100 Years Ago This Week: President Wilson Reviews the Troops on Christmas Day

 Background:  It is December of 1918 and WWI has been over for more than a month.   John Rodney Jamieson, my grandfather, who we later called ‘Poppa’,   had joined the U.S. Army’s 20th Engineers and was assigned to the headquarters unit of Company A based at a camp set up inside a bull ring in Dax, France.  On November 7, 1918 he traveled to Langres France and enrolled in Army Candidate School (A.C.S.).   Here are the journal entries he wrote one hundred years ago this week.


From the Journal of John Rodney Jamieson

Sunday December 22, 1918– Was going to Langres but due to rain decided to stay in camp.  

Monday December 23– Weather still quite warm but wet and very muddy.  I am company C.O. tomorrow -Christmas day.

Tuesday December 24– Some of the boys gave a Minstrel show at the Fort Y.M. hut on Christmas eve.  Loud, witty and truly expressed some of our thoughts and emotions about this place.  

Wednesday December 25– Went to see the President review troops about two miles from here.  Saw Pres and Mrs Wilson, Gen Pershing, Col House and others of the party.  Rest of the day around barracks reading and writing.

 Thursday December 26– We have been given all afternoons off between Christmas and New Years.  Have inspection at 1:00 and then nothing more.

Friday December 27– Had camouflage xam this morning.

Saturday December 28– Started bridging course today.  Awful walk down to the place. Glad the course is only one week in length.

President Wilson’s trip to Europe

President Wilson and General John Pershing reviewed the troops in France on Christmas day 1918.

Wednesday December 25– “Went to see the President review troops about two miles from here.  Saw Pres and Mrs Wilson, Gen Pershing, Col House and others of the party. ” 

President Woodrow Wilson became the first American president to travel to Europe while in office.  He wanted to participate in the peace conference scheduled for January, 1919 so he left America aboard the S.S. George Washington on December 4th, 1918  and arrived in Paris on December 16th.  On Christmas day he reviewed the troops in Humes France which is about equidistant between Langres and Rolampont, the two communities where Poppa was located during his training.  You can see a fairly high quality video (No audio) of President Wilson and General Pershing reviewing and addressing the troops and locals in this video on Youtube.

Presumably Poppa is in the crowd watching the ceremonies although I couldn’t pick him out in the video.

This is the second time that Poppa was near the president since joining the army.  On October 28th, 1917 while in training near Washington D.C. he wrote “Visited Washington today.  Saw National Museum, Potomac River and nearly run over by Pres Car.”

If you watch the video of the president you will see many dogs running around the soldiers.  Maybe they were strays or animals “adopted” by the various soldiers.  It is humorous to see that one dog, oblivious to the ceremony, was digging a hole just a few feet in front of the President while he spoke on the reviewing stand.


Next Week: Could Anything be Much Worse?

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