Monday, April 23, 2018

The Great War: April 23, 1918

It's been a while since Gossips has reported about life in Hudson a hundred years ago, when the country was fighting the Great War--World War I. A hundred years ago today, April 23, 1918, one of the stories on the front page of the Columbia Republican told of plans for a parade to take place in Hudson on Friday, April 26. Along with impressing us with how quickly Hudson could put together a parade a hundred years ago, the article definitively identifies the parade that was the subject of these photographs, found in the Evelyn and Robert Monthie Slide Collection at the Columbia County Historical Society.

With the weather man promising fair and warmer weather for latter part of this week, with innumerable committees hard at work, and with proclamations issued by President Wilson and Mayor Charles S. Harvey, requesting that all places of business close for a half-holiday, Liberty Day--next Friday--looms up as one of the biggest days on the calendar of local events the city has seen in many years. On that afternoon in Hudson a Liberty Loan demonstration will take place, the equal of which has never been witnessed in Columbia county before. There is going to be a parade that promises to be the greatest affair held here since the Hudson-Fulton celebration; there will be patriotic gatherings and speaking; there will be a day in which all--young and old, poor and rich--will join hands in helping send the Liberty Loan over the top with a bang. And then there will be additional features. By a coincidence the Liberty ball and the famous liberty coach, which are traveling across the State from Buffalo to New York city in the interest of the loan, are scheduled to be here. They will, therefore, be a part of the great procession. Everywhere in [the] State where the ball and coach have been seen wonderful demonstrations have been held as patriotic receptions, and Hudson with the arrival on Liberty Day will go every city one better--and maybe two or three.
Yesterday morning in the Common Council chamber, the general parade and demonstration committee appointed by Chairman William Wortman, of the local Liberty Loan campaign, met and discussed the plans. The idea is to have something beside a procession--something that will be worth going miles to see, and this is just what is going to be the result of the work of the committees in charge. The demonstration will no doubt attract many from all parts of the county and of Greene county as well.
Roughly, the plan is to have a parade with at least two bands and five drum corps, many decorated floats of attractive designs and in keeping with the patriotic purpose of the day. All local organizations of all kinds are invited to take part and last night it was learned that but few if any will not march in a body. The Hudson police will march and it is certain that the firemen of the city will turn out as well as Co. F. There will be a division of flag-bearers in which all the flags of the allied nations will be carried. There will be new divisions also.
Among the novel features will be the Red Cross war dogs. Local canines will be blanketed and equipped in the same manner as the dogs who are doing such valuable service on the battle field. There are many other similar features on which the committee is working and will announce the full plan in a day or two. It is proposed to have the parade start at 1:30 o'clock.
One of these will be a service flag division. It is proposed to have every family in Columbia county, if possible, which has a boy in Uncle Sam's service, represented in the parade by a service flag. The home guards of Chatham, Hillsdale and Philmont will be invited to take part, as well as the Boy Scouts of Athens, the Camp Fire Girls of Kinderhook and other towns in the county and the Girl Scouts of Blue Store.
This picture of the Liberty Ball appeared in the Philadelphia Evening Public Ledger in April 5, 1918.

The caption below the picture reads: "Here is the seven-foot Liberty "push-ball" that is to be rolled over 473 miles from Buffalo to New York city as a reminder to all patriotic citizens to keep the money flowing in for the Third Liberty Loan. On a signal from Washington at 8 o'clock tomorrow morning, the Buffalo Liberty Loan Committee will start the ball on its journey. Each city along the road will hold a celebration as the big red, white and blue globe passes through, and all may help its two guardians, who will be dressed as Uncle Sam, to speed its progress. It is expected that the ball will reach Madison Square May 1, in time to mark the triumphant close of America's third appeal for war dollars."  

It seems pretty clear that giant globe being rolled down Union Street in the picture below is the Liberty ball, perhaps looking a little worse for wear, followed by the Liberty coach, passing through Hudson almost right on schedule--twenty days after it left Buffalo and four days before it was due in New York City. One wonders, though, what happened to the guardians dressed as Uncle Sam. Two men rolling the ball appear to be dressed as soldiers. Perhaps, after walking all the way from Buffalo, they were getting a well-deserved rest here in Hudson.

Curious to know more about Red Cross war dogs and how the local canines would have been outfitted to appear like them, I found a blog post on the American Red Cross website and learned that the war dogs were also known as "ambulance dogs," because they were attached to ambulance units and were trained to find wounded soldiers. They were even trained to recognize uniforms so they wouldn't give aid to enemy soldiers. When a Red Cross war dog located a wounded soldier, it would get as close as possible so that the soldier could access the dog's saddle bags, which contained first aid supplies and rations. The dogs were trained not to bark, because that would alert the enemy. Instead they would bring back something that belonged to the soldier. This painting by Alexander Pope shows a Red Cross dog returning with the helmet of a wounded French soldier in the midst of a gas barrage.

War dogs in World War I also provided messenger and delivery services, carrying ammunition and rations through dangerous territory, and they acted as scouts and guarded strategic posts. This photograph shows a French war dog wearing a gas mask.


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