|CAMP MERRITT, New Jersey September 1917 - January 1920 |
Scanned from a publication from 1924 - written for the Dedication of the Monument in Cresskill. (No author listed or page missing). Phamplet from the collections of BCHS president, Bob Griffin.
CAMP MERRITT was named in honor of the late Major General Wesley Merritt, who graduated at West Point in 1860. His conspicuous service as a Lieutenant and Captain of Cavalry led to his promotion as Brigadier General of volunteers in June 1863. In this grade, he participated in the Battle of Gettysburg. General Merritt's distinguished service as a Brigade Commander of Cavalry, especially at the Battle of Yellow Tavern and the Battle of Hall's Shop, Virginia, led to his advancement to command of a Cavalry Division. The particularly gallant and meritorious services at the battles of Winchester and Fisher's Hill, and at Five Forks, led to his promotion as Major General of Volunteers, and to duty as Chief of Cavalry of the Military Division of the Southwest, and, later, as Chief of Cavalry of the Military Division of the Gulf, so that he was made a full Major General of Volunteers at the age of twenty-seven years.
General Merritt was one of the outstanding officers developed during the Civil War. At the close of the Civil War, he continued with varied staff and command duty, and was conspicuous by his successes in various Indian campaigns until 1882, when he was appointed Superintendent of the Military Academy at West Point, where he served for five years, and was promoted to Major General of the United States Army in 1895, and was in command of the Department of the East, with headquarters at Governor's Island, at the beginning of the Spanish War, and was placed in command of the Philippine Expedition and captured Manila on August 13, 1898. He was the first Governor-General of the Philippine Islands, but was relieved from that duty for conference duty with the Peace Commission in Paris, France. He was retired by operation of law, in 1900, and died at Natural Bridge, Virginia, December 3, 1910. Age 74.
COLONEL JOHN R. BENNETT, September 17,1917, to March 18, 1918. COLONEL JAMES A. IRONS, March 19, 1918, to June 28, 1918.
LT.-COL. JOSEPH A. MARMON, June 29, 1918, to October 14, 1918. MAJOR MATTHEW J. GUNNER, October 25, 1918, to November 30, 1918. COLONEL LOUIS S. SORLEY, December 1, 1918, to May IT, 1919.
MAJ.-GEN. CHAS. H. MUIR, May 18, 1919, to May 21, 1919.
MAJ.GEN. GEORGE B. DUNCAN, May 22, 1919, to January 30, 1920.
MAJOR MAX W. SULLIVAN, October 6, 1918, to June 9, 1919
COLONEL GEORGE K. WILSON, Inf., June 10, 1919, to July 16, 1919.
MAJOR MAX W. SULLIVAN, July 17, 1919, to January 1, 1910
MAJOR JOSEPH A. MARMON, January 15, 1918, to June IS, 1918.
MAJOR MAX W. SULLIVAN, June 16, 1918, to October 5, 1918
MAJOR FRANCIS G. LANDON, October 6, 1918, to November 3, 1918
MAJOR CHAS. C. SMITH, November 4, 1918, to January 15, 1920.
COLONEL JOHN FAWCETT, Q. M. C.
LT.-COLONEL GEORGE C. SHAW.
LT.-COLONEL EDWARD R. CASSETT.
COLONEL WILLIAM A. CARLETON
COLONEL JOHN A. CLARK, Medical Corps.
CHAPLAIN JOHN M. THOMAS, December 1918
CHAPLAIN JOHN T. DEBARDELEBEN, May 4, 1919.
CHAPLAIN JOSEPH H. WEBSTER, September 20, 1919
CAMP MERRITT was situated ten miles northwest of New York City, on a ridge midway between the towns of Cresskill and Dumont, Bergen County, New Jersey. It occupied an area of 770 acres, 580 acres of which were occupied by the camp proper. The remaining 190 acres were taken up by warehouses, railway areas, an athletic field, and a truck garden of some 60 acres which produced a large quantity of garden truck for the various messes. The camp was one mile long and three-quarters of a mile wide.
