TDIH: World War I Begins in Europe

This Day in History: On July 28, 1914 — 100 years ago — World War I, or “The Great War” as it was often known prior to WWII, broke out in Europe.

Although the often-cited catalyst for the war — assassination of Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand by a Serbian nationalist — took place a month earlier on June 28, it was not until July 28 that Austria-Hungary actually declared war on Serbia, thus beginning the formal conflict.

Aerial view of ruins in Europe (from MS-293)

Aerial view of ruins in Europe (from MS-293)

Over the next several years, Wright State University Special Collections & Archives will join many other archives, museums, and cultural institutions around the world in commemorating the centennial of WWI in various ways, including sharing items and stories from our collections here on our blog, Facebook, and Twitter (@WrightStArchive) under #WWI100.

We will also be adding new World War I materials to our digital collections on CORE Scholar. The Dayton-Wright Airplane Company Photos (MS-152) are already online; and 91st Observation Squadron Photos (MS-293) and a selection of materials from the Fred Marshall Papers (MS-53) are in progress.

Soldiers at Camp Sherman, 1918 (from MS-100)

Soldiers at Camp Sherman, 1918 (from MS-100)

As part of our World War I commemoration efforts, we are seeking new donations of World War I manuscript materials. In particular, we are looking for historical materials that document WWI and have a connection to either the Miami Valley or to aviation history (or both). 

If you are interested in World War I in Dayton, you might enjoy these additional resources:

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John Patterson News

On July 26, 1864, John H. Patterson wrote a letter to his mother reporting on recent events including a trip to see a captured  Confederate Cigar Steamer, fishing for crabs, and recent reports of Confederate forces near Harpers Ferry.

The Confederate Cigar Steamer was constructed by a Rebel named Winans and was desiged to run the Union blockade of Southern ports.  The ship was a failure and was located in a harbor next to a long bridge.  John and his friends were able to climb onto the ship, which led to his description of it as a “queer craft.”  After visiting the ship, they fished for crab off the long bridge.  John provides a lengthy description of how you fish for crab and how good they are to eat.

The last portion of the letter discusses the Confederate raid near Harpers Ferry.  John indicates that the force is reported to be very strong and that government supplies were being moved to a safer location.  He notes that “if they tried to take this place they will have to lose a good many men before they succeed.” (Transcript of John H. Patterson letter, July 26, 1864)

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William Moves from Hospital

In this July 24, 1864 letter to his mother, William Patterson reports that he has moved to a boarding housed in Nashville and has been detailed to a General Court Martial board.  The letter notes that he will likely remain in Nashville until his company is mustered out, which he expects to be mustered out by company since they were mustered in by company and not by regiment.  He expects his company will be in Dayton by September 10th and that will be mustered out October 7th.

William notes that he received a letter from Robert who reported he was doing well, but lost five men from his company in fighting around Atlanta.  He also reports that he received a letter from John the previous week who reported he was well and had not been in a fight yet — which William notes that if John gets into one, he will not want to get into another.

Transcript of William Patterson letter, July 24, 1864.

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