June 5, 1917: Alvin C. York Registers for the Draft

Tuesday, June 20, AD 2017

As millions of other American men registered for the draft, so did twenty-nine year old Tennessee mountaineer Alvin C. York.  On June 5, 1917 he filled out his registration form.  He claimed exemption with the simple words:  “Yes.  Don’t Want to Fight.”


York arrived in this world on December 3, 1887, the third of the eleven children of William and Mary York.  He was born into rural poverty.  Although both of his parents were quite hard-working, the Yorks lived in a two-room log cabin at a subsistence level.  None of the York children received more than nine-months education, as their labor was desperately needed to farm the few hard scrabble acres that the Yorks owned, and to hunt for food to feed the large family.

When his father died in 1911, Alvin took on the responsibility of helping his mother raise his younger siblings, and supporting the family.  Alvin early developed the reputation as both a hard-worker during the day and a drunken hell-raiser at night, something that constantly distressed his mother, a Christian and a pacifist.

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4 Responses to June 5, 1917: Alvin C. York Registers for the Draft

  • Looking forward to the rest of this story. As an aside, I recently discovered via Ancestry.com the WWI draft registrations for both of my grandfathers as well as my husband’s paternal grandfather, and they all were dated June 5, 1917. Was that a designated date for all draft eligible men nationwide to register?

  • Yep, that was the date to register for all men 21-31. June 5, 1918 was the registration date for all men who turned 21 after June 5, 1917.

  • Ran into an amusing thing poking through the old census stuff– it’s not accurate. Not just massive spelling errors– but a flat-out made up name for my grandmother. (to be fair, she didn’t have a name until the local high school refused to enroll her without a legal name– a bunch of family pressure about what name to use was solved by taking an off-route option. :mrgreen: ) I’m guessing that like anything else in record keeping, people made up stuff if they didn’t have an answer. (The family in question was quite literate, and more importantly they entered everyone in the family Bible so there is an official spelling; I’m not even being picky about cutting out most of the kids’ names, not much room for five middle names.)

  • Ran into an amusing thing poking through the old census stuff– it’s not accurate.

    My family’s listings are generally accurate.

October 8, 1918: Alvin C. York Renders Unto Caesar

Saturday, October 8, AD 2016



13And they sent to him some of the Pharisees and of the Herodians; that they should catch him in his words. 14Who coming, say to him: Master, we know that thou art a true speaker, and carest not for any man; for thou regardest not the person of men, but teachest the way of God in truth. Is it lawful to give tribute to Caesar; or shall we not give it? 15Who knowing their wiliness, saith to them: Why tempt you me? bring me a penny that I may see it. 16And they brought it him. And he saith to them: Whose is this image and inscription? They say to him, Caesar’s. 17And Jesus answering, said to them: Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s. And they marvelled at him.

Mark 12:  13-17

So you see my religion and my experience…told me not to go to war, and the memory of my ancestors…told me to get my gun and go fight. I didn’t know what to do. I’m telling you there was a war going on inside me, and I didn’t know which side to lean to. I was a heap bothered. It is a most awful thing when the wishes of your God and your country…get mixed up and go against each other. One moment I would make up my mind to follow God, and the next I would hesitate and almost make up my mind to follow Uncle Sam. Then I wouldn’t know which to follow or what to do. I wanted to follow both but I couldn’t. They were opposite. I wanted to be a good Christian and a good American too.

Alvin C. York

Drafted into the Army, serving in the All American division, Alvin C. York had a moral quandary.  A crack shot from years of hunting to feed his poverty stricken family in the hills of Tennessee, he was also a fervent Christian.  He loved his country but took literally the Commandment “Thou Shalt Not Kill”.  Requesting a ten day leave to go home, which was granted, he prayed fervently to God for an answer to his dilemma.

“As I prayed there alone, a great peace kind of come into my soul and a great calm come over me, and I received my assurance. He heard my prayer and He come to me on the mountainside. I didn’t see Him, of course, but he was there just the same. I knowed he was there. He understood that I didn’t want to be a fighter or a killing man, that I didn’t want to go to war to hurt nobody nohow. And yet I wanted to do what my country wanted me to do. I wanted to serve God and my country, too. He understood all of this. He seen right inside of me, and He knowed I had been troubled and worried, not because I was afraid, but because I put Him first, even before my country, and I only wanted to do what would please Him.”

So He took pity on me and He gave me the assurance I needed. I didn’t understand everything. I didn’t understand how He could let me go to war and even kill and yet not hold it against me. I didn’t even want to understand. It was His will and that was enough for me. So at last I begun to see the light. I begun to understand that no matter what a man is forced to do, so long as he is right in his own soul he remains a righteous man. I knowed I would go to war. I knowed I would be protected from all harm, and that so long as I believed in Him He would not allow even a hair on my head to be harmed.”

