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This collection is a selection of items including photographs, postcards, pamphlets, newspaper articles, and letters that describe experiences of World War I soldiers in the Spartanburg area. Most items are about Camp Wadsworth and included are a map, materials from the Camp library, and images from the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers. There is a proclamation from the City of Spartanburg honoring the 369th Regiment, known as the “Harlem Hell Fighters”.
Many men from Spartanburg served in a unit known as the “Hampton Guards”. The entire text of History of Co. F, 118th Infantry (Hampton Guards) 30th Division is in the collection.
Additional Spartanburg materials from the World War I era are located in the Kennedy Room of Local History at Headquarters and can be examined with a visit to the Spartanburg County Public Libraries.
On July 6, 1917, the city of Spartanburg leased the U.S. Government nearly 2,000 acres of land west of the city for an Army training camp. After a rapid construction project, the first troops arrived at Camp Wadsworth that fall.
It was Spartanburg’s coming-out party. Men from all over the country -- New York National Guardsmen, Wisconsin recruits, the Slavic Legion of Eastern European immigrants – all came to temporarily call Spartanburg home.
By the time Wadsworth was closed on March 25, 1919, an estimated 105,000 soldiers had trained for World War I service there.
But Wadsworth is only half of Spartanburg’s WWI history, for few Spartanburg men passed through the camp’s gates except as construction workers or other civilian labor. Some 4,000 local men served in the military during World War I, though. More than half were draftees, and 138 paid the ultimate price.
Most of these men served in three volunteer units: the Hampton Guards, or Company F of the 1st S.C. Infantry, which was incorporated into the U.S. Army’s 30th Division; Company C of the 117th Engineers, which was folded into the Army’s 42nd Division; and the Spartanburg company of the Coast Artillery, which served a defensive role on the South Carolina coast.
The war brought the world to Spartanburg’s doorstep. As Spartan sons marched toward the coast and beyond, the county opened its arms to most of the huge military presence that was Wadsworth.
From training more than 100,000 regular troops to its Officer Training School to its Training School for Army Nurses, said to be the first of its kind in the country, Wadsworth paved the way for Spartanburg in the national consciousness and opened doors when the next war rolled around two decades later.
Copies from the collection may be purchased, with certain restrictions.