It had the following buildings:
611 two-story, 6o-man barracks.
165 company kitchens and mess halls.
40 two-story battalion officers, quarters.
4 one-story battalion officers' quarters
17 administration buildings.
15 post exchanges.
4 fire station houses.
93 hospital buildings.
94 miscellaneous buildings.
28 welfare organization buildings.
Capacity of the camp:
Enlisted men ............ 40,000
143 miles of concrete road was constructed in camp, and 3.6 miles outside. Railway spur and trackage about four miles from the West Shore Railway. Water supply from the Hackensack Water Company's supply at New Milford, 2-1/2 miles from camp; 12-inch main throughout the camp, with a total of 19 miles of pipe.
A disposal camp at New Milford for sewerage, 2-1/2 miles from camp; two trunk line sewers in camp, to inches, 3 miles in length, with 10 miles of smaller sewers. The septic tank's capacity at New Milford was 725,000 gallons.
260 miles of wiring, 1029 poles, 235 street lamps, 29,000 lamps in buildings, is the story of the electric installation. This was the only camp in which every building was painted. A total of 6,500,000 square feet of surface painted, using 40,000 gallons of paint.
The personnel necessary to operate the camp at its maximum (at the time of signing the Armistice) was approximately 500 officers, 7,000 enlisted men.
The building of the camp started in August 1917, the Cost approximating $11,000,000.
The first troops to arrive were Company F, 22nd Infantry, 65 men all told, on August 30, '1917. The 49th Infantry arrived September 17, 1917, strength 2,010 all told. As there were no buildings then ready,. these troops were quartered under canvas, about a mile north of the camp on the old race-track.
The first troops to arrive for overseas duty were the 501st, the 502nd, the 503rd, and the 504th Battalions of Engineers, which arrived between October 1 and 8, 1917.
The last troops to arrive at Camp Merritt from overseas consisted of a Casual Attachment of 9 officers and 400 enlisted men, who arrived on January 26, 1920.
Camp Merritt was the camp of the Casuals, over 200,000 of which passed through it on their way to the War. For the purpose of administration, the camp was divided into 7 Districts, a permanent officer known as District Commander in command of each District. A Liaison Officer was stationed at each railway station to direct troops to camp
BASE HOSPITAL COMMANDING OFFICERS, Base Hospital
Major LESSON. TARLETON, M.C., January, 1918, to February 8, 1918
Major Arthur W. CUTLER, M.R.C., February 8, 1918 to May, 1918.
Major JESSE I. SLOAT, M.C., May, 1918, to September 15, 1919
ADJUTANTS, BASE HOSPITAL 1st LIEUT. JESSE I. SLOAT, M.C., January 9, 1918, to May 2, 1918. CAPT. WM. R. TATUM, M.C., May 3, 1918, to September l5,1919
Opened January 9, 1918
Sick men - 55,611, of which
27,320 returned to duty
20,443 transferred to other hospitals
610 discharged on surgeon's certificate of disability
460 assigned to domestic service only.
At its opening-
97 enlisted men, with a total bed capacity of 416. By November 1, 1918, this had increased to
800 enlisted men
2,500 bed capacity.
During the epidemic of influenza, October 1918, the emergency bed capacity was increased to 3,800, which was further increased to 3,800 during the debarkation period following the Armistice.
As to the sick rate, Camp Merritt had the lowest of any camp in the country. Considering the nature of the camp and the number of men passing through, this wonderful record is something to remember. Even during the awful epidemic, September 30 to November 15, 1918, and with this tremendous shifting population, the death rate at Camp Merritt at that time was lower than any other military camp in the country.
For the nurses attached to the Base Hospital there was built by the American Red Cross a recreation house which contained a library, a piano, and other attractive features; and there weekly dances and entertainments were held.
