April 6th, 2017 marks the centennial anniversary of the United States’ entry into World War I, and the campus of Atlantic Christian College (as Barton was known during that time) was not immune to its effects:
- Who on the campus of Atlantic Christian College enlisted to fight in the War?
- Who of those AC enlistees never made it home?
- Which of AC’s former history professors (who has a campus building named for him) strongly opposed war as a means of settling disputes between nations?
- What campus awards were established during this time?
The answers to these and many more questions are contained in a new display of artifacts from the College’s archives put together by Hackney Library’s archivist, Mr. Shannon Wilson, to commemorate the centennial anniversary. These artifacts illustrate events on the Atlantic Christian College campus during the War and highlight those with a connection to the College who were involved in the War.
The display is located in the Discipliana/K. D. Kennedy, Jr. Rare Book Room wooden and glass case along the back wall on the first floor of the library.
Following are captions for some of the items on display:
- Since 1914, Germany, France and Great Britain had been locked in the brutal stalemate of trench warfare on what was known as the Western Front. This form of combat often resulted in the loss of thousands of lives in order to gain a few hundred yards of ground. The technology in many cases surpassed the tactics, as long-range artillery, poison gas, machine guns, airplanes and tanks radically changed the nature and experience of combat. In one year of fighting, 1917-1918, 50,000 Americans were killed in action or died from wounds. Another 70,000 perished from disease or other causes. North Carolina counted 2,375 casualties among the lost.
- In World War I there were 62 enlistments from Atlantic Christian College. The College also enrolled 54 men into the Student Army Training Corps (SATC) unit on campus. Nine ministers from the campus, including John M. Waters and Perry Case, served in some branch of the service. Two former students, Robert B. Anderson and B. Farmer, were killed in France.
- C. H. Hamlin (namesake of the Hamlin Student Center), taught History at A.C.C. from 1925 to 1976. In the wake of the First World War’s great human cost, Hamlin became an outspoken opponent of what he termed “the war method” in resolving international disputes.
- Robert B. Anderson, a native of Wilson, played shortstop on A.C.C.’s baseball team in 1910. A graduate of Trinity College (now Duke University), Anderson served as a lieutenant in the United States Army, arriving in France on his twenty-fifth birthday. He was killed leading his infantry company at Cantigny, the United States’ first battle of World War I. Anderson, Wilson’s first casualty of the war, was posthumously awarded the Distinguished Service Cross and the Silver Star for his valor (though the period photograph has incorrectly labeled Wilson as being in South Carolina).
- During the presidency of Raymond A. Smith (1916-1920), the College successfully navigated the challenges of the First World War, strengthened its financial position, and enlarged its connections to the Christian Church. Among other student honors, President Smith established a tradition of recognizing student achievement including the Faculty Cup (now the Coggins Cup) for the “best all-around college student of the year”.
This display is up now and will remain mounted through the end of the semester. Come by when you have a chance to learn more about how World War I affected our campus both during the war and after hostilities ceased.