In the fall of 1918, York’s regiment participated in the Meuse-Argonne offensive, the largest American operation of the war.  On October 8, 1918, York’s regiment took part in an attack to seize German positions along the Decauville rail-line north of Chatel-Chehery, France.  The attack encountered savage German resistance as York noted in his diary:

The Germans got us, and they got us right smart. They just stopped us dead in our tracks. Their machine guns were up there on the heights overlooking us and well hidden, and we couldn’t tell for certain where the terrible heavy fire was coming from… And I’m telling you they were shooting straight. Our boys just went down like the long grass before the mowing machine at home. Our attack just faded out… And there we were, lying down, about halfway across [the valley] and those German machine guns and big shells getting us hard.

Sergeant Bernard Early was ordered to take 16 men including York and work his way around the German position to take out the machine guns.  Early and his men overran a German headquarters, when German machine guns opened up killing six of the Americans, and wounding three others, including Sergeant Early.  York, the reluctant soldier, now found himself in command of the remaining seven soldiers.

And those machine guns were spitting fire and cutting down the undergrowth all around me something awful. And the Germans were yelling orders. You never heard such a racket in all of your life. I didn’t have time to dodge behind a tree or dive into the brush… As soon as the machine guns opened fire on me, I began to exchange shots with them. There were over thirty of them in continuous action, and all I could do was touch the Germans off just as fast as I could. I was sharp shooting… All the time I kept yelling at them to come down. I didn’t want to kill any more than I had to. But it was they or I. And I was giving them the best I had.

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5 Responses to October 8, 1918: Alvin C. York Renders Unto Caesar

  • TCM aired this classic movie earlier this afternoon. Great movie! They don’t make them like that any more. After it they showed “Paths of Glory.”
    The Doughboys, by Laurence Stallings, if you can find a copy, has a good narrative of the action.

  • They were called doughboys because they were not old enough to be bread.

  • The term goes back to the Mexican War in the US and was in use in Britain during the Napoleonic Wars. The derivation of the nickname for infantry is obscure.

  • Thank you, Donald McClarey for giving a response to my comment. It is not lighthearted.

    Jesus Christ is the word of God and the Bread of Life. We, all sojourners on earth, are half-baked dough. Only Jesus and in Jesus, we, as sojourners on earth, may share in the Bread of Life.

    Infants are sovereign persons who have not yet learned to talk. Before Roe v. Wade, all persons under the age of majority, that is, emancipation were referred to as “infants” in a court of law. The court seizing, literally kidnapping, our constitutional Posterity declared that when a minor child found herself with child…(“pregnant” is not a word because there is no such thing as “pre-life”. Life is or is not, like virginity, there is no pre-virginity, only original innocence of the rational, human soul in the mind of God who is brought to earth by procreation as God waits upon His creatures’ will to procreate. There is life, scientific proof in DNA, or there is no life. There cannot, by any stretch of the mind, be pregnancy.)

    That being said, the court, to defend the greatest miscarriage of Justice in our generation decided that when a minor child found herself to be carrying another person, she is legally considered emancipated so that the minor child could avoid carrying her child, through abortion. The criminal intent of the court would be the evasion of the reality that the unborn child is a ward of the court.

    Ginsberg wrote that any fourteen year old female person had informed sexual consent. This decision actually disenfranchised the fourteen year old child of the civil right to be protected and acknowledged as a minor, un-emancipated person under our Ninth Amendment. SEE: Bishop Fulton J. Sheen’s Life is Worth Living episode THE GLORY OF BEING AMERICAN” available at EWTN.

    Un-emancipated persons, who are infants in the sight of the law, are not allowed to vote, suffrage denied to emancipated fourteen year olds, drink, nor are they allowed into saloons, nor serve in the military unless they lie about their age. Fourteen year olds are emancipated by Ginsberg to be sex slaves and prostitutes and abortion mill fodder.

    I was married at the age of nineteen and my husband was twenty way back in 1959. My husband was a ward of the court. When he turned twenty one, my husband, already with our first-born was notified that he was to claim his inheritance from a deputy of the court. As a ward of the court, because he was orphaned, the man was not emancipated until he turned twenty one years of age. (I guess I married a legal “infant”. Cradle robbing? Wisdom comes with age)

    Our tax dollars at one time were being used to protect and to secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our constitutional Posterity. Our schizophrenia increases, disenfranchisement and taxation without representation.

