Ward Loren Schrantz, of Carthage, Missouri, entered the U.S. Army in 1912, at a time when military leaders were still seriously debating the future of the horse cavalry. He left active military service in 1946, after the United States dropped the atomic bomb on Japan. Schrantz served capably at a time when the U.S. military was undergoing rapid technological and strategic transformation and, as a journalist and attentive observer, left a vivid personal account of his time in the Army and Missouri National Guard.
Editor Jeff Patrick has woven three undated versions of Schrantz's memoir into a single narrative focused on the sparsely documented pre–World War I period from 1912 to 1917, thus helping to fill a significant gap in the existing literature. Schrantz's memoir is notable not only for the period it covers, but also for its lively evocation of a soldier's life during the U.S.-Mexico border disturbances of the early twentieth century. Schrantz's account demonstrates the perennial contrast between how soldiers were expected to behave and how they actually behaved; it offers colorful and authentic details not usually available from official histories. Patrick also has added an appendix consisting of the letters that Schrantz wrote for publication in his hometown newspaper, the Carthage Evening Press.
These documents yield interesting insights into the attitudes and dispositions of U.S. soldiers during this time, as well as the perceptions and opinions of the "folks back home." Students, scholars, and others interested in military and borderlands history will find much to enjoy in Guarding the Border: The Military Memoirs of Ward Schrantz, 1912–1917.
JEFF PATRICK has been with the National Park Service since 1991. He has previously edited for publication the memoirs of Civil War soldiers; he has also written a number of journal articles on individuals' military experiences, ranging from the Civil War to World War I. He resides in Republic, Missouri.
What Readers Are Saying:
"Schrantz's recollections, covering the important period from 1912 to 1917, have to be among the best." --Jerry Thompson, author of Cortina: Defending the Mexican Name in Texas
"Patrick has accomplished the difficult task for an editor of disappearing, becoming apparent only in the informative endnotes...Patrick has produced a valuable look into an often neglected period of Army and National Guard history... This work will be valuable for readers wanting to know more about service for non career enlisted men in the Regular Army and National Guard in the five years before American entrance into World War I changed all that." -- Barry M. Stentiford, School of Advanced Military Studies, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas