Spartanburg, South Carolina, circa 1909: On 13 July 1917 the War Department announced that the 6th New York State Militia Division would train in this mill town in the Carolina Piedmont region.

Secretary of War Newton Baker announced the fate of several state militias one hundred years ago today, releasing details of where certain state troops would be sent for training before being mustered into the National Army. One of the organizations Secretary Baker mentioned was the 6th New York Militia. The 6th, Baker said, would soon leave for Spartanburg, South Carolina. I have heard it argued that the Wilson Administration intentionally placed Great War training camps in Southern states as a way to appeal to his base and to co-opt any hesitant, isolationist Democrats within his party. That same day Baker also announced that state divisions would train in Texas (3 divisions), California (2 divisions), Alabama (2 divisions), Georgia (2 divisions), North Carolina, Louisiana, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Mississippi, and one additional division in the Palmetto State.

The theory about intentionality is entirely conjecture on my part, but based on these states this educated guess seems credible. Remember that this is just two generations removed from the American Civil War; any Southerners who fought in France would be the grandsons of Confederate veterans  Yes, some of them had fought in Cuba during the Spanish-American War, but this was to be something on another scale entirely. I am going to do a dive on this in the coming weeks. If anyone knows any authors/titles about the planning and placement of these training facilities, please let me know.

(image/Library of Congress)