Bringing Co. B Home
Welcoming troops home from an overseas war is not new to the citizens of North Dakota. Our National Guard men and women have served with distinction around the world. Sometimes getting them back home took some extra effort as well as the financial resources of North Dakota citizens.
In 1898 The 1st North Dakota Volunteer Infantry Regiment had been sent to the Philippine Islands during the Spanish American War. This unit consisted of eight companies from communities throughout the state. After serving a year it was time to come home. Departing in July on a Navy transport ship, they were scheduled to arrive in San Francisco in late August.
It was expected that once back in the United States, it was up to the troops to ante up for their way back to North Dakota. Here is where the citizens of the state opened their hearts and pocketbooks for its citizen soldiers.
The Fargo Forum and Daily Republican News on this date in 1899 appealed to the citizens of the state to help with the expenses for the men in Company B to get from San Francisco to North Dakota.
To raise the money, badges were sold. For one dollar, a person purchased a badge that said “I Say Co. B Rides Free. What Say Ye?”
The article stated that “Every man, woman and child in Fargo, not only should have one to wear but see that every other one they meet has one pinned to their lapel.” Although most of the soldiers were from Fargo, other communities also had men in Company B. Colonel Merideth from Casselton said “by all means bring the boys back on a free train. The patriotic citizens of Casselton will cheerfully assist in the work.”
Another company, Company K, also sold badges. The Honorable L. A. Simpson from Stark County said “Stark County has a company and patriotic citizens… we’ll do our share for Company K.” In the end, thousands of dollars were sent to the boys of the 1st North Dakota Volunteer Infantry Regiment.
To all returning Veterans, we say “Welcome Home!”
Dakota Datebook by Dave Seifert
The Fargo Forum and Daily Republican News; Monday, August 21, 1899, Pg. 2.