April 1, 1915

by Richard van Pelt, WWI Correspondent

The Capital Journal reported good news for farmers, though bad news possibly for some of their livestock:

WILL BUY HORSES IN SALEM FOR BRITISH

The British government wants 2000 horses and mules from the Willamette Valley. They are for the English army in France and that is one of the reasons they will not accept a gray or spotted horse. The horse may be of any color except gray or spotted, and must weigh 1100 to 1500 pounds and measure from 15 to 16 hands high and be anywhere from 5 to 10 years old.

Holland Brothers of Kansas City have a contract to furnish the English government with 20,000 horses and have established Salem as one of their buying headquarters for the Willamette Valley.

The Salem Horse Exchange, Clearwater Bros., proprietors are the local agents for the purchase of these horses, and have already bought almost a carload. But ordinarily shipments will not be made until a trainload can be made up for shipment to Portland, where they will be loaded on ships for Liverpool.

Holland Brothers are the first army purchasers in the valley who pay spot cash for every horse they buy. They are experienced horsemen, and during their buying here for the past few days, according to Mr. Clearwater, they decide on the value of a horse for army purposes in about two minutes, state the price they can pay and the trade is made at once or not at all. Holland Brothers inspect their own horses. They will establish 29 agencies in the valley, and expect to buy within few weeks over 2000 horses. The average prices paid so far for army horses has been about $100, and this will be the cash price paid here. Three buyers representing Holland Brothers will make their headquarters this week at the Salem Horse Exchange.

Horses and mules were the backbone of army logistics. Horses and mules from North America, primarily the United States, made up two thirds of those used by the British army. A close and enduring respect for them existed among the soldiers:

Every November 11, those who care, remember the great sacrifice of the men and woman who fell, were maimed or participated in the Great War. But the efforts of the 256,000 horses and mules that went to the Front, served alongside their human masters, but never returned, and the countless thousands who were sent to slaughter houses or a life of near slavery after the War, have faded from memory.

Many of the soldiers and officers who witnessed their slaughter, took special care to remember the light draught horse and mule’s courage in and out of the killing fields, and we should strive to do the same – otherwise their sacrifice is set to become a mere footnote in the pages of history.

The Capital Journal reported that alcohol was a war issue of an economic nature in Great Britain as much as it was a moral issue in Marion County:

KING GEORGE WILL HEAD “DRY” FORCES OF GREAT BRITAIN
Lord Kitchener Falls In Line Behind His Majesty on Total Abstinence
PATRONS OF BARS NOW FREQUENT TEA ROOMS
Entire Country Will Join In temperance Movement During War Crisis

The paper reported that “It is believed that with the example of temperance being set by the king and the cabinet members who hold the fortunes of England in their hands, the entire country will join in a movement to stamp out the liquor traffic during the war.” With every available able-bodied man being sent to the trenches and the need for war material increasing, the demands on the work force increased exponentially. “If the labor element is to be denied liquor,” reported the paper, “then the order must include all others, or charges of discrimination and consequent troubles are certain. At the same time it is drunkenness among the workers in factories which is causing the government the greatest worry, owing to the shortage of ammunition, and it is these workers who much be reached first.”

Workers demanded concessions for the demands placed upon them. Wages from war work and overtime provided a degree of disposable income workers had not known until then. The pub, being the equivalent of a local lodge, was where workers would congregate before and after their shifts. More disposable income was perceived to be more opportunity for drunkenness.

Factory management saw increases in absenteeism – or thought they did. They attributed the absenteeism to increases in alcohol consumption as a consequence of the wages workers received. The demands of a wartime economy presented the government with a dilemma. Workers had to be paid for their overtime or they would strike. Overtime pay contributed to alcohol consumption. The government even threatened nationalizing war industries and imposing military-like restrictions on pay while demanding increased output.

Opinion in Marion County had expressed concerns about war, the evils of war, especially as it related to alcohol. Several letter writers expressed concern that war by definition would lead to the moral decline of the people unless alcohol was banned. This is a theme that will become an issue when this country entered the war, as this poster illustrates:Poster

The same article reported the increase in drinking among women, another of the moral outrages consequent with war:

Since the outbreak of the war drinking among English women has constantly increased, and in addition to the benefits to be derived from prohibition among the working classes it is pointed out that the evil among women, admittedly a menace to England’s future generations, would be removed.

An editorial in the Oregon Statesman commented on an issue that never seems to disappear:

HATE AS A WEAPON

In a recent number of the Lille War Gazette, published by the Germans in the captured French city, we find this utterance:

“Send it reverberating like clanging bells from tower to tower throughout the countryside. Hate! Hate the accursed English! Hate!”

The words quoted are from the celebrated “Hymn of Hate,” which seems to have intensified the bitterness of the German nation against England. The Paul Revere stunt suggested by the War Gazette is of a piece with the reported motto stamped by many Germans on their letters – “God punish the English!”

Such deep vindictiveness, horrifying as it is to cold-blooded neutrals may be pardoned in a nation fighting a life-and-death war under great handicaps. Nevertheless, it is unfortunate, both for the world’s ideals and for its practical effects on Germany.

Personal wrath avails little in modern wars-by-machinery, however much it may have profited the fighters in the old days of hand-to-hand-combat. If Henry IV were at the head of this troops today, he wouldn’t advise them, as Shakespeare represents him, to “disguise fair nature with hard-favored rage.” It takes calmness to plan a campaign or aim a rifle, or estimate the trajectory of a cannon ball.

The whole German nation has a most tremendous “mad on,” as the Pennsylvania Dutch would say. The English people while guilty of many absurdities do not go so far. The Englishman, in fact, is a good soldier but not a good hater. He kills calmly, impersonally, unemotionally, merely because that’s his job The German is both a good soldier and a good hater, but even a German can’t safely mix intense hate with his soldiering. It blurs judgement and leads to excesses – like Germany’s submarine warfare against noncombatants, for example. The kaiser and his general staff might do well to curb their emotions after the manner of the imperturbable Kitchener, French, Grey and Asquith.

Nonetheless, irrational dislike was not limited to the Germans. The front page of the Statesman reported that you may be boycotted when have the wrong name (remember “freedom fries?”):

DACHSHUND UNDER BAN

London, March 31. – British prejudice against Germany has even turned against the kind of dog that bears “the unfortunate name of dachshund,” complains a writer in the Daily Mail, who says:

“These dogs, although very popular in Germany, are our old english turnspits, used in bygone days to turn, by means of a wheel, the roasting jack in the same way as the donkey at Carisbrook castle draws water from the well. On account of their name these poor dogs are now being treated not as enemy aliens to whom we are unpatriotically lenient, but most unjustly.”

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About whclarc

We are devoted to providing information fresh from the Archives, Library and Collections of the Willamette Heritage Center in Salem, Oregon. We specialize in the history of Marion County and the greater Salem area.
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