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Caissons Go Rolling Along

A Memoir of America in Post-World War I Germany

Johnson Hagood

Publication Year: 2012

Major General Johnson Hagood (1873–1948) was one of South Carolina's most distinguished army officers of the twentieth century. An artillerist and a scholar of military science, Hagood became a noted expert in logistics and served as the chief of staff of the Services of Supply in World War I Europe. Taken from Hagood's wartime journal, Caissons Go Rolling Along describes his artillery brigade's march into Germany in 1918, the wartime devastation, his impressions of the defeated enemy and occupied territories, and his tour of the recent battlefields in the company of the commanders who fought there. Written in a conversational style, the narrative focuses principally on Hagood's time in command of the Sixty-sixth Field Artillery Brigade following the armistice. The Sixty-sixth FAB was attached to the American Third Army, which later became the American occupation force in the Rhineland. Hagood recorded his impressions of the conditions in which he found his men at the end of the war and the events of a tour of the French, British, and American battlefields. More important, he set down a record of the devastation of the French countryside, the contrasting lack of suffering he found in Germany, the character of the Germans, and some predictions for the future. "I have left the text as it was when we held these people at the point of the bayonet," he wrote in his preface years later. "The opinions we formed at that time are important because they were the basis of our action. . . . The scourge of the Great War took a heavy toll . . . and we Americans might as well keep in mind what we were fighting for." Hagood captures defining aspects of the American character at the close of World War I. He described a boisterous, optimistic people, sure of their new place in the world. Rome provided Hagood with an analogy for the new American empire, which he took for granted in his postwar memoir. Completed during Hagood's lifetime but unpublished until now, Caissons Go Rolling Along is an engrossing portrait of war-torn Europe, a stark reminder of grim realities of the Great War, and a richly detailed look at the daunting task of occupying and rebuilding a defeated nation.

Published by: University of South Carolina Press


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pp. 1-3

Title Page

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p. 4-4

Copyright Page

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p. 5-5

Table of Contents

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pp. v-viii

List of Illustrations

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pp. ix-x

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About Maj. Gen. Johnson Hagood

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pp. xi-xx

Lee Hagood (1846–1890), Johnson Hagood’s father, was one of eleven children and a Confederate veteran of the Civil War. In 1863 Lee left school to join his older brother Capt. James R. Hagood, who was on his way to eastern Tennessee with the First South Carolina Volunteer Infantry. ...

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Editorial Method

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pp. xxi-xxiv

Johnson Hagood was a prolific author and military commentator as well as an experienced publisher of books and articles. He intended to publish Caissons Go Rolling Along as a sequel to The Services of Supply (Doubleday, 1927) using material from the same wartime journal. ...

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pp. 1-2

The basis of this work is my diary, written in Germany, during the American occupation of the Rhine. I had plenty of time on my hands and a good stenographer, so spent a little of this time each day in recording current events and saying what I thought about things going on around me. ...

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Introduction: Being the Summary of a Previous Work—THE SERVICES OF SUPPLY, a Memoir of the Great War—By General Johnson Hagood—Houghton Mifflin Company, 1927

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pp. 3-14

When the war broke out, I was a Lieutenant Colonel, Regular Army, on staff duty in Charleston. My immediate Chief was Brigadier General C. P. Townsley, commanding the South Atlantic Coast Artillery District. But my big Chief was Major General Leonard Wood, commanding the Department of the South.1 ...

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Chapter 1: Back with the Old Brigade: Armistice Day—Mailly-le-Camp—Haussimont—General Chamberlaine—Naval Guns—In Front of the Front—Prisoners of War—Étain—Metz—Marshal Pétain

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pp. 15-21

It had been finally decided that pending my promotion to major general and command of an infantry division, I should go up to the front and take over the old Railway Artillery Brigade with which I had come to France. This brigade had been reorganized once or twice, split up to form new organizations, ...

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Chapter 2: The Army Artillery: Visit to G.H.Q.—Luxemburg—Hotel Staar—66th F.A. Brigade—Blercourt—Getting Back to Normalcy—Brigade Mess—Robert

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pp. 22-28

On November 22nd in accordance with telephonic instructions, I went over from Haussimont to G.H.Q., and was informed by General Leroy Eltinge, Deputy Chief of Staff, that General Pershing had given instructions that I should not return to the United States with the railway artillery being collected at Haussimont for that purpose, ...