    Men like Alvin York, Audie Murphy, and our exorcists Malachi Martin and Gabriel Amorth and all priests are heroes, even while they may still be the dough of the Bread of Life.

  • ETC,,,Exodus 21:14
    Exodus 21: 14 “But should a man dare to kill his fellow by treacherous intent, you must take him even from my altar to be put to death.” The Jerusalem Bible. The murderer, in the first degree, chooses by his own free will to become an outlaw not covered by the law of sanctuary. “my altar” is compassion and mercy.

    “I have come to fulfill the law not to abolish the law. Not one jot nor tittle will be lost” my loose quote.

    In fulfilling the law, Jesus had no power over the murderer who rejected the law, God and the Son of Man. The murderer in the first degree becomes an outlaw subject only to himself and for all compassion and mercy remains an outlaw rejecting all compassion and mercy. In the murderer in the first degree, there is no fellowship, nor gratitude.

Chris Kyle and Alvin C. York

Wednesday, January 21, AD 2015



“I am a strong Christian. Not a perfect one—not close. But I strongly believe in God, Jesus, and the Bible. When I die, God is going to hold me accountable for everything I’ve done on earth. He may hold me back until last and run everybody else through the line, because it will take so long to go over all my sins. “Mr. Kyle, let’s go into the backroom. . . .” Honestly, I don’t know what will really happen on Judgment Day. But what I lean toward is that you know all of your sins, and God knows them all, and shame comes over you at the reality that He knows. I believe the fact that I’ve accepted Jesus as my savior will be my salvation. But in that backroom or whatever it is when God confronts me with my sins, I do not believe any of the kills I had during the war will be among them. Everyone I shot was evil. I had good cause on every shot. They all deserved to die.”
Chis Kyle



I hadn’t planned on seeing American Sniper, the story of the late Chris Kyle, but with it shattering box office records and driving the Left insane, something that director Clint Eastwood has been doing effortlessly for the past four decades, I will have to go see it this weekend and review it for TAC.  Awarded two Silver Stars and numerous other decorations, Navy Seal Kyle always stated that his motivation for being perhaps the deadliest sniper in American history was to protect his fellow troops.  This resonated with me since it was the same motivation for Corporal Alvin C. York in 1918 during the Meuse-Argonne Offensive to take out several German machine gun nests and to capture 132 German soldiers:

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7 Responses to Chris Kyle and Alvin C. York

  • From a Wall Street Journal letter to the editor some years past: “Where do we find these young men? They grow here, somehow unchanged by the skeptics and cynics all around them. In an instant they make decisions of such gravity that all else seems irrelevant and minimized. How do we deserve these young men? We support them. We honor them. We remember their sacrifice. We win this war.”
    Jim Gribbel
    Freeport, Maine

    Medal of Honor Citation, YORK, ALVIN C.
    “Rank and organization: Corporal, U.S. Army, Company G, 328th Infantry, 82d Division. […] After his platoon had suffered heavy casualties and 3 other noncommissioned officers had become casualties, Cpl. York assumed command. Fearlessly leading 7 men, he charged with great daring a machinegun nest which was pouring deadly and incessant fire upon his platoon. In this heroic feat the machine gun nest was taken, together with 4 officers and 128 men and several guns.”

    Laurence Stallings’ book, The Doughboys, contains a detailed description of the action. It’s many years. As I remember, at one point Cpl. York’s M1911 .45 cal. was out of ammunition so he dangled the pistol on his little finger, and “touched off” Huns with a M1903 .30 cal. Springfield rifle.

  • The “National Review Online” link you provided is unreal. The left would feel better if the lovely child murdering Islamist we’re in our streets screaming Allah is God and beheading your neighbor. The pathetic reviews from the left assure me that our national security is undermined and will be so as long as the democrats continue it’s practice of sniffing glue and telling you how to embrace multiculturalism in the face of terrorism. ( rant ends. )

    I love our country and the brave young men and women who keep at bay the filthy pigs that wish to kill us. I abhor the left. Never forget 9-11, USS Cole and the 17 in Paris. When the heads start to roll down 5th Ave. in NY city, then these tasteless reviews from traitors might cease.

  • ….then they will pray for good American snipers! Ok. Rant is finally over.

  • Saw it… wonderful movie about a genuine hero. Long overdue positive portrayal of an American fighting man with no moral ambiguity about his duty.

    Highly recommended, not just because it drives the Left nuts to see the military portrayed in a positive manner (though that made it even sweeter).

    What’s been said is true, at the end of the movie, there was total silence in the crowded theater, a silence of reverence for the life of this American hero.

