Second Infantry Division History WWI

Monday, May 30, 2011

Letters to my Grandmother

The war ended on 11 November 1918, but the Army still had many tasks to perform, including the occupation of the Koblenz bridgehead on the Rhine River. For that purpose, Maj. Gen. Joseph T. Dickman, at the direction of General Pershing, organized the Third Army on the15th of  November. This would constitute the Army of Occupation.This should not be confused with the 3rd Infantry Division, commanded by Brig. Gen. Preston Brown.

As a part of the 3rd Infantry Division, my grandfather was sent to Andernach near Koblenz as part of that operation. Divisional missions included the administration of civil government, the maintenance of public order, and the prevention of renewed aggression. This mission was short-lived. By the summer of 1919 all American military units had left and the command structure changed from tactical to an area command with an office of civil affairs.

Here is a link to photos of the 3rd Infantry Division. About half way down the web page is a photograph of my grandfathers unit in Andernach. The image was provided by my cousin George Campbell.

My grandmother Marguerite Chevallier Meine saved the letters which her fiance James Madison Pearson sent her prior to their marriage. The following is an abbreviated summary of the letters:

2 December 1918

My Dear Darling:

I am now in Saarburg, Germany, and our journey has been without any mishap. You would think that we were marching through France except, of course, there are no flags flying.The country looks prosperous and there have been no hostile demonstrations.My office and billet is in the Hotel zur Post...I think that I shall get me a horse and ride - the exercise will be very good for me, and I will get in practice so that I can ride with you. You must have a horse and as soon as we are settled, that will be one of the first presents that I will make you.

The German people seem to crave soap and chocolate. Everyone says that there has been an absence of these articles.

General Brown hopes that you're well.

With all my love


4 December 1918

Dear Marguerite:

I am now in Osburg and it is now 7 o'clock and have had my dinner. i will write you a few lines and tell you that I am well and love you.Suppose you have gone to bed by this time. Hope you are having no trouble in sleeping... The weather is not very cold although it has been raining and we will move tomorrow to Malborn....The country over which we are passing is very mountainous, but I think we shall be soon in the lowlands, and then to the Rhine River.The mail connections are very bad, but I don't worry for they will soon become better and anyway I hope to see you about the first of the year and then we will plan for the future - our future.
Let me know if you hear from Captain Maysett... Colonel Bessell is in Germany, but not with me. He is with another corps, however I hope to see him ere long. Can you realize it, but it will soon be a year since I first saw you...
My office is in a tavern and it is run by some country f????? who knows nothing of war or anything else.My billet is with the curie and he treats me very well so you should not worry about me.
Had a very good dinner tonight - soup, steak, Irish potatoes, gravy, bread, slaw (cabbage) and prune pie.
devotedly Madison

16 January 1919

My Dear Darling:

I reached Andernach yesterday...

I was sorry that I had to leave your Aunt, but I think that everything has been arranged and she knows what to do, so you must have her arrange everything for our wedding ...

With all my love


P.S. I love you M


  1. Always reading your blogs with pleasure.
    it happens that I know Graffigny very well. One of my great-aunts married there in 1919 a doughboy and they later lived in the States.
    Do you happen to know when precisely Marguerite Meine Chevallier and James Madison Pearson got married? One blog says that it was the first day after the Armistice and here you write: "My grandmother Marguerite Chevallier Meine saved the letters which her fiance James Madison Pearson sent her prior to their marriage."
    Keep up the good work!
    JMGH Pierre

    1. Are you truly related to Marguerite Chevallier Meine? My grandmother married my grandfather, they did, indeed, return to the United States and raised three daughters, a son died in infancy. Being a genealogy and history buff, I would love to learn more about the family. The grandchildren and great grandchildren now live in several states. We know little about our French and German roots.