To start this post, we’ll simply quote the account from William E. Connelley’s History of Kansas, State and People (1928):

“Another Division in which Kansas people were interested was the Eighty-seventh Division, of which the Washburn College Ambulance Company (347th) formed a part.  This ambulance company was organized at Washburn College very shortly after the United States entered the war.  The late Col. A.M. Fuller, U.S.A., retired, was one of the moving factors of the organization.  Its personnel was all of the very best, and many of its enlisted men became officers.

On June 7, 1917, it was decided to send a field hospital unit of ninety-one men, to be organized under the auspices of the Red Cross, and on June 16th, the War Department authorized the formation of such a unit and its acceptance by the Federal service.  Dr. C.H. Lerrigo, of Topeka, was named its captain, and Dr. Ned Miller, first lieutenant.  On August 2d authorization was received for the men to be sworn into the federal service, and $3,000 was raised for the Red Cross Ambulance Company No. 45, as it was first called.  It was ordered in September, to camp, in Little Rock and Camp Pike, and on September 22nd it started for Camp Pike, where it became the Three Hundred and Forty-seventh Ambulance Corp.  On September 12, 1918, news was received that it had safely arrived in France.  Practically all of the 120 members of the corp were native Kansans.  Its personnel was of the best and many of its men were promoted from the ranks and became officers, or non-commissioned officers in other organizations.  On January 1, 1919, it was disbanded , and members of the company scattered through several other units.”

A December 26, 1917 article in the Topeka Daily Capital has Captain Lerrigo reporting that after three months at Camp Pike, not one member of the company had been in the guard house, everyone was in excellent health, and that everyone had gained between five and twenty pounds.  Several of the company were musicians, and while in camp frequently gave public entertainments.

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.