Congressman Alexander Peabody Gardner (D-MA) was on the golf course in 1916 but back in a military uniform one year later. In May 1917 he was appointed a colonel in the Army.

In Sunday’s post I mentioned Theodore Roosevelt’s efforts to raise four divisions to fight the Germans in the Great War. Two of the major players in that episode were Senator Henry Cabot Lodge and his son-in-law Augustus Peabody Gardner. Lodge and Peabody were Boston Brahmins, part of a world that Roosevelt came to know in the late 1870s while attending Harvard. The names say it all: Lodge, Peabody, Gardner. I am not sure how Augustus is related to Isabella Stewart Gardner, the founder of the museum that bears her name, but the connection is there somewhere. I intend to do a deeper dive on A.P. Gardner later in the centennial, but today I wanted to pause and note something I found to be of great interest: it was one hundred years ago today that he left the United States House of Representative to return to military service.

Augustus Gardner had been a congressman for fifteen years. Before that he had served in the Spanish-American War. Gardner resigned on May 16 and returned immediately to the Officers’ Reserve Corps. Apparently the original plan was to join Major General Leonard Wood’s command in Charleston, South Carolina before going on to France. He was wasting no time. Less than ten days after stepping down, Gardner was stationed for the time being not in the Palmetto State but in New York Harbor at Governors Island. He wrote his wife on May 25 from the Department of the East explaining that he had a small billet in the officers club. He seemed eager to back in uniform but complained that the Army Band was having a soirée just outside. The noise chased him out of his quarters and back to the desk in the Adjutant’s office. Gardner was one of the earliest proponents of Preparedness and knew most of the major players in the movement, including obviously Wood and Roosevelt. With the United States officially in the war and the American military apparatus now gearing up, he was again in an officer’s uniform. He seemed eager to get down to it. In the letter to his better half he explained that he probably would not be leaving the island much because he wanted to focus on the tasks at hand.

(image/Library of Congress)