NUMBER OF MEN LEAVING CAMP MERRITT
FOR OVERSEAS DUTY
November 1917-November 1918
December ... 5~579
February ... 44,227
March ... 50,562
May ... 47,184
June ... 56,066
July ... 67,184
August ... (record month, going)... 84,232
Sept ... 84,404
October ... 47,620
November ... 34,810
Largest number of troops in a single day, August 31, 1918. 397 officers and 15,217 enlisted men left camp, via Alpine Landing for Port of Embarkation. Total, 15,596.
In this connection it might be interesting to note the number of troops from the various camps in this vicinity that embarked at the port at Hoboken: From Camp Merritt ... 578,000
Mills ... 54,000
Upton ... 315,000
Dix ... 72,000
Devens ... 65,000
Meade ... 31,000
Crane ... 15,000
Humphreys .... 10,000
Total. ... 1,618,000
Number of Men Arriving at Camp Merritt from Overseas
From Dec, 1918 to Jan, 1920
Dec .. 14,937
Jan ... 36,416
Feb ... 27,998
March ... 74,788
April ... 48,786
May ... 50,360
June ... 55,580
July ... 84,928
August ... 72,292
Sept ... 21,988
Oct ... 11,442
Nov, Dec & Jan 1920 ... 10,000
Total ... 509,515
This makes a total of troop movement through Camp Merritt to and from overseas as follows:
Troops going overseas ... 578,566
Troops from overseas ... 509,515
Total. . . . 1,088,081
This includes men from every State in the Union and our overseas possessions. More troops moved through Camp Merritt than in any camp in the history of our country.
Camp Merritt was a city of a shifting population of from 25,000 to 35,000 souls, the vast majority of whom did not stay in camp over three or four days. These men had to be supplied daily with ice, coal, meat, vegetables, milk, butter, etc., etc., and there had to be removed from the various kitchens and barracks garbage and refuse. The camp had to be kept spotlessly clean, and this was done throughout its life.
The organization of this fast "moving-out" required constant work of the Quartermaster Department which was equipped with army trucks and side cars, whose motive power was mules, horses, and gasoline, all told manf: hundred vehicles. Their work never ceased during the twenty-four hours, and never failed. There were enormous warehouses to thoroughly equip with all articles of clothing every man who left camp. For the returning troops a similar work was done.
The Inspector General's Department made three inspections of all troops going overseas, one medical and two equipment inspections.
The outgoing troops moved out of camp between midnight and five o'clock in the morning, the entire movement being conducted under cover of darkness. There was not one minute of the twenty four hours in which the camp was not alive and active.
In addition to the Base Hospital, the Camp Surgeon had supervision over the health of the camp. There was a well-equipped dental infirmary with a complement of twenty-six dental surgeons and twenty-nine complete equipments.
There were fourteen post exchanges, seven tailor shops, a twenty-four-chair barber shop, which earned in the eighteen months of their existence $2,250,000.
The refrigerating plant had a capacity of 110 cattle, 40,000 lbs. of butter, and 100,000 lbs. of miscellaneous. The bakery had a capacity of 11,000 2-lb. leaves per day, making 22,000 Ibs. per day. The coal trestle had a capacity of 4,000 tons.
The School for Bakers and Cooks had entire supervision over all messing arrangements. There were 164 kitchens in operation under their management.
Connected with the post exchange buildings were reading and lounging rooms where magazines and newspapers were on file and where music could be had from automatic coin pianos.
It was the camp of the "Casuals," over 200,000 of whom passed through the camp. Card catalog of these was kept upon which changes were noted daily, and during the busiest part of the camp averaged 10,000 changes per day. This office was run by two shifts --one night and one day; in addition to the card catalog, replying to correspondence averaged 2,000 letters daily.
There was a Bureau for the Exchange of Foreign Money.
There were naturalized in the camp 8,000 men, representing 40 different nationalities, naturalized at 98 sessions of the court.
There was a Labor Representative to help with advice and suggestion, who distributed vocational pamphlets upon every home going troop train, which were issued as a circulating library en route, and which were helpful to the men.
