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Guarding the Border

The Military Memoirs of the Ward Schrantz, 1912-1917

By Jeff Patrick

Publication Year: 2009

Ward Loren Schrantz, of Carthage, Missouri, entered the U.S. Army in 1912, at a time when military leaders were still seriously debating the future of the horse cavalry. He left active military service in 1946, after the United States dropped the atomic bomb on Japan. Schrantz served capably at a time when the U.S. military was undergoing rapid technological and strategic transformation and, as a journalist and attentive observer, left a vivid personal account of his time in the Army and Missouri National Guard.   Editor Jeff Patrick has woven three undated versions of Schrantz's memoir into a single narrative focused on the sparsely documented pre–World War I period from 1912 to 1917, thus helping to fill a significant gap in the existing literature. Schrantz's memoir is notable not only for the period it covers, but also for its lively evocation of a soldier's life during the U.S.-Mexico border disturbances of the early twentieth century. Schrantz's account demonstrates the perennial contrast between how soldiers were expected to behave and how they actually behaved; it offers colorful and authentic details not usually available from official histories. Patrick also has added an appendix consisting of the letters that Schrantz wrote for publication in his hometown newspaper, the Carthage Evening Press.   These documents yield interesting insights into the attitudes and dispositions of U.S. soldiers during this time, as well as the perceptions and opinions of the "folks back home." Students, scholars, and others interested in military and borderlands history will find much to enjoy in Guarding the Border: The Military Memoirs of Ward Schrantz, 1912–1917.

Published by: Texas A&M University Press

Series: Canseco-Keck History Series


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p. v

Illustrations and Maps

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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-x

First and foremost, I would like to pay tribute to those who initially preserved the archival legacy of Ward Schrantz. His immediate family recognized the historical value of his reminiscences, maps, and photographs and guaranteed that the collection remained intact. Jasper County historian Marvin VanGilder of Carthage, Missouri, who worked with Ward Schrantz, was given the Schrantz scrapbooks by ...

Notes on Editorial Method

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p. xi

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pp. 1-9

Ward Loren Schrantz of Carthage, Missouri, was a news-paper journalist, author, and historian, but he also faithfully served his country as a soldier for nearly half a century. He began his unusual military career in the Missouri National Guard in 1909, then joined the regular army three years later. Discharged in 1914 after serving on the Mexican border, he returned to the Missouri National Guard. ...

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The Missouri National Guard

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pp. 10-19

...with the outbreak of the Spanish-American War in the spring of 1898, with the epidemic of wars [in] various places in the world the next six years, all liberally treated in newspapers and magazines, fostered and encouraged the natural inclination. Campaigns in Cuba and in the Philippines; the Boxer rebellion, the Boer War, and the Russian-Japanese war, ...

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A Civilian Visits Mexico

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pp. 20-24

My original interest in the Mexican wars had hinged in part on my sympathy for Francisco Madero in his successful revolt of 1910 and 1911 against President Porfi rio Díaz. It seemed to me—quite ignorant of details as I was—that he had not dealt fairly with the leaders who had helped him to make that revolt successful. When Pascual Orozco raised the standard of revolt against him in 1912, Tracy Richardson who lived ...

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Joining the Regulars

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pp. 25-29

... It apparently frequently happened that men applied for enlistment but their nerve failed them and at the recruit depot they did not want to join. The club the army held over their heads was that if they did not go ahead and take the oath they were guilty of getting railway transportation to the depot under false pretences [sic]. The reluctant ones ...

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El Paso

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pp. 30-59

... Fort Bliss, Texas, lies on a high sandy plateau three miles northeast of El Paso and just around the shoulder of Mount Franklin. To the north and east is a rolling, sandy waste, covered with sagebrush, mesquite, Spanish bayonet and low growing cactus. To the west are grey, rugged ...

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Texas City

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pp. 60-82

At Texas City, Texas, on this February 28, 1913, everything was activity. The sidings were crowded with the trains of eight regiments, some just arriving. Some almost unloaded. ...

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Return to Missouri

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pp. 83-86

The small attendance at drill rather shocked me, as did the apparent state of training—all of which indicated principally, probably, that my memory was poor. The national guard, in the days before there was any drill pay, worked under many handicaps. Yet the group, which was a cadre rather than ...

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Back to the Border—As a Civilian

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pp. 87-92

I had always wanted to travel on a Mississippi River steamer and learning that there were some commercial lines still running, I went to Memphis, intending to go by water to New Orleans. However there were no through boats farther than Vicksburg, so I engaged passage on the ...

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pp. 93-105

It was on the morning of June 19 that orders to mobilize reached Company A, Second Missouri Infantry, by which time some two-thirds of the company had already assembled in uniform on the basis of newspaper reports. By nightfall the unit was ready to move, but for some reason, probably inability to get railway cars, the companies of the regiment each in a separate town, did not move to the state concentration camp at Camp Clark, Nevada, Mo., until ...

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pp. 106-115

The 49-mile march from Laredo to Ramire

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The End of Border Service

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pp. 116-118

Back in the Laredo camp the usual routine of drill and maneuver was resumed, to which was added a weekly parade at Fort McIntosh. There were only four infantry regiments now at Laredo, including our own—the regiments numbering about 1,000 men each. Besides us there was the 9th U.S. Infantry, the 1st New Hampshire and the 2nd Florida. ...

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Editor’s Postscript

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pp. 119-122

"On April 13, 1917, a week after the United States declared war on Germany, Schrantz’s hard work with the National Guard paid off with his election as captain of the Carthage Light Guard. The company did not immediately enter federal service. It was not until August 5 that the Second Missouri Infantry was officially drafted, and on August 17 the regiment assembled on the now familiar ..."

Appendix A: The U.S. Army, the National Guard, and Mexico

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pp. 123-143

Appendix B: Schrantz's Letters to the Carthage Evening Press

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pp. 144-158


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pp. 159-188


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pp. 189-195


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pp. 197-205

E-ISBN-13: 9781603443425
E-ISBN-10: 1603443428
Print-ISBN-13: 9781603440967
Print-ISBN-10: 1603440968

Page Count: 224
Illustrations: 21 b&w photos. 2 maps.
Publication Year: 2009

Series Title: Canseco-Keck History Series
See more Books in this Series

OCLC Number: 715188851
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Guarding the Border

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Subject Headings

  • Schrantz, Ward L.
  • Mexican-American Border Region -- History, Military -- 20th century.
  • Mexico -- History -- Revolution, 1910-1920 -- Personal narratives, American.
  • Soldiers -- Mexican-American Border Region -- Biography.
  • Soldiers -- Rio Grande Valley -- Biography.
  • Soldiers -- Texas -- Biography.
  • United States. Army -- Military life -- History -- 20th century.
  • Missouri. National Guard -- Military life -- History -- 20th century.
  • Soldiers -- Missouri -- Biography.
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