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Chapter 3: On the Move: Out of Blercourt into Esch—Welcomed by the Luxemburgers— The Grand Duchesse—Cost of Living High—Mertert—Peasant Life in Luxemburg—First Glimpse of Germany

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pp. 29-34

In accordance with orders from the 3d Army, the brigade started its march to the Rhine, leaving Blercourt at 6 o’clock Monday morning, December 2d. Our destination was the vicinity of Coblenz, over a route to be indicated from time to time from Army Headquarters.1 ...

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Chapter 4: Marching through Germany: Crossing the Frontier—Bitburg—The Count A. . . von A. . .n and His Wife—First Impressions Favorable—On to Hillesheim—America Crosses the Rhine—The Doctor’s Office

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pp. 35-43

We crossed the Moselle and started upon our march through German territory. I went on in advance and arrived at Bitburg about noon. This town had previously been occupied as headquarters of the Third Army, so that we were not the first Americans to come there. ...

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Chapter 5: Bassenheim: The Château—The Knights’ Hall—Extensive Gardens—Abundant Food—Well Trained Servants—Letter to the Burgomaster—General Hines at Neuwied—Christmas Eve among the Robber Barons—Over the Rhine at Coblenz

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pp. 44-50

This château, like many others in Europe, was enclosed in a stone wall, a large park surrounding. The main entrance was on the town square, and the grounds extended into the country. The enclosure contained about thirty acres, with a lake, a small stream, fine old trees, roads, and grassy lawns. ...

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Chapter 6: Höhr-Grenzhausen: Journey’s End—Fish—Army Artillery Commander—Our Area— Command—Pottery—Billets—Brigade Commander’s Quarters— Servants—Office Space—German Prisoners

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pp. 51-57

Well, we are on the move once more—this time to Höhr-Grenzhausen, and the smaller towns of Nauort, Wirscheid, Alsbach, Kaan,1 and Stromberg. I crossed the bridge at Coblenz and made a reconnaissance first with Wurtz and afterwards with Colonel Jonathan M. Wainwright of G-3, 3rd Army.2 ...

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Chapter 7: Gott Strafe England—Und America: Introductory—First Impressions—von Steuben—Ambassador Gerard—Hate—The Lusitania—Post War Attitude—Greeted with Flags—Servility—What are We Fighting For?

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pp. 58-64

It is not unusual for an American to form opinions of a foreign people after a short visit to their country, and to make himself ridiculous by parading these opinions in public print. No one cares what I think about the Germans or what the Germans think about me. As a matter of fact, they do not know of my existence. ...

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Chapter 8: Squareheads: Our Attitude towards the Germans—Atrocities—Children— Schools—No Poverty—Motor Trucks—Precedence—First Division

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pp. 65-74

The strange attitude of the Germans toward our soldiers got us all confused. It was so different from what we expected that we did not know how to meet it. The average American soldier is honest, straightforward, and frank. He is accustomed to saying what he really thinks, about whatever comes to his mind. ...

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Chapter 9: Welfare Workers: Soldiers Want to See Some Skirts—Letter to Carter—Miss Waller and Mrs. Stevens—Y.M.C.A. Building—Shows—Y.M.C.A. Entertainers—Saving the Boxing Game—Chaplains as Managers—Selling Cigarettes—Gift Tobacco

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pp. 75-80

One of the great needs we had in our area just now was “skirts.” The soldiers were fed up on themselves, and they wanted to see some of these good looking welfare workers that they had heard about but had never seen. In the same way that the 66th Brigade had been short on clothes and rations, it had been short on welfare workers. ...

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Chapter 10: The School at Trèves: Vocational Work—Dardanelles—Working on Hunches—Augustus Treverorum—Porta Nigra—The School—Politics Back Home

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pp. 81-85

For the first two weeks of February, 1919, there are some blank spaces in my diary. I think the reason is that times were very dull in Höhr-Grenzhausen, and after recording my reactions on the Germans and the Y.M.C.A., I tapered off a little and ne glected to write down some very important happenings. ...