The Insurance department and the department that handled the sale of Liberty Bonds were as efficiently managed as the other departments in the camp.
There was a splendid Fire Department with three houses, equipped with the latest engines, hook and ladders, hose, and so forth, that could he procured.
Capt. C.J. Morelle
This was one of the products of the war. The following statistics will give you some idea of its activities:
Personnel: to officers, 330 enlisted men.
Organized March 1918 and housed in various buildings. July 1918 obtained standard warehouses.
Tailor Shop equipment:
13 sewing machines,
4 steam clothing presses
1 flat button sewing machine
1 sock darning machine. All motor driven.
Repaired and returned for re-issue - 339,104 uniform garments.
17 racks, shoe,
1 block cutting,
1 mallet, rawhide,
2 dies, cutting,
1 stamp, steel,
10 cobblers' benches,
33 jacks, numerous other tools.
Repaired and returned for re-issue - 153,321 pairs of shoes.
6,699,896 ,tides of clothing and equipage were received, inspected, sorted and disposed of. Junk - 222,719 articles as: iron cots, canvas cots, wire mattresses, field ranges, typewriters, adding machines, tables, lawn mowers, shovels, rakes, spades, stoves, etc., etc.
THE following statistics will give some idea of its work:
Personnel ................... 28
Letters dispatched ................ 9,415,000
Letters received .................. 13,771,000
Total ... 23,186,000
Registered letters handled .......... 124,910
Special delivery letters received ..... 203,300
Sacks, parcel lost dispatched ....... 48,168
Sacks, parcel post received ......... 63,255
Money Orders issued .... 28,873 Amt. $950,168
Money Orders paid ... 29,437 Amt. 556,429
Total 58,310 $1,506,597
Western Union Telegraph Company
The following statistics will give you some idea of its work:
Personnel ... 45
Executives ... 4
Operators ... 9
Clerks ... 15
Messengers ... 17
Average number of telegrams sent and received, 100,000 per week. It ran as high as 200,000 per week. Money paid by money transfers, $3,000,000. In addition, there was an efficient Express and Telephone service.
AMERICAN RED CROSS
Organized for duty in Camp Merritt September 1917
Mr. George W. Johnson ... Sept 1917
Major F.G. Landon ... Oct 8, 1917
Lt. Col Robert McLean ... Oct 5, 1918
The Red Cross distributed 550,000 knitted goods in addition to thousands of other small articles usually comprised in Comfort Kits. Letters on home service, allotments and discharges, 26,000. In addition, thousands of telegrams and telephones messages. Many loans to soldiers made where the emergency seemed necessary and hundreds of checks cashed for officers and enlisted men; writing letters and telegrams for patients in Base Hospital; all kinds of personal service rendered daily. Supplied the Hospital with frames, writing paper, jam, jelly, fruits and other delicacies in quantity amounting to tons; also Property bags and Comfort Kits.
The American lied Cross had complete charge over the civilian work in the base hospital, in which work all the other welfare organizations participated most harmoniously under their direction.
The American lied Cross at Camp Merritt had a Personnel vary from twenty to thirty men and women. The following figures show the distribution of their knitted goods:
Sweaters ... 107,261
Helmets ... 111,198
Socks, pairs, ... 150,198
Mufflers ... 79,433
Wristlets, pairs ... 102,433
Total ... 550,902
The above in addition to all personal and individual work attached to Red Cross work.
Organized for duty in Camp Merritt, July 4, 1918
Associate Field Director
Mr. Leslie Cotton ... July 4, 1918
This was attached to base hospital, and was donated by the American Red Cross, for patients from the hospital, and had a personnel of about ten active workers and any number of volunteers. House supplied with books, musical instruments, writing paper, music, billiard table, etc., and regular entertainment four times a week.
The Young Womens Christian Association, Knights of Columbus, National Catholic War Council, Jewish Welfare Board all provided services and entertainment at the camp.
