with distinction on the Western Front and helped break through the Hindenburg line, bringing an end to the war.
Training at Sevier:
For the first time in warfare, troops had to learn how to protect themselves from gas attacks. Sevier, like every post, conducted training for this, sometimes with bad effect. Such was the case for Carl Clodfelter of the 30th Division. Years later, he recalled one day of training [at] Camp Sevier: "They took us out through the woods and fired shots. They said it was gas, but I didn't think it was because you could hear traffic on the highway. [Nevertheless] we had to put on gas masks to protect us... you clamped your nose so you had to breath through your mouth through chemicals in your mask... It was hot, and they carried us down into the woods and it was rough. [Eventually I] got sick fainted, and fell backwards standing at attention."
As in many camps, supplies and equipment were short. Sometimes troops had to train on models. Such as the case with artillery units. The 113th Field Artillery drilled with log guns until real artillery pieces could be acquired. When they went to France, they had to retrain on the French 75mm howitzer.
STATES_071205_36.JPG: Camp Wadsworth:
"This place was nothing by dense wood before they started this camp. They had to mow down trees and they are nowhere finished yet."
-- Bert Lobdell, 27th Division to his family in New York, September 13, 1917
Located on the western outskirts of Spartanburg, Camp Wadsworth was constructed out of a wilderness area in the foothills of northwestern South Carolina. In June 1917, the U.S. Army announced that the upstate community had been awarded the post and the next month the city leased 2,000 acres to the government for its construction. Like Camp Sevier, most of its recruits were housed in tents, but more than 1,400 structures were also built, including mess halls, a post office, latrines, and a laundry. Sewer lines, roads and rails also had to be built to the camp. The work was carried out by more than 4,500 laborers and continued into 1918.
For artillery, the camp found a more isolated area in northern Greenville County known as Hogback and Glassy Mountain. Unlike Sevier, the unit had real pieces to drill with early in training. By the war's end, 100,000 troops had trained at the post. The first was a New York national guard unit renamed the 27th Division. When the 27th left for France in May 1918, the 6th Division from Fort McClellan, Alabama replaced it. The 96th Division was the last to train there. Neither of the 6th or the 96th saw combat.
15th New York Comes to Wadsworth, by briefly:
"We weren't down there more than two hours when trouble started..."
-- Melville T. Miller, 15th New York Regiment, on arriving in Spartanburg to prevent this.
An African American regiment from New York, the 15th, was assigned for training. The mayor told the army that, "they (northern blacks) do not understand our attitudes." In spite of this, the unit came. Soon, confrontations between local whites and members of the unit occurred. A near disaster was averted days after their arrival when some troops marched on the police station with rifles to find two comrades rumored to have been hanged. Their commanding officer intervened just in time to show them that their comrades had not been harmed. The soldiers marched back to camp with shouldered rifles. They looked so disciplined that locals clapped and cheered them, not knowing the near tragedy that had just been prevented.
Soon after this incident, the 15th was ordered to Europe where it served with distinction as the 369th U.S. Infantry. Their German foe called them the "Harlem Hell Fighters." They would become one of the first Allied regiments to cross the Rhine into German territory at the end of the war.
Life at Camp Wadsworth:
Since the first units to train at the camp were from New York, the troops had a more difficult time adjusting to their new surroundings. For many, the rural southern life was too quiet and some of the natives were difficult to understand. Ironically, these northern troops sometimes found the unseasonably cold winter of 1917-18 particularly severe. This must have been due, in large part, to the flimsy tents they lived in. It was hard to keep warm in the cold with a stove that barely kept anyone near it warm. Albert "Bert" Lobdell, from Salem Center, New York, described his sojourn at Wadsworth as "4 months, 232 days, 34 weeks, 32 days of rain, 14 days of cold (reported), 5 days of snow, 4 days of mud, 40 days of guard duty... 10 days in the trenches, 4 days of flu... 100 days of drill, 0 days of furlough... 1 car accident, 4 hot baths, 2 stys, 4 boils, 12 days on the firing range, 1 frozen water pipe."
