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They Called Them Soldier Boys

A Texas Infantry Regiment in World War I

Gregory W. Ball

Publication Year: 2013

They Called Them Soldier Boys offers an in-depth study of soldiers of the Texas National Guard’s Seventh Texas Infantry Regiment in World War I, through their recruitment, training, journey to France, combat, and their return home. Gregory W. Ball focuses on the fourteen counties in North, Northwest, and West Texas where officers recruited the regiment’s soldiers in the summer of 1917, and how those counties compared with the rest of the state in terms of political, social, and economic attitudes. In September 1917 the “Soldier Boys” trained at Camp Bowie, near Fort Worth, Texas, until the War Department combined the Seventh Texas with the First Oklahoma Infantry to form the 142d Infantry Regiment of the 36th Division. In early October 1918, the 142d Infantry, including more than 600 original members of the Seventh Texas, was assigned to the French Fourth Army in the Champagne region and went into combat for the first time on October 6. Ball explores the combat experiences of those Texas soldiers in detail up through the armistice of November 11, 1918. “Ball has done a fine job to describe and analyze the types of men who served—regarding their backgrounds and economic and social status—which fits well with the important trend relating military history to social history.”—Joseph G. Dawson, editor of The Texas Military Experience

Published by: University of North Texas Press

Series: War and the Southwest Series


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pp. 1-1

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. 2-5


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pp. v-6

List of Illustrations

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pp. vi-7

List of Maps and Tables

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pp. vii-8

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pp. viii-9

I would like to thank the Donley County Historical Society and the Burton Memorial Library, Clarendon, Texas; the Southwest Collection at Texas Tech University, Lubbock; the Texas State Library and Archives, Austin, Texas; The Abilene Public Library, Abilene, Texas; the Foard County Library, Crowell, Texas; ...

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pp. ix-xiv

In a small Texas town, thousands of miles and nearly a century removed from the battlefields of France, the influence of World War I on the Lone Star State can still be observed. Two worn statues stand on each side of a World War I-era German artillery piece in the courthouse square of Crowell, the county seat of Foard County, Texas, in the northwestern part of the state. ...

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Chapter 1 - Recruiting the 7th Texas Infantry

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pp. 1-32

On April 2, 1917, President Woodrow Wilson addressed a joint session of the United States Congress where he responded to a number of events, including the resumption of unrestricted submarine warfare by Germany and the disclosure of the infamous Zimmerman Telegram. He then asked Congress for a declaration of war. ...

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Chapter 2 - A Portrait of the 7th Texas Infantry

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pp. 33-46

An examination of the make-up of the 7th Texas Infantry from a socio-economic standpoint offers a useful composite portrait of its soldiers. This serves not only to broaden historical knowledge of those individuals, but also offers a starting point for comparing them soldiers with others in the state and other sections of the country. ...

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Chapter 3 - Camp Bowie and France

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pp. 47-76

Although local communities treated the soldiers of the 7th Texas as heroes before the regiment had even left North and Northwest Texas, their arrival at Camp Bowie in the first week of September underscored their lack of training and unfamiliarity with Army ways. The companies from Potter, Donley, and Childress counties arrived first, ...

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Chapter 4 - “Fit to Get Down to Serious Business”

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pp. 77-98

The 142d Infantry Regiment, still containing a large core of men from the old 7th Texas Infantry and the former 1st Oklahoma Infantry regiments, arrived in France at a critical moment in the war. The German Army had launched a massive series of offensives beginning in March of 1918, which German leaders hoped would end the war ...

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Chapter 5 - The Western Front, October 6–13, 1918

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pp. 99-124

As the 142d Infantry marched north out of the French village of Somme-Py, they passed a group of Marines walking south, away from the front. One of those Marines recalled passing “full strong companies of National Guardsmen. They went up one side of the road; and in ragged columns of two’s, unsightly even in the dim and fitful light, the Marines plodded down the other side.” ...

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Chapter 6 - The Western Front, October 13–30, 1918

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pp. 125-136

As the 142d Infantry filtered into the lines on the night of October 13, 1918, they were certainly not aware that in several weeks they would have to attack such a strongly fortified position as Forest Farm. Lieutenant Sayles’ weapons platoon dug in on the side of a hill and managed to bring up straw from Vaux to line their holes. Several soldiers also found doors to use as roofs over their fox holes, ...

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Chapter 7 - “Bad Enough at the Best”

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pp. 137-154

As they left the line near the end of October 1918 and marched to Valmy, James McCan of Quanah recalled that his comrades were “the worst looking bunch of men you ever saw,” and about “half a dozen could barely talk above a whisper as our lungs were full of gas.” From Valmy, the division marched southeast toward the American First Army, to which they had been assigned. ...

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Chapter 8 - Coming Home and the War’s Legacy

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pp. 155-190

While the soldiers of the old 7th Texas and their comrades in the 142d Infantry and the 36th Division reflected on their experiences and tried to put into words what they had seen and felt, the press and other observers quickly picked up on the division’s exploits. For example, Gen. Stanislas Naulin, commander of the French XXI Corps, ...


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pp. 191-219


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pp. 220-228


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pp. 229-240


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pp. 258-273

E-ISBN-13: 9781574415117
Print-ISBN-13: 9781574415001

Page Count: 352
Illustrations: 21 b&w illus. 5 maps.
Publication Year: 2013

Series Title: War and the Southwest Series
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OCLC Number: 831115098
MUSE Marc Record: Download for They Called Them Soldier Boys

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Subject Headings

  • Texas. National Guard. Infantry Regiment, 7th -- History.
  • United States. Army. Infantry Regiment, 142nd -- History.
  • World War, 1914-1918 -- Regimental histories -- United States.
  • World War, 1914-1918 -- Campaigns -- France.
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