The Mobilization of the Wisconsin National Guard During World War I

All links on this page are internal to the B Trp., 1-105th Cav. web site, unless otherwise noted.

On 26 March 1917 the 3rd Wisconsin Infantry Regiment was ordered to return to Federal service by  the War Department. It guarded factories, bridges and similar sites throughout the State that the War Dept. felt could be suceptable to foriegn sabatours. The 3rd Wisconsin had only recently been mustered out of Federal service on 14 Dec. 1916, after its service during the Mexican Border Crisis.

When the United States declared war on Germany on 6 April 1917, the Wisconsin National Guard was organized almost exactly as it had been during the Mexican Border Crisis. However, the WNG would more than double in size between the time that war was declared and the WNG was activated into Federal service. In April the WNG consisted of 1 brigade of infantry (3 regiments), 2 troops of cavalry, 1 battalion of artillery (3 batteries) and 1 hospital company. By July a 2nd brigade of infantry (3 regiments), 10 more troops of cavalry, another battalion of artillery (3 batteries), an engineer battalion, a signal battalion, another hospital company and 2 ambulance companies had all been organized and recruited (the majority at or near full strength).

On 5 June 1917 all men of draft age were required to register.

On 19 June the first Wisconsin National Guard units were activated (by State Adjutant General Holway) at their armories. The First Wisconsin Regiment of Field Artillery, with units in Milwaukee, Racine and Green Bay, and a medical detachment, were ordered to mobilize at Camp Douglas, Wis. on 2 July. Most of these units arrived on 2 July, the medical contingent and Batteries E and D of Milwaukee arrived on 3 July.

On 9 July 1917 Field Hospital Co. #1, from Milwaukee, arrived at Camp Douglas. The next unit planned for movement to Camp Douglas was the Signal Battalion, followed by the Cavalry Regiment, and then the Infantry Regiments, the Engineer Battalion and the rest of the medical units would fall in somewhere in between.

On 9 July it was announced that the Wisconsin State Guard would be created; to take the place of the Wisconsin National Guard when it left the State.

On 15 July the Wisconsin National Guard was ordered into Federal Service by President Wilson.

The National Guards of the following states were also Federalized on 15 July: New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, Michigan, Minnesota, Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota and Nebraska. On 25 July, the National Guards from Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, District of Columbia, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Illinois, Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, Washington and Oregon were ordered into Federal Service. I am not sure when the remaining states were ordered in.
The First Wisconsin Cavalry Regiment arrived at Camp Douglas on either 15 or 23 July.

On 17 July the War Department announced that the Wisconsin and Michigan National Guards would be moved to Camp MacArthur, Waco, Texas, after they were mobilized.
The camp was named in honor of Lieutenant General Arthur MacArthur. He had entered the Army from Milwaukee and was awarded the Medal of Honor while serving as a lieutenant with the 24th Wisconsin Infantry during the Civil War. He stayed in the Army after the war and also served with distinction during the Spanish-American War. At the time of his death in Milwaukee a few years prior to 1917, he was the highest ranking officer in the U.S. Army. At the time of this announcement, his son, Major Douglas MacArthur, was a member of the general staff of the Army.
On or about 20 July, Congress gave the soldiers a pay raise. "The pay of the guardsmen has been fixed as follows: Private, $30 per month; first class private, $33 per month; corporal, $36; sergeant, $38; first sergeant, $51; second lieutenant, $150; first lieutenant, $167; captain, $200. The men are allowed 75 cents a day for subsistence."

On 20 July the the first numbers for the Draft were drawn. The first men drafted would not report to their respective Army camps until about 5 Sept.

On 31 July the first notices to appear for draft board examinations were sent to the men selected on 20 July. The draft board would determine which men would be exempted from the draft.

On 5 Aug. 1917, by proclamation of President Wilson, every soldier in the National Guard, of every state, was essentially discharged from the National Guard of his respective state and immediately drafted into the U.S. Army. This was done because of a constitutional restraint upon the use of the National Guard beyond the borders of the United States.

On 6 Aug. there were over 10,000 Wisconsin National Guard soldiers encamped at Camp Douglas. The Second Wisconsin Infantry Regiment arrived on this day. Other Wisconsin National Guard units already there were: First and Third Regiments of Infantry; First Field Artillery Regiment; First and Second Field Hospital Companies; First and Second Ambulance Companies; First Signal Battalion; First Engineer Battalion; First Regiment of Cavalry; Company H and Sanitary Detachment, Fourth Infantry; Company C and Sanitary Detachment, Fifth Infantry; and Company B and Sanitary Detachment, Sixth Infantry. The remainder of the 4th, 5th and 6th Regiments were due to arrive over the next 10 days.

