Chapter 14

World War I Activities

      In the meantime, the increasing probability that the United States would become involved in war provoked measures calculated to put the Company in a state of readiness for any duties it might be called upon to perform. Drills were continued through the summer of 1916 and 1917; one hundred and twelve men and six officers were fitted out with khaki uniforms at the expense of the State, and the rest of the command were equipped by funds from the Company treasury; the major's staff formed itself into a new section known as "Company E." When in April 1917 the United States entered World War I all social activities were suspended. Twenty-four members of the Company enlisted in the army, and the command stood ready to protect the lives and property of the citizens in case they were threatened. It participated, also, in almost every local effort to further the war activities, assisting in the recruiting of the Second Regiment of the National Guard, taking part in Liberty Loan drives, making donations to the Red Cross and other welfare organizations, assisting in the dedication of the Yale Artillery Armory, June 19, 1017, and in the patriotic exercises conducted by the University on the Yale campus, and acting as escort to the Fifth Royal Highlanders of Canada, October 11, 1917, when that organization came to New Haven to encourage the enlistment of Britishers in the English Army.

      On November 11, 1918 the Company joined in an impromptu parade celebrating the signing of the armistice. At a more formal Victory Parade on the 16th the Company appeared in full dress for the first time since before the war. On January 4, 1919 it turned out to escort General Clarence L. Edwards, formerly commander of the Yankee Division, from the railroad station to the Taft Hotel when he visited New Haven under the auspices of the Chamber of Commerce.

      The practice of cooperating with other towns in civic events was picked up again. On August 2, 1920 the Company went to Litchfield to take part in the celebration of the 200th anniversary of its founding; on September 4th of the same year, Wallingford, at which time the town observed the 250th anniversary of its settlement; and on August 17, 1921 to Winsted, when the 150th anniversary of Winchester's incorporation was commemorated.

      The Infantry Blues from Richmond, on their way to Hartford to attend the 150th anniversary of the First Company, stopped over in New Haven and were met at the railroad station on the evening of October 17, 1921, by the Second Company. Following a street parade the guests were given a dinner at the Hotel Garde. The following day, after an automobile tour, they were escorted to the train. On October 19th the Company itself entrained for Hartford to join in the anniversary ceremonies which included a church service, a street parade, a review by the Governor, and anniversary dinner, and a military ball in the Armory.

      On May 8, 1924, the command, with the First Company, escorted Governor Templeton and staff to Richmond and took part in the celebration of the Blue's 135th anniversary. They participated in a grand parade with the Blues, the Richmond Grays, the Richmond Howitzers, the John Marshall High School Cadet Corps, and the Benedictine Cadet Corps. During the course of a banquet held in the Armory the toastmaster said that the Guards and the Infantry Blues had done so much in their exchange of courtesies and visits to cement a cordial feeling of friendship between the two States, they should broaden their field of operations and, together, make a trip to England, France, and Belgium to increase the feeling of friendship between these countries and our own. This chance remark was received with tremendous enthusiasm and a motion promptly was made that committees should be appointed to study and initiate plans for such a trip two years later.

      On the morning of September 25, 1924 the Company, in full dress uniform, with band and field music, left on a special train for Philadelphia to attend the celebration of the 150th anniversary of the first meeting of the First Continental Congress, and commemoration exercises at Valley Forge the next day. At the latter place it was presented with a flag bearing thirteen stars, the gift of the city of Philadelphia.

      On the evening of March 26, 1925 another successful minstrel show was given in the Shubert Theater, netting a substantial sum. The following month, the Company again visited Lexington. With band and field music, it left New Haven on a special train on April 19, 1925, and arrived in Boston where the night was spent in the Lenox Hotel. Proceeding to Lexington the next day, it took part in a great parade put on as a part of the celebration of the 150th anniversary of the battle there. On this tour of duty it acted as escort to Governor John H. Trumbull.

      Probably the most elaborate and colorful celebration of any kind carried out by the Foot Guard up to that time occurred on May 18, 1925. "New Haven halted the wheels of progress today," stated the REGISTER, "For today marks the 150th anniversary of the charter granted to the Second Company, whose history is so closely interwoven with the history of the city. Never before since the return of its boys across the seas has New Haven so outdone itself to pay homage to its fighting men." Practically every building in the center was decorated in some fashion, and it was estimated that 10,000 people were in the vicinity of the Green to watch the proceedings. Early in the forenoon the Company marched to the railroad station to welcome Governor E. Lee Trinkle of Virginia and the Infantry Blues upon their arrival from Richmond. After a parade, the two commands had luncheon at the Garde Hotel. In the meantime other historic organizations arrived and were suitably entertained. They were the Ancient and Honorable Artillery of Boston, the Fusileers Veteran Battalion, Veteran Corps of Artillery, Old Guard of New York, Putnam Phalanx, and Varnum Continentals. In the afternoon they all marched to Center Church where memorial services were conducted by Chaplain Maurer. At their conclusion the episode of Arnold's demand for the keys to the powder house was reenacted following which there was a grand parade and review. A banquet in the Yale dining room and a grand ball in Woolsey Hall concluded the events. At the former many celebrities, including United States Senator Hiram Bingham, spoke.

Chapter 15