WWI-SC

It’s not every day that the musicians of Fort Jackson’s 282nd Army Band have the opportunity to perform alongside an organist.

“This is very unique. This usually doesn’t happen,” Bandmaster George T. Bauer says of the ensemble’s upcoming Veterans Day Concert. With fifteen brass players, three percussionists, and an organist performing selections by composers ranging from J.S. Bach to Maurice Duruflé, the concert is far from what many might think typical for one given by a military band.

(Originally broadcast 02/09/18) - With the United States’ entrance into World War I, three Army training bases were set up in South Carolina. The social and economic impact on a state still suffering from the devastation of the Civil War was dramatic. Three infantry divisions, including support personnel, swelled the Upstate and Midlands population by 90,000. On the coast, recruits flocked to Charleston’s Navy base. And some of those trainees were African Americans, which caused political turmoil and civil strife in a Jim Crow state.

Detail from a poster showing a Red Cross nurse with an American flag and the Red Cross symbol. (Artist: Howard Chandler Christie)
Library of Congress

(Originally broadcast 02/02/18) - When the United States entered the First World War in 1918 they women of South Carolina figuratively rolled up their sleeves, and went to work to support their state and their country. At this time, the average woman in the state was black, lived in a rural setting, worked in agriculture or as a domestic worker. White women, while more likely to be in the middle class, were still largely living in rural areas or small towns, and working in agriculture or in textile mills.

Spinners and doffers in Lancaster Cotton Mills. Lancaster, S.C., circa 1912.
Library of Congress/Hine, Lewis Wickes

South Carolina in 1918 was still struggling with the changes to its economic and social systems brought about by the Civil War and Reconstruction. The United States’ entry into World War I affected the daily work life of South Carolinians and the state’s economy in a way that was unique to our state.

"W" is for World War I (1917-1918). When Congress declared war on Germany in April 1917, part of South Carolina was already on a war footing. More than 65,000 South Carolinians served in the armed forces. Eight men from the state were awarded the Medal of Honor. At home civilians supported the war effort through liberty bond drives, home gardens, and meatless and wheatless days. Patriotism cut across racial boundaries in broad support for bond drives and the Red Cross.

Written on print: Spartanburg, S.C. Saxon Mills; "Girl workers in the half-time mill school."
Library of Congress/Goldsberry Collection of open-air school photographs.

There were progressives in South Carolina in 1918. And the progressive movement in this state was different from the movement in the Northeast. However, the United States’ entrance into World War I provided an extra momentum to the movement that led to some fundamental changes the interaction between state and federal authority that lasted through the 20th century. 

Unidentified African American soldier in uniform with marksmanship qualification badge and campaign hat, with cigarette holder in front of painted backdrop.
Library of Congress

Upon the United States' entrance into World War I, President Woodrow Wilson told the nation that the war was being fought to "make the world safe for democracy." For many African-American South Carolinians, the chance to fight in this war was a way to prove their citizenship, in hopes of changing things for the better at home.

An historic marker honoring the 371st Infantry now stands at Childs Cemetery in Columbia.
Thelisha Eaddy/SC Public Radio

For those who love military history, the date September 28, now carries an additional significance. It’s the date Cpl. Freddie Stowers was killed in battle. Stowers was an Anderson County native and a member of the 371st Infantry Regiment, the first African-American unit to train at then Camp Jackson. The date now also represents the placing of the first historic marker in the country to honor and recognize this unit. 

Soldier's comrades watching him as he sleeps, Thievpal, France, during World War I.
National Library of Scotland

Furman University's Dr. Courtney Tollison co-curated “Over Here, Over There: Greenville in the Great War,” an exhibition on display in the spring of 2017 at Furman University’s James B. Duke Library. The exhibit examined World War I’s (1914-1918) impact on the Greenville community as well as the contributions of the area to the war effort, domestically and overseas; and it assessed the mixed legacy of progress emanating from the war years.

Light tanks with a crew of only two, these were mass-produced during World War I.
National Archives and Records Administration

 (Originally broadcast 11-11-14) this episode of Walter Edgar's Journal is an encore broadcast of a program that aired in 2014, the 100th year since the start of World War I.

Veterans day, celebrated in the U.S. on November 11, was once known here, as it still is in Europe, as Armistice Day. It marked the end of "The War to End All Wars"  in 1918.