(The following is a summary of the war as produced in The Annals of Kansas, 1886-1925.  This is the first part.)

One hundred years ago in Kansas…

November 11, 1918

  • The Armistice was signed. Kansas celebrated with parades and prayer services.

Approximately 83,000 Kansans served in the war, including those in the Army, Navy, and Marines, and in the armies of Great Britain, France and Canada.  Many enlisted in the early years of the war, and several distinguished themselves in foreign service.  Kansas had little trouble filling her quotas.  The bulk of the men were in the Thirty-fifth, Eighty-ninth, and Forty-second Divisions.  The Thirty-fifth was a Kansas-Missouri organization composed of National Guard units.  It was trained at Camp Doniphan, Okla., and took part in the Battles of St. Mihiel and the Argonne.  The Eighty-ninth was organized and trained at Camp Funston by Maj. Gen. Leonard Wood and also participated in the St. Mihiel and Argonne battles.  The 117th Ammunition Train, sometimes called the Kansas Ammunition Train, was part of the Forty-second, known as the Rainbow Division.  Ten thousand Kansans served in the Navy, and Kansas was the first state to fill its quota in that branch.  One of the largest military camps was established at Camp Funston near Fort Riley.  It had a training capacity of 70,000 men.  Among the outstanding generals in the A.E.F. were Brig. Gen. Harry Smith, Atchison; Brig. Gen. Wilder S. Metcalf, Lawrence, and Maj. Gen. James G. Harbord, Manhattan, who was chief of staff to General Pershing.

Two Kansans, George S. Robb, Salina, and Erwin R. Bleckley, Wichita, received the Congressional (sic) Medal of Honor, Bleckley’s being posthumously awarded.  The number of Kansans killed or wounded was about 2,680.

Blair Tarr is the Museum Curator of the Kansas State Historical Society. He oversees the three-dimensional collections of the Society, but has special interests in the Civil War, Wichita-made Valentine diners, and Leavenworth's Abernathy Furniture. In the last few years he has also done a lot of cramming on The Great War. He is a past president of the Kansas Museums Association and the Civil War Round Tables of both Kansas City and Eastern Kansas. He is currently a board member of the Heritage League of Greater Kansas City.