Friday, September 19, 2014

North Britain or Scotland?

In the wake of the Scottish referendum, we thought we'd share a little gem in our collection that has varying degrees of connection to independence, Scotland, and Great Britain (although not to the West Lothian question). George Taylor and Andrew Skinner were Scottish surveyors from Aberdeen who initially rose to prominence through their careful mapping of the post road between London and Bath. For their next endeavor, in 1776, the two men published what amounted to the first road map ever made of Scotland.  Needless to say, this was also an important year for yet another group of oppressed colonists of England. Less than a decade later, Taylor and Skinner would journey west across the Atlantic to ply their trade in the new country of the United States of America.

The atlas consists of 62 plates, each containing three side-by-side sections of a long strip of road. All but one radiate outward from Edinburgh at a one inch to one mile scale. The atlas includes a detailed chart at the front of the book that gives the distances between each stage of the journey as well as the total distance from Edinburgh. In their explanation of the chart,Taylor and Skinner assure the nervous traveler that "There are good inns on all the Roads, with Post Chaises and Horses at every Stage, as far North as Inverness by Aberdeen," an area with which they were well acquainted. In closing, the two express their confidence that the public road system will be soon completed in the north because "a Spirit of Improvement prevails throughout Scotland." One might venture to say that the recent referendum suggests that such a spirit still lives on in the hearts and minds of the Scottish people, even though there may be some differences of opinion as to what form that improvement should take.


To see our copy of Taylor and Skinner's Survey of the Roads of North Britain or Scotland, walk into Rauner and ask to see Rare G1826.P2 T3 1776. If you aren't able to come by but would like to see more, the National Library of Scotland has scanned the book in its entirety and made it available online to the public.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

A War to End All Wars: "Necessary, Just & Righteous"

Kirkland at Bowdoin
Edward C. Kirkland, Class of 1916, was an intellectual through and though. At Dartmouth, he was in the first honor group and a member of Phi Beta Kappa.[1] After graduating in the spring of 1916, Kirkland enrolled in a PhD program in economic history at Harvard. When America declared war, despite opposing military solutions to the conflict, Kirkland shelved his PhD studies and volunteered for the Harvard Ambulance Corps on June 2, 1917. Now that Americans were involved, Kirkland felt a duty to act and believed that volunteering quickly would relieve his conscience from “fretting, worrying, and doubting.”[2] Kirkland’s parents had difficulty accepting his decision to volunteer, but Kirkland was thereby able to select the Ambulance Corps. One soldier pithily summarized the advantages of volunteering, “You can pick any branch you want now, later they pick you.”[3] Still, only 28% of Americans who fought in World War I volunteered, while 72% waited for their service to be conscripted.

After volunteering, Kirkland was sent to a training camp in Allentown, Pennsylvania. Kirkland left Boston amidst a crowd of crying mothers and waving American flags but considered the talk of heroics unjustified. To Kirkland, his role in the war was practical, but not valiant. At camp he reported that after being paraded around town he felt like “such a superficial hero.”[4] Otherwise he adjusted well to military camp life. He joked to his mother in a letter, “I thank my bringing up for many things, but just now for the ability to eat everything.”[5] During the Harvard section’s week on kitchen service, Kirkland and a friend were placed on butter duty. In his letters Kirkland hilariously recounted the challenges of mixing 300 pounds of oleo margarine with yellow coloring every day for a week.[6] After spending more than two months training, Kirkland arrived in France on August 21, 1917.

Like George Dock, Class of 1916, Kirkland was first stationed at Bar-Le-Duc. In October, he moved to La Grange aux Bois in the Argonne. During the war, he was also stationed in Haudainville, near the Verdun front, and in the Chateau-Thierry Sector during the allied offensive of August 1918. Kirkland seemed content with his noncombat role. He downplayed the risks of his position by joking that helmets were very handy for preventing bumping one’s head and regretted that gas masks were not necessary in his region because they gave one “a snappy appearance.”[7] In November 1917 all of Kirkland’s ambulance work was ferrying the wounded to hospitals behind the line, so he could easily pen these jokes to comfort his anxious family.

