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Gen. O'Ryan. I have no specific statement, Mr. Chairman, but I shall be glad to answer any questions any members of the committee may desire to propound..
STATEMENT OF J. F. O’RYAN, COMMANDING NEW YORK DIVISION
OF THE NATIONAL GUARD, NEW YORK CITY.
Senator BRADY. General, what position did you occupy at the time of the mobilization of the troops ?
Gen. O'Ryan. I commanded the New York division of the National Guard.
Senator BRADY. Have you been to the border ?
Gen. O'Ryan. Yes, sir. The New York division moved to the border in the last few days of June, and most of the division is back. We have still there three regiments of infantry, one regiment of field artillery, one regiment of cavalry, and one or two sanitary units.
Senator BRADY. I would be glad to have you tell the committee what difficulties, if any, you encountered in the mobilization of the troops in New York.
Gen. O'Ryan. We did not encounter any so far as the National Guard was concerned. We got the order to mobilize on Sunday night and issued telegraphic orders for the troops to assemble clothed, armed, and equipped as required by the order at 8 o'clock the following evening. That was done. The strength was approximately 18,000 officers and men. The report on the mobilization, which was prepared by somebody in the militia bureau, will indicate that as to New York there were no shortages of property for the strength prescribed, the peace strength, with the exception, I think, of some waist belts—negligible. Those troops were than ready to go anywhere they were directed to go.
At the same time we issued orders to recruit these organizations to war strength. As a matter of fact, many of our organizations were at war strength and had been at war strength for anywhere from two months to a year at that time. Some of our organizations had few recruits in them. They were made up of trained men.
There then followed a period that was interesting, but regrettable, because it showed a lack of preparation and a lack of proper system to meet the conditions; but it was a system with which the National Guard had no connection, except to aid in trying to carry it out. Gen. Stotesbury has made some reference to these points. Briefly, they are these:
In the first place, there were not any blanks provided as required. by the new act-not only that, but there was an absence of other blanks that would have been necessary had the force been one of Organized Militia.
I might say in this connection that the officers and men of the New York National Guard immediately took the new oath, and, in the absence of the forms furnished by the War Department, forms were printed by the State and distributed, and the oath taken. So that the transformation from Organized Militia to the National Guard of the United States was promptly made.
The first difficulty--and in making statements relative to these difficulties that were encountered I will summarize the views, for
we are in accord about them, the Regular officers and National Guard officers—was the so-called muster. In principle it had no application to the National Guard. We had seven United States Regular officers sent to muster these 18,000 or 20,000 men. These men, most of them, told me they knew little about their duties. Their duties were set forth in extended published regulations, some of them known as “Militia mustering regulations," “ Army regulations,” “Mustering regulations.” It would require a man perhaps a number of days of intensive study to attempt to reconcile all these various regulations governing this subject of muster. “Muster in” really applies to Volunteers only.
To understand what is meant by “muster in ” one must get a picture of a number of patriotic citizens who, when their country gets into trouble, immediately form themselves into a company, a military company, for acceptance in the military service of the United States. Such men are assembled, examined, and asked whether that is their intention; whereupon a representative of the Federal Government appears and their names are set forth on a roll, which is called a “muster-in "roll, together with their ages and other facts relating to these individuals, which are all specifically set forth. Each man signs the roll opposite his name, at the top there being a form of oath of allegiance and service. Then they are all lined up and the roll is called to see that no man is there is ho does not belong, and that every man whose name is on the roll is ihere. and then they hold up their hands and are sworn in collectively, and then they are soldiers. That had no relation whatever to our system, and yet it was applied. Here were men who became soldiers when they took the oath of enlistment, which is identical in formi with that prescribed for Regular soldiers, so that our regular muster officers, some of whom had been with us for a number of years, would say to me, “What is your interpretation of this?” I would reply, “Don't ask me; ask Gen. Wood; you are responsible to him." Or a subordinate muster officer would ask the chief muster officer, and he would say, “I don't know." He might get a ruling from the chief muster officer, and then that would be reversed in the afternoon, sometimes by telegraphic order from Washington, and sometimes by telephonic communication from Governors Island. These men were nearly distracted. There was great delay, but finally the organizations were mustered in in several different ways. "The Judge Advocate of the Army finally ruled that as to the National Guard of the United States no “muster in ” was necessary.
The whole think was unnecessary for this reason: All that was necessary was for a muster roll to be prepared by the company commander, not by one of the muster officers, or several attempting to muster in the whole force, and then for the commands to go on about their business. This could have been done on the train going down.
The CHAIRMAN. Did you know that then, or did you see that afterwards from that experience in the mustering in?
Gen. O'Ryan. It was talked about, Senator, off and on. I served at one time on a committee at the War College in connection with the mustering regulations, and I raised that point then, but the consensus of opinion was that it was a little too radical at that time, and I am inclined to think it was.
The CHAIRMAN. You know we all see mistakes after a thing is over. I want to get at whether you saw the thing at the time and suggested a remedy?