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Chapter 11: Belgium: Brussels—“Ouf! Ils Sont Partis!”—Louvain Victim of Frightfulness— Liège—Ludendorff’s Own Story

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pp. 86-94

As Washington advised us to keep out of foreign entanglements, it would seem that February 22nd was an appropriate day upon which to start an ex - pedition to see just how much we had entangled ourselves by trying to rescue the Fairy Princess from the Dragon’s Cave—in other words, to save the Belgians from the Boche.1 ...

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Chapter 12: Over the Battle Fields: Military Barriers—France and Germany—Area of the Somme, Marne and Meuse-Argonne—Order of Battle

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pp. 95-99

The most important feature of our course of instruction in the school at Trèves was the opportunity of going over the actual battle fields, in company with the actual commanders of American, British, and French units, that had played important rôles in these battles. Such an opportunity could come but once in a life time, ...

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Chapter 13: With the British: Vimy Ridge—General Morrison—Importance—Albert—Third Battle of the Somme—46th British Division—St. Quentin Canal— Bellenglise Tunnel—General Boyd—The Australians—Thiepval Heights—High Woods

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pp. 100-111

At 7:30 a.m. Saint Patrick’s Day 1919, we left our hotel at Amiens for a side trip with the British. We are to see three battle fields in the Somme area, the scenes of some of the fiercest fighting on the British front. Colonel Mitchell of the British ser vice and General Frank Parker rode in my car. ...

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Chapter 14: Who Broke the Hindenburg Line?: The Thirtieth Division—Abbéville Agreement—Plan of Operation— How It Came Out—Citations

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pp. 112-117

We know that the Hindenburg Line, the last stand of the Germans, was broken by a concerted Allied drive along the entire front. Some one organization, however, had to be the first to get through, and there has been some little rivalry as to just which organization that first one was. ...

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Chapter 15: With the Americans: Sedan—Stenay—Grand Pré—Amiens—Cantigny

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pp. 118-124

The class, under the guidance of Colonel Locke, Colonel Horowitz, Colonel Peyton, and Colonel Sparks left Trèves at 8:30 a.m. We passed through Luxemburg and arrived at Sedan in time for a very excellent lunch at a French officers’ club. It was great to be once more with the French, and to have some good French cooking, ...

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Chapter 16: With the Americans (Cont’d.): Château Thierry—General Situation—Holding the Bridge—The Second Division—Who Signed the Chit?—Big Bertha—The Third Division—What Makes ’em Fight?

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pp. 125-135

Leaving Cantigny, we went considerably to the south, hoping to find better roads, and did not arrive at Château Thierry until about 6:30 in the evening. We stopped at the Hôtel de la Gare. I was surprised to see the town not more shot up. The hotel had been struck several times. ...

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Chapter 17: With the French: Soissons—First Visit to the Front—Chemin des Dames—Soissons’ Last Fight—Laon and Rheims—Verdun—The Human Soup Bowl— Guests of the French Government—The Big Battle—Au Revoir

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pp. 136-146

We have already seen that the Marne area extended from the Somme area on the west to the Meuse-Argonne on the east, that it consisted of the Champagne, or open country, and the Marne Plateau; [and] that the latter was crossed by many difficult barriers in the way of rivers, ridges, and deep ravines, ...

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Chapter 18: Homeward Bound: Heavy Snow—Hôtel Porta Nigra—Waffles and Syrup—Back in Beastly Germany—Chamberlaine’s Story—Shake-ups in the Brigade—Big News—Trip to Italy—Demonstration against Wilson—What about George Washington?—C’est Fini

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pp. 147-150

We left Verdun in a heavy snow and, passing through Étain and Luxemburg, arrived at the Porta Nigra Hôtel at Trèves. Parker, who was in the car with me, went on to Coblenz by train. My limousine had broken down, and I had had to leave it at Verdun to be repaired and was traveling in an open Cadillac, which under the circumstances was not particularly comfortable. ...


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pp. 151-206

Selected Bibliography

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pp. 207-218


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pp. 219-228

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About the Editor

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p. 256-256

Larry A. Grant is a retired U.S. Navy surface warfare officer who specialized in seamanship, training, and management. Now a historical researcher and freelance writer, Grant lives in Charleston, South Carolina.

E-ISBN-13: 9781611172188
Print-ISBN-13: 9781570039157

Page Count: 256
Publication Year: 2012