On 14 Aug. the War Department announced that various National Guard units from 26 states and the District of Columbia would be combined to form the 42nd 'Rainbow' Division.

Revised information, 5 Feb. 01 - Previously it was stated that Wisconsin's contribution to the 42nd Div. would be Companies E (Fond du Lac), F (Oshkosh), and G (Appleton) of the Second Wis. Infantry Regiment; and they would form the 150th Machine Gun Battalion (Companies A, B and C, respectively). New information has been discovered that states that these three companies of the 2nd Wis. Inf. did indeed form the 150th MG Bn., but Co. G (Appleton) became Co. A, Co. E (Fond du Lac) became Co. B, Co. F (Oshkosh) became Co. C.

I would like to thank Kathy Compagno for bringing to my attention that the original information I had posted was probably incorrect. She was able to cite several references to support her conclusion. Kathy Compagno is a great-niece of Private 1st Class Joseph Lorenz, a soldier in old Company F (Oshkosh), 2nd Wis. Inf. who served in Company C, 150th Machine Gun Battalion, 42nd 'Rainbow' Division in France.

The 'Rainbow' Division would be assembled at Camp Mills, Mineola, Long Island (New York) under the command of Major General William A. Mann.
The National Guard units of the 42nd Division from other states included: Louisiana Cavalry; 3d Battalion, 4th Pennsylvania Infantry; 69th New York Infantry; 4th Ohio Infantry; Companies B, C and F, Georgia Infantry; 4th Alabama Infantry; 3d Iowa Infantry; 1st Illinois Field Artillery; 1st Minnesota Field Artillery; 3d and 4th Companies, Maryland, C. A. C., forming 117th Trench Mortar Battery; 1st Separate Battalion, South Carolina Engineers; 1st Separate Battalion, California Engineers; Missouri Field Battalion, Signal Troops; Virginia C. A. C. (Military Police); Engineers' Train, North Carolina; Ammunition Train, Kansas; Supply Train, Texas; 1st Ambulance Company, Michigan; 1st Ambulance Company, New Jersey; 1st Ambulance Company, Tennessee; 1st Ambulance Company, Oklahoma; 1st Field Hospital Company, District of Columbia; 1st Field Hospital Company, Nebraska; 1st Field Hospital Company, Colorado; 1st Field Hospital Company, Oregon.
On 17 Aug. Washington formally announced in the press that the Wisconsin and Michigan National Guards would combine to form the 32nd Division.

On 18 Aug. the advance detachment of the Wisconsin National Guard left Camp Douglas bound for Camp MacArthur, Waco, Texas. The advance detachment included Company G (Madison) and Company A (Reedsburg) of the First Wisconsin Infantry, Company D (Mauston) of the Third Infantry, and Battery F (Racine) of the First Field Artillery. (A fifth company was listed as part of the advance detachment, but it was listed as Company A (Baraboo) also of the First Wisconsin. That cannot be correct because there was only one Company A in each regiment and Baraboo was Co. I, Sixth Infantry. So it is unclear if the fifth company was Co. A from one of the other regiments or Co. I, Sixth Infantry).

On 18 Aug. Companies E, F and G of the Second Wisconsin Infantry were officially detached from the 2nd Infantry and became the 150th Machine Gun Battalion of the 42nd Division. Each company had an authorized strength of a captain, two first lieutenants and three second lieutenants, all mounted on horses, and 172 enlisted men. The new Battalion was commanded by Major W. B. Hall of Oconto, formerly one of the Battalion Commanders in the Second Wisconsin Infantry. Information about the 150th MG Bn. beyond this date will be found at The 150th Maching Gun Battalion page of this web site.

On 22 Aug. the Sixth Wisconsin Regiment of Infantry completed its arrival at Camp Douglas. This completed the mobilization of the entire Wisconsin National Guard at Camp Douglas.

Also on 22 Aug. it was announced that some of Wisconsin's drafted men would go to the Army camp at Battle Creek, Michigan and the others would go Camp Grant at Rockford, Illinois. At that time it was planned to send the men from Milwaukee, Racine, Brown, Calumet, Door, Sheboygan, Waukesha, Kenosha, Manitowoc, Kewaunee and Ozaukee counties to the Battle Creek camp, the remainder would go to Camp Grant.