  • Those who sent the child to do a man’s job are the most responsible for the child’s death. The child is truly collateral damage. He would have died from the explosives he was delivering. This frequently happened in Viet Nam, where a child, usually a girl, was wired with explosives and sent into the G.I. camps. The soldiers embraced her and died and she with them. Nice people, Huh?

  • Stop hero worshipping this bloodthirsty psychopath! Gosh I can’t stand living in this country!

  • Don’t let the door hit you on your way out of America JJ.

Sergeant York and Gary Cooper-Part II

Thursday, June 10, AD 2010

Continuing on from the first part of this post on Sergeant York and Gary Cooper.

Frank James Cooper, a\k\a Gary Cooper, was a child of the last century, being born into it on May 7, 1901, the son of Charles and Alice Cooper.  Unlike Alvin C. York, Cooper was born into a prosperous family, his father being a farmer turned attorney who would eventually serve on the Montana Supreme Court.  His parents were English immigrants from Bedfordshire, and from 1910-1913, Gary and his brother were educated in England.

After high school, Cooper went on to study at Grinnell College for a few years, although he did not receive a degree.  After an unsuccessful attempt to earn a living as an editorial cartoonist in Helena, he followed his parents out to Los Angeles where they had retired.  Cooper later said that if he was going to starve, he might as well do it where it was warm rather than where it was freezing.

Out in the land of fruits and nuts, Cooper tried his hand at many things in order to earn a living:  promoter for a  photographer, a seller of electrical signs and even applied for work as an ink-stained wretch at a newspaper.  Out of desperation for employment rather than any burning desire to be an actor, Cooper began to work as an extra in movies.  A friend, Nan Collins, advised him to change his name to Gary after her hometown of Gary, Indiana, and Cooper took her advice.  After several years as an extra, Cooper achieved early stardom in the western, The Virginian.   Although he would appear in every type of film imaginable in his career, Cooper always appeared most comfortable in Westerns, a genre which fit his understated, laid back acting style, and his laconic speech.  Cooper specialized in playing ordinary decent men, trying to do their best in extraordinary situations.  He also had a flair for comedy where his dead pan delivery, combined with a dry wit, ensured laughter whatever “funny” lines he was attempting to deliver.

The archetypal film during this period of his career for Cooper was The Westerner where he played a cowboy who tangled with “Judge” Roy Bean, “Law West of the Pecos”, magnificently portrayed by Walter Brennan who appeared with Cooper in several films, including Sergeant York as York’s pastor.  The film is a skillful mixture of comedy and drama, with Cooper giving a bravura performance.

Alvin C. York had been approached by Hollywood producer Jesse Lasky several times, beginning in 1919, to make a movie of his life.  Each time he refused, summing up his position simply with the phrase, “This uniform ain’t for sale.”

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Sergeant York and Gary Cooper-Part I

Friday, June 4, AD 2010

In 1941 the film Sergeant York was released.  A biopic on the life of America’s greatest hero of WWI, it brought together two American originals:  Alvin C. York and the actor Gary Cooper.

York arrived in this world on December 3, 1887, the third of the eleven children of William and Mary York.  He was born into rural poverty.  Although both of his parents were quite hard-working, the Yorks lived in a two-room log cabin at a subsistence level.  None of the York children received more than nine-months education, as their labor was desperately needed to farm the few hard scrabble acres that the Yorks owned and to hunt for food to feed the large family.

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13 Responses to Sergeant York and Gary Cooper-Part I

  • Great story… I have always loved this guy. I aspire to his humilty..

  • What few know is that on a per-day casualty basis, World War I was America’s bloodiest war. While I’ve always found Jehovah’s Witness theology risible-to-far worse, the argument Satan was thrown down to the earth in 1914 is one of their more effective ones.

  • It didn’t help that Pershing was a mediocre field commander at best. He had his gifts as an organizer and a trainer of troops, but when it came to operational command in combat he was a poor chooser of divisional and corp commanders over-all, and often made things worse by sacking men in the midst of operations and bringing in replacement commanders who had to sink or swim and all too many sank. The Meuse-Argonne was won by the troops and not by Pershing’s lack-lustre supervision of the offensive. Pershing gave a negative example that provided useful tips on what to avoid by many of the US army commanders in World War II.

  • The thing is, I’m hard pressed to think of a single great field commander in the First World War. The stalemate-ending breakthroughs were invariably a function of exhaustion, undermanning or flat-out stupidity by the other side.

  • What a horribly bloody and stupid war that was, but a fantastic story in Sgt York. I had never seen the movie from beginning to end until about 10 years ago when the wife and I rented it. Top-land(er) and bottom-land(er) became words we used often for a year or two. We somehow managed to fit it into many conversations. 😉

  • An excellent narrative of Sgt. York’s courage, coolness under fire, and marksmanship can be read in Laurence Stallings’, The Doughboys, an all around excellent book on the US in WWI.

