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New Draft

The American Expeditionary Forces were advancing, with the British and French forces, along the front in France. The causalities were heavy.  As of August 1, 1918, over 1.3 million American soldiers were in France.  The War Department announced plans to send a quarter of a million men per month to France. They were determined to expand the presence of American forces in hopes of shortening the war. This strategy would put almost 3.6 million men at the front by June of 1919, and it would call for a significant increase in the draft.  Congress was posed to expand the draft age to include all males between the ages of 18 and 45. The call was out for North Dakota to prepare to enroll 75,000 men in August and September. 

In addition, the Provost Marshall called for white draft registrants with grammar school education to be sent for special training to various colleges. The North Dakota School of Mines in Grand Forks was to receive approximately two hundred of these individuals on September 1.  At the same time as this announcement was made, 250 soldiers of the First Training Detachment were preparing to depart from the North Dakota Agricultural College in Fargo to military bases in the South for further training.  A second detachment was already in route to begin training at the Agricultural College later that week. 

The drafting of those who had turned twenty-one since the initial draft in June of 1917 was set for the end of August, but August in North Dakota, meant harvest time.  When the citizens of Fargo initiated “Get the Kaiser’s Goat” promotion in March to sell War Thrift Stamps, the concept swept the nation.  The launching of “Shock Troops” to aid in the harvest received a similar reception across the state as all manner of businesses in the larger cities became involved in the harvest, which allowed boxcar loads of farm laborers to be sent to rural areas.  The so-called “Shock Troops” were paid fair wages for their efforts, but most of proceeds were given to the Red Cross.  Their work was so valued in Fargo that a parade and picnic was scheduled for the end of the harvest season.  A bountiful harvest would not only help ensure a victory in the war, but with the world’s food supply critically low, it was desperately needed to ward off mass starvation in war-torn Europe.

Dakota Datebook by Jim Davis

Sources:

Grand Forks Herald, August 19, 1918

Fargo Forum, August 15, 1918

Dickinson Press, August 10, 1918

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