Saturday, August 12, 2017

The Great War: August 8, 1917

On July 29, 1917, Company F, Hudson's own National Guard unit, now in federal service, left Hudson for Fort Niagara to be trained for the war in Europe. A little more than a week later, on August 8, 1917, the home depot unit, made up of "men unable to enroll in the National Guard or regular army," the unit that was to "take the place of Co. F when the latter unit is Federalized and sent away from home," was also sent away--to Ulster County to guard the water supply for New York City. Before the home guard left, they posed for a picture in front of the armory, wearing for the first time their new olive daub uniforms. The picture (below) appeared on the front page of the Hudson Evening Register for August 8, 1917.

The Evening Register recounted the sendoff given the depot infantry--not as lavish as that afforded Company F, because the community had little forewarning of the home depot's departure--and also complained about the bother resulting from having the home guard deployed fifty miles away.
The leaving of the home guards causes much inconvenience in local factories and places of business, for some men having responsible jobs are on the roster. Many men who have been receiving as high as $6 a day must now work for about $1.25, their board and lodging. There is a certain degree of indignation coincident with the boys' departure, too, for many Hudsonians feel that New York, the same as Hudson, should guard its own water works. There are some who think that such a rigid patrol of the system is unnecessary but the State evidently has adopted the motto of "safety first."
From the J. C. Rogerson hardware store here three efficient men left for Highland; two from the office of the National Biscuit company; a number from the Gifford-Wood plant; some from the Mechanical Handler company; capable men from the Union mills, the Swansdown mill, the cement plants, banks, etc. Many places were hit and hit hard during the last ten days, for the going away of the "F" company and the Home Depot unit means 275 Columbia county healthy and active young men cannot contribute anything now to activity at home. Philmont, too, is hard hit, for about twenty members of the Home Depot unit and about fifteen members of the "F" company live in that village.
Summing up the whole situation, it would seem that members of the Home Depot unit are exceedingly popular, but that the company's assignment is quite unpopular. Sacrifices must be made at war time; United States is at war with a big nation that is using every power and means--some are brutal and barbaric, perhaps--to win. German agents are known to be in this country and they must be watched. They must be kept away from the water supply system of New York city the same as they must be prevented from blowing up bridges in Columbia county and hundreds of other places. Probably there isn't a German sympathizer within twenty miles of the Ashokan pipe line, but there are possibilities that conspirators are lurking about watching for a chance to poison the water or blow up the system, and the government, therefore, considers that an "ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." As a result, guards are placed on the aqueduct not only for guarding purposes, but also to condition the soldiers, it would seem.

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