13 April 2017

Killed in Argonne Battle, France (A to Z Challenge, Letter K)

In the Confederate / Military section of Oak Hill Cemetery at Newnan, Coweta County, Georgia is a stone laid for Charlton Samuel Leach, killed in action during World War I.


Based on the dates on his tombstone, Charlton was killed three weeks before his 25th birthday.  What is even more heartbreaking, in my opinion, is Charlton was killed just one week before the armistice.

Approximately a month after his death, Charlton's parents received a telegram from the War Department.

Newnan Herald (Georgia)
6 December 1918, pg. 11

Mr. and Mrs. J. Clayton Leach received a telegram from the War Department yesterday announcing the death of their son, Private Charlton S. Leach, more familiarly known among his friends as "Buddie." He was killed in action on Nov. 4, the report said.  Private Leach went with the second contingent from Coweta to Camp Gordon in September of last year, and had been in France for several months, being attached to Co. M, 164th Infantry.  He was a splendid young man, and news of his death was learned with deep regret by his many friends here.

Coming across tombstones such as this in a cemetery, it's not always clear whether or not they truly stand over buried remains.  An interesting article at HistoryNet tackled the topic of bringing war dead home for burial:

Within the United States, powerful figures…organized to argue that burying servicemen at the battlefield with their fallen comrades offered the greatest glory. Former president Theodore Roosevelt spoke to this when his son Quentin, an American pilot, was shot down over France in July 1918, then laid to rest with full military honors by German troops. Roosevelt and his wife, Edith, objected when told their son’s remains would be brought home.

“To us it is painful and harrowing long after death to move the poor body from which the soul has fled,” he wrote. “We greatly prefer that Quentin shall continue to lie on the spot where he fell in battle and where the foeman buried him.”

Standing against all this logic and power were thousands of Americans who demanded that the government bring home their dead. They contended that the government had to do what it had done in wars before. One mother from Brooklyn wrote: “My son sacrificed his life to America’s call, and now you must as a duty of yours bring my son back to me.”

I did come across another article in the Atlanta Constitution (Georgia) dated 9 May 1919, that may shed light on the decision.  Article was titled, "166 WOUNDED MEN, GEORGIANS, ARRIVE."

Word has been received in Atlanta of the safe arrival in New York harbor of 166 more Georgia men, whose names have previously appeared in the official casualties list.  The names of the wounded Georgians…are as follows:

…Charlton Samuel Leach, Newnan;… 

Are you wondering what's up with all the "letter" posts? I am participating in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge (links to official page). This challenge lasts through the month of April, with Sundays off.  Each day follows a different letter prompt, in order, from A to Z.  Click here to see all my letter posts on one page (in reverse order). This blog as a whole is one of my themes – telling the tales of tombstones, primarily from those found in the Southern United States and usually the State of Georgia.  You may follow along with me by email and other social media platforms listed at the top of the sidebar.  I and other bloggers in the challenge on Twitter will also be using #atozchallenge.

Though this is my second year in the challenge, it's my first with two blogs.  I am also participating with Lincecum Lineage.  Though it is a one name study blog, my theme there is "kinfolk direct." These genealogy and family history posts all involve a direct relative.

Are you participating in the challenge, too? Please leave a link to your blog in the comments, I'd love to pay you a visit.  Good luck to all involved!


Deb Atwood said...

That is sad and interesting that some stones may stand with no remains. So touching, in the case of Quentin Roosevelt, that a kind-hearted German buried him. I understand the family's wishes to have him remain where he fell.

Stephanie Lincecum said...

I can easily see both sides of that dreaded decision. Thanks for stopping by, Deb.

Alice Gerard said...

Such a sad story... and to be killed just before his 25th birthday and a week before the end of the war! I agree that the story of this man having been buried by a kind hearted German is very touching. War is so cruel and it has carried so many of our best people with it.

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