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History of the
31st Artillery Brigade Headquarters, C.A.C.


The Brigade was formed from Coast Artillery Corps Companies from Key West Barracks, Florida in January of 1918. Also formed from the Key West Barracks was the 32d Artillery Brigade. During March the 31st Brigade moved to Camp Merritt, New Jersey, for final preperations before sailing to France. Orders came and on 30 March 1918 the Brigade consisting of 6 officers and 50 enlisted men, went aboard the USS Antigone and sailed from Port of Embarkation, Hoboken, New Jersey arriving 13 April in St.Nazaire, France.

While in France the Brigade saw much action during the Asine-Marne actions as well as during the Meuse-Argonne Offensive. During February of 1919 the Brigade was returned to New York and went to Ft. Winfield Scott, California for a short time. Then in October 1919 the Brigade was sent to Camp Lewis, Washington where they were retained on active service in the Army.

Photo Notes: 31st Brigade HQ formed from Florida Coast Artillery Corps in January 1918. Transferred to New Jersey in March before sailing for France on March 30th 1918.Accompanying note: "Troop movement, Headquarters Co., 31st Brigade, Coast Artillery Coast Defense Station, off port of embarkation" This photo was shared by Tony Conigliaro, an Archivest with the Florida State Photographic Collection of the Florida State Memory Project. They have an excellent web site with searchable photos and also a searchable database with World War One Statement of Service cards. These cards are very valuable as a research tool and I have used them many times.

Composition of the 31st Brigade Headquarters, C.A.C.

This is a list of the officers of the Brigade and the 3 Regiments that it controlled and the dates they held the positions. Exact dates are not known in all cases, dates listed are known dates when listed as in that position.

31st Brigade Headquarters
Brigadier General Gatchell (2 August, 1918)
Brigadier General William Church Davis (24 October, 1918)
Captain R. D. Brown Brigade Adjutant (11 October, 1918)
Captain J. B. Sledge Asst. Adjutant (14 October 1918)
Captain J. B. Sledge Commander Headquarters Company (11 October, 1918)

55th Regiment Heavy Artillery
Colonel Sevier (3 August, 1918-14 October 1918)
Colonel Roberts (24 October, 1918)
1st Battalion Maj. Wilson (24 October, 1918)
2nd Battalion Maj. Smith (24 October, 1918)
3rd Battalion Maj. Nestor (24 October, 1918)

56th Regiment Heavy Artillery
Lt. Colonel J.L. Long (13 August-24 October, 1918)
1st Battalion Maj. Franklin Babcock (13 August, 1918)
1st Battalion Maj. Morgensen (24 October, 1918)
2nd Battalion Maj. Skinner (13 August-24 October, 1918)
3rd Battalion Maj. Payne (24 October, 1918)

57th Regiment Heavy Artillery
Colonel Austin (14 October, 1918)
Colonel L.R. Burgess (24 October, 1918)
1st Battalion Maj. Cline (24 October, 1918)
2nd Battalion Maj. Braile (24 October, 1918)
3rd Battalion Maj. Allyn (24 October, 1918)


Post card photo of the 31st Brigade C.A.C. Band in front of their quarters at Camp Lewis, Washington. This photo most likely was taken in 1919 as the 31st Brigade was stationed in Camp Lewis in October, 1919 after it had returned from France.
Group of 31st Brigade Band on their way to Montesaw, Washington. All these Bandsmen are pictured in the above photo. Note the lady in the center of the photo. Possibly one of the Bandsmen's wife.
This is also a 31st Brigade Band member. The photo is identified as "Our Solo Cornet Player Nerado".
The sign above reads "Bower's Mansion Hot Springs. Baths and Hotel Accommodations".

A panoramic photo of the 31st Brigade Band taken at Camp Lewis, Washington. This photo was shared by Frank Gilliland who has a grandfather and his grandfathers brother in this photo. The photo was torn into 4 parts and I have reassembled it digitally.

