ERB and the MILITARY
1. ERB address given to the 1894 Graduating Class
2. Warlord of Mars DJ painting by J. Allen St. John
3. ERB Proposal for a National Reserve Army,
in a letter to the Army and Navy Journal (August 31, 1918)1. The Address Given by ERB to the 1894 Graduating Class at Michigan Military Academy, Orchard Lake, Michigan
(The original draft, with cartoons by ERB was given to his daughter Joan on May 22, 1924, and is now in the private collection of Roy and Dela White of Denver, Colorado. It was reprinted in The Burroughs Bulletin #34, Spring, 1998.)
Friends and comrades: Owing to a slight mistake this event was printed on the other side of the program... but seriously... I have been requested as President of the Class of '95 to make a little impromptu reply to the worthy "Advisory Board" ...Lt. Barry, Speaker for the Senior Class to Undergraduates, and accordingly I have been studying up for a week.
In behalf of the Undergraduates I wish to thank the Senior Class of '94 for the honorable and impartial way in which they have treated us both as officers and Men... and in bidding them a last farewell we wish for them only that their future lives may contain as many bright hours and as few real trials as this Cadet Day, now finished, have in the past.
Our hearts fill and something rises in our throats as we look into the faces of the comrades about to leave us forever, and we can well imagine that the same 'Something' rises in their throats as the thought comes to them that after to-night the Cadet Gray is a thing of the past for them.
...But I was not requested to deliver an obituary. Fellow classmates, we owe no end of thanks to Lieut. Barry; never was more valuable advice given by man to man than by Mr. Barry to us... that we abstain both from Cigarettes and Dramatic Co's.
Look at the horrible examples of physical wreck brought on by twenty-five consecutive years of constant cigarette smoking presented to us in the pallid face and emaciated form of the Assistant Inspector General, Capt. Lee.
But I digress: my subject is a reply to Mr. Barry, not a lecture on coffin nails.
We are advised to follow in the footsteps of the Class of '94... I suppose that would necessitate my following in the tracks of the worthy President... impossible... I shall have to resign in Mr. Ransom's favor... unless the Col. will loose Mr. Sparker.
"Sparker"... that name recalls a sad fact, the one fault of this Senior Class... they were good students, fine officers and true friends, but they could not ride horseback. No! Not even I, "Paul Revere," or the man who traveled with a circus... they stole him I believe, they didn't know what they were getting.
Another thing, Mr. Barry, that I wish to thank you for, is the tone of your address... it was not delivered like so many others that I have heard in that "Papa's" pants will soon fit "Willie's" style... as though we were a lot of infants and needed advice.
Again, in behalf of the Classes of '95, '96, '97 and Mr. Ward, I bid good bys to the Senior Class of '94.
It fills us with sorrow when we think that after to-night we are no longer comrades in gray... We are sorry to have you leave us boys, sorry to part with you, not alone, because of the hardshiips & sorrows that we have shared and born shoulder to shoulder. Never was senior class more dear to the undergraduates, nor was parting more hard. We hope to see you all at the Senior Prom of '95. We extend to you all a hearty invitation. Good bye.
[Some of the ERB-drawn cartoons on his handwritten address sheets include: a student leaving by train, the "pallid face and emaciated form" of the Assistant Inspector General, ERB as Class President for 1895, and as Paul Revere on his "rapid ride."]
2. McClurg DJ by J. Allen St. John
3. ERB's 1918 proposal for a National Reserve Army
Several months prior to the end of World War I, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Captain [ERB enlisted in the reserve militia May 28, 1917, was appointed a captain January 1, 1918 and a major on October 15], 1st Battalion, 2d Infantry, Illinois Reserve Militia, proposed a National Reserve Army, in a letter to the editor of the Army and Navy Journal (August 31, 1918):
Marching in the Memorial Day parade in Chicago there were, I understand, some eleven thousand uniformed men of the Illinois Reserve Militia and the Illinois Volunteer Training Corps from Cook county. About half of these men are equipped with rifles, and all of them have received more or less training during the past year. They are typical of several hundred thousand other men throughout the country who belong to similar organizations. They are volunteers for military training -- active exponents of a sincere belief in the necessity for further preparation for whatever military service the Government may require of them in the future. They represent, however, only a small proportion of the available men between the ages of eighteen and forty-five who should be receiving military training and now that the draft age limits may be extended these men and their organization naturally assume a greater importance to the Government than ever before. The question arises as to how these trained units may be utilized to the best advantage.
One of the inherent weaknesses of the present Reserve Militia and Volunteer Training Corps is due to the fact that they are volunteer organizations.Will we never, even in the face of all the sad experience of our own times backed by the historic calamities of past centuries, get once and for all away from all connection with voluntary military service? No man should be allowed to wear the cloth until he is ordered to do so by competent authority -- no man should be permitted to enlist