Remarkable Photograph of a Civil War and World War I General Together

Two years ago I took advantage of a roundtable talk in Ohio to visit the Clark County Historical Society in Springfield. I found some fantastic material on the 110th Ohio Infantry, one of the units who made the Breakthrough attack at Petersburg, particularly among the papers of Joseph Warren Keifer, who served as the regiment’s original commander and led its brigade in the last year of the war. After the Civil War Keifer served in the U.S. House of Representatives, including a term as Speaker of the House. He rejoined the army for the Spanish-American War and commanded the 7th Army Corps. Keifer made the acquaintance of John Pershing and the two remained friends until Keifer’s death in 1932.

In the spirit of the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I, in which Pershing commanded the American Expeditionary Force, I want to share this clipping I found in a Springfield newspaper showing the pair of prominent Americans together.

John J. Pershing and J. Warren Keifer in 1923 (unidentified newspaper, Clark County Historical Society)

2 Responses to Remarkable Photograph of a Civil War and World War I General Together

  1. Great post. Fellow Buckeye, William Southerton, late of the 75th O.V.I., left this golden nugget of goodness from his memoirs…

    “During the World War I went over to camp at Chillicothe to see how our boys were trained.
    Out on the grounds some breastworks made of sacks of cement were piked up three or four sacks
    high, wet and hard as stone. How foolish! As if breastworks would be made in that fashion. Over
    to one side some bundles of reeds and straw tied together with bands of wire dangled from racks. I
    was puzzled. I stuck around until some boys came onto the field. They lined up some little distance
    away. A sharp command: “Charge!” With fixed bayonets the boys dashed forward, each boy
    stabbing a bundle. Then they sauntered away.

    “What are you doing that for?” I asked a boy as he walked away.

    “We’re learning to bayonet the enemy!”

    “Bayonet the enemy! My God, boy, do you think the enemy is going to stand still before a
    charging force and wait to be bayonetted? What a mess of foolishness! You’ve got to know what to
    do when the enemy comes at you, yelling and screaming and cursing, thousands of them, bayonets poked right between your eyes and ribs! Great Scott! Jabbing a bundle of straw like that! Great God Almighty! Boy, how I pity you!”

  2. Excellent post. One of Keifer’s first battles was Second Winchester, where he managed to keep his men inexperienced soldiers of the 110th from panicking as the Louisiana Tigers attacked the West Fort on June 13, 1863, during the Gettysburg Campaign. On the 15th, he took personal charge of the remnants of several Ohio regiments and led them off the field safely in the panic at Carter’s Woods. As an Ohioan, I have long admired Keifer. Salute.

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