Michigan In World War I / Camp Custer
Michigan In World War I
Michigan furnished more than 168,000 men and women to the armed services of the United States During the "Great War," from 1917 to 1919. Some 5,000 died in service and 15,000 were wounded. Members of the Michigan National Guard saw the most extensive as part of the 32nd "Red Arrow" Division. At the end of the war. Michiganders were part of the American North Russian Expeditionary Force, the "Polar Bears," sent to support the White Russians. Michigan raw materials and manufacturing were key to the war effort. Michiganders bought Liberty Bonds and Stamps to finance the war and increased food production. They endured shortages of fuel and food. Women used the war's emphasis on democracy to gain the right to vote in Michigan in 1918.
On April 6, 1917, the United States declared war on Germany. The federal government soon issued a call for sites for cantonments, training centers for recruits. Battle Creek Chamber of Commerce assembled land here that had good railroad connections. It was selected for the Michigan/Wisconsin region. Construction began on July 1, 1917, and the site was named after General George A. Custer on July 18, 1917. The first inductees arrived that September. Nearly 100,000 troops mobilized and trained here during the war, including the African American 536th Engineer service Battalion. After some 92,000 troops demobilized here, the camp was used for Citizen' Military Training Camps and was a district headquarters for the Civilian Conservation Corps. It was reactivated in 1940 as a permanent Army (facility).