After enduring all of this, Bert Lobdell shipped out with his division to France. He was killed in action on September 29, 1918.
STATES_071205_40.JPG: Parris Island:
Marine Recruit Depot:
Port Royal Sound, SC:
"We arrived at Parris Island with all the palm trees and brick barracks. There were thousands of Marines there, and the remarks they passed! 'Join the Marines and see the world. Join the world and see the marines.' ... They knocked my hat off and pulled my shirt out...A form of initiation."
-- J.E. Re...(?), Marine Recruit, 1917, describing his first glimpse of Parris Island.
In 1915, Parris Island, formerly a small navy yard, became the permanent training depot for new Marines. Previously, training had been at various Navy facilities. When the United States declared war in 1917, a huge influx of new men required a massive new building expansion. The main center at the north end of the island saw a large addition of 160 acres costing $4 million that included new barracks, mess halls, and a post exchange. Two other important sub-camps, or stations, were built at the southern end, the Maneuver Grounds and the Rifle Range. By the war's end, 46,000 new Marines had been trained for combat.
Each station trained 4,000 to 6,000 recruits at a time for several weeks; sometimes men called this rotation "Around the world in eighty days." During their first days on the island, recruits had their physicals and equipment issued at the quarantine station when they were marched to the Maneuver Grounds for training in drill and weapons. Then came the Training Camp for weeks of instruction in hand-to-hand combat and gas attack drills. Following this, more weapons drill and marksmanship training took place.
Most Marines found recruit training something they never forgot or ever wanted to repeat. The language used by their drill sergeants horrified some recruits. One North Carolina man wrote home peevishly to his mother after his first day that, "I thought and still think that this is the worse place for bad language I ever saw... The first day I was here, I thought the cursing was awful... everyone seems bent on excelling the order."
In June 1917, recruit Gus Gulbert wrote that, "drilling was very strenuous and the days were baking hot. I think I melted from 160 pounds to about 140. For minor offenses, the punishment was severe. One fellow dropped his rifle during drill and had to gather 1,000 burnt matches. It had to be an even 1,000. If he had over or less, he was required to get 1,000 more."
STATES_071205_50.JPG: Charleston Navy Yard:
"Somebody has to do the work in the lower ratings, so why not you. Try to make it said of the bluejacket in this day what was current in the palmy days of ancient Roe, 'When to be a Roman soldier was greater than to be a King."
-- Commander Mark St. Clair Ellis, Naval Training Camp instructions to recruits on assuming command, 1918.
Transferred from Parris Island in 1901, the Navy Yard was about 10 miles up the Cooper River from the city's harbor. Once war was declared, the facility became a bustling ship-building and repair facility for the U.S. Navy. It built 13 medium sized war ships and repaired 200 others, both American and Allied vessels. To do this, the work force grew from a few hundred civilian workers in early 1917 to over 5,000 by war's end, adding a huge economic infusion to the area.
But shipbuilding and repair were only two facets of the Yard's important contribution to the war effort. An extensive training area for new sailors was erected inland from the shipbuilding facilities, providing 25,000 trained men to serve on U.S. Navy ships. In addition, the lone garment manufacturer for the Navy was located here. It made uniforms, producing 90,000 garments in 1914. The all-female work force, which grew to 1,000 by the last year of the war, stitched 2.7 million uniforms. Through the lobbying efforts of Charleston's black leadership, a reluctant management hired 300 African Americans.
A Famous "Ordinary' Sailor:
"Your job's morale. You'll do more good that way than swabbing decks or stoking boilers." -- Navy Yard commander to Norman Rockwell, August 1918.
Among the naval personnel stationed at the base to aid in the training of new sailors (335 officers and 7,000 enlisted me) was the renowned artist and illustrator Norman Rockwell, transferred from New York in 1918. When superiors at the Charleston base discovered his presence, he was quickly assigned to draw cartoons for the Yard's newsletter and in his "spare time," he painted portraits of officers and men.
