These papers include the wartime correspondence and related documents of George Dudley Wheatley, a first lieutenant in the United States Army who was involved in several decisive actions of the Allied Expeditionary Forces (AEF) during the First World War. The collection consists of 122 pieces and spans the years 1909; 1916-1919; 1923.
The documents presented in this collection offer a historically important window into the daily life of soldiers involved in America’s first major involvement in international military affairs beginning with a document from a friend stationed in the Dominican Republic in 1916 to a then stateside George Wheatley. It describes the occupation and sentiments towards Americans, combat encountered by Army and Marine Corps units, along with personal commentary on college football and the reelection of Woodrow Wilson.
The majority of the collection involves letters mailed from George Wheatley to his parents. They begin with his time at the officer’s candidate training school at Plattsburg, New York, in 1917. Among the items mentioned is the effects and treatment of a camp epidemic of German measles. They are followed by letters referring to the accommodations and experiences aboard his transport ship to Europe in 1918 (the SS Mongolia), and travels through England and France, including tourism, military railway transportation, and the conduct of the French military, and his activities at an Allied Expeditionary Forces school in Chatillon-sur-Seine. The remainder of the letters is an account of his experiences on the battle front in 1918.
The strength of the collection is the letters written to his father in 1919 from Springfield, Vermont, after he returned to the United States and was discharged from the U. S. Army. Wheatley provides vivid descriptions of his involvement in combat on the front lines, including letters that describe his being wounded on two occasions while in combat, his association with Colonel William “Wild Bill” Donovan, and military engagements from the beginning of 1918 until the end of the war. A few of his letters provide eye witness accounts of Donovan’s leadership, participation in combat, and being wounded. Donovan later became head of the Office of Strategic Services and played an important role in forming the Central Intelligence Agency. Among the pages of a small notebook is a chronological list Wheatley maintained of his whereabouts from the time he entered the military in January 1918, through his movements in Europe, and until his discharge on April 1, 1919.
The following are among the locations noted by Wheatley in his papers during the war: Chatillon, Rambervillers, Moyermont, Chattel sur Moselle, Coulars, Ecury-sur-Coole, La Borry, Jonchery, Suippes Valley, Vardeney, Epieds, Montport, Barritz, Bordeaux, Paris, Blois, St. Organy, La Marche, Chateau Thierry, St. Mihiel, Verdin, Mountfaucon, Landres et St. Georges, St. Georges, Exermont, Les Petes Armoises, Le Vivier, Artaise, Chaumont, Sedan, Buzaucy, Thenorgnes, Argonne. Muese-Argonne.