The history of Battery "B" 42nd Railroad Artillery CAC, can be traced back from organization to organization to the period of the American Revolution. The early Artillery Companies of which Battery "B" is a lineal descendant, fought in the War of 1812, In the Florida War, in the Mexican War, in the Civil War and several other campaigns and expeditions. The service of Battery "B" 42d Railroad Artillery is written in golden letters on the pages of American History.
On July 6, 1917, the 2nd Company, C.A.C., Fort Adams, R.I., with 3 officers and 182 enlisted men, were transferred to Battery "K" 7th Provisional Regiment, Coast Artillery. On August 17, 1917 Battery "K" 7th Provisional Regiment, C.A.C., with 3 officers and 181 enlisted men, left Fort Adams, R.I., on the Steamer Plymouth en route for New York City. On August 18, 1917 the Battery left New York for Foreign Service on the RMS Aurania. They arrived in Halifax, Nova Scotia, August 20, 1917. Anchored in Bantry Bay, Ireland, on August 31, 1917 and arrived in Liverpool, England, September 2, 1917 and finally arrived in La Harve, France on September 11, 1917. On February 5, 1918, pursuant to War Department Orders dated December 27, 1917, the Regiment was changed to the 52nd Artillery, C.A.C.
During the period from May 6, 1918 to September 27, 1918, the Battery participated in 15 engagements with the enemy and fired a total of 1,282 shots from 240mm French Epis Rifles, mounted on railroad carriages. The designation of Battery "B" 42nd Artillery, Railroad, C.A.C. occurred on July 15, 1918 during a reorganization of Artillery units in France.
The Battery returned from France on February 6, 1919 and was assigned for station to Camp Eustis, VA. The entire personnel of Battery "B" have changed since its return to America and have been recruited from the New England States. The Battery took part in the first Railroad Artillery Maneuver in America. Leaving Camp Eustis, VA. for a trip in New England, where it engaged in firing Artillery problems at Rockport and Provincetown, MA., returning to its proper station on October 22, 1920, making the complete trip without an accident.
The Battery was afterwards stationed at Camp Eustis, VA, the home of "The Railroad Artillery". This camp is called the "best camp in the Army", and is located about sixteen miles from Newport News, VA, on the east bank of the James River.
As I find names and information about men who were in the 42nd Artillery I will list them here. If you have information on someone who was in this regiment please email me and I will add their story.
William D. Smith was born in June of 1899 in Salem, Ohio and at the age of 18 years, eleven months he enlisted into the regular Army on May 3, 1917 at the Columbus Barracks in Columbus, Ohio. Smith was first placed into the 3rd Company C.A.C. at Fort Hamilton, New York and was there until January 19, 1918 when he was transferred to Battery M of the 7th Provisional Artillery, C.A.C. On August 18, 1917 Pvt. Smith sailed on the HMS Aurania with the 7th Provisional Artillery for Europe. Smith was advanced in rank to Private First Class on April 13, 1918 while in France and then as the 7th Provisional Artillery was reorganized Smith was then placed in Battery D of the newly formed 42nd Artillery, C.A.C. PFC Smith then returned with the 42nd Artillery on February 18, 1919 and was Honorably discharged on March 10, 1919.
The first three Coast Artillery Regiments to go to France in 1917 were the 6th, 7th and 8th Provisional Regiments. One Private First Class in Battery H of the 8th Provisional Regiment was a 23-year old by the name of Harlan Benjamin Franklin from North Carolina.
Harlan was born on May 14, 1894 to Udora Johnson (1868-1966) and James Finley Franklin (1871-1927). Harlan was the second eldest son to James and Udora and the Franklin family in the summer of 1900 made their home in Avery County, North Carolina. James Finley or Finley as he was sometimes known as, was a farmer with the family farm located near the unincorporated community of Linville, NC. At that time the Franklin family consisted of Finley his wife Udora or Dora as she was known, and three sons Stanley, Harlan, and Corbin, and daughter Gertrude. Also living on the farm was Finley’s father and mother, Rachel (b. abt. 1828) and Samuel (b. abt. 1825) Franklin.
Within 10-years the family had grown and also moved about 10-miles away from Linville to another farm in the area of Altamont, which was located in Avery County. Finley’s father Samuel had passed on by then but his mother Rachel was still living with the family. Finley and Dora now had added three more sons, Corbin, Veneaire, and Come to the family. By 1910 Finley and the three eldest boys Stanley, Harlan and Corbin all worked the family farm. They even had employed an 18-year old girl on the farm by the name of Susan Shook. Eventually by 1920 the Finley Franklin family grew with the addition of another son and daughter born about 1911 and 1914, and were still on the same farm in Altamont Township.
It was on May 3, 1917 about a month after America had declared war on the Central Powers in Europe, and about two weeks before his twenty-third birthday, that Harlan Benjamin Franklin enlisted into the United States Army. Private Franklin was placed into the Army’s Coast Artillery branch and sent to serve at Fort Mott, New Jersey. There at Fort Mott Franklin spent what he remarked as his “rookie days” in the army. Among his personal photos there are some of him taken at Fort Dupont and Fort Mott. He likely spent some time serving with the 2nd Company CAC at Fort Moultrie, South Carolina, and then that Company was ordered to Fort Adams on July 28, 1917 and were formed into Battery H of the newly forming 8th Provisional Regiment, CAC for service in France. It is a known fact that Pvt. Franklin was a member of Battery H, 8th Provisional Regiment, and so the likely path was Fort Mott, to Fort Moultrie, to Fort Adams and Battery H.
On August 25, 1917 Private Harlan B. Franklin sailed to France aboard the RMS Pannonia as a member of Battery H, 8th Provisional Regiment. Somewhere along the line likely while serving in France Pvt. Franklin was advanced in rank to Private First Class.
While with Battery H on May 3, 1918 just one year from the time PFC Franklin enlisted into the army, he had his first combat experience. On that day Battery H was in action for the first time firing into the German lines. The Germans returned fire but there were no casualties. Battery H again on May 30 went into action, but it was on June 7 that Battery H was in their first big shoot. Stationed at Somme Suippes they fired 320 rounds into the German lines. Throughout the first two weeks of July Battery H was kept busy almost daily firing into the Germans and it was on July 15, 1918 that battery H suffered their first casualties. The gun position of Battery H was shelled pretty well by the German guns and 12 members of Battery H were wounded, PFC Franklin was not wounded in that shelling.
At midnight on August 6, 1918 orders were received, which detailed that Battery H, 8th Provisional Regiment was being reorganized and would now become Battery E, 42nd Artillery, CAC. Now with Battery E, of the newly reorganized 42nd Artillery PFC Franklin continued on through the end of the war. The 42nd Artillery returned to America in February of 1919 going to Camp Eustis, Virginia. There many of the men who were enlisted for the duration of the war were honorably discharged and the remainder of the 42nd Artillery was kept together as the 42nd Artillery served after the war on Active Duty status.
PFC Franklin was honorably discharged from the army on March 13, 1919, and returned home to his parent’s farm in Avery County, North Carolina. In January of 1920 Harlan who was then 25-years old and single was still living on the farm with his parents and 6 of his brothers and sisters. By early 1928 Harlan had married a woman named Carolyn who was from Georgia and was born on April 29, 1906. Harlan and Carolyn had moved to Detroit, Michigan where Harlan had taken a job working as machinery dealer selling electric motors. They lived in a rented home on Waverly Avenue where the monthly rent was $60 per month.
Harlan and Carolyn started their family there in that house when their first and only child a son they named Harlan Benjamin Franklin, Jr. was born about May of 1929. They stayed in Detroit for another 4-5 years and by 1935 had moved south to Georgia. They made their home in Moultrie, Georgia, which is located in southwest Georgia. It’s not known why they moved there but because Carolyn was from Georgia this may have been the part of Georgia where her family was from. Harlan took a job as a vocational school teacher where he was still at that job pasted 1940. Likely the Franklin’s remained in the Moultrie area for many years.But later in life Harlan and Carolyn had left Georgia and moved to Tallahassee, Florida. Harlan passed away while living in Florida on March 26, 1973 and was buried in the Roselawn Cemetery in Tallahassee. Carolyn lived on until her death on November 16, 1998 and she was buried next to her husband. After their death’s Harlan Benjamin Franklin, Jr. had bronze grave markers placed on their graves. Harlan’s bronze marker lists his military information of “PFC, Battery E 42nd Artillery CAC World War One.” And Carolyn’s marker simply says “Carolyn W. Franklin Beloved Wife and Mother.”
Kendel Hess followed much the same path into Battery E of the 42nd Artillery as did PFC Franklin. Kendel Hess was first a member of Battery H of the 8th Provisional Regiment and sailed to France aboard the RMS Pannonia. Then on August 6, 1918 Battery H, 8th Provisional Regiment was reorganized into Battery H of the 53rd Artillery and then reorganized again into Battery E of the 42nd Artillery, CAC.
After the war the 42nd Artillery sailed for home on February 5, 1919 and arrived in Newport News, Virginia on February 19. The 42nd Artillery then was stationed to Camp Eustis, VA and then men were discharged. Kendel Hess was honorably discharged from the army on March 8, 1919.
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