Friday, January 18, 2008

Men in Officers' Camp Drilling Hard (1917)

Columbia City Post ~ Wednesday, May 30, 1917

Attorney Phil McNagny arrived home Saturday night from the officers' training camp at Ft. Harrison, near Indianapolis, Ind. Mr. McNagny, who was home a week ago on legal business, came this time on the same mission and to visit his father, W. F. McNagny, who has been quite poorly but is much better at present.

Mr. McNagny states that the Columbia City boys are all well pleased with the camp life and are getting hardened to the regular drill. Tom Pontius, James Adams and himself are stationed in a large room with thirty-five bunks in it, and James Blain, Elmer Bump and Herbert Clugston are stationed in the building next to them. They have very little time to themselves and consequently do not visit back and forth to any extent. The local young men frequently meet Harrold Strouse, son of Mr. and Mrs. Mose Strouse, of this city, who is in the engineering corps. Donald Livengood who left this city and went to the camp from South Bend, arriving there later than the boys from this city, is stationed in a distant part of the camp and does not get to see the local young men often.

Every man is being given a chance to show his ability as a commander of men. Upon arriving at the camp the men were stationed in quarters and assigned to companies. The men in the camp who had military training were picked from the companies and placed in non-commission officers positions. After the men become familiar with the drilling each man will be given an opportunity to show his ability by being placed in command of a squad, platoon or company. During these drills the regular army officers who are stationed at the camp are standing close by taking down notes on the conduct and ability of the various men. The company to which Pontius, Adams and McNagny belong recently had rifle practice on the National Guard rifle range. Each man fired ten shots at 200 yards. Five shots were fired standing and five lying down.

The men from Ohio and West Virginia are stationed on one part of the camp and the men from Kentucky and Indiana are stationed in another part of the camp. It is expected that a medical corps will be stationed at Ft. Harrison before long.

Mr. McNagny stated that all the local young men seem to be well satisfied with the work and had no complaint to make about the meals or accommodations. He thinks the idea of giving the men the rigid drilling is to make them familiar with the hardships of a private, so that when they become officers they will bear in mind the hardships of army life. The men are busy from 5:20 o'clock in the morning until 10:00 o'clock at night. From 7 o'clock until bed time each man is required to study the manuals for the next day's drilling. At the conclusion of one week in the camp every man was given an opportunity to drop out if he felt that he could not stand the work or that he was unsuited to become an officer. Very few men dropped out. Phil will return to camp this evening. He was wearing his uniform.

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