Gen. O'Ryan. I suggested a remedy, but I do not think I saw it as completely as I have seen it since the occurrence. I think that applies to most of us who were concerned in it.
The point is that a force was in being at the time which had a Federal status; therefore, all this ceremony of mustering had no relation to us, and it was so held later in an opinion written by Gen. Crowder that is was unnecessary for all of these 18,000 soldiers to sign their names four times, because they had already taken the Federal oath.
Senator BRADY. All those things caused delay?
Gen. O’RYAN. An immense amount of delay and exasperation, because these rolls were torn up and rewritten and torn up again.
Senator BRADY. How long do you say it took you to mobilize your troops ? Gen. OʻRyan. "A little less than 24 hours—about 20 hours.
Senator BRADY. At that time you say there were some of your regiments or companies that were not recruited up to the full war strength? Gen. O'Ryan. Some of them, of course, were not. Senator BRADY. Can you give the exact figures in that connection?
Gen. O’RYAN. I will give you that accurately. I have a table which I will insert in the record in that connection.
(The table referred to is as follows:)
strength of New York Division, National Guard, United States, on date of call
(June 19, 1916), and on border service.
Strength of New York Division, National Guard, United States, etc.—Continued.
Total strength New York State, of officers and enlisted men on June 19, 1916, 20,577.
Total strength from New York State of officers and enlisted men in the National Guard, United States.
The next point had to do with physical examination, about which there was much complaint. That we did provide for by requesting or suggesting, on at least two occasions, to the War Department that they make physical examinations of the soldiers of our division. The suggestion was made on one occasion about a year before this call, and on another occasion midway between that time and the mobilization; that the examinations might be accurate. If you will stop to consider you will realize that it takes a careful medical examiner about 10 minutes to really examine and give a soldier any kind of an examination. He has to look at his eyes and teeth and test his hearing and examine his heart and lungs, and examine him carefully for all physical disabilities, particular flat feet. It is assumed it will take that length of time, even though the medical inspector be assisted by noncommissioned officers, who will take measurements of height, etc., and weight, and record them; also that other noncommissioned officers will have these men coming in like an unin. terrupted flow of human beings, all stripped, so he has nothing to do but to conduct his examination. Ten minutes of time would be necessary to make the examination accurately and with some degree of perfection. That means at the rate of six men an hour. They sent us two medical officers for about 20,000 men, and of course promptly we gave them some assistance; but if you assume to cut that limit down to five minutes for examination for each man, and assume that these medical officers were working 10 hours a day while this process was going on, you will see that it would take the medical officers examining our regiment 10 days to make the physical examinations of a single regiment, working 10 hours a day and assuming it has a strength of 1,200 men.
Senator Brady. They provided you with how many medical examiners?
Gen. O'Ryax. Two.
Senator Brady. You put the responsibility for delay on the Regular Establishment?
Gen. O'Ryan. I think that is admitted, so far as we are concerned. That seems to be the sentiment among the regular officers, I know, along the border. This report was a complete surprise to us—this report on the mobilization.
Senator BRADY. It seems to me that a good deal of our trouble has arisen from the fact that the troops were called out too soon after the passage of the law.
Gen. O’RYAN. I think that complicated matters a great deal.
Senator BRADY. Permit me to ask you a question in point. Let us presume that the day we passed this law you had been given notice that your troops would be called out in 90 days from that date could you at that time, at the end of 90 days, have embarked with your troops with the full equipment and proper examinations and everything of that sort without any delay?
Gen. O'Ryan. We were ready, as I told you, within 20 hours of the call as it was made. These other things we can not control. They are no part of the National Guard system. They were a part of the system imposed by the War Department.
Senator BRADY. I have always maintained that the National Guard was not responsible for these things, and after hearing the large amount of evidence presented here, both pro and con, I have come to the conclusion that there is no one factor to blame for conditions. As our chairman has said, part of the responsibility rests on Congress. We have not made the necessary appropriations, and possibly a greater responsibility rests upon Congress for the reason that we may not have in our appropriations provided that the supplies be more systematically distributed through the Ordnance Department, permitting, or rather requiring, supplies for each division or unit to be kept within close reach of that unit. I will be pleased to have you tell us just what difficulties you encountered in the way of getting your equipment. You made the statement-or possibly it was Gen. Stotesbury who made the statement—that various sorts of equipment were given to the men at the time by private citizens and that you encountered great difficulties in securing equipment for your troops to entrain.
Gen. O'Ryan. That also had been called to the attention of the War Department, and we characterized the system in this way: We said it would require a cunning mind to devise a scheme better calculated to create confusion and delay than that prescribed by the War Department for furnishing equipment to the National Guard in the event of a war.
Senator BRADY. Of what equipment were you short? Gen. O’RYAN. We were not short. The War Department was short on all equipment necessary to bring our division from peace strength to war strength. They were short on equipment in this sense, that they did not have it where it was needed. They had it in Philadelphia.
Senator Brady. Did they have a sufficient supply in Philadelphia ? Gen. O'RYAN. I believe they did. They did have for our division.
Senator BRADY. How long did it take to get that supply from Philadelphia over to New York?