Rural Missouri - November 2020 - 53

Grundy County native Enoch H. Crowder, pictured here in his major
general's uniform, also played an important role during World War I. A
cavalryman from America's frontier days, Crowder was judge advocate
general of the U.S. Army for a 12-year period that included the war.
As such, he helped draft and direct the Selective Service Act passed by
Congress in 1917. Like Pershing, Crowder's namesakes include a state
park, as well as a college and former army training base in Missouri.

photo courtesy Enoch H, Crowder Papers, State Historical Society of Missouri

The worst fate for a Missourian was to be called a
"slacker." This ignoble title could be earned by not purchasing war bonds, refusing to sign a Hoover food conservation pledge, not registering for the draft, not having a
victory garden, failure to plant a necessary crop such as
wheat or uttering any word that could be construed in any
way as disloyal or unsupportive of the war effort.
Missouri's large German population came under suspicion, although they had resided in Missouri for generations in many cases. Missourians of German descent often
had ancestors who had helped keep Missouri in the Union
during the Civil War; they felt no need to defend their patriotism against Anglo neighbors whose ancestors were frequently Secessionists! Still, the spotlight of distrust shined
on such practices as speaking the German language.
Many, but not all, German-language newspapers ceased
publication or switched to English. Secondary schools
were pressured to cease teaching the German language.
Time-honored German festivals had to be canceled or
given a patriotic spin. Despite much public pressure and
a few negative incidents, the continued use of the German
language as well as customs managed to survive the war.
In late September 1918, the Allies teamed up for a final
offensive to defeat the Germans. Along the whole Western
Front they pushed forward. Pershing's troops captured
a long held salient in the German lines called St. Mihiel.
Participating in this attack was the 89th Army Division,
which was composed of Midwestern draftees, including
many Missourians.

Pershing then led his all-American army into the Meuse
Argonne sector of the Allied line. Here his soldiers were
sandwiched between the rugged and heavily defended
Argonne forest and the unfordable Meuse River. Pershing hoped to gain 10 miles of enemy territory on the first
day of the attack. But he greatly underestimated how well
the German machine-gun nests and artillery were dug in
to defend the rough and difficult ground over which the
American doughboys had to advance. Ahead lay 47 days of
brutal combat.
Among the first units to push off against the Germans
was the 35th Division, made up of Missouri and Kansas
National Guardsmen. At the end of the first four days, the
men of the 35th fought their way forward 6 miles. This
came at a catastrophic cost. Half of their men, including
many officers, were dead or wounded. They had lost contact with their leaders and became disorganized. As they
fell back in confusion, effective artillery fire from a battery
of the 129th Field Artillery, led by Capt. Harry Truman,
covered their withdrawal.
Finally, by the middle of October, U.S. forces started
to breach the Hindenburg Line. German defenses began
to give way, and by the end of the month their fighting
spirit started to crack. On Nov. 1, the Midwesterners of the
89th Division joined the fight and helped advance the line
nearly 5 miles in a single day. America's casualties for just
six weeks of fighting were 26,277 killed, 95,786 wounded.
Among these casualties were 11,172 Missourians.
On Nov. 11, 1918, at 11 a.m., an armistice was signed
ending the war. President Woodrow Wilson had taken
America into a war on foreign soil to "make the world safe
for democracy." But Wilson's plan for peace was rejected
by the rest of the victorious and vindictive Allies. Wilson's
dream of a League of Nations, along with the Treaty of
Versailles, was defeated by the U.S. Congress, including
members of Missouri's congressional delegation. Missouri
and the nation were not the benefactors of "a war to end
all wars." Instead, they inherited another far more devastating world war.
Denny is a freelance writer from Lupus.
NOVEMBER 2020 | RURALMISSOURI.COOP

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Rural Missouri - November 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Rural Missouri - November 2020

Contents
Rural Missouri - November 2020 - Cover1
Rural Missouri - November 2020 - Cover2
Rural Missouri - November 2020 - Contents
Rural Missouri - November 2020 - 4
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Rural Missouri - November 2020 - Cover3
Rural Missouri - November 2020 - Cover4
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