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George Franklin Rutledge

Submitted by: Glenn Perry {great nephew}


5c98f2e60871f Pvt George Franklin Rutledge mugGeorge Franklin Rutledge was born around 1891. George Rutledge served in World War 1 with the United States Army. The enlistment was in 1917 and the service was completed in 1918.

Story of Service


George Franklin Rutledge was drafted on 30 Nov, 1917 and sent to Camp Pike in Arkansas for training. Among the first recruits to be trained there, he slept in tents until barracks were built. On 8 May, 1918, his unit departed for France from Hoboken, New Jersey on troop ship "America." He was a member of Co M, 23rd Infantry of the U S Army 2nd Div.

By June 5, 1918, the 2nd Division’s lines had been rushed to the front and finally stabilized after several hectic days of relief and defense during the waning hours of the Aisne Defensive. In that time, the infantry and machine gun units of the division had been thrown into the line where needed as the Germans advanced and as the French slowly withdrew, fighting for every town and wood. Two battalions of the 23rd Infantry took over the line from an area named Triangle to Le Thiolet. The front was a mess of wheat fields, small towns, and woodlots, with parallel ridges facing each other. It was virgin territory, the ground as-yet unscarred by trenchlines and shell holes.

The 2nd Division had been given two missions: capture the height of Bois de Belleau and the nearby town of Vaux. The height was in the sector of the Marine Brigade while Vaux lay far to the right, nearly on the dividing line between the French and the 2nd Division. the 1st and 3rd Battalions of the 23rd Infantry advanced from their positions to come just south of the road leading from Bouresches to Vaux. About two hours after advancing, the 3rd Battalion was hit with a heavy counterattack in the vicinity of Cote 192, where they suffered extreme losses. Just after midnight, both battalions were given the order to withdraw to their starting positions. They were to hold this front line position aggressively patrolling the front, sending out raids to keep the enemy off balance, digging in, and enduring tremendous enemy artillery shelling, including heavy mustard gas bombardment.

The Germans attempted to break through the 23rd Infantry around Triangles, striking the left flank of the 9th Infantry. This assault – taking place just after midnight on June 8 – was repulsed. On June 14, the front was adjusted to allow the Marines to again compress their forces around the Bois de Belleau. All three battalions of the 23rd Infantry went into the line, taking over the eastern edge of Bois de Belleau and the entirety of Bouresches from the 5th Marines and extending down to Tuilerie de Triangle, where they connected with the 9th Infantry. The 23rd Infantry fought off German counterattacks on the east edge of Bois de Belleau and at Bouresches.

It was during this time that Pvt Rutledge was wounded. He suffered a gunshot wound to the upper left arm sometime on the 16th or 17th of June. About 12 noon on June 17th he arrived at medical facilities housed in Chateau Montanglaust in Colummieres, about 25 miles from the front. Medical supplies and personnel had just arrived in the form of Mobile Hospital No. 1, the first mobile hospital in the war. The Red Cross Hospital Unit K was formed in the Spring of 1917. Twenty-one nurses from the Council Bluffs area volunteered for duty with the Unit. Upon arriving in France, Unit K would become the nucleus of Mobile Hospital No. 1 and worked along the front lines for the duration of World War I. Council Bluffs physician and former mayor Dr. Donald Macrae, Jr. created Unit K by enlisting twelve southwest Iowa doctors, 21 nurses (15 graduates of Jennie Edmundson School of Nursing, one from Mercy School of Nursing), and fifty men to serve as orderlies. Initially the unit had sixteen tents for wards, plus additional tents to serve as kitchen, laundry, morgue, and for supplies. The tents were connected together with "tent halls" of canvas. Generators provided electricity; x-ray and sterilization equipment was on hand. In addition to significantly advancing combat health care, Unit K expanded the role of women.

The concept of women working at the front lines was controversial, but the new hospital unit brought its nurses into range of German artillery. Amid the mustard gas and mortars of 1918, a collection of primarily local Iowa doctors and nurses became the first mobile hospital unit on the front lines. The group saw its first action at the offensive near Coulommiers, France, on June 12, 1918. And those non-transportable wounded – too injured to be taken away from the battlefield for treatment – would make up the lion’s share of the growing Unit K’s action. In his six weeks at Coulommiers. 26,000 wounded soldiers, most from the bloody firefights in nearby Belleau Wood, passed through Mobile Hospital No. 1 and the adjacent Evacuation Hospital No. 7. This system could handle an enormous number of the most severely wounded very soon after injury.

Though Pvt Rutledge had arrived here around noon on the 17th, he did not have surgery until 9:30 that night. There were complications from gas: gangrene, and the arm had to be amputated. He died the next morning at 10:45 AM, Tuesday, June 18, 1918. Originally buried in France, his remains were sent home and he was reburied in State Line Cemetery, Hazel Green, Madison County, Alabama. He was 27 years old, just a farm boy serving his country. Duty, Honor, Country.

5c98f2e60871f Pvt George Franklin Rutledge

5c98f2e609773 Unit K Nurses