The Original Rockford Nostalgic Website

Camp Grant Gallery Two

The new base hospital and it's wards, with a capacity of 1,250, were ready for occupancy on October 14, 1917. The hospital as it had been originally planned, was complete. It was equipped with all of the most up to date medical equipment available at the time. The old camp hospital was closed, the patients transferred to the new base hospital and the old equipment which had been  used in the camp hospital, being no longer required, was turned in to the camp  medical supply depot. The base hospital unit contains 61 buildings which were erected at a cost of $500,000. Thousands of dollars worth of equipment and supplies have been purchased for the hospital.

The base hospital was a quite large facility and a complex operation. The hospital consisted of the administration building, receiving building, officers ward, dental department, X-ray laboratory, the laboratory, a surgical pavilion, a post exchange, mess hall and kitchen, guardhouse, psychopathic ward, officers quarters, nurses quarters, garage, utility shop, laundry, mortuary, chapel, power house, supply warehouse and the Red Cross Convalescent House. Through the use of hospital and post exchange funds, together with funds received from the Red Cross and other welfare organizations, seeds, plants, and farming  machinery were purchased, and the entire hospital grounds seeded in grass and  laid out in appropriate flower beds. Well kept lawns not only enhanced the beauty of the hospital and added to the contentment and satisfaction of the patients and  personnel, it also served the purpose of keeping dust from entering the hospital. There was also a hospital garden that covered ten acres and provided a large percentage of the fresh vegetables used in the mess hall at the facility.

The receiving building at the base hospital was responsible for giving each patient a bath, conducting a brief medical exam, and logging in his clothing and personal belongings, furnish him with hospital clothing and send him to an observation room or a specified hospital ward. Their personal effects that were collected upon check in were stored in lockers on hangers and slots were provided for accessories like hats, shoes, etc.  All under garments were laundered, and the outer clothing was pressed by a steam presser located in the clothing room.

Surgery was accomplished in the end room of one of the wards originally intended for recovery of patients or as an isolation room. On October 23, 1917 the operating personnel and equipment were moved into the operating pavilion, which was devoted entirely to operating­ room work. This pavilion had all the advantages of a modern metropolitan hospital. A receiving ward, was opened in April, 1918, for the purpose of handling cases which did not go directly to the operating room. Here the soldiers histories were taken, physical examinations of them were made, and diagnoses of their conditions reached after careful consideration. There was installed in this ward a unit clinical laboratory in which the various blood and urine examinations were made in shorter time than by the usual routine.  Here also the laboratory work of the other surgical wards was done. By using this ward as a diagnosis and observation ward, better diagnostic conclusions could be reached, and the danger of occasional contagious diseases being admitted to other wards was lessened. In addition to the receiving ward, the surgical department had two recovery wards, one for general cases and one for orthopedic patients, including those with fractures.

The laundry building was constructed at the base hospital and included twenty two laundry tubs, collar racks, a drying room and a steam disinfector, but other equipment was not supplied by the army. The post exchange at the base hospitals however, purchased a complete set of laundry equipment and installed it in this building. It was necessary also to construct floor drains, as these were not originally provided. The laundry force was comprised of 19 men and the force cared for the handling of all  the linen of the hospital. They also would launder all of the clothing of the  detachment at a flat rate of one dollar and fifty cents a month, and this included the cleaning and  pressing of uniforms and overcoats. The  laundry was able to reimburse the post exchange for the initial cost and declared  dividends to the extent of approximately five thousand dollars.

The American Library Association opened a library at the hospital which provided for free distribution of library books to both duty personnel and patients. Subsequent to the arrival of the large number of overseas patients, the library was an attractive reading room and their representative visited the wards, furnishing books and other reading material to all persons desiring them. This association also assisted in the nurses training school and in the reconstruction work by supplying every technical book for which patients demonstrated a real need.

The Red Cross was very active at Camp Grant. Red Cross field representatives distributed articles such as socks, sweaters, caps and offered to do anything that the commanding officer would suggest for the improvement of the hospital, within their limitations. In February, 1918, the Red Cross placed a representative at the hospital to provide means of writing letters for patients who were too sick or whose disabilities were such as to prevent writing. The Red Cross Convalescent House was at all times under the immediate jurisdiction of the commanding officer of the hospital. The Red Cross associate field director had his office located here and an information bureau was located within it and rooms were maintained for relatives of seriously sick, summoned by telegram or letter. It was required that this Red Cross building be kept clean and orderly and its conduct such that ladies could enter at all times. All patients were required to remove their hats on entering the building and to refrain from smoking in its main room, a smoking room being provided in one of the wings. This Red Cross building was the only building that was maintained for visitors, and it was felt perfectly safe at all times to send ladies to it.

The Camp Grant base hospital mess hall was where the enlisted men and the ambulatory patients were provided meals by this cafeteria. The mess was sufficient in size at first but in the spring of 1918, to accommodate the increased numbers, a short corridor was built connecting it with an adjacent building and both buildings were converted into a dining room. The kitchen was also enlarged and with these provisions it was possible to feed the entire detachment at one sitting. The equipment for this kitchen was of the cafeteria type. The cafeteria plan of feeding the men was very satisfactory and was quite economical in the saving of labor as the men would go through line and serve themselves. A table was provided for those who were crippled and food was served to them. The cafeteria system proved excellent, generally, principally because of convenience of service and the saving of time.

Although there were several military bands at Camp Grant, it was difficult to obtain them for use at the hospital. The hospital organized a 28-piece band on the basis of bands were this size for Infantry regiments. In the spring of 1918 a complete set of instruments was purchased and the band leader of one of the Infantry regiments offered his services in training the new band. Daily rehearsals were held; and with the acquisition of several experienced musicians a creditable band was soon obtained, so that in about three weeks after its organization it was playing at retreat and in six weeks accompanied the hospital nurses to Chicago and paraded them in a large Red Cross drive. The organization rapidly improved in efficiency and was frequently called upon to furnish music in the surrounding towns. An orchestra was organized from the band and furnished music for practically all of the entertainments given for the personnel and patients of the hospital. The band participated in every Liberty Loan drive and all other large patriotic drives that were made by the hospital organization. During the summer of 1918, drill of the personnel was held daily, the music for which was furnished by the hospital band. It proved a great stimulus to enthusiasm and made it possible to conduct drills daily without apparent fatigue to the enlisted men. The band came to be looked upon as one of the best at Camp Grant. Noncommissioned officers were appointed in the band in conformity, as nearly as practicable, with Infantry organizations. This was necessary to hold the musicians, as the various musical organizations of the camp were continually trying to get the better musicians transferred away from the hospital band. The organization remained intact until July 7, 1919 when it was discharged as a group.

The Camp Grant base hospital produced a semi-monthly newspaper with the first issue appearing on  April 1, 1919. The publication was named The Silver Chev, the title being selected from a number of suggestions. No local publishers were interested in printing the paper so a firm in Milwaukee was ultimately secured to publish the paper. Advertising matter was secured to the amount of approximately $300 per calendar month (for two issues), the advertising to continue during the  contemplated existence of the paper, six months from April 1, 1919 . This figure,  with the sale of the paper at 10 cents per copy to the members of the personnel of  the hospital and to the patients, as well as to subscribers in Rockford, constituted a  profit-paying income. Publication of the hospital paper was discontinued August 5, 1919.

The reconstruction department was responsible for occupational and educational work. The academic and manual training work was prescribed for those patients who were convalescent, but could wear their uniforms. The ward work was carried on exclusively in the wards among those confined either to bed or to ward clothing. The two-story ward barracks, nearest to the surgical ward, was set aside for electro therapy and massage on its first floor. One half of the second floor was converted into a gymnasium, the other half being equipped for making such articles as basketry, bead work, and rugs. This plan became so popular as to necessitate having more space, and  one veranda was closed in, where clay modeling, poster painting, and other activities were carried on. This building was used principally by ambulatory ward patients confined to their bath-robes. The patient was taken out of the hospital environment in going to this ward and was given every opportunity for work and amusement at one and the same time.

Smoking materials were furnished by the hospital exchange and  welfare organizations, a phonograph and piano player were provided, and the  recreational committee furnished refreshments and entertainment from time to  time. The corridor leading to this building was enclosed to protect the patients from undue exposure to cold. The use of this two ­story ward for reconstruction work for ambulatory patients eliminated a great deal of confusion and many objectionable features from the sick wards. However, it was necessary to carry on some ward  work for those patients who were not able to walk or propel themselves in invalid chairs. This necessitated continuing reconstruction work among the bed patients, but on a much smaller scale, and included not only those in general wards but in the psychopathic and tuberculosis wards as well.

The occupational therapy for patients who were permitted to leave their wards  consisted of the following activities, Woodworking, toy making, basketry, metal  working, block printing, sketching, poster making, book binding, leather work, weaving, and plastic art. The work was continuous and the teaching staff  comprised a group of efficient instructors in the arts mentioned. Occupational therapy for patients in the wards consisted of the following activities, Bead work, weaving, leather work, and macramé.

The educational work was instituted to provide every possible course for which  there was a need. Several members of the teaching staff gave their entire time to helping the men to decide correctly as to what work was most worth  while for them after re-entering civil life. The classes were usually around  forty minutes with fifteen minutes at the end for individual help. Some of the shop and study classes extended over a longer time. Ward classes were independent of the general schedule. The course given covered commercial art, academic subjects, shop work including elementary electrical engineering, automotive repair, farm machinery. Commercial subjects included bookkeeping, accounting, auditing, commercial geography, shorthand, and typewriting and agriculture. On discharge each student was given a certificate stating the number and  kinds of credits that he had earned. A credit represented two weeks of satisfactory work in a course, and was of value in planning further educational work under the Federal Vocational Guidance Board.

Camp Grant was visited by the Spanish influenza in an explosive manner Saturday, September 21, 1918. So sudden and appalling was this visitation that it required the greatest energy and cooperation of every officer, every man, and every nurse to meet the emergency. There was no known specific treatment for this disease and no known absolute prevention. Telegrams were then sent to all officers on leave to return without delay. Every effort was put forth to open all two-story ward barracks, by extreme effort on the part of all concerned, and using all means to obtain equipment, the hospital was expanded from 610 occupied beds to a capacity of 4,102 beds within a period of six days. There were so many deaths from this outbreak that the undertakers in Rockford were overwhelmed by bodies from the city and camp. In mid-October the patients being admitted to the base hospital had fallen off and the worst of the epidemic appeared over. The Spanish Flu epidemic affected over 4,000 in camp with 1,400 deaths reported in camp and causing 323 deaths in the City of Rockford.

Camp Grant performed another service, that of giving thirteen weeks of intensive medical training in preparation for assignment as part of medical training in preparation for assignment as part of medical units with the fighting forces. Here they got plenty of marching to "toughen them up" physically, but that is by no means all of the training they received. There was also a program of lectures on anatomy and pharmacy as well as demonstrations of first aid. For the practical application of these lectures, there were overnight maneuvers in bivouacs, where they were taught to hurriedly pitch shelters, making them secure against adverse weather. Here too they used the mess kits received when they were first inducted into the army. Food was prepared and served in the field for the soldiers who stood in line expectantly.

When in the field, the trainees learn to apply the various first aid measures learned in the classroom. Simulated battles are fought, the "wounded" fall, they were given first aid and evacuated as quickly as possible. In addition to bandaging the "casualties", the trainees learn how to set up first aid stations and field hospitals. There are also gas mask drills, both while on the march and while evacuating the wounded. After three months of this intensive training the new soldiers were able to assume their permanent duties with fighting units in the service  and are ready to go out, graduates of Camp Grant.

Camp Grant Street Scene. The  training period would train the soldiers in many skills and place them in the field that best suited them.  Before this could be done the soldiers underwent extensive military training  as shown in  the pictures that follow below.

Training in the use of bayonets

Signal Practice, in the days before radios and field telephone, hand signaling codes with semaphore flags were used by the specially trained Signal Corps, to communicate with fellow soldiers and military units over long distances.

Training in rowing

Training in wrestling

Training with a camouflage gun at Camp Grant. Camouflage was commonly used on the battlefields for concealment, hiding, masking, trickery, deception, surprise, disguise and the adaptation of camouflage found in nature to protect the soldiers and equipment.

Prize machine gun crew, 86th division at Camp Grant

And of course more exercise was in store to make the men fit for duty.

Electricity and Radio training, many skills that were taught to the men in the army was useful in life after the military and would better help them find employment in a particular field.

Milk testing during agricultural training

The soldiers took their turn at guarding the camp with their Craig 30-06 rifle and bayonet, which they carried loaded when on guard duty about camp for two hours on, four off regardless of the  kind of weather. It was very trying at times during bitter below zero weather, a hard  rain or snowstorm. Usually while on guard duty they would be challenged by their Corporal of the Guard or the officer in charge. You had permission to shoot any one  you suspected of sabotage, etc.

On September 1, over 500 cooks and bakers, many from prominent hotels in the  Midwest, arrived to make preparations for a cooking school to train cooks for the  army. In this view of the Camp Grant "Kitchens"  the tents are visible along with some of the mess staff. Daily consumption included but not limited to 225 quarters of beef, 800 pounds of chicken, 30,000 eggs and several tons of bread, biscuits and beans. There were also kitchens in the barracks but during nice weather they cooked outside.

The Army Bake Ovens, part of Camp Grant's outdoor kitchen with kitchen tents on the left (not visible) and wood fired baking ovens produced bread and other baked goods while the kitchen tents cooked up almost every other food item imaginable. The kitchen staff numbered around a thousand men as it was a large undertaking to feed the 1,689 officers and 48,854 enlisted men at the camp.

All the soldiers got a turn at helping in the kitchen to peel about two barrels of potatoes and also to mop the dining room floor and wipe the tabletops, which was no small task. Sometimes kitchen police duty was given as a punishment for the breaking of a rule. Above are soldiers husking ears of corn for that nights meal.

It was a soldiers duty to saw wood for the cook stoves and scrub out the metal garbage cans until they were shiny.

Plenty of fresh baked bread and other wholesome food was delivered to the barrack mess halls by kitchen staff.

A couple of mess admirals carrying a pot of food into the mess barracks to serve to the troops.

Every barrack building at Camp Grant was equipped to house about two hundred and fifty men, each contained a large  mess hall, a kitchen, a supply room, a recreation room for use by it's residents and an orderly room for the company clerk and  company officers. Recreation time was important, soldiers read the news, wrote letters or played cards.

Wash day at the camp, the soldiers were responsible for doing their own laundry

On occasion everything in the barracks would be taken outside for some sanitary airing out, including their beds and personal articles, even if the tempature was ten degrees below zero.

Sports was a great tool for the army to keep it's soldiers in shape, teach competitiveness and build confidence. Above the men are engaging in a friendly game of basketball.

Boxing was a favorite sport at the camp

Saturday Afternoon Boxing can be seen in these two photos

Soldiers standing and watching a boxing match

The 33rd Artillery football team. All of the different divisions would have their own football, basketball, baseball, volleyball, wrestling and boxing teams

Camp Grant Indoor Baseball is the title of this postcard, notice the construction continues on the barracks in the background. The reference might have been because they were playing on the foundation of a future barrack.

