The most memorable item in the Evening Register for April 14, 1917, was an article that filled an entire column on the front page and an entire column on page five. It recounted the return to Hudson of the boys of "F" Company. Since war had been declared only a week before, one might wonder where they were returning from. As it happens, they were returning from Orange County, where they had spent a little more than two months guarding the aqueduct there. The article provides an amazing snapshot of Hudson a hundred years ago. For that reason, a large portion of it is transcribed below.
Happy and glad to be "Home, Sweet Home" again Company F, of the Tenth regiment, is in Hudson. The men making up that crack unit showed that two months and several days of service along the aqueduct had given them a taste of the systematic military duties that Uncle Sam trains his soldier boys for. The Hudsonians received a royal welcome: an enthusiastic reception that won't be forgotten right away.
Definite news of the Hudson boys' returning was received yesterday in this city, and immediately officers of the 23d Separate company, Veteran corps., and Boy Scouts became active. Citizens, too, began to discuss ways and means of giving the returning guardsmen a great welcome. The demonstration which occurred at the river this afternoon, conclusively indicated what co-operation and concerted effort will achieve.
At 1 o'clock hundreds of persons assembled at the armory preparatory to marching to the river to welcome the home-comers. A few minutes past 1 o'clock start for the river was made. A large band, playing National anthems, was in the lead, followed by about sixty members of the "H" company, Seventy-first regiment, in command of Captain Vogel and Lieutenants Conway and Powers. Following the splendid appearing body of New Yorkers was the 23d Separate Co. Veterans corps, citizens, Sons of Veterans, etc., after which came a fife and drum corps, followed by several scores of Boy Scouts, in charge of H. S. Duncan, Mr. Rossman and Prof. E. T. Bond. The Boy Scouts made an excellent showing, and many remarked: "They look like real comers." Several of the little fellows carried a large American flag. At the City hall a squad of police, in charge of Officer Kennedy, got in line.
A Great Demonstration.
The demonstration commemorative of the "F" boys' return was inspiring and of remarkable magnitude. It was greater by far than that which occurred when the boys departed. At that time, however, comparatively few persons knew exactly what time the Hudsonians would leave this city.
To-day the streets were thronged with people, and as the "F" boys swung up Warren street, they were greeted on all sides by cheers. In spite of the hard morning that the men had put in, the march to the armory was made in very short time, the guardsmen swinging along with the quick military stride that characterizes the American soldier.
Company Reached Athens at Noon.
It was about 12 o'clock when the Hudson company arrived at West Athens in a special car, which was attached to an express.
Its equipment was quickly detrained, after which the boys started marching toward the river. Athens gave them a rousing reception. Flags were waved and the citizens cheered.
The company left Athens on the ferry due here at about ten minutes of two. More than 3,000 persons were at the river to welcome them. From the Ferry street bridge all the way up to Warren street the sidewalks were crowded, too.
Captain Rote Busy Man.
The citizens detachment was in command of Louis Rote, former captain of Company F, and it made an excellent showing. Each man carried a flag. As the Hudson boys marched from the dock, the escort "presented arms." The home-comers marched between the lane of men and Boy Scouts to a point beyond Ferry street. Then it was halted. The parade started up-town about 2 o'clock, the "F" boys falling in at the end. Everything worked with remarkable smoothness, and much credit for this is due Captain Rote, Capt. Vogel, and those in charge of the Boy Scouts.
At the end of Warren street there was a halt. This was for the arrival of the company's equipment on the next ferry. When the equipment reached this side of the river, the march up-town was resumed.
Music, Cheers and Gun Shots.
Tanned and rugged were the "F" boys. With heads erect and steady step, their packs thrown across one shoulder and rifles held with firm grip, resting against the other, they presented a fine appearance. That they have seen hard service could be noted.
The music and cheering was inspiring, and as the parade went up South Front street, William H. Broderick fired more than a dozen shots in the air with his trusty shot gun. Automobile horns were blown, and as the parade passed up Warren street the bells on the newspaper offices and in the fire houses were rung.
March Around Park Place.
It was generally expected that the march would be direct to the armory, but such was not the case. It was up Warren street to Fifth, over Fifth to Gifford place, and up Gifford Place to Park, over Park to Warren and thence down to Fifth. The parade then went over North Fifth street to the armory. Arriving at the armory, the escort "presented arms," and the "F" company marched through into the armory. Captain Best and Lieut. Coffin were at the head. After roll was called, the men turned in their guns, etc., and were allowed to go to their respective homes for the night.
Mothers, Wives and Sweethearts
After the roll call at the river, for a moment before the men fell in line to march to the armory, mothers, wives and sweethearts of the soldiers improved the opportunity of giving their soldier boy an affectionate greeting.
At the armory, too, this was repeated. It was an hour of great rejoicing.
New Yorkers to Remain in Armory.
Although Company F has returned to its home armory, the headquarters of the "H" company, Seventy-first regiment, in the same armory, will be retained. At least, Captain Vogel to-day said he had received no orders to the contrary.
The New Yorkers are guarding the New York Central railroad between Stockport and Tivoli. As the "F" boys did in Orange county, the New Yorkers are making a big hit here. There is no doubt but that a splendid spirit of good fellowship will exist between the two companies.
Away Since February 6.
The "F" boys left Hudson at 12:43 o'clock on the afternoon of February 6 for Orange county, it being the second time within eight months that Hudson's crack unit was called upon to serve its country. At noon that day the local guardmen marched to the river through snow that was quite deep in places, and after a short stop below the New York steamboat dock proceeded to cross the ice to Athens. First Lieutenant Tristram Coffin and Second Lieutenant Carleton T. Harris were in charge, as Captain Best was in the west on business. A number of weeks ago Lieutenant Harris' resignation was accepted and he returned to Hudson. Arriving in Athens that afternoon, the Hudson boys marched to the West Shore station, and departed for Cornwall-on-the-Hudson at 3:30 o'clock.
Practically without incident has been the "F" boys tour of duty in Orange county. The men have done their guard duty well and are in fine spirits and health. The rugged color in their faces, the agility of their steps and the all-around splendid appearance now displayed, show that they have profited by their experience "down the river.". . .
Three Became Benedicts.
Since the "F" company left Hudson in February, three members took unto themselves a wife, one of whom was First Lieutenant Tristram Coffin. Among the other events, of a social nature, perhaps was the fact that several of the "F" men participated in entertainments in Orange county, making a decided hit each time, and also assisted in various church affairs. . . .
It is expected that the "F" company will be federalized within a short time, and that before it goes elsewhere, all the married men and those having families dependent upon them will be honorably discharged in pursuance to the order sent out by the federal authorities to the military.
Some Notes: In 1917, City Hall, where a "squad of police" joined the march down to the river to meet the returning guardsmen, was located in the building we now know as the Hudson Opera House. Gifford Place was the name of Columbia Street between Fifth Street and Park Place. It was called so because the home of Elihu Gifford was located at the corner of Sixth, the houses he built for five of this children were directly across the street, and the Gifford Foundry was just up the street. A benedict is a newly married man, especially one who has long been a bachelor.
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