Above is an enlargement of the above panoramic photo. This shows the location of Frank Gilliland's relatives. Frank's grandfather was Archie E. Butts (AEB in above photo), born 1899 in Sykeston, ND; died 1976. His brother was Clyde D. Butts (CDB), born 1900 in Carrington, ND; died 1972. Frank remembers this about his relatives: "I don't know much about either of them. I was only 12 when my grandfather died. He rarely talked about the past, even to his own kids. In my memories he seemed quite content with the present. A couple years before he died he did a few licks on a coronet for us kids. I understand that after he left the army he joined a drum & bugle corps in Jamestown, ND. He was neighbors with the singer Peggy Lee, whom my grandmother used to babysit. They came to Spokane, Washington in 1942 after leaving the home in North Dakota."


1st Lt. Thomas Daniel Johnson, aide-de-camp to General Davis, HQ Company

The grandson of 1st Lt. Thomas Daniel Johnson, Dave Johnson contacted me in December of 2003 and shared the photo on the right and some information about his grandfather. Here is what I have been able to put together on Thomas Daniel Johnson.

Thomas Daniel Johnson, was born in Ozark, Alabama in 1892, and he died in Mobile, Alabama 16 May 1985 at the age of 93. He was an important figure in the growth of Alabama, industrially. He attended the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa and majored in electrical engineering.

Thomas Daniel Johnson was in the HQ CO, 31st Brigade, CAC, that was commanded by Brigadier General William Church Davis and was his aide-de-camp while serving in France.

I have copy of a memo from Gen. Davis to the Chief of Artillery, 1st Army. It is dated October 11, 1918 and states names of men to be transferred from the 32d Artillery Brigade to the 31st Brigade. Lt. Thomas D. Johnson's name was listed with those men transferred from the 32d Brigade. The 32nd Brigade was first organized at Key West Barracks, FL in January of 1918. They moved in March of 1918 to Camp Merritt, NJ in preparation to sailing for the War Zone. On 18 March 1918 they sailed from Port of Embarkation, Hoboken, NJ. with 6 officers and 51 enlisted men aboard the Finland. The two men transferred were listed as:

Johnson, Thomas D. 2nd Lt. C.A.C. Radio Officer and Charles B. Officer, 2nd Lt.

It was noted that two of these men from the 32d Brigade were to serve as aide-de-camp to the General. This was the note:

“Lieutenants Johnson and Officer have been detailed as Aides, relieving Lieutenants Sledge and Vigneron (promoted to Captain). These officers would therefore accompany the Brigade Commander to the 31st Brigade.” Signed by Wm. C. Davis, Brigadier General, U.S.A.

I also have a small booklet Special Orders No. 284, France, Oct. 11, 1918 from General HQ American Expeditionary Forces. It is a listing of promotions. Among the promotions is a 2nd Lt. Thomas L. Johnson being promoted to 1st Lt. Also the book is signed on the front page by this same 1st Lt. T. L. Johnson. What is most curious to me is the name listed directly above Thomas L. Johnson is Charles D. Officer. The same man who was transferred with Thomas D. Johnson, from the 32d Brigade. Being that I know that this booklet did not come from the effects of Thomas D. Johnson, I would say that the middle initial of "L" was a typo and who ever wrote Thomas L. Johnson on the front was not Thomas D. Johnson and did not know his correct middle initial. Or this just could be a different man all together.

While Lt. Johnson was with the 32nd Brigade they were stationed at Limoges, France. Limoges is world famous for its fine porcelain china and Lt. Johnson ordered a custom set of china from the Charles Martin & Co. Dave Johnson describes the set this way:

"There are two marks, in the center is an oval ring of what looks kind of like wheat with a knot at the bottom. Below the knot is printed FRANCE. Inside the ring is a scroll with the name MARTIN & below that is printed LIMOGES. The colors are tan & black. Above the oval ring is another mark. This one is green & is triangular in shape. Inside the triangle are the initials C & M, which overlap one another. On the outside of the triangle are three words...on the bottom it says DEPOSE, on the left side is LIMOGES & on the right is FRANCE. One of the most interesting things about this china is the way the monogram in gold on the front was done. There is no question that Granddaddy had this custom made – since he specified the initials of his last name (J for Johnson and S for Smith – Grandmothers maiden name.) The letters J & S are intertwined. Lt. T.D. Johnson did not mail the china back, but he brought it back in a footlocker on the ship that he returned on. This set is still in our family today."

