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53rd Artillery, C.A.C.
World War One Muster

This page is devoted to telling the stories and history of the men who served in the 53rd Artillery during WWI. If you have family members or know of someone who served in the 53rd please e-mail me and I will add them to this page.

Headquarters Company:

Private George D. Magowan, HQ Company

The son of Ed H. Magowan of Gibbon, Nebraska entered into the Army at Grand Island, Nebraska on 18 July 1918 and was assigned to the Coast Artillery Corps at Ft. Rosencrans, San Diego, California. Pvt. Magowan went to France in an Automatic Replacment Draft from Ft. Rosencrans and was assigned to HQ CO. of the 53rd Artillery. He returned with the 53rd Artillery and was discharged on 29 March 1919.

Pvt. William Miles, HQ, 2nd Battalion

John Miles the son of William Miles wrote to me and shared this story about his father being in the 53rd Artillery, Coast Artillery Corps during WWI. What he knows comes largely from one letter that he still has from his grandfather and some vague family recollections. William Miles was born in 1900 and died in 1970. William Miles dropped out of school at the age of 15 and was in the 8th Grade to enlist in the Army. The letter below was written when William was 18 years old. After returning from France and leaving the Army, William learned the watch making and jeweler profession, which he worked at until his death in 1970. William married and had two children (a son, John Miles and a daughter).

This is the letter that Pvt. William Miles wrote. It was sent to his Aunt and Uncle and was dated 29 December 1918.

Dec 29,1918
Dear Uncle and Aunt, I am going to take this opportunity to answer your letter which I rec'd months ago. I should be ashamed of myself for not answering sooner but am very neglectful as to writing. We are billeted in an old French seminary at Les Couvets, near Nantes, France. It's certainly an interesting place as it is several hundred years old. As the folks have probably told you, I landed Brest, from there I went to (?) and from there to Sommesous and Haussimont on the northeastern side of Paris. This was where the battle of the Marne was fought and there were graves scattered all around the camp. From there we were sent to this place. Expect to be home by the 4th of July at the latest. I shall stop off at Beatrice on the way home if I possibly can. I suppose the Flu has raised the dickens around there. We had several deaths from it. About 10 of the fellows that came over with me died from it. I think I had a little attack of it at Haussimont but I managed to keep out of the hospital. I hope you had a merry Christmas and have a Happy New Year. I am sending you a postcard picture of the place I am staying by this same mail. Hoping to hear from you soon.

I am your nephew,

My address is: Pvt. Bill Miles, Hq. 2nd Bn. 53 Reg. CAC, AEF

Battery A:

Pvt. John M. Fisher, Battery A

I received this letter and these photos from the Grandaughter of Pvt. John M. Fisher of Battery A, 53rd Artillery:

My name is Denise Reid and I am writing to you in conjunction with several postcards that I have of my grandfather John M. Fisher in WW1. I am trying to research a man that I never knew, and now only have a box of memorabilia. One postcard reads: Pvt. John M. Fisher, Bat. A 53 Arty C.A.C., A.E.F., France Another postcard reads: John M. Fisher, 3rd Co. C.A.C., Fort Howard, MD. I have John Monroe's enlistment paper, so I know when he went in and when he came out. Nonetheless, I also was told by my father, that John re-inlisted but did not return to fulfill that 2nd enlistment. My father said he never knew of any repercussions my grandfather recieved, yet he was never really sure. Do you know what was supposed to/or did happen to military men who went a.w.o.l. after WW1?

I am hoping that your vast knowledge of the CAC can help me understand the history behind my postcards. Moreover, it is incredible to me that these postcards have survived 85+ years and are still legible. Thanking you in advance for your time and effort to help me.

Denise Fisher/Reid

Battery A, 53rd Artillery, CAC

Here is a picture of my Grandfather John Monroe Fisher, of Battery A, 53rd Artillery (on left) and his 1st cousin Albert E. Fisher (on right) in WW1

John's 1st cousin was Albert E. Fisher and he was also in the Coast Artillery Corps. Denise tells this of Albert:

Lettering on his tombstone reads:
Albert E. Fisher
Corpl. Antiaircraft
3 Btry. C.A.C.

