IAGenWeb Iowa in the Great War


Report of the Adjutant General of Iowa

Iowa National Guard Activities

First Infantry First On Duty


     On March 26, 1917, the Governor received an order from the Secretary of War placing on duty the First Infantry, Iowa National Guard, for the purposes of "preventing interference with postal, commercial and military channels and instrumentalities" in Iowa. This telegraphic order was as follows:

  Washington, D. C., March 25, 1917.

To The Honorable William L. Harding,

        Governor of Iowa, Des Moines, Iowa.


    Having in view the necessity of affording a more perfect protection against possible interference with postal, commercial and military channels and instrumentalities of the United States in the state of Iowa, and being unable with the regular troops available at his command to insure the faithful execution of the union in this regard, the President has thought proper to exercise  the authority vested in him by the constitution and laws to call out the National Guard necessary for the purpose. I am, in consequence, instructed by the president to call in to the service of the United States forthwith, through you, the following units of the National Guard of the State of Iowa, which the President desires shall be assembled at the places to be designated to you by the Commanding General, Central Department, Chicago, Illinois, and which said Commanding General has been directed to communicate to you: First Regiment, Iowa Infantry, National Guard.


Baker, Secretary of War.  

     The units of the regiment were promptly assembled at their company stations and mustered into Federal service and within two weeks were assigned to duty guarding bridges, government property and designated manufacturing plants at the following points:

Headquarters, Headquarters Company, Supply Company, Machine Gun Company, Companies B and G at Fort Des Moines, Iowa guarding government property and bridges and other points at Des Moines.
Company A at Dubuque
Company C at Clinton
Company D at Sabula; three squads at Aiken, Ill., guarding tunnel.
Company E at Charles City
Company F 1 platoon at Yetter, 1 platoon at Fort Dodge
Company H 1 platoon at Boone, 1 platoon at Jefferson, 1 platoon at Madrid
Company I at Burlington; 1 platoon at Media, Ill.
Company K at Fort Madison; 1 platoon at Dumas, Mo.
Company L at Keokuk
Company M at Ottumwa
Sanitary Detachment at stations named above


    No other Iowa Guard troops were called to duty until June 20, 1917, when the Secretary of War directed that Company A, Iowa Engineers, be assembled and mustered into Federal Service. The company was ordered to Fort Des Moines and a few days later ordered to Camp Dodge where it was on duty making maps of the encampment, drawing plans for roadways, water systems, etc. and directing certain construction work  Company B, Council Bluffs and Company C, Des Moines were ordered organized by the War Department on June 11 and the organization completed by July 15. The companies were mustered and ordered to Camp Cody, Deming, N. M. where they were joined by Company A, and a battalion organization effected, Major Anson Marston of Ames, in command.

     On June 22, 1917 the first battalion of Field Artillery Iowa National Guard, was ordered into Federal service mustered, and sent to Fort Des Moines, and later ordered to Fort Logan H. Root, Little Root, Arkansas, still later going to Camp Cody, Deming, N. M. The other three batteries in the regiment were soon organized at Des Moines, Cedar Rapids and Davenport and sent direct to Camp Cody, after being mustered into Federal Service.

     On June 11 the Chief of the Militia Bureau, War Department authorized the organization of an ambulance company, and outpost Signal company. These organizations were soon completed, mustered, and sent to Camp Cody, Deming, N. M.

     The last organization in the National Guard to be completed was the Ammunition Train (motor), which was organized between July 13 and July 18, 1917, principally in the larger cities of the state, and mobilized at the State Fair grounds, Des Moines, where the officers and men were given intensive training, and acted as guards during the fair and were later sent to Camp Cody, Deming, New Mexico.

     A field hospital had been authorized by the War Department and was federally recognized on May 17, 1917. This was located at Sioux City and was known as Field Hospital No. 2.

     On June 25, 1917 an order was issued from the office of the Adjutant General authorizing all organization commanders to place on duty for a period of intensive military training beginning July 1, 1917 all recruits who have not had previous military service in some branches of the Army and Navy. Camps were established in the home stations either in the armories or under tentage.

     The organization commander and one commissioned officer were detailed for duty as instructors and enlisting officers. From the enlisted personnel the following men were detailed from those who had had previous service to assist in the care and instruction of the recruits.

     One sergeant for each 21 recruits or major fraction thereof.

     One corporal for each 7 recruits or major fraction thereof.

     One cook for the first forty enlisted men on duty and one additional if company exceeds forty enlisted men on duty.

     One bugler for each organization authorization to have buglers.

     All officers and enlisted men received the pay of their grade during this time.

     On July 3, 1917, the President issued a proclamation calling the National Guard into Federal service on July 15th. This proclamation in part is as follows:


"Whereas, The United States of America and the Imperial German Government are now at war, and having in view the consequent danger of aggression by a foreign enemy upon the territory of the United States and the necessity for proper protection against possible interference with the execution of the laws of the Union by agents of the enemy, I, WOODROW WILSON, President of the United States, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States and through the governors of the respective States, call into the service of the United States as of and from the dates hereinafter respectively indicated all members of the National Guard and all enlisted members of the National Guard Reserve of the following States, who are not now in the service of the United States, except members of staff corps and departments not included in the personnel of tactical organizations, and except such officers of the National Guard as have been or may be specially notified by my authority that they will not be affected by this call."    


       In response to this proclamation, transmitted to organization commanders, the following units responded by assembling at their home stations for muster:

Second Infantry
Third Infantry
First Separate Company of Infantry
First Squadron Iowa Cavalry
Field Hospital No. 1
Field Hospital No. 2
Ambulance Company No. 1
Ambulance Company No. 2
Outpost Company, Signal Corps
Companies B and C Engineers
Second Battalion, Field Artillery
Ammunition Train


         Colonel A. Thayer, 2nd U. S. Cavalry, reported as mustering officer for Iowa early in July , and on July 20th issued an order designating certain Iowa Guard officers as assistant mustering officers and directing them to proceed to the home stations of Guard units and muster the officers and men into Federal Service. This was soon accomplished.

       At this time each Infantry organization had rifle companies of 150 men each. Early in August  the War Department specified that each rifle company should consist of 250 men. At this time the Rainbow or 42nd Division was being formed for immediate service in France. To quickly fill the ranks of the Third Infantry assigned to this division, Colonel Thayer on August 15, 1917, issued an order direction the transfer of 1, 653 men from the First and Second Infantry regiments to the Third Infantry regiment later renamed the 168th Infantry, which was under orders to mobilize at the State Fair grounds, Des Moines.

     As this order made the Third Iowa which later made a brilliant record in the fighting in France, a composite regiment, with men from all parts of the state, the order of Colonel Thayer, is published in part.



~reference: State of Iowa 1918, Report of the Adjutant General of Iowa, for the Biennial Period Ended June 30, 1918. Louis G. Lasher, Adjutant General. Published by the State of Iowa, Des Moines

~ contributed by Cay Merriman for Iowa in the Great War Special Project


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