AMERICAN LIBRARY ASSOCIATION
TIhe Camp Library was situated in Merritt Hall, "The Enlisted Man's Club." The recorded number of books loaned to soldiers was about 28,000, which is estimated to be about one-half of the actual number used. Before the Armistice there was a heavy demand for books on Military Science and the sciences and trades relating thereto; also books on the French language. Non-fiction circulation reached as high as 40%. After the Armistice, the demand for military science ceased completely. Then came an overwhelming demand for hooks of the trades and professions; also on literature, history and travel. Non-fiction reached as high as 50%. During the quarantine about 80,000 magazines were distributed. T0 men going overseas books were given without restriction. 60,000 magazines han been put on troop trains carrying troops home. The demand for fiction concentrated on red-blooded western stories and tales of mystery and imagination. 27,500 books were received into the Camp Library; 16,000 were distributed to branch libraries in the welfare organizations' buildings. After September, an A. L. X. Librarian (woman) was assigned to the base hospital where a branch library of 5,500 vo1umes was maintained, accessible to convalescent patients and brought to patients confined to bed, by the Librarian. The A. L. A. was well organized and with a personael of five men rendered all service demanded of it.
WAR CAMP COMMUNITY SERVICE
Organized for duty in Bergen County, Sept 2, 1917
TIhe War Camp Community Service activities were conducted outside of camp in the surrounding towns. This service aimed to make time spent on leave as enjoyable as possible. Information booths were established at the railroad stations at Tenafly, Dumont, Cresskill and at the Ferry Station at Edgewater. Comfortable, homey soldier clubs were established in Englewood, Cresskill, Dumont, Kergenfield, Leonia Junction and Hackensack. Music, reading and writing rooms, pool and billiard tables, bowling alleys and gymnasium facilities were to be found at the Clubs. A program of the week's entertainments, together with a list of the Clubs, was found in the "Smiles Bulletins." These bulletins were issued weekly and could be had at Y. M. C. A., K. of C., J. W. B., Hostess House, Visitor" House, and Merritt Hall.
Seven hundred soldiers were given home dinners weekly. "Community Sings" were one of their great features, seven of which they held in one week, with an attendance of 4,000 men. Weekly dances averaged between twenty and thirty. In addition to all this, they did work at the Base Hospital, furnishing pillows, comfort kits, flowers, jellies, etc., etc., by the thousands. They also secured employment for the men.
All the welfare organizations, in addition to the activities outlined in their individual reports were busy with a thousand and one details such as writing wills, marriages, care for the illiterate, helping with foreign languages, legal advice on domestic troubles, changing foreign money, expressing, letters home, organizing athletics, arranging weekly entertainments in the various halls managed by women's organizations from nearby towns, meeting troops en route, vaudeville entertainments, education. They distributed chocolates, smokes, games, circulars, books, and so forth and so forth, and each in their own way did work along religious lines. The greatest work they did was their untiring work in the hospitals, where they did everything humanly possible for the men, giving religious services whenever asked for and giving books and pamphlets to read and eats, smokes and entertainments.
This was donated by Mrs. Wesley Merritt as a memorial to her husband after whom the camp was named. This was the enlisted men's club, very commodious and comfortable, with a cafeteria, billiard tables, and reading and lounging room. It was always the home of the library, established by the American Library Association. The camp chaplains had their headquarters there.
A journal published every Friday at Camp Merritt, N. J., under the direction of the Commanding General, by and for the men of Camp Merritt and the overseas men who return this way.
It is the policy of this paper to reflect all that is best in military life, to present to the soldier all matters concerning him, in an intelligent manner, and to furnish to the public with information concerning troop movements and camp news worth mentioning.
This was a camp weekly paper, first issue, January 28, 1919, and thereafter weekly, the last issue appearing on August 8, 1919. The Morale Officer in Washington stated that it was the most ambitious and well-published camp paper issued in the country. It started a movement to mark the spot where Camp Merritt stood, contained the names of those who died in camp during the war. This was then taken up by the Bergen County Historical Association, then by the Freeholders of Bergen County, and lastly by the State of New Jersey. It was authorized to issue an official program of the great Victory Loan Parade which took place in New York City on May 3, 1919. On May 30, 1919 -Memorial Day it issued 100 page edition containing a most complete history of "Camp Merritt."