Post Card from John Monroe Fisher in France to his Father, George A. Fisher in Combs, Arkansas. He must have gone buy his middle name as thats how he signed the post card. He listed his unit as Battery A, 53rd Artillery AEF, France. It reads:

Hello dad,

How are you? I am well and in pretty good spirits, as we are expecting to sail for home in the near future. Tell everyone I am in good health and will write to them later. I will close hoping you are well. From your affectionate son.


Sgt. George Archer Parker, Battery A

George N. Parker Jr. contacted me about his grandfather who served in Battery A, 53rd Artillery. This is what he told me about his grandfather:

George Archer Parker, enlisted in 1914 and was regular Army. He was born and raised in Amelia County Virginia. He had a gunner and observer ratings and was promoted to sergeant while in France. His discharge papers say that he enlisted at Fort Slocum, New York. He was furloughed at Fort Eustis in 1920. His grandson is still working on trying to find out where he was from the time of enlistment until the 8th Provisional regiment was formed in 1917.

George was the son of Peter Henry Parker, who served with the 4th Maryland Artillery (Cheseapeake Artillery), CSA. Peter's unit was with Lee's Army during the retreat to Appomatox. That's how the Parker family ended up in that region of Virginia. There were very few Maryland units that served with the confederacy.

George N. Parker Jr. transcribed from 11th and 12th March 1919 Daily Press, Newport News, VA, newspapers that talk about the return of the 53rd on the Troopship USS Nansemond from France to Newport News, Virginia. Sgt. George Parker is actually mentioned in one of these articles along with several other members that were from Virginia.

Sgt. George A. Parker, 53rd Artillery, C.A.C.

Above Sgt. Parker poses with his wife Esther after his return from France in 1919. Notice on his left sleeve he is wearing 3 overseas stripes denoting 18 months overseas duty. The 53rd was one of the first units to go over and was one of the few units entitled to proudly wear 3 stripes.

Battery B:

Pvt. Eric V. Barnes, Battery B

Billie Joyce Roys the granddaughter of Eric V. Barnes 1889-1977 shared with me this photo and information. Her grandfather was in Battery B, 53rd Artillery. On the back of this photo was written "8th Brigade, 53rd Atry Co.B" and dated 1917. This photo of him was a postcard picture and he had wrote on it to his future wife but had never mailed it. He had wrote to her when he was in San Pedro, CA.

Being that he wrote about "8th Brigade" this would place him as being in the 8th Provisional Regiment as it was known in 1917 before becoming the 53rd Artillery. He may have been in the11th Company at Ft. Monroe, VA. as that was the unit that Battery B was formed out of.

This info comes from his disability papers U. S. Veteran Bureau:

Pvt. Eric V. Barnes,
Battery B, 53rd Artillery, C.A.C.
Discharged on Feb.12, 1919 case number C-1 827 623

Battery C:

Gunner First Class, Oliver T. Botkin

Oliver Thomas Botkin was born on June 5, 1891 in Atlanta, Illinois a small farming community in central Illinois. Just a few months shy of his 26th birthday Oliver Botkin enlisted into the United States Army on April 24, 1917. Oliver was placed into the Army’s Coast Artillery Branch and his rank was Gunner First Class in Battery C of the 53rd Artillery, C.A.C.

On Oliver’s discharge papers state that he participated in the St. Mihiel Offensive. After he returned from France Private Botkin was discharged on March 29, 1919 and returned to central Illinois where he married Gertrude May Comstock (b. May 4, 1896, Illinois d. June 18, 1984, Los Angles, CA). In 1920 Oliver and Gertrude lived in the home of John and Mollie Heyner located at 1209 East Grant, Ave. in Decatur, Illinois. There were 3 other couples renting in the Heyner home, they were Miller and Ruth Reid, Douglas and Mary Mullen and the Botkin’s. Oliver Botkin was working for the railroad as a laborer in a locomotive shop, which was likely the Wabash Railroad.

At the start of WWII all men born between April 28, 1877 and February 16, 1897 were required to register for the Federal Draft and being that Oliver was in that age group he did so as the law required. In Early 1942 Oliver and Gertrude were living at 610 S. East St. in Jacksonville, Morgan County, Illinois. Oliver then was working for the Jacksonville City Street Department and was at the time 50-years old.

Oliver and Gertrude at some point Oliver and Gertrude moved west from central Illinois to California settling in Pomona, California. Oliver would pass away in Los Angles on October 20, 1970 and Gertrude passed away in Los Angles on June 18, 1984.

