Goochland Goes to War: September 19, 1918

19 Sep


soldiersThe following is part of the Society’s collection of manuscripts and photographs that were gathered together by the Virginia War History Commission, set up to document World War I. It is titled “Incident Concerning Drafting and Entering of Goochland Soldiers with the World War.” The author is unknown.

The second quota of drafted men from Goochland County – twenty-three in number – left the Court House for Camp Lee on September 19, 1918. The day dawned clear and warm and it seemed as if nature would play its part on this memorable occasion. The trees had taken on their prettiest autumn tints while a September sun shone softly over all as if it, too, would add its benediction on the scene soon to be enacted.

From every part of the County people came, until by noon, the place was alive with humanity. Desirous of showing honor to the men the good mothers, wives, sisters, sweethearts and friends decided to serve lunch for them on the “Court Green” the day of their departure. This arrangement becoming known, the result was a bountiful spread, people from every district responding generously.

After grouping the men in a reserved space on the “Green,” willing hands served of the tasty viands until all appetites were satisfied. Promptly at one o’clock by a given signal from the sheriff, all eyes were turned towards the Court House. Instantly a hush fell over the throng and silence reigned. As the name of each man was called, he responded by saying “here” and stepped in line on the Court House steps, where they were addressed by an officer in a few well-chosen words of encouragement and advice.

Immediately following this address, accompanied by relatives and friends the men marched out of the Court Green and again answering to their names were assigned to waiting automobiles, furnished by patriotic citizens, for the trip to Camp Lee.

The crucial moment had now arrived, each one present feeling that what had been a matter of conjecture for a long time was now a grim reality and Goochland, too, must do her part and surrender the best of her sons to take part and if necessary, make the supreme sacrifice in this great struggle for humanity and justice. Hearts that had remained staid and brave no longer attempted to conceal their feelings, the long pent-up emotions gave way and with tears streaming and husky voices wishing them “God Speed,” the trip to Camp Lee was begun. The men were accompanied on this trip by members of the County Draft Board, many relatives and friends there being in line, seventeen cars each bearing flags and a “Goochland” pennant. The first stop en route was made at State Farm for tire trouble, the next at Sabot for refreshments and again at Manakin to exchange a car for some in the party. All along the route crowds had assembled and cheered as they passed. Arriving at Richmond, the drafted men were photographed at Boice’s Studio. After this delay, the trip was resumed and continued unintercepted until Camp Lee was reached which was just at dusk. Bright lights shone everywhere, the whole place was in a state of great activity and we could not fail to be impressed with its city-like appearance. The officers in charge were very courteous to the visitors and after the usual procedure in receiving the men, they were conducted to their barracks.

Returning, the party stopped in Petersburg for a short while and again in Richmond for supper. From this point the last link of the journey was begun, those returning reaching home about midnight much fatigued, but with a greater conception and appreciation of what it meant to be involved in such a horrible war as this was forming to be.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: