June 24, 1916: Cabarrus Troops Called to the Mexican Border

24 Jun 2015

During the early 1900s, the United States found herself with a very uncomfortable neighbor to the south. The violence of Mexican revolution frequently spilled across the border into Texas and New Mexico. After Mexican bandit and general Pancho Villa deliberately killed over 30 Americans and burned Columbus, New Mexico, President Woodrow Wilson called the nation’s militia to arms.

In June 1916, Company L of Cabarrus County assembled for the trip to the Mexican border. The 65-man National Guard unit quickly recruited the additional manpower needed to meet war strength of 142 men. On Saturday, June 24, Company L departed by train for Camp Glenn, Morehead City, NC, to be placed under the 1st North Carolina Infantry, Colonel J. T. Gardner commanding. By September, Company L was camped at El Paso, Texas for border patrol.

Luckily, Company L was able to return home to Cabarrus on February 8, 1917, where they found a big homecoming awaiting them. According to the Concord Times, they arrived by train at 3:00 a.m., but remained on the train until 8:30 a.m. and then marched to the court house where they were met with a large reception and parade. Unfortunately, the worsening war in Europe again forced Company L to recruit to full war strength in March of the same year.

The below photograph of Company L was taken on July 20, 1914, two years before their Mexican border action and three years before entering World War I. It shows the company assembled on the side steps of the Post Office building (corner of S. Union and Foard Streets), facing Foard Street. The only man positively identified is company artificer (blacksmith who makes fuses, shells, grenades and other armaments) John F. Barnhardt, fourth from left, front row. The man in front of Company L is probably Captain Louis A. Brown, president of Brown Construction Company, the building seen at top right.

Cabarrus County National Guard Company L. Photo taken July 20, 1914, donated by John C. Barnhardt, courtesy of Cabarrus County Public Library, Lore Local History Room.

The roster as reported by The Concord Times was as follows:

Captain: L. A. Brown   First Lieutenant: R. C. ThompsonSecond Lieutenant: Z. B. ThornzurgFirst Sergeant: J. A. BenfieldQuartermaster Sergeant: C. E. Clark
Sergeants: J. M. Rowe, W. L. ElliottW. M. Dorton, C. N. Alston
Corporals: L. W. Stallings, J. W. Elliott,M. H. Caldwell, Jr., C. H. WadsworthE. D. Fink, R. Y. Safrit
Cooks: D. H. Hathcock, P. P. CookMusicians: J. B. Raiford, G. A. RitchieArtificer: J. F. BarnhardtClerk: F. R. Bost

Courtesy of the Cabarrus County Public Library, Lore Local History Room