Battery D:

Pvt. 1cl Joseph James "Jack" Cryan, Battery D

Photo above is of his Purple Heart and theother two photos below are "Jack" in uniform on the left and in civilian clothes on the right.

Joseph James “Jack” Cryan was born 8 April 1897 in Anniston, Alabama and was the son of Joseph and Elizabeth M. Cryan. His father Joseph Cryan was born in December of 1853 in Lisbon, Wisconsin and his wife Elizabeth M., was born in July of 1864 in Kentucky. According to the 1900 Federal Census young Joseph lived with the family in Anniston, Alabama in a home near 20th and Doaly Street. Joseph the father worked as a blacksmith and there were five children and Katie Calahan living in the house. The children of Joseph and Elizabeth were; Johnie P. born July 1887, Norah M. born January 1890, Katie B. born July 1892, Joethe M. born August 1894 and Joseph James born April 1897. Katie Calahan was listed as a sister-in-law keeping house and she was born in Ohio in 1869 and was Elizabeth’s sister.

Joseph James “Jack” Cryan likely took his first name from his father Joseph and his middle name from his grandfather James Cryan who was born in Ireland in 1815. James Cryan was a farmer according to the 1870 Federal Census and lived in Lisbon, Wisconsin. He was married to his wife Hannah or “Annie” also born in Ireland in 1815 and together they had five children, Joseph, Michael, James, jr., Mary and Bridget all born in Lisbon. By 1880 the Cryan family in Lisbon consisted of James and “Annie” and the only children left were James, jr. and Bridget.

Joseph James “Jack” Cryan in the early part of 1917 entered the Army and went to France with the 8th Provisional Artillery Regiment, Coast Artillery Corps. and sailed 25th of August 1917 on the USS Pannonia with 79 officers and 1696 enlisted men. While in France the 8th Provisional Regiment was re-organized into the 53rd Artillery, C.A.C.

Pvt. 1cl “Jack” Cryan was in Battery D and on April 28, 1918 he was wounded in action. During April Batteries, A, B, C, and Medical Detachment were stationed at Haussimont, Marne, France and Hqtrs and Supply Co. stationed at Camp Le Mailly, Aube, France, throughout the month. Battery "D" continued preparations for emplacements of two 32 cm Guns on Railroad mount and Battalion Command station near Somme dieue (Muese) under directions of Commanding General, 2nd French Army. Battery D fired one round on April 12, 1918 and the troops were moved from Billets to Bivouac. The Camp was shelled by the enemy on the night of April 27 and again on the 28th in which the following named men were slightly wounded: Sgt. Walter A. Koenig, Mech. George Davis, Pvts. 1st Cl. Joseph A. Cryon, Ernest E. Dekle.

It is not known what his wounds were or if he went to the field hospital. After he was discharged from the Army he likely went back to Anniston, Alabama where on May 15th 1939 “Jack Cryan was issued his Purple Heart for his wounds of the 28th of April 1918. “Jack” would live out the rest of his life and passed away in 1956.

Battery H:


Sergeant Joseph Hruska

The man who pulled the lanyard that fired the first shell which the "Big Gun Corps" sent crashing over into the German lines is Sergeant Joseph Hruska of the 42nd Artillery, C.A.C., formerly a member of Battery H of the 53rd Artillery, C.A.C. the battery which fired the first shot.

It was on February 13, 1918, at 2:10 p.m. near Somme Suippe, that Battery H, manning a 320 mm Railroad gun which had been loaned to them by the French, sent over the first salvo of " Big Boys", destroying the concrete dugout in which the German staff had located their telephone and observation station in their defense against the attack of the 4th French Army at Butte de Mesnil. The story of the success of the French attack, and the part played by the big guns manned by the Americans, who were at that time under the command of the 4th French Army, under General Gouraud, the famous one armed hero of France, is a matter of history. Two batteries, H and I, of the 53rd C.A.C., known as "Group Gillmor", went into action on February 13th, in this offensive and there was a wild race for the honor of getting off that first shot. It was soon apparent that Battery H would win this honor - and they did.