    Here is the MoH Citation.

    Rank and organization: Corporal, U.S. Army, Company G, 328th Infantry, 82d Division. Place and date: Near Chatel-Chehery, France, 8 October 1918. Entered service at: Pall Mall, Tenn. Born: 13 December 1887, Fentress County, Tenn. G.O. No.: 59, W.D., 1919. Citation: After his platoon had suffered heavy casualties and 3 other noncommissioned officers had become casualties, Cpl. York assumed command. Fearlessly leading 7 men, he charged with great daring a machine gun nest which was pouring deadly and incessant fire upon his platoon. In this heroic feat the machinegun nest was taken, together with 4 officers and 128 men and several guns.


    “Greet them ever with grateful hearts.”

  • Allenby and Plumer for the Brits were pretty good. Von Lettow-Vorbeck for the Germans was excellent. The Hindenburg and Ludendorf team using stosstruppen tactics came close to winning the War for Germany in 1918. Petain, of ever-lasting World War II infamy, with his concept of the elastic-defense at Verdun, probably saved France from defeat.

  • Allenby (Middle East) and Lettow-Vorbeck (Africa) were on peripheral fronts, but there’s no denying their success. The latter’s is something out of an epic, I grant. Plumer recognized the idiocy of British over-planning, to his credit, and was loved by his troops. Good, but not great.

    I’ll give you the stormtrooper tactics, at least in part. But Ludendorff and Hindenburg’s plans were assisted by the fact they had an additional 50 divisions freed up from the Eastern Front.

    I tend to think of Petain as more of a McClellan figure–good at organizing and motivating, which was what the French needed after the mutiny. I tend to think that after Nivelle wrecked the French Army in early ’17, Petain had little choice but an elastic defense. But he did save France, to be sure. A pity he obliterated himself by collaboration.

  • SGT York was a great example of rural America’s greatness.

  • Sometimes I truly think that 1914 marked the end of the West. It was certainly the end of the European Age. I agree with RL that it was a completely stupid mess and I am very sorry the US got involved in it. Nonetheless, I honor the valor and bravery of Sgt. York. (And the service of my maternal grandfather, who stares solemnly at me from a old photo which hangs on the wall next to my computer. Leo is in a WWI Army uniform – he made it to France, but was not in combat – and looks dashing. He is surrounded by his sisters, who look, frankly,dowdy with their long skirts and Victorian buns. I have noticed that in old photos that the men often look more ‘modern’ than the women.)

  • In regard to WWI, I tend to agree with G.K. Chesterton that Prussian militarism needed to be stopped. Kaiser Bill, with all his hysterical outbursts, was certainly no monster like the Austrian Corporal of WWII, but living under the Prussian Eagle in occupied France and, especially, Belgium was quite bad enough.

    “After the Battle of the Marne, the Western Front rapidly became a huge system of fortified posditions and trenches streaching from Switzerland to the Channel. Although the Germans were stopped, they had overrun most of Belgium which remained in German hands for most of the War. German authorities governed with repressive measures. The Germans confiscating houses and other property for the occupying troops. German troops killed civilans who resisted. While the German actions were nothing like those pursued by the NAZIs in World War II, they were bad enough and shocking at the time. They were effectively used by British to sway public opinion in America. The Germans also used civilians for forced labor. These laborers were poorly fed. The Germans also seized food supplies with little or no concern about the impact on the civilian population. The British naval blockade in the North Sea caused shortages in the occupied areas which eventually spread to Germany itself. Belgium like Germany was not self sufficent in food production. German authorities attempted to take advantage of the Flemish-Walloon division. They supported Flemish Activists–a radical nationalist group that agreed to work with the Germans hopeing to gain independence for Flanders. The great majority of the Flemish remained loyal to King Albert and Belgium. There was little support for the German-supported Council of Flanders. Nor was the German decesion to change the University of Ghent from a French-language to a Flemish-language institution well received. (The Belgian government made the State University of Ghent partially Flemish and then in 1930 fully Flemish.)”

    A good and careful report on atrocities committed by German troops during the sacking of Louvain in Belgium in 1914:


    There was a large amount of Allied propaganda during WWI that touted fake, or exaggerated, accounts of atrocities by the Germans, which made many people initially cynical as to reports of German atrocities in the Second World War, but there is a hard core of accurate reports that life under the German army was quite bad, especially for public opinion in the much more innocent days of WWI, not yet deadened by the type of savagery to come from fascism and communism in the rest of the 20th century.

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