STATES_071205_54.JPG: Camp Recreation:
For Fitness and Entertainment:
"We want you to learn how to row a boat and how to swim and play baseball and football."
-- Instructions of Commander Mark St. Claire Ellis, Commandant of the Naval Training Camp, Charleston Navy Yard 1918.
All the training camps in South Carolina, whether Army or Navy, made sure that their recruits had plenty of recreation. This kept them busy during idle periods, built up physical fitness, and developed comradeship among small units.
The most popular athletics were baseball, football, and boxing. Basketball and track also had a lot of participation. But these were not the only types of recreation. While many sports teams formed from companies in each camp might be lucky to have a former Major Leaguer or football star from civilian life, other recruits had skills in acting, play writing, and music. In addition, each facility had a library where men could check out books or read magazines and newspapers.
STATES_071205_57.JPG: How South Carolinians Backed the War in their Communities:
"I feel that we.. .must contribute even to the point of sacrifice."
-- Gov. Robert I. Manning, May 3, 1918, to his cousin Robert C. Richardson
"Everybody ought to economize."
-- The South Carolina Handbook on the War, SC Council of Defense booklet, September 1917.
South Carolina were asked to change their daily routines during the war years to support the troops, both at home and abroad. There were several ways that state and federal governments appealed for this support but, unlike the Second World War, a formal rationing system was not implemented. Through government appeals to patriotic duty, most people in the state accepted the challenge. This included growing vegetable gardens, sometimes replacing front yards with bean, squash and carrot patches. To conserve meat and sugar in December 1917, Manning asked all South Carolinians to observe meatless Tuesdays, wheatless Wednesdays, and porkless Thursdays. In addition, families were asked to have two desertless days each week.
Most families in the state seemed to accept this appeal. In the mill town of Piedmont, in southern Greenville County, local leader Sloan Goldsmith wrote the governor in August 1917 that, "I have never saw [sic] such gardens the mill operatives... have this year. Nearly every family have [sic] raised twice as much as they can use." The surplus was canned.
Dealing with Fuel Shortages:
In the winter of 1917-18, coal supplies became so short, due to protracted strikes in the coal fields, that railroads could not stockpile a surplus. This, combined with the severe winter that year, forced the federal government to impose strict limitations on coal supplies for both homes and industry. For a brief period, some South Carolina cotton mills and oil mills had to stop production. Christmas breaks at schools and colleges across the state were lengthened to save on scarce coal reserves. For the winter, businesses were asked to shut down one day a week or go without heat if they remained open.
Gasoline reserves became short as well. To ration this fuel, Manning appealed to the people to observe "gasless Sundays." At first, most people did not honor the request. But as the war came to an end, more South Carolinians seemed to heed the governor's appeal.
Liberty Bonds: Financial backing for the war:
"Buy a Bond for Baby" -- Popular slogan used to encourage Americans to buy Liberty bonds.
"... German Spy doggone, begone; Or I will smack your face with a liberty bond."
-- Portions of a poem entitled "A Black Man's Reply to a German Spy," Greenville News, October 19, 1918.
To help the government finance the war effort, every American was asked to buy bonds or war stamps, and every state had a quota to reach set by Washington. During the four Liberty Loan drives of the war, the Palmetto State was asked to raise $74.5 million. South Carolinians exceeded this by nearly $6 million. Although the first two drives in 1917 fell short of their goals, the last two in April 1918 and September 1918 exceeded their quotas. The better response in the last year of the war was attributed, in part, to American troops finally getting to the fight on the western front.