Strike One - another baseball game at the camp

The soldiers participating in a game of volleyball

Another popular Saturday afternoon sport was wrestling

Camp Grant had the honor of having the very first National Army band to be founded in the United States

Camp Grant had a remount depot at the south end of the camp that covered fifteen acres and housed around 5,000 horses and mules. At the time the army relied heavily on horse power to haul wagons and artillery and supply the cavalry with sound sturdy animals. At the remount station animals were sorted and assigned to various army post. Most of these were shipped overseas for use in the war effort along with the various troops.

At the blacksmith shops recruits would learn how to shoe a horse and  provide veterinary care for the animals

The troops were trained to mount horses and a wooden model was used to get them accustomed the process

Carrier pigeons were used during World War One to transmit messages between the troops of the United States National Army. Men training at Camp Grant in the pigeon division are pictured along with some of the pigeons above.

The news from home was always welcomed by the soldiers. As the camp became solidly establish, it became a focal point of interest to the whole Midwest. Newspapers of Chicago maintained special correspondents at the camp. Among these were Richard Henry Little, Russell Palmer, and Rothwell S. Gregg of the Chicago Record-Herald, Parke Brown, John J. Jenkins and Hap Floberg of the Chicago Tribune, Con Rourke of the Chicago Daily News, Paul Jeans, representing the Hearst papers, M.E. Newman, army editor, and many more. Mr. Brown accompanied the Division to France. Ring Lardner, then on the staff of the Tribune, was a frequent visitor and made Camp Grant the background of a series of comic articles in the Saturday Evening Post.

Electricity and Radio training, many skills that were taught to the men in the army was useful in life after the military and would better help them find employment in a particular field.

Milk testing during agricultural training

The soldiers took their turn at guarding the camp with their Craig 30-06 rifle and bayonet, which they carried loaded when on guard duty about camp for two hours on, four off regardless of the  kind of weather. It was very trying at times during bitter below zero weather, a hard  rain or snowstorm. Usually while on guard duty they would be challenged by their Corporal of the Guard or the officer in charge. You had permission to shoot any one  you suspected of sabotage, etc.

On September 1, over 500 cooks and bakers, many from prominent hotels in the  Midwest, arrived to make preparations for a cooking school to train cooks for the  army. In this view of the Camp Grant "Kitchens"  the tents are visible along with some of the mess staff. Daily consumption included but not limited to 225 quarters of beef, 800 pounds of chicken, 30,000 eggs and several tons of bread, biscuits and beans. There were also kitchens in the barracks but during nice weather they cooked outside.

The Army Bake Ovens, part of Camp Grant's outdoor kitchen with kitchen tents on the left (not visible) and wood fired baking ovens produced bread and other baked goods while the kitchen tents cooked up almost every other food item imaginable. The kitchen staff numbered around a thousand men as it was a large undertaking to feed the 1,689 officers and 48,854 enlisted men at the camp.

All the soldiers got a turn at helping in the kitchen to peel about two barrels of potatoes and also to mop the dining room floor and wipe the tabletops, which was no small task. Sometimes kitchen police duty was given as a punishment for the breaking of a rule. Above are soldiers husking ears of corn for that nights meal.

It was a soldiers duty to saw wood for the cook stoves and scrub out the metal garbage cans until they were shiny

Plenty of fresh baked bread and other wholesome food was delivered to the barrack mess halls by kitchen staff

A couple of mess admirals carrying a pot of food into the mess barracks to serve to the troops

Every barrack building at Camp Grant was equipped to house about two hundred and fifty men, each contained a large  mess hall, a kitchen, a supply room, a recreation room for use by it's residents and an orderly room for the company clerk and  company officers. Recreation time was important, soldiers read the news, wrote letters or played cards.

   All Website Content Copyrighted By RockfordReminisce.com  © 2008-2017