THE JOLLY SNORTER, published by the 13th Infantry, a regimental paper, was very successful.
THE MESS-KIT, published by the enlisted men of U. S. A. Base Hospital. This was a monthly publication, and ran for about ten months. It was devoted exclusively to Base Hospital news and doings, and was also successful.
OPEN AIR THEATRE.
This was built in the early summer of 1919, where shows were given in the evening to practically the entire garrison. "Good luck Sam." This play was produced by the enlisted men, and ran for four weeks in New York City, and cleared above all expenses $35,000, which money was spent for the benefit of the enlisted men. They also produced a musical show which was given in camp and nearby towns; and a genuine Wild West Show at a time when there were many western cowboys in camp, with real bucking mules, horses, etc., etc. With part of the money made in their theatrical adventures was financed the Coney Island Trip, an interesting and novel entertainment. Two iron steamboats were leased for two successive days, and every man in camp was taken from Alpine Landing to Coney Island and return. Through the courtesy of the Amusement Agencies in Coney Island, the men were given a certain number of tickets to the various entertainments. Dinner was served on the boat, and the band accompanied them.
THERE were thirty baseball nines, fifteen basketball teams, football teams, and boxing, wrestling, hand-ball, tennis, squash and track athletics. The most interesting events, however, were the mass athletics conducted on the parade, the prizes being passes for the enlisted men; and close to 50% of the permanent garrison took part in these mass athletic contests.
July 4, 1919, Was the gala day at Camp Merritt. In the morning there were track athletics, in the afternoon, a baseball game, in the evening, at the Open Air Theatre, an all-star vaudeville performance, and later on a magnificent display of fire-works.
Mother's Day and Arbor Day were combined in a giant celebration which took place May 11, 1919.
TOKEN OF APPRECIATION TO BERGEN COUNTY PEOPLE
A SERGEANT at Camp Merritt, who had enjoyed the hospitality of the people of the community surrounding the camp remarked: "The people of this county have taken such pains to make soldiers enjoy themselves that I think it's about time for us to say, thank you.' "
It was suggested that a small medal be presented to every school child in Bergen County, and committees were promptly appointed, contributions received, and the plan was a success. These medals were presented in January 1919, at which time 147 schools were visited and 37,624 medals were distributed to the children. The medal had on its face "The boys of Camp Merritt are grateful to you, 1919."
This is where most of the troops embarked and it is an historic spot. In the year 1776 when the British were preparing to occupy the Hudson River Valley, General Cornwallis made his headquarters here in an old Dutch farmhouse which had been previously an old Dutch trading post. This house still stands and was passed by the thousands of men going overseas.
The Camp Merritt Memorial Association
Requests the Honor of Your Presence at the
Camp Merritt Memorial
on Friday, the Thirtieth of May
One Thousand, nine hundred and twenty-four
at eleven o'clock
Camp Merritt, New Jersey
IN MEMORY OF THOSE SOLDIERS WHO GAVE THEIR LIVES FOR
THEIR COUNTRY WHILE ON DUTY IN CAMP MERRITT
THIS MONUMENT MARKS THE CENTER OF THE CAMP AND
FACES THE HIGHWAY OVER WHICH MORE THAN
A MILLION AMERICAN SOLDIERS PASSED ON THEIR WAY TO AND
FROM THE WORLD WAR 1917-1919
ERECTED BY THE STATE OF NEW JERSEY THE COUNTY OF BERGEN,
THE BERGEN COUNTY HISTORICAL SOCIETY OFFICERS
AND MEN OF CAMP MERRITT MANY PATRIOTIC CITIZENS AND
THE CAMP MERRITT MEMORIAL ASSOCIATION
The above is the Inscription on the Monument
Captain Robert Aitken