“Going home not as strong”

In this August 7, 1864 letter, William Patterson reports to his mother that he is getting better each day, but is still not well enough to join his regiment in Chattanooga.  The 1st OVI has been relieved of duty at the front and is awaiting mustering out.  He notes that in accordance with General Orders from the War Department, the regiment will not be mustered out as a group, but as companies in the order that they were mustered in.  His company will be the last to go which will be about October 7.

William also writes about a letter he received from his brother, Stephen, proposing an investment opportunity for his loose money.  William basically says he doesn’t know what he is going to do when he gets home.

The last portion of the letter is interesting in his comment about the 1st OVI - “They are going home not as strong as when they marched away from Dayton.  Many a poor fellow has bit the dust in the last three years, but there is one consolidation, we have made as many of them go the same journey.”

Transcript of William Patterson Letter, August 7, 1864.

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91st Observation Squadron WWI Photos now online

We are pleased to announce that the entirety of the 91st Observation Squadron, American Expeditionary Force, Photographs (MS_293) is now available online in CORE Scholar. This collection is just one of several World War I collections we hope to share online in the next few years, during the war’s centennial.

91st Squadron with banner (photo # ms293_01_01)

91st Squadron with banner (photo # ms293_01_01)

The collection includes 39 photographs dating between April 1918 and March 1919. This photos depict the airmen and operations of the Squadron during the end of World War I and the months following, including: airplanes and airfields, the men who served in the squadron, the squadron’s banner design, and aerial observation views of French and German cities and sites including Coblenz, Trier, Dierdorf, Bendorf, Sinzig, Blagny, and Carignan.

Aerial view of Sinzig Castle looking North (photo # ms293_01_33)

Aerial view of Sinzig Castle looking North (photo # ms293_01_33)

The following history comes from the collection’s online finding aid (PDF):

During World War I, the 91st Observation Squadron of the American Expeditionary Force operated reconnaissance missions 15 to 25 miles beyond enemy lines.  They informed A.E.F. Headquarters of movements on roads and airdromes and in railroad yards, which they observed from above 15,000 feet; they also reported on supply and ammunition dumps.

The 91st Squadron arrived in Liverpool, England with the 90th and 88th Squadrons in November 1917 and traveled to Hill 402 to construct an airfield next to the American Expeditionary Force Headquarters in Chaumont, France.  The squadron then traveled to Amanty, France where a school for pilots was operated.  However, flight training was delayed by the lack of adequate airplanes; well into 1918, only worn-out Dorand, Sopwith and SPAD aircraft were available for use.  Sixteen Salmson airplanes arrived by May of 1918, enabling the Squadron, with mediocre gunnery training, to begin operations.

The Squadron’s first mission into enemy territory occurred on June 3rd from their base of operations at Gondreville, France near Amanty.  The two-person crews of pilot and observer were subject to enemy aircraft attacks and anti-aircraft guns.  There was a high rate of death, disappearance and injury, particularly for observers in the last months of the war.  By the end of World War I, six pilots and three observers in the 91st Observation Squadron had become prisoners of war and three pilots and eight observers had been killed.  Twenty-one enemy aircraft had been eliminated.

From February 14 to September 15, 1918, Major John N. Reynolds led the Squadron.  In September 1918 Major Reynolds became Commanding Officer of the newly-created Army Observation Group, which consisted of the 91st, 24th and 9th Observation Squadrons.  Leadership of the 91st Squadron transferred to Lieutenant Everett R. Cook, who served as Commanding Officer until the Armistice.

On June 28, 1919 the 91st Observation Squadron was demobilized from active duty in Europe; it was remobilized on June 30 for duty in the United States.

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“Campaign Front of Atlanta GA”

In this undated letter (estimated to be early August 1864) from Robert Patterson to his younger brother Stephen, Robert writes about life in the trenches outside of Atlanta.  In particular he notes that he had not received a letter for quite some time and had come to the conclusion that “you had all forgotten me” and that “nothing is looked for so anxiously as the mail and always feel disappointed if we do not get something in it.

Robert writes about several events in his letter.  First, General Hooker’s resignation from the Army.  Major General James B. McPherson, Commander of the Army of the Tennessee, was killed in action on July 22 during the battle of Atlanta.  General Sherman selected Major General Oliver Howard to replace McPherson, who was junior in rank to General Hooker.  Hooker submitted his resignation in protest, which was accepted.  Robert notes in his letter that the resignation was justified and he “would rather see him go than to submit to such gross injustice.”  He further noted that General Hooker was very popular with his men.  Second, Robert notes that they have been lying behind their fortifications outside Atlanta for 11 days with both sides shooting at each other night and day.  He also notes that they had “bad luck” with their cavalry under General McCook.  They were in the rear of the Rebel army destroying railroad track and telegraph lines, and had captured 500 wagons, when they were attacked and all but 200 men captured.

Robert closes his letter with “this being under fire all the time is about as exhausting on the men as marching” and since they have no way to wash they are very dirty.

Transcript of Robert Patterson letter, undated.

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