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 "Going Over the Top"

Written by:  Douglas D. Blevins 4-29-1996.

WW I was called "the war to end all wars."

The World War I began on July 28, 1914 with the declaration of war by Austria-Hungary on Serbia, and   hostilities between the Allied and Central Powers continued until the signing of the armistice on November 11, 1918, a period of 4 years, 3 months, and 14 days.   The immediate cause of the war between Austria-Hungary and Serbia was the assassination on June 28, 1914, at Sarajevo in Bosnia (then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire; now in Bosnia and Heregovina), of Archduke Francis Ferdinand, heir-presumptive to the Austrian throne, by Gavrilo Princip (1893-1918), a Surb nationalist.   The aggregate direct war costs of all the belligerents amounted to about $186 billion.   Casualties in the land forces amounted to more than 37 million; in addition, close to 10 million deaths among the civilian populations were caused indirectly by the war.  

In January 1917, President Woodrow Wilson completely altered his point of view   toward the war.   In that month Germany announced that, beginning February 1, 1917 it would resort to unrestricted submarine warfare against the shipping of Great Britain.   German military and civil experts had calculated that such warfare would bring about defeat of Great Britain in six months.   Because the U.S. had already expressed its strong opposition to unrestricted submarine warfare, which, it claimed, violated its rights as a neutral, and had even threatened to break relations with Germany over the issue, President Wilson dropped his peacemaking efforts.   On February 3, 1917 the U.S. broke diplomatic relations with Germany and at President Wilson's request a number of Latin American nations, including Peru, Bolivia, and Brazil, also did so.   On April 6, 1917 the United States declared war on Germany.

The first conscripts was called on April 7, 1917 and the selective service act passed on May 18, 1917.   Major General John J. Pershing was made commander in chief on May 26, 1917.   He asked for 3-4 million troops as the regular army numbered only 135,000 men at that time.   The second conscript were order on June 27, 1917 and a blindfolded woman pulled out the first draftee.   While the first troops landed in France on June 26, 1917 it would not fire a shot until October 23, 1917.   Before the war's end, 4,735,000 American men would serve and 53,000 would lose their lives in the war while illness and exposure would account for 73,000   would bring the total to 126,000 and 204,000 men would be wounded.
In August Gen. Pershing and the Allied commanders agreed on a plan to use the American First Army as a single unit in a major offensive. On September 12-13 the Americans, supported by French artillery, took St-Mihiel, a salient that the Germans had held since their first drive in 1914.

    The battle of the Meuse-Argonne continued from September 26 until November 11. In the 47 days of action 29 American combat divisions were used. The battle was part of a general engagement that pressed against the entire length of the German line from Verdun to the English Channel. About 1,200,000 Americans took part. When the drive ended, the war was over.1

The term doughboy was   an informal term for a U.S. soldier during   world War I.   The American infantryman   marched in the mud, crawled in the mud, slept in the mud, and he accumulated mud on his uniform. His buddies would say, "You look like a doughboy with that mud on you!!"   The infantrymen would greet his fellow soldiers as " Hi, doughboy". The press picked it up and then everyone referred to him as a "Doughboy."  

Trenches were cut through battlefield fronts in Europe to protect troops from deadly artillery and machine-gun fire. Firing trenches were backed by cover trenches, which provided a second line of defense in case enemies overran the firing trench.   each was about 6 to 8 feet deep.   Off-duty troops lived in the dugouts in the support trenches.   Supplies, food, and fresh troops moved to the front through a network of reserved and communications trenches.   Between the trenches of opposing forces lay no-man's-land.   Crossing it often meant certain death because it was strewn with barbed wire and open to the sights of enemy guns.   Several   soldiers would get   tangled up and would be killed or wounded crossing "no man's land." This was also called "going over the top"!   This is how my father was wounded by a machine gun.   The "Doughboy" used a very reliable bolt action U.S. Model 1903 Springfield rifle.   This rifle was used in WW II. by the American infantryman   soldier the, "G.I."

News of the war's end traveled fast and on November 12, 1918, the day after the armistice, American and German soldiers met in Meurthe-et Moselle, France, and instead of exchanging shots, they exchanged hats and cigarettes.   The Three Hundred Fortieth Field Artillery had buried its last shell and muzzled its gun for the last time.

