During my recent trip to Marshall, Arkansas I visited the grave of my grand uncle William Thomas Graham. As I mentioned previously, his grave marker listed the unit with which he served during the first World War: the 348th Infantry, 87th Division. I hit the Internet and ran several searches on the unit to see what I could learn.
The U.S. Army Center of Military History has online the entire lineage and honors of the 348th Regiment, which is the successor of the 348th Infantry. Here is the portion that pertains to the unit’s World War I service:
Constituted 5 August 1917 in the National Army as the 348th Infantry and assigned to the 87th Division
Organized in September 1917 at Camp Pike, Arkansas
Demobilized in March 1919 at Camp Dix, New Jersey
CAMPAIGN PARTICIPATION CREDIT
World War I
Streamer without inscription
The streamer without inscription is noteworthy. The U.S Army Institute of Heraldry states on the topic that “war service streamers without inscriptions were awarded during or prior to World War II to units located in the theater but did not participate in designated campaigns nor specified battles/locations.” That means that the 348th Infantry served overseas in the war theater, but did not see combat. A unit that did see combat would have the relevant campaign inscribed upon the streamer.
Searching on the 87th Division, the 348th Infantry’s parent organization, I found an article at WikiPedia (not the best of sources, but it’ll suit the purpose of this article) that states the 87th “was a National Army division allocated to Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi” and that it was “utilized as a pool of laborers” when it went overseas. That seems consistent with being in the war theater but not seeing any combat.
As to the reason the 87th was nicknamed the Golden Acorn Division, well, take a look at its patch. This patch was worn by all Soldiers in the 348th Infantry.
I also came across a photograph of a framed unit roster for Company F, 348th Infantry. This was an incredibly lucky find because this was the exact unit in which William served, and his name can be seen on the roster in the middle row, sixth down.
I hit the newspaper archives at Google and GenealogyBank and came across several articles about the return of the 348th Infantry from a six month overseas tour in France, landing in New York City on 8 March 1919. Company F arrived in New York on the Chicago, a steamship operated by the French Line. I’ll be posting some of those articles separately, but here is a postcard that shows what the Chicago looked like.