HONORING OUR FATHERS
Soldier’s NINETEEN YEARS AGO, 52-year old Ed Hawfield, a merger integration
expert living in Libertyville, Illinois, was given three boxes of family corre-spondence
by his mother as she downsized. The boxes contained letters and
over 20 Field Service Postcards all now 100 years old, written by his maternal
grandfather, a man he had never met, but was named for.
Most of the 150 or so letters were still in their original envelopes. Beginning with a few
from 1914, the remainder span the years the United States was embroiled in the First World
War and its aftermath — 1917 to 1919 — during which Edward Manning Hardin faithfully
wrote from wherever he was, back to his hometown of Wilmington.
About 30 letters are from Camp Sevier, the United States Army training camp hewn
out of the Greenville, South Carolina forest. Another 30 or so were written during train
transport to New York for troop embarkment to the European war theater by ship, followed
by the battlegrounds of France and Belgium. One or two were written from a hospital in
France. Others are from the seven months follow-ing
The Armistice waiting to return home.
While a few were typed, the letters were
mostly written in longhand using pen and ink,
sometimes pencil, on a variety of pieces of paper.
Some had identifying letterheads, like that of
Army/Navy YMCA or even the unused back of
an ice delivery form.
Through them, Edward’s family and a few
close friends shared his experiences serving his
country in World War I, from his life as a new
soldier, to the horrors of war on the grim front-line
trenches of France and Belgium, to
The Armistice and the war’s end.
Above: Edward Manning
Hardin was awarded a
Victory Medal for his
service in WWI. Right:
Hardin graduated from
the Medical College of
Virginia in 1914. Below:
A 1918 panorama of
The first of a two-part story of World War I as described by
Edward Manning Hardin of Wilmington in fascinating letters
written home to his family and friends.
WBM november 2019