  Monday, April 28-29, 1919 was Victory Day in Monticello.   The speakers   were Lieutenant York and Rev. J. L. Piercy. Lieutenant York was a chaplain who was present at Chateau-Thierry, Argonne Forest and   St. Mihiel when the heavy fighting was being done.

The first "Doughboy" was made by a famous Italian sculptor in Illinois by the name of E. M. Viouesney. Even the finest detail has been portrayed on this hollow, bronze statue.   The hand grenade held in an upraised hand, the rifle, bayonet, gas mask, the barbed wire entanglement, the trench helmet, the hobnailed shoe, the shell pitted battle field and the alertness which characterizes the   American soldier.

On Friday, January 19, 1923, the statue arrived in Monticello, Ky.   This statue was the first to be erected in the south, although six others had been previously been placed in Cleveland, OH., New York N.Y., Brooklyn, N.Y. and Buffalo, N.Y.   The original was erected at Centralia, Washington.   The "Doughboy" in Monticello Ky. is a copy that was   at the , "Memorial Park", in the center of the town square in April, 1923.   It cost $1,500 dollars .   The schools made up money to help pay for it.   Monticello's eighth grade made up the most money and Mt. Pisgah came in second .   There was an oil boom at Mt. Pisgah at that time. People would auction off pies, and if you gave $2.00 or more your name was placed in a hat and drawing were held for lamps and   candle holders.   If Legion members didn't give $2.00, they were required to work a full day working on Memorial Park.   A total of over $2,000 dollars was raised.   An active committee of the American Legion Post 134 was formed to help raise the money.   The 32 oz bronze plates had three categories of names; (1) Killed in action;   (2) Wounded in Action; (3) Died in Service.   470 men marched off to war from Wayne County, 9 of 15 died of sickness, such as Meningitis, and Pneumonia, in camp, in the states and never made it to the war front, 9 were Killed, 41 were wounded and all had been through Hell on earth!

The record shows that they had a part in the battles of Ypres, Hindenburg line, St. Quentin, St. Miciel, Verdum Meuse-Argonne, and many others.

The two large marble blocks that served as a base came from a quarry in Tate, Georgia, and arrived in Monticello on Tuesday, January 23, 1923.   Mr. Gaywitz of Louisville, Ky. supervised the transfer of the stones and the erection of the "Doughboy".   The statue, bronze and hollow inside, was from a Chicago foundry.   The Plates are of Bronze cast 32 oz. standard.. The marble   of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery, the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. and the marble sent to Monticello came from the same rock !   The marble sent to Monticello was shipped by train to Burnside, Ky. and brought by horse and wagon to Monticello.

When the "Doughboy " was dedicated on April 8, 1923, it was a cold day. Captain John W. Tuttle, a prominent 86 year old Civil War veteran unveiled the "Doughboy".   James D. Duncan, commander of the Wayne Co. Post of the Legion, welcomed the visitors.   He noted that "Among the 400 who came back were men broken, bruised and maimed.   He said, It will always be the duty of the American Legion as buddy to buddy and man to man to gather up the strands of this great fighting machine, and see that they get justice and a square deal".   The bleachers they had built for the occasion fell and several people were "skinned-up", The Red Cross spent most of the day patching people up......

The site for the town of Monticello, deeded to Wayne County, containing 13 acres was bought from Joseph Beard and his brother William Beard, in 1802 for 5 shilling ( equal to 1/4 pound of silver).   The first three courthouses stood in the center of the public square the last being in 1866. This area was called   "Memorial Park" (not to be confused with the park on Michigan Ave).   "Memorial Park"   was octagon shaped (8 sides) and was probably near the size of Fountain square in Somerset, Ky.   At least 3500 people attended the dedication of the doughboy.

October 29, 1956 the City Council adopted a resolution to reduce the size of Memorial Park to meet present day traffic needs.   (This resolution can't be found).   In down sizing the park they found that the doughboy was not in the middle of the park and   feared that it was unstable due to cinders used as a fill underneath the dirt. Many   wanted to moved it to the courthouse lawn near the W.W.II   monument.   The city turned to the County Judge and a meeting was held January 21, 1957.   In attendance were about 50 W.W.I veterans to denounce the move to the courthouse lawn, so the judge ordered it turned   back over to the City.   The March, 1957 Grand Jury recommended in a resolution (can't be found) to not disturb the monument and a space of   20 feet square be set aside as a permanent location.   They further stated that suitable protection be given to   this monument.   The W.W.I veterans agreed to this as I recall.