Kirkland's Alumni War Record
During the winter of 1917-1918, though, he was stationed close to Verdun’s front line, and he admitted to feeling more vulnerable. He was disturbed by the cries of the wounded in his ambulance, but comforted himself with the thought that “if the [wounded] are making a racket they are probably not intending to die on you.”[8] On one mission Kirkland was hit by a gas bombardment while driving up a very steep hill near the front. He could not stop because of the grade of the hill, but his gas mask was stuck between the seats out of reach. His nose smarted as he drove, and he started to cough, but the gas cleared by the time they reached the top. He received a Croix de Guerre for his bravery. Kirkland acknowledged that the “Croix de Guerre may be as common as Phi Beta Kappa keys in Cambridge, but still I am happy.”[9] Within his ambulance unit, Kirkland found a group of like minded men. His compatriots nicknamed the group “the intellectuals.”[10] In their unit the group established a renting library and offered books for 50 cents a week. The proceeds went towards the purchase of new volumes. Kirkland and two others also wrote a newspaper for their unit called, Every Little Detail.

Kirkland comforted himself throughout the war with these intellectual pursuits, but at the end of the war, the joy of the Armistice was coupled with the distressing news of the death of his good Dartmouth friend, Harold Bridgman Stedman, Class of 1916, who contracted influenza and died in a training camp at Fort Slocum, New York. Reminded so recently of the human costs of war, Kirkland greeted the news of the Armistice with an increased determination that the peace should be a righteous one that would “purge our minds of prejudices and hate.” Though most of the allied countries held the Germans in contempt and called them “Brute, Barbarians, and Huns,” Kirkland believed that their sins were sins of the mind that could be remedied through education, not sins of the heart.[11]

Kirkland, who at the beginning of the war disapproved of the conflict and saw it as the result of irresponsible militarist governments, admitted, “I have changed my view, you see, since I entered the army. The war was necessary and just and righteous in order to overthrow a pernicious philosophy, the philosophy of brute force.” Kirkland believed that the war could usher in a new era of peace, or at least a time where war would be less common. He was concerned, though, that “America was as unprepared for peace as she had been for war” and that if a spirit of vindictiveness prevailed at peace talks, the great suffering on both sides would have been for nothing. As an ambulance driver Kirkland knew intimately the human suffering caused by war, and was “not anxious for another war.”[12] He considered the ideologies at stake and ultimately agreed with Wilson that fighting “a war to end all wars” was justifiable. Kirkland, however, lived to see WWII. After completing his PhD course at Harvard, he taught history for many years at Bowdoin College.

Written by Ellen Nye '14.

This Series: During World War I, 3,407 Dartmouth men were uprooted from campus, graduate school, or their early careers to serve in a modern war unlike any previous American military engagement.[13] Four of them, Harold Pinkham ’15, George Dock ’16, Edward Kirkland ’16, and Wainwright Merrill ’19, left records of their war experience in the Rauner Special Collections Library. All four matched the demographics of the College at the time and were united by their experiences at progressive prewar Dartmouth, but despite their somewhat similar backgrounds, their personalities were quite different. Their stories speak to the diverse beliefs, experiences, and sources of comfort of Dartmouth men involved in World War I.

Edward C. Kirkland ’16
Bellows Falls, Vermont
Private First Class, Section Sanitaire Americaine No. 510

Ask for Rauner Alumni K635l.

1Joseph M. Larimer, “Voice of the People.” The Dartmouth: November 9, 1915.
2Kirkland, Edward C. Letter to his parents, June 3, 1918. The Letters of an Ambulance Driver. Rauner Special Collections Library, 1919.
3Keene, 15.
4Kirkland, Edward C. Letter to his parents, July 1, 1917. The Letters of an Ambulance Driver. Rauner Special Collections Library.
5Kirkland, Edward C. Letter to his parents, June 24, 1917. The Letters of an Ambulance Driver. Rauner Special Collections Library, 1919.
6Kirkland, Edward C. Letter to his parents, July 1, 1917. The Letters of an Ambulance Driver. Rauner Special Collections Library, 1919.
7Ibid.
8Kirkland, Edward C. Letter to his parents, February 1, 1918. The Letters of an Ambulance Driver. Rauner Special Collections Library, 1919.
9Kirkland, Edward C. Letter to his parents, January 11, 1918. The Letters of an Ambulance Driver. Rauner Special Collections Library, 1919.
10Kirkland, Edward C. The Letters of an Ambulance Driver. Rauner Special Collections Library, 1919, “Dear Ma and Pa,” February 17, 1918.
11Kirkland, Edward C. Letter to his parents, November 13, 1918. The Letters of an Ambulance Driver. Rauner Special Collections Library, 1919.
12Ibid.
13Charles Wood, The Hill Winds Know Their Name: A Guide to Dartmouth’s War Memorials. Hanover N.H.: Dartmouth College Office of Public Affairs, 2001, 6.