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  • Writer's pictureLawrence Lore

Letters from the Front

Part 1

Miles M. Adams was born October 29, 1898 in Lawrence County to William and Stella Musgrave Adams. He and a classmate, Jess Tharp, attended LTHS, but dropped out to join the army during WWI. The last LTHS yearbook to show Adams, as a student, was his freshman year, 1915. Along with Amos Baird, also from Lawrenceville, they enlisted in the Rainbow Division, 150th F. A. Bat. "E."


First Lieut. Paul W. Bayard, of Lawrenceville had enlisted June 25, 1916, reported for duty June 19,1916, and mustered out October 28, 1916, after being stationed with the Illinois National Guard on the Mexican border. He then re-enlisted with the Heavy Field Artillery of the 42nd Division.

Amidst the rush by America to mobilize after declaring war, individual states competed for the honor to be the first to send their National Guard units to fight in the trenches of Europe. To check the negative implications of this competition and to minimize the impact the mobilization would have upon any one state, the War Department created a division composed of hand-picked National Guard units, designated the 42nd Division. It was nicknamed the Rainbow Division, by then Colonel Douglas MacArthur, the division’s Chief of Staff and ultimately, its’ commander, because it represented National Guard organizations stretching like a rainbow from one end of America to the other.


The 150th Battalion of the 42nd Division was formed at Camp Mills, on Long Island, New York. They boarded ships and were escorted by a battleship and two torpedo boat destroyers bound for France. The 42nd was one of the first American divisions to reach the battlefields of the Western Front. Word was received in Lawrenceville, November 7, 1917, that the Rainbow Division, 150th F. A. Bat. "E." including, Adams, Baird, Tharp, and Bayard, had arrived on French soil.


On January 24, 1918, the Lawrenceville Republican published one of Adams’ letters to his mother, describing the winter of 1917-1918.


"I wish that you would thank everyone for me as I don’t know who all sent this and that and so forth. Must close now and go see if I have any more boxes. PS Will write more after supper with Jess


"11:12 am, Friday, December 28th,1917, I did not get to write as Jess had some fever and did not feel very well. But I feel fine, sitting here toasting my shins by the fire. I got another box from Indiana Cheer Society. It had a piece of fruit cake, one O.D. handkerchief, some candy, a writing pad with pencil, paper and post cards in it.


"Lieut. Gregory has a horse out this morning and I am expecting him back with it at any time. It snowed here night before last. The ground is still frozen, hasn’t thawed out a particle all day. We sleep with all doors and windows open. Believe me, that makes a fellow feel fine. I am getting along fine in every way. I sleep warm and dress warm. So, you see, I am well fixed and even have enough to eat. I had pancakes for breakfast and they were pretty good. We had biscuits for supper last night and they were swell. I could have eaten a ton of them if I had had long enough time.


"3:40 pm Has thawed some and is freezing up some. It is not so bad over here since it turned cold, only getting up and dressing in the cold. But, of course, it is making a man of me. Maybe you think that I won’t tell that drafted outfit something when I get back if they even so much as ask me how France was.


"Must close my letter so it will be censored and get to you. I am busy as usual, but will try and find time to write more. Don’t worry about me for I am able, as I have told you, to take care of myself. Tell Jess’ mother that he is all right and so is Amos, only his face is dirty like mine. PS. I suspect that by the time you get this, I will be seeing some active service."

More letters tomorrow.....

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