In the   May 16, 1957 edition of the Wayne Co. Outlook, the new look of the Memorial Park appeared the way it is today, about a 12 foot by 12 foot square, instead of the 20 by 20 foot square!   This angered the W.W.I veterans as they had been out right lied to, and thinking it was a move to completely move the doughboy to another location, banded together and rallied as they had done in W.W.I to never ever let it be moved!   All the veterans and other people felt it was a shame and a disgrace to see this once proud statue now standing as a thing, in the middle of town as some "pillars of the community" have called it.

I remember on the way to my dad's funeral in July 1968,   stopping off to voice my opinion in opposition, in my dad's behalf as well as mine during a rally or public hearing, to move the doughboy!

Later, on April 12, 1976, a city resolution was enacted to move the doughboy to a new location.   On June 12, 1976 a city ordinance # 424 (can't be found) was passed to move the doughboy.   Once again the W.W.I   veterans and the   patriotic people rallied to the defense of their treasured monument and even went to court to let the doughboy rest in peace!   Leland Barnes and Carl Bridgeman of American Legion Post 134 took action!   On April 21, 1976, Civil class action suit #2760 was filed in Wayne Co. court (Leland Barnes and Carl Bridgeman vs complaint) and a temporary restraining order was issued April 22, to stop the move.  
As the doughboy stood quietly, most people thought the natural color of this statue was green as it had been that color for quite some time.     In May of 1976 the American Legion Post 134 took action and a band of several members, led by Kenny Ledbetter, started a very difficult job of scrubbing off several years of corrosion that had spread all over the bronze and was running down on the marble base.   The job took about a month, and through the use of Easy Off Oven Cleaner, Navel Jelly, and Brasso, the doughboy suddenly came to life and looked as stunning as it did that cold day in April in 1923.   They finished cleaning   just in time for Memorial Day!   It was noticed by many, and   one W.W.I   veteran wanted to polish his name which was on the plaque.   This was probably the first major cleaning that it had since it was erected.   It was so newsworthy that the Reporter newspaper did a story on the cleaning.     During this time I heard a disk jockey on WKYM recite a poem about the doughboy saluting traffic at the bottom of Lake Cumberland.   The Outlook also had to get in a lick in the December 31, 1980 editor's page and give the "Old soldiers never die they just block the road" award.   In the January 15, 1981 edition - page 11, I responded with an award of my own to the editor!  

On August 30, 1976 Judge Leonard E. Wilson handed down a verdict stating that the county had owned this spot and 13 acres since 1802.   The decision to move the doughboy was appealed and file # ca-692-mr dated, February 10, 1978 and issued March 23, 1978 upheld the original decision!

For one shining moment in 1923 the Governor of the state, Edwin P. Morrow   and future vice president Hon. Alben W. Barkley stood with the citizens of a small town to be first to honor their heroes.  

As I look at the statue today with evidence of egg running down the marble base and signs of someone prying the statue loose at the base, I wonder where has the pride gone?  

"THE SPIRIT OF THE AMERICAN DOUGHBOY" is still alive and well, thank God....

Written by:  Douglas D. Blevins 4-29-1996.
Dedicated to:   My father, Ezra Blevins W.W.I Veteran, my wife, Paulette, my mother, Dosha, 2 daughters, Sonya and Delanna, my son, Jonathan, my granddaughter Amanda and all W.W.I Veterans and their families, and to the patriotic citizens of Wayne County.

Information Sources:
Compton's Encyclopedia
Wayne Co. Outlook        
Garnett Walker          
Katie Lou Rector
Vernon Minard Sr.        
Ralph Minard            
Grolier Multimedia, 1995
Wayne Co. Times Illustrated                
My father's, Ezra Blevins W.W. I hand book
Wayne County Circuit Court records    
City Hall files
Kenny Ledbetter
The Reporter  
Wayne County in World War 1  
Encarta   Encyclopedia
1Excerpted from Compton's Interactive Encyclopedia. Copyright (c) 1994, 1995 Compton's NewMedia, Inc.