Prof. J. Garry Clifford edited, annotated, and wrote the introduction to The World War I Memoirs of Robert P. Patterson: A Captain in the Great War (U. of Tennessee Press). Patterson was a 27-year old captain in the 306th Infantry Regiment, 77th Division, of the American Expeditionary Forces (AEF) in 1918. Patterson later became a federal judge and was Under Secretary and Secretary of War in 1940-47.
Written for his family in 1933, Patterson’s memoir vividly recounts his participation in the the titanic battles in the last months of World War I, including his near-death skirmish with German forces along the Vesle River in August 1918 in which he and five of his men were later awarded the Distinguished Service Medal. A graduate of Union College and Harvard Law School, Patterson bonded with his multi-ethnic troopps (their marching song went: “The Jews and the Wops/ The Dutch and the Irish Cops/ They’re in the Army now”) and left legaicies to them when he died in 1952. Incidentally, Prof. Clifford reports, the 77th Division was the one in which Irving Berlin was a private with his famous ditty “How I hate to Get Up in the Morning.” Patterson’s youngest daughter lives in Stonington, CT and contacted Clifford.