Sons of Men - Evansville's War Record
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Capt. Elijah W. Worsham
Machine Gun Company, 326th Infantry, 82nd Division
December 14, 1886 - September 29, 1918


     Manifesting the same optimism and valor, which he learned on
the athletic field while still a school boy, Captain Elijah Worsham met
the supreme crisis of his life in a spirit most becoming to a soldier
of democracy.

     He was born December 14, 1886.  He went through Campbell School.
After graduating from the high school in 1904, he continued
his education in Purdue University.  In 1910 he went to Alaska on a
business trip, and later went to Seattle, Wash., where he was a member
of the brokerage firm of Worsham & Vivian. His congenial personality
made him a leader.  He was captain of the football team when he was
in Purdue.  He was president of the northwest province of Phi Delta
Theta Fraternity at Seattle.  He was also active in the Boat Club
and Swimming Club of that city.

     Captain Worsham received valuable training for the great war
on the Mexican border in 1912, where he was First Lieutenant of a
machine gun company.  He enlisted for the world war in April, 1917,
and received his training at the American Lake, Washington, Camp
Lewis.  In June, 1917, he was made First Lieutenant of a machine
gun company.

     In a letter from Captain Ray W. Rays, M.G. Co. 326th Infantry,
sent from Oostletern, Belgium, to W. R. Heilman, of this city, a
graphic description is given of the battle in which Captain Worsham
received his fatal wound.  The letter also shows the admiration and
love of officers and men for their brave Captain.  The letter follows:

                                                "Oostletern, Belgium.
     "Mr. W. R. Heilman,
     "Evansville, Ind.

     "Dear Sir: Your letter to the commanding officer, 326th Infantry,
concerning Captain Worsham, has been referred to me.

     "While Captain Worsham was in command of the machine gun
company, I was one of his officers.  Since his death I have had the
honor of commanding his company, and it is his company, known
universally as Captain Worsham's company, and not the machine gun
company.  Inspired by his ideals and teaching, I am trying to run the
company as he did, but no one can take his place.

     "We first went over the top at Rendevous de Chasse and the first
day advanced about ten kilometers.  We met with stiff resistance at
Ejenonville the next morning, and it was largely due to the Captain's
courage, tactics and machine gun compitny that our division held out,
while divisions on our flank were forced back.

     "During the two days of fierce fighting we advanced some eight
kilometers, until, on the 29th, we were held up.  A small town, by the
name Gesnes, seemed to be the point of resistance, and about 3 o'clock
in the afternoon of September 29 the battalion to which we were
attached was ordered to take the town.  The magnificent manner in
which it was charged and taken will never be forgotten by the surviving
participants.  Led by our Captain, we followed the assault wave, and,
under his direction, mounted our guns on a ridge commanding the town,
where we could use direct fire over the heads of our own troops.

     "We had some wonderful targets, but were subject to direct
observed artillery fire, front and flank, the flank organizations having
failed to gain their objective.

     "After getting my guns in action, I found the Captain firing a
machine gun, the crew of which had become casualties.  Under the
cover of the gun he was firing and three others from my platoon, I
removed the remainder of the guns forward to escape the heavy enemy barrage.

     "Then I rejoined the Captain. Shortly he gave the order to cease
firing, our troops having advanced so far that it was dangerous to
continue to fire over their heads.

     "We continued to observe, waiting for dusk to advance.  I left
the Captain to give orders to one of my gun crews.  When I found
him a few moments later he was dead, shot with a rifle bullet.  He
had started forward, field glass in one hand, rifle with fixed bayonet
in the other.

     "We advanced with leaden hearts and heavy feet to help reorganize
and consolidate the line for the night, because that is what he
would have had us do.  It was two or three days before the body was
recovered and laid to rest in a grassy meadow in the Forest of Argonne,
beside that of one of his Lieutenants, who gave his life the same day.

     "He was your dear friend, you say.  To us he was more-peerless
leader, boon companion, comrade, instructor and friend.  We
mourn his loss in a way that words cannot express.  His men and
officers loved him as he in his whole-hearted way loved them.  The
fateful German bullet cost the army a valiant leader and officer, a
true soldier in every sense; robbed the government of a valuable
citizen, and deprived all who were privileged to know him in the
future society of a beloved friend and always cheerful companion.

     "Pardon me, sir, for so much detail about an action that I was
in, but I loved and admired the 'Old Skipper,' as he will always be
to us, that it is a relief to talk to one who, likewise, knew and loved
him.  I dream of him by night and think of him by day, and always,
in my plans for his company, I wonder if he would approve of my
actions were he here.  Most of my military education, all my machine
gun expenence, was received from him, and perhaps his invisible hand
is still guiding me in my effort to take his company home as he would
have taken it.

     Even your high regard for Lige Worsham, the citizen, would
have been increased had you known the Captain E. W. Worsham that
I knew and served under.  He understood men and by his own high
ideals brought out the best in them.  I truly sympathize with you in
the loss of a friend,
      "Sincerely yours,
      "CAPT. RAY W. HAYS,
      "M. G. Co., 326 Inf., A. E. F."
_____

Sons of Men: Evansville's War Record,
Compiled by Heiman Blatt,
Published by Abe P. Madison, 1920
pp. 191-192

cdmyers@wowway.com
October 25, 1998