Newspaper articles from the time suggest that this plan was implemented at the start of the draft. At some point, however, this plan was modified and some Wisconsin draftees were sent to other camps as well.
On 10 Sept. the remainder of the First Wisconsin Field Artillery Regiment left Camp Douglas for Camp MacArthur, Waco, Texas.

On 11 Sept. the First Wisconsin Cavalry Regiment left Camp Douglas for Camp MacArthur, Waco, Texas.

On 18 Sept. the First Wisconsin Brigade HQ Co. arrived at Camp MacArthur.

What was probably the Wisconsin National Guard's first casualty during its Federal Service occurred on 23 Sept. when William Williston, 23, Co. I, 2nd Wis. Inf. was killed by a train in Mauston. He was buried with Military Honors in Marinette on 26 Sept.

On 24 Sept. the First Wisconsin Infantry Regiment left Camp Douglas bound for Camp MacArthur. The regiment was carried on five trains.

On 25 Sept. the Fourth Wisconsin Infantry Regiment departed for Camp MacArthur.

On 26 Sept. the Fifth Wisconsin Infantry Regiment departed for Camp MacArthur.

On 27 Sept. the Sixth Wisconsin Infantry Regiment departed for Camp MacArthur.

On 28 Sept. the Second Wisconsin Infantry, Field Hosptial No. 2 and at least one of the ambulance companies departed for Camp MacArthur. Four trains carried the last of the Wisconsin National Guard to Texas via Kansas City and Omaha. They pulled out of the Camp Douglas railroad station at about noon. Their departure left the military reservation completely deserted. Here is how a witness described it, "What several weeks ago was nothing short of a battlefield for noise and activity has slumped back into a cross between a deserted farm pasture and a circus ground on the 'morning after.'"

On 28 Sept. the Second Wisconsin Infantry received orders regarding the organization of the 127th Infantry Regiment. According to those orders, parts of the 1st and 3rd Wis. Regiments would be merged into the 2nd to become the 127th. COL Lee, commander of the 2nd Wis. Inf., would become the commander of the 127th Inf.

HQ Co., 1st Inf. combined with HQ Co., 2nd Inf. to become HQ Co., 127th Inf.
Supply Co, 1st Inf. combined with Supply Co., 2nd Inf. to become Supply Co., 127th Inf.
I believe Co. A, 2nd Inf. became Co. A, 127th Inf., but I am not positive.
Co. B, 1st Inf. combined with Co. B, 2nd Inf. to form Co. B, 127th Inf.
I believe Co. C, 2nd Inf. became Co. C, 127th Inf., but I am not positive.
Co. D, 2nd Inf. went to the 128 Inf., I'm not sure who became Co. D, 127th Inf.
Co. E, 3rd Inf. replaced Co. E, 2nd Inf. (now 150th MG Bn.) to become Co. E, 127th Inf.
Co. F, 1st Inf. replaced Co. F, 2nd Inf. (now 150th MG Bn.) to become Co. F, 127th Inf.
Co. G, 1st Inf. replaced Co. G, 2nd Inf. (now 150th MG Bn.) to become Co. G, 127th Inf.
Co. H, 1st Inf. combined with Co. H, 2nd Inf. to form Co. H, 127th Inf. with CPT. Mitchell, 1st Inf. in command.
Co. I, 3rd Inf. combined with Co. I, 2nd Inf. to form Co. I, 127th Inf.
Co. K, 1st Inf. combined with Co. K, 2nd Inf. to form Co. K, 127th Inf.
Co. L, 1st Inf. combined with Co. L, 2nd Inf. to form Co. L, 127th Inf.
I believe Co. M, 2nd Inf. became Co. M, 127th Inf., but I am not positive.
On 1 Oct. 1917 the Second Wisconsin Infantry, along with Field Hosptial No. 2 and at least one of the ambulance companies, arrived at Camp MacArthur. There arrival meant that the entire Wisconsin National Guard (with the exception of the old Cos. E, F, G of the 2nd Wis. Inf. which were now Cos. A, B, C of the 150th MG Bn.) was now assembled at Camp MacArthur.

Information about the Wisconsin National Guard during WWI beyond 1 Oct. '17 will be found in the history section of The 32nd Division Veteran Association web site.

The Wisconsin National Guard on the Mexican Border - 1916-1917
Wisconsin in the World War
A Brief History of Appleton's 'Old Company G'
National Guard of the United States - State of Wisconsin, 1939
Newspaper articles from The Appleton Evening Crescent in 1917

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revised 19 September 2008

since 27 January 2001