It will not be forgotten that a creditable number of young men of Walthill and the surrounding community have enlisted in other branches of the service, and are now in training with their respective companies. Be it said to the credit of many of these that they offered their services to their country very soon after war was declared. Doubtless there are others whose names should be here recorded, but the list is complete so far as the Times has been able to ascertain.
Company F, Sixth Nebraska Infantry will enter the service with a unique distinction not shared by many companies of the State. It will be known as "THE THURSTON COUNTY COMPANY," recruited almost entirely by volunteers from this county. More than 120 young men have been accepted from a much larger number of applicants, not all of whom passed the physical requirements. But few more are needed to bring the company up to the full war complement of 150 men.
When Lieutenant Marcus B. Evans of the supply company, 5th Nebraska, arrived in Pender from Hastings, June 24th, and with the aid of George A. Racely of Pender began the work of recruiting a company from this county, not many were optimistic that they would be able to secure the minimum number of 80 volunteers necessary to give the county credit for the company. With only a week before them and receiving little encouragement at Pender, they went to Winnebago with no better results. Notifying the department that the situation looked dubious, Lieut. Evans was on the point of leaving the county, but decided first to make one more effort at Walthill.
The two men reached here late in the afternoon of June 26, with only six men enlisted. By midnight they had sworn in six Walthill boys and had a waiting list of others ready for examination. In addition they received assurance of local co-operation in making a "drive" during the remaining days of the month. Thus encouraged Lieut. Evans established his headquarters in Walthill, using temporarily Mr. Keefe's office. The next day nine more recruits were sworn in and the "drive" was started on the Omaha reservation resulting in a list out of which twenty passed the tests and were accepted.
The work continued the next day and was extended to the Winnebago reservation, adding 33 more to those who had taken the soldier's oath. Thirty-two was the net result of the day's drive and by midnight June 30, the new company had outstripped all other counties of the state, with a roster of 107 enlistments duly sworn into the service.
On being informed of the successful outcome of the campaign, the department very promptly returned the company's designation as "Company F," Sixth Nebraska N.G., and the gratifying information that the Thurston County Company will enjoy the coveted honor of bearing the colors of its regiment.
It has been stated that in no other coounty of the state has the result proved so successful, and in this county it is all the more remarkable, in view of the fact that no previous agitation has been made, at least locally, to stir up patriotic ardor for volunteer enlistment. The attitude, on the contrary, had been to await the outcome of the draft. Credit is due certain individuals, among them Harry L. Keefe of Walthill and W. E. Whitcomb of Winnebago, for able assistance given in bringing the opportunity to the attention and understanding of many, especially the young men of the two reservations. The newly enlisted recruits also did valuable service in encouraging others to become members of the company.
One of the questions naturally raised when the call for volunteers was proposed, was, will the county get credit for them in the draft? This was answered in the affirmative and verified at headquarters. A letter lately received from the office of the Governor of Nebraska confirms it, with assurance that when the time for the draft comes, the necessary information will be sent to the proper official of the county. Credit, however, will be restricted to volunteers within the draft areaand will not include volunteers under 21, or over 31 years of age. Those who enlisted after June 30 will be credited on the second draft, and the others on the first draft. This will reduce the number to be drafted from this county probably to a very small number in the first drawing to be made.
The next step will be vaccination and innoculation against typhoid when called to assemble and inspected, which will take about two weeks. After that drills will begin. In due time they will be mustered into the service of the United States, as a part of the regular army, for use as soon as prepared, in the war.
PHILIP L. HALL, ColonelJOHN T. MADGETT, Adjutant
GEORGE McMULLEN, Second Lieutenant
WALTER S. MARRIOTT, First Sergeant
JOHN SAWYER, Second Sergeant
*Winnebago Indian **Omaha Indian