Sons of Men - Evansville's War Record
Gold Star Biographies
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Cpl. Mason Potts
Co. K, 4th Infantry, 3rd Division
March 9, 1896 - July 2, 1918

   Many heroic deaths in facing the enemy have been described.
The death of Mason Potts is not only excruciating in detail, but is
among the most heroic because alone he dared face an overwhelming
number of the foe, knowing well that is would mean his death.
Sergeant George D. Carter, who witnessed Corporal Pott's self-sacrifice,
wrote to his sister the following description of Pott's heroism and death:

   "Now in the beginning of my company, a Pontoon Bridge outfit,
was ordered on this front that your brother lost his life on the 23rd
of June, and we were possibly seven day reaching La Fere, France.
On the morning of July 1st, we started to hike to Chateau-Thierry, a
distance of  forty-two mile. -- The Platoon of which I was in command,
got in readiness to put a platoon's energy in constructing a bridge
across the Marne River.  We went through the middle of the town,
and just before we reached the street that led across the main bridge,
we turned to the right.  To tell you the truth I never had Germans
in my mind, but just as soon as we reached the river I looked up and
coming down the hill on the other side of the river coming towards
the Chateau-Thierry, there were thousands of them.  The bridge across
this river, which had been there perhaps hundreds of years, was not
used by either side because of a terrible artillery duel from both sides
centered on this bridge and it was useless to attempt a crossing.

   "I did not know, but I had a strong idea that there was a big
bunch of infantry near this bridge and I was not worrying.  When
the Germans were possibly half way across, one poor little American
doughboy went out to battle this multitude of Germans, and they
were coming just as though they were on dress parade.  My buddy
and myself watched him reload an automatic pistol three different
times, and counting the ten shells he had in the gun.  Before he began
to reload he must have fired forty shots.  He was shooting with
his left hand and throwing grenades with his right.  He was going,
and the Germans coming until they met.  He dropped his pistol to his
side, I suppose because he was out of ammunition, and started reaching
in his pocket with his left hand and throwing grenades with his
right.  When they met he was stabbed thirteen times with bayonets,
a grenade was still in his hand, and the band that holds the lever had
already been knocked off.  I suppose the pain while he was being
stabbed caused him to flinch and the grenade went off in his hand.

   "He and about six Germans went overboard and the following
day he was pulled out of the Marne River almost in the exact spot
where he fell, and was towed behind one of our boats about one-fourth
of a mile down the river.  When we pulled him ashore I ran my hand
down his collar and looked at his identification tags and read his
name, Mason Potts, Corporal Co. K, 4th U.S. Infantry, 3d Division,
and the name remained in my mind until I wrote the War Department
to find out his next of kin.  Doubtless if it had not been for the
fact that I too lost a brother in this war, in all probabilities I would
not have written you to tell you that he was buried.  The only thing
that I could tell you that he had on his person when he was buried,
was the revolver and two grenades in his right hip pocket.  They will
never in this world locate his body, and there was no stick or anything
to mark his grave.  If it had not been for the fact that we saw
him put up a good fight he probably would have been in the river yet,
because they were floating there by the thousands."

   This hero was born in Bordley, Ky., March 9, 1896.  His education
was continued in Evansville High School until the third year.
He enlisted in the army, October 31, 1912 and served for three years
in the Philippine Islands.  On September 19, 1914, he re-enlisted and
was assigned as Corporal in Co. K., 4th U.S. Infantry at Camp
Stewart.  In April, 1918, he sailed for France from Newport News, Va.
He was sent immediately to the front.  His death in the battle of
Chateau-Thierry, occurred on July 2, 1918.

Sons of Men: Evansville's War Record,
Compiled by Heiman Blatt,
Published by Abe P. Madison, 1920
October 25, 1998