Thursday, June 15, 2017

The Great War: June 15, 1917

In June 1917, there were endless opportunities to register or volunteer. We've learned about the recruitment efforts of Company F, about the registration for the draft, and about the State Military Census and Inventory. There was also an effort to get men to join the home depot unit that was being formed at the armory, under the command of Captain Benedict Gifford. On June 12, 1917, the Hudson Evening Register explained the unit in this way:
By joining the Home depot, men unable to enroll in the National Guard or regular army, have an excellent opportunity of doing something for their country. The depot unit is to take the place of Co. F when the latter unit is Federalized and sent away from here. . . .
After the company is formed it will be sworn in the State service and a requisition for uniforms made.
On June 15, the Hudson Evening Register provided on update on the unit's progress.

Benedict Gifford, who commanded the home depot unit, was the older son of Malcolm Gifford and the great grandson of Elihu Gifford, who founded the Gifford Iron Foundry in 1814. The foundry passed from Elihu to his two sons, William H. and James, and then to James's sons Malcolm and Arthur. Benedict, who was born in 1889, had married in April 1916, which explains his reason for being part of the depot unit.

Gossips readers may recall Benedict's younger brother, Malcolm, Jr. In 1914, Malcolm, Jr., was tried twice for the murder of a chauffeur, which he was alleged to have committed in 1913, when he was still in prep school. Both trials ended in a hung jury. After the second trial, he was released on $25,000 bond, and there was never a third trial. At the beginning of 1917, Malcolm, then a student at Williams College, enlisted in the Canadian army to fight in the Great War. In June 1917, while his older brother Benedict was commanding Hudson's home depot unit, Malcolm was fighting in a Canadian artillery unit in France.

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