Sergeant Hruska it is the proud possessor of the following letter of commendation for this event:
War Department
Office of the Chief of Coast Artillery

Washington March 13th, 1918

Sergeant Joseph Hruska,
Battery H
53rd Artillery, C. A. C.

Dear Sergeant,

General Coe has sent me this first primer fired in France by the Coast Artillery. He states that the lanyard was pulled by you at 2:10 p.m., February 13th, 1918. I want to congratulate you on this event and to say that I am glad to hear such glowing reports of the Brigade.

Very truly yours,

J. D. Barrette,
Brigadier General, National Army
Acting Chief of Coast Artillery

Pvt. Frank Charles Gage, 53rd Artillery

Frank Charles Gage was born in Lagrange County, Indiana on April 3, 1896 and was the son of Charles Leonard Gage (b. Feb. 1872) and Ada Bell “Addie” Bowman Gage (b. Sept 1873). Charles and “Addie” were married about 1894 and had 4 children, Mabel, Frank C., Mildred M., and Carl E. While giving birth to her youngest son, Carl “Addie” died on April 15, 1902 in Bloomfield Township, LaGrange, Indiana. It is known that on the 1910 Federal Census the youngest child Mildred was living with her grandparents Senior and Sarah Bowman in Johnson Township of Lagrange, Indiana. Charles L. Gage sometime about 1905 had re-married and it is unclear where Mabel and Frank went to live. Charles Gage second marriage was to a woman named Allie who was from Illinois. They would have been married about 1905 and she had 4 children; Gertie, Roy, Hilda and Archie. Charles was working as a Mason and Plasterer and they lived in Bloomfield Township of LaGrange County, Indiana.

Frank Charles Gage at the age of 21-years old was living in Elkhart, Indiana and was a single medium built man with grey eyes and black hair. He was on June 5, 1917 the day he registered for the Federal Draft, working as a conductor for the Indiana & Michigan Railway. Frank entered the army and served in France first with the Headquarters Company of the 54th Artillery CAC, which served as the replacement battalion for Coast Artillery Units. When the Artillery units on the line needed replacement men they were pulled from the 54th Artillery. The 54th was a unit that had fully trained men ready to go when called for by any of the Coast Artillery units then in France. It is not totally clear when Pvt. Gage arrived in France but it seems to be about late August or the first few days in Spetember. Pvt. Gage was a replacement man into the 53rd Artillery, CAC and joined the regiment just in time for the St. Mihiel battle, where he participated from September 6 to October 12, 1918. It is not known which battery of the 53rd Artillery he served with. Once the war was over he returned to the States on March 11, 1919, and was Honorably Discharged from the army on April 4, and returned to Elkhart County, Indiana.

Frank Charles Gage married, Hattie Elizabeth Klingler, on August 9, 1919 in Elkhart, Indiana. They had eight children: Charles David (1920-1991); Virginia Carol (1921-2008); Hilda Pauline (1923-1991); Richard Dale (1924-2004); Donald Jackson (1926-1990); Frank Jr. (1929-) lives in Roanoke, IN; Dixie Rose (1934-) lives in Columbia City, IN; Linda Lou (1939-1977).

According to the 1920 Federal Census Frank and Hattie were living in a rented home located at 513 South 2nd Street in the city of Elkhart, Indiana. Frank was at the time working as a brakeman for the New York Central Railroad. Living in the home with Frank and Hattie was her mother who was a widow.

By 1930 Frank and Hattie had moved to Andrews, Indiana, which was in Huntington County. Frank was working for Tri-lakes Construction Company as a road contractor, steam shovel operator, and crane operator. He helped build Route 30 in Indiana and Ohio, among other projects. Frank was a member of the Fraternal Order of Eagles of Columbia City, Indiana. When Frank had to register for the WWII Federal Draft in 1942 he and Hattie were living at 210 N. Oak Street in Columbia city, Indiana. Frank listed as his employer Harry Bollinger.

Frank died from polyneuritis with bulbar involvement and streptococcus sore throat January 2, 1949 in Fort Wayne. He is buried next to his wife and near several of his children in Greenhill Cemetery, Columbia City, IN.

Pvt. Frank C. Gage, 53rd Artillery, CAC
Stone marker of Frank C. Gage located in the Greenhill Cemetery in Columbia City, IN

This page owned by Joe Hartwell. © 2005-2014 This Page was last updated on 11/11/14

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