1st Lt. Thomas Daniel Johnson 1918

The porcelain was made by the factory called Charles Martin & Duche that operated from the 1880's until 1935. Limoges factories often used a double backmark system. One mark was placed on the china when it was made and a second mark placed on the china when it was decorated. This set of china has 2 marks both of which are factory marks indicating that the J S monogram decoration was done at the Charles Martin factory.


1st Lt. Spessard L. Holland, 31st Artillery Brigade, Judge Advocate

Spessard L. Holland, father of the 24th amendment to the U. S. Constitution, was a man for all seasons-scholar, athlete, war hero, attorney, and statesman. Spessard Lindsey Holland was born July 10, 1892, Bartow, Florida. He received his Ph.B. degree magna cum laude at Emory College (now Emory University) in 1912. From 1912-14, he taught at the high school in Warrenton, Georgia. He then entered the University of Florida where, while attending law school, he taught high school in the sub-freshman department (high school) of the university. He qualified for a Rhodes Scholarship, but was unable to accept it due to World War I.

Soon after the United States entered World War 1, Holland on 15 August 1917 volunteered and was later commissioned a second lieutenant in the 1st Co. Coast Defenses of Key West, Florida, Coast Artillery Corps. On 20 March 1918 was promoted to 1st Lt. was assigned to the 31st Artillery Brigade, Headquarters Company as assistant adjuant and later was made the brigade judge advocate. Lt. Holland on 30 March 1918 went aboard the USS Antigone with the 31st Brigade and sailed from Port of Embarkation, Hoboken, New Jersey arriving 13 April in St.Nazaire, France.

Governor of Florida, 1941-45

Transferred at his request to the Air Service, Signal Corps, he was assigned to the 24th Aero Squadron where he, mostly with Lt. George E. Goldwaithe of New York City, saw action as an aerial observer and gunner gathering information and taking photographs behind the enemy lines, prior to and during offensives over the Meuse-Argonne, Champaign, St. Mihiel, and Luneville sectors, during which action he downed two enemy planes. On a mission, Goldwaithe and Holland's plane was hit and crash landed in a crater behind American lines. On December 11, 1918, he was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for valor in action. The citation, signed by John J. Pershing, Commander-in-Chief, read:

“First Lieutenant Spessard L. Holland, C. A. C. Observer 24th, Aero Squadron, distinguished himself by extra-ordinary heroism in connection with military operations against an armed enemy of the United States at Bois de Banthville, France, on 15 October 1918 and in recognition of his gallant conduct I have awarded him in the name of the President the Distinguished Service Cross.”

He was promoted to captain on 15 November 1918. He returned to the United States on 19 January 1919, and toured for the Victory Loan Drive. Capt. Holland resigned his commission on 16 July 1919.

  • HOLLAND'S POLITICAL CAREER
    • Florida Senate, 1932-40
    • Governor of Florida, 1941-45
    • Promoted establishment of military bases in state, instrumental in creation of Everglades National Park, created independent Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission, pushed Gasoline Tax Amendment (road building), laid tax foundation for modernizing state’s public school system
    • United States Senator, 1946-71(elected four times, served five presidents)
    • Drafted, sponsored 24th Constitutional Amendment (outlawing poll tax as prerequisite to voting); introduced Tidelands Act (guaranteeing states’ ownership of submerged lands).
    •One of original sponsors of statehood for Alaska, first Southerner to support Hawaii statehood.

Spessard L. Holland died of a heart attack on November 6, 1971 at his home in Bartow, Florida and was burried in the Holland family plot in Wildwood Cemetery.


Corporal Brown, HQ Company

Corporal Jesse C. Brown, HQ Company, 31st HA Brigade. Based in information about Cpl. Brown from his letters and photograph album that was shared with me from his family, he may have been a forward observer. Fred W. Gibson, Jr. shared this with me that his wife's grandfather, Jesse C. Brown was in the 31st Brigade after he came into possession of a photograph album, some letters, and other materials that belonged to Cpl. Brown. In these possessions there was a diary that was kept for a short time. It detailed how on 8 November 1918 Cpl. Brown was wounded and how he was moved through various hospitals in France and finally returned in February of 1919 to the States.


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Date this page was created on 12/28/00 and last updated on 6/16/07

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