Each Liberty Loan or Bond drive was designated to raise money for the government to pay for the war material and training needed for the expansion of the armed forces. The first Loan Drive issued $5 billion in bonds at 3.5 percent return. The next two, October 1, 1917 and April 5, 1918, offered $3 bullion each at 4 and 4.5 percent return respectively. The last drive, September 28, 1918, offered $6 billion at 4.25 percent. In April 1919, after the armistice, the government arranged a fifth drive, called a Victory Loan, to aid it further in covering its war costs. It was not as successful as the last two Liberty Bond drives.
STATES_071205_64.JPG: Problems Brought By The War:
"The abnormal and almost instant demands made upon the Charleston Consolidated Railway Company caused by war conditions are well nigh overwhelming..."
-- Chairman Richards, Seaboard Air Line Railway, November 27, 1917, on insufficient rail service from the city to the Charleston Navy Yard.
Along with the benefits of a war economy came significant problems, ranging from housing shortages and transportation issues to prostitution and disease. Throughout the war, efforts to solve them were only partially successful.
While the new military posts had accommodations for their recruits, the civilian employees and administrators needed to build these installations and maintain the infrastructure after completion often did not. Charleston was the worst. Old homes in the city were available but they needed much repair to make them habitable. Building new structures was difficult because building supplies were scarce and workers hard to find. A few new structures were constructed, such as a home for women working at the Naval Uniform Factory, but it was not finished until the late spring 1918.
Transportation problems were acute in many cities. The huge influx of new workers at the Charleston Navy Yard overwhelmed the tram line from the city to the base soon after the war began and remained a problem even after the Armistice.
"... thousands of employees of the navy yard marched down King Street, from Line to Broad... in a demonstration of their sentiments... [to] .... protest against the poor trolley car service... between Charleston and the navy yard...."
-- The State, January 19, 1919
Attempts to eradicate red light districts:
"I'm going to buy a pistol, sir. For twelve years, I've ... never felt the need to protect my two women-folks. [But what do you suppose will happen when 40,000 virile, red-blooded young men come here to train for the army and find the segregated [red light] district wiped out? I know..."
-- Columbia resident to reporter on recruits at Camp Jackson, Summer 1917.
Military leaders pressured city authorities to pass laws that would eradicate prostitution. The Army and Navy feared that their recruits would be tempted by "red light districts" and contract debilitating diseases. Before the war, towns and cities in the Palmetto State had tried to ignore the problem. By the summer, 1917, every city in the state had new restrictive laws passed to eliminate the illicit trade, but these were only partially successful. While many of these illegal centers were closed down, many of these "workers" simply found other places in the same community to carry on the trade. At least some citizens of Charleston and Columbia thought that such districts "protected the women of their communities."
STATES_071205_76.JPG: Fashion of the Great War:
In the early part of the Edwardian period (1901 to 1914), men's and women's fashions tended to be very formal with strict rules for the appropriate attire for every occasion. Women's clothing had blousy bodices and fitted waistlines to emphasize the high-desired small waist and ample derriere. Dresses were floor-length statements of elegance that emphasized an S-shaped line as the height of fashion.
By 1914, a dramatic change occurred in fashion. Due to the need for women to work in factories and perform other jobs traditionally reserved for men, clothing became more informal. Women's hemlines became shorter, going from ankle length to mid-calf. It became acceptable for women to wear trousers and short hair, which previously had been considered sinful and unattractive. More people wore somber colors as a result of a shortage of dyes and fabrics and to show respect for soldiers who died in the war.
STATES_071205_86.JPG: Influenza quarantine
STATES_071205_88.JPG: The Flu Pandemic:
"Influenza conditions here have been desperate and its seems to be on the increase."
-- on Chenaw (?), SC in Charleston News and Courier, October 19, 1918
Epidemics of measles and meningitis hit the state in 1917 and 1918. The flu epidemic proved far more dangerous. Theories of how it developed abound but by August 1918, the first phases of it were felt at Camp Devon outside Boston. It reached South Carolina in September, some reports saying the Charleston Navy Yard had the first cases in the state. Others claimed it originated at Camp Jackson. By the time the flu had waned more than 200,000 South Carolinians had contracted it and the death toll reached between 4,000 and 10,000 people.
It spread quickly. By October, so many people were sick that most towns and cities shut down all public facilities, including schools, parks, churches, and libraries. Although this was lifted in early November, the flu continued to plague the state, to a lesser degree, into the early months of 1919.
In October, Lake City reported that, "Influenza is very prevalent here, so much so that one can hardly hear of a home that has not been visited with the disease... [in many] cases the entire family has been stricken at the same time."
In Charleston, during the same month, physicians were working non-stop in most communities around the nation. In one day, October 20, twelve deaths were reported and 421 cases treated. Two days later a single physician claimed he made 147 house calls.
Decades later, a Charleston resident recalled that during 1918 coffins were stacked down Columbia Street to be transferred by caissons to Union Station for transport home.
Elsewhere in the state, more than 600 cases were reported at Camp Wadsworth while Camp Jackson reported even more at the height of the crisis.
Why did the flu kill so many?
It was probably a new strain which few young adults had natural immunity against. But older adults, those above the age of 45, rarely seemed to contract the disease. This suggested that older people had developed a natural resistance to flu over time. Since the war required the movement of so many young people who did not realize they were carriers, the virus quickly spread from one community to another via rail systems and overseas travel. By the time the flu had dissipated an estimated 650,000 Americans had died and more than 20 million across the globe had perished. American losses alone were nearly six times that of U.S. troops killed in combat or training (120,144). For South Carolina, the total losses in the armed forces were 2,085.
STATES_071205_92.JPG: War's Impact: Changes -- Good and Bad:
"Duck Mill Raises Wages -- 1,500 operatives will benefit."
-- On Columbia Mill, Charleston News and Courier, May 9, 1917
The Palmetto State contributed land and men to the war effort and gained significant financial benefits. Farmers who had struggled almost since the Civil War began to show profits. Whereas the farm economy's annual average production (1912-16) was $121 million, it increased significantly to $446 million in 1918. Similarly, the textile industry benefited from the war years. In 1916, the value of production had been $168 million, but two years later it more than doubled to $326 million.
Unfortunately, the war-time boom proved temporary. As the war came to an end farmers began to confront a new menace to their major cash crop, cotton. An insect, the boll weevil, had slowly worked its way north from Texas, reaching the southern corner of the Palmetto State in late 1917. By the following winter, it had penetrated much further north into the state. This pest consumed most of the next several crops, significantly reducing the yields. Even though the shortage this caused helped keep the price high, 40 cents per pound at its peak during the war, by the mid-1920s the price had dropped to less than 5 cents per pound.
War production in the textile industry led to an oversupply soon after the Armistice. With peace returning to Europe, South Carolina fabrics were no longer needed. Mills across the state cut back production, reduced their work forces, and tried to increase the work load of those remaining by instituting "stretching outs." Each worker was usually assigned to complete twice as much work as he or she had done before the slow down.
STATES_071205_93.JPG: The Legacy of he War: Home and Abroad:
[The war] "brought Americans closer together then ever before and they mingled on a freer footing."
-- Charleston News and Courier, December 29, 1918
The influx of many new people into South Carolina for military training and related duties helped break the isolation that the state had experienced since 1865. Inevitable relationships developed which led to marriage in some cases. Men from New York to California who spent time in one of the posts during the war met local girls and married them after the war.
The flu epidemic forced the state to re-examine its inadequate health care system. After the war, the legislature was convinced to appropriate funds to build institutions for the mentally impaired and an industrial school for young women. Funds also became available to make the State Health Board larger so that more doctors and medical assistants could work at the local level to improve health and help in emergencies.
The social legacy of the war had some highs and lows. For women, the end of the war saw the culmination of decades of work to earn the right to vote. By August, 1920, the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified, allowing women across the country to vote for the first time in the November general election.
African Americans after the Armistice:
In spite of the patriotic services of African Americans across the nation, both in combat overseas and at home, whites refused to extend social and political rights to minorities when peace returned. The loosening of segregation laws that the war had precipitated soon tightened up again. Black veterans returning home expecting new social and political rights were quickly disillusioned as their second-class status was re-emphasized across the South. In South Carolina, this was tragically demonstrated by the Charleston race riots of May 1919. During two days of violence, extensive property damage to King and Meeting Street businesses occurred. Several blacks and a few whites were injured and killed. Evidence showed that little had changed despite the war. This fact encouraged thousands of black South Carolinians to leave the state for better opportunities in northeastern and midwestern cities, including New York, Boston and Cleveland.
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Description of Subject Matter: Seeds of Change:
South Carolina and the Great War 1917-1918
South Carolina’s strong tradition of patriotism is examined in a new exhibit at the State Museum that looks at the state’s role on the homefront during World War I.
World war i officer on a horse Beginning May 19, Seeds of Change: South Carolina and the Great War 1917-1918 will examine a number of topics to show both how South Carolina contributed to the war effort and how the war changed the Palmetto State, bringing it fully into the 20th century after its virtual isolation in the decades following the Civil War.
In the exhibit, guests will learn of the establishment of military installations in the state and the building up of ones already here, such as Camp (now Fort) Jackson in Columbia, Camp Wadsworth in Spartanburg and Charleston’s Navy yard.
Seeds of Change also will look at the establishment of war bonds and the publicity around the campaigns; the changing roles of blacks and women in the war effort; and something most people don’t know or don’t associate with the war: the great flu epidemic of 1918.
An estimated 200,000 South Carolinians contracted the flu and between 4,000 and 10,000 died from it, according to Chief Curator of History Fritz Hamer. “Nationwide, 675,000 Americans died, far more than were killed in the trenches on the western front.”
Museum guests will see many visible reminders of the war effort, including striking photographs; uniforms of soldiers and nurses; weapons; a horse-drawn ambulance wagon; a hand-drawn ammunition cart, or “Gullah wagon,” used on Parris Island; and more.World war i cannons
Several pieces of art - small etchings done by Emmett Conniff, a South Carolinian and member of the Rainbow Division - can also be seen in the exhibit. “Conniff returned from the war and did them to show people the war’s destruction and what life was like on the front,” says Hamer.
The postwar period and the impact of demobilization on the state also is included. An interesting side of the exhibit, and perhaps an unexpected one, is a discussion of dissenting opinions on the war, Hamer says. Prominent dissenters were Cole Blease and John P. Grace, editor of the Charleston American who also was the sometime mayor of Charleston.
Seeds of Change is part of a unique collaboration of South Carolina museums, including the State Museum, McKissick Museum, S.C. Confederate Relic Room and Military Museum, Historic Columbia Foundation and the South Caroliniana Library. Each institution will examine a different part of the war from a South Carolina perspective.
WWI soldiers: The war had a profound impact on the cities and towns of the state, adds the curator. “This was the first time South Carolinians were exposed to lots of outsiders in a short time. The isolation the state had experienced started to break down as new ideas came in.”
For instance, the Jim Crow laws broke down — for a while because blacks were needed to fill spots they couldn’t have before.
“We’ll also look at the prosperity the war brought to agriculture, which had been depressed since the Civil War,” says Hamer. The Allies’ need of food and cotton led to a huge agriculture boom during the war.
Programs including curatorial presentations, a Woodrow Wilson one-man show by historian Ed Beardsley and an academic conference at the University of South Carolina will accompany the exhibit, with support from the Humanities Council SC.
Seeds of Change: South Carolina and the Great War 1917-1918 is funded in part by a grant from the Partnership for a Nation of Learners, a leadership initiative by the Corporation of Public Broadcasting and the Institute for Museum and Library Services.
The exhibit can be seen through June 1, 2008 in the 401 Gallery on the museum’s fourth floor.
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