World War I in Lawrence: Governor protests consolidation of Kansas, Missouri regiments

Officials in Washington made a decision this week directly affecting the military organizations from the Lawrence area. According to press dispatches, the First Kansas Infantry was to be “consolidated with the Second Kansas to form the 137th Infantry, the only Kansas Infantry regiment in the army. This consolidation and that of the Third Kansas with the Fourth Missouri has met with much protest on the part of Missouri and Kansas military men.”

Governor Capper led the Kansas protest with a telegram to Newton D. Baker, secretary of war, saying in part, “On behalf of the people of Kansas, especially those in the various towns where the troops were raised, I desire to enter a most urgent protest against the consolidation of Kansas and Missouri regiments. Such consolidation wipes out entirely state identity and as a matter of state pride it is unfair to the people who assisted in organizing these troops. It would be far better for the morale of the army, it seems to me, to keep the state volunteers together, rather than to divide them up into various outside regiments, destroying completely their identity and breaking up their boyhood friendships and companionships. It would please the people of Kansas very much to see all the Kansas regiments in the same brigade. Trusting that you can work out such a plan.”

Meanwhile, local troops stationed in Lawrence received the news that they would, at long last, be receiving a paycheck for the month of August. “Many of the guardsmen were getting into desperate straits because of the lack of money. Many had been without proper equipment and certainly without luxuries during their stay in Lawrence and the delay in receiving a pay check was a real menace to them.” Local merchants who had been extending credit to the soldiers were eager for reimbursement.