And We’re Off…

This morning I’m leaving early to drive up to the Bay Area for the Angel Island event. While the drive to the Bay Area is nowhere as a long as it is to Tombstone, it still takes some about five hours and one has to factor in for accidents and traffic. With any luck, we’ll avoid rush hour and be able to make the 3 pm ferry crossing. 🙂 As I indicated in a previous post, we will be staying on the West side of the island at Camp Reynolds (aka later as West Garrison) which is the oldest military presence on the island, dating back to 1863, and it offers a unique living history experience in that there has been little modernization to the site (by the same token, with some major exceptions, little has also been done to preserve the majority of the existing structures and so they lay in an arrested state of decay).

Angel Island_Camp Reynolds1

Formation at Camp Reynolds c. 1912. The barracks in the background were torn down in the 1930s.

I am participating with Co. G, 364 Infantry, a living history organization focused on the First World War Era and we will be recreating a bit of 1917 when the Army was mobilizing for war with Germany. Up until this point, Angle Island had been a busy place, acting as the major port of embarkation for troops coming and returning from service in the Philippines and Hawaii which was the Army’s main area of focus.

Angel Island_Horse1

Trooper ponying another horse. Supposedly, horses captured from Pancho Villa were brought here but that’s highly improbable for a variety of reasons to include cost and utility.

However, all that would change on April 6, 1917 with America’s declaration of war on the Central Powers with the Army growing from roughly 133,000 peacetime Regulars to over 4,100,000 of which some 2,280,000 would be ultimately shipped to France. Angel Island did its part, acting as a recruit depot for the rapidly growing Army.

Angel Island_Recruit 1917

Recruit, Angel Island, c. 1917. It could have been someone from the newly-forming 63rd Infantry.

Before 1900, Angel Island was a somewhat sleepy Army post where not a lot happened. For officers, living conditions were pleasant enough but for the enlisted soldiers, it could be boring and monotonous. Desertion and smuggling in liquor from the mainland were big problems all through Camp Reynolds’ existence.

Angel Island_Camp Reynolds2

Outing, c. 1880s or 1890s, Camp Reynolds thereabouts.

Stay tuned for more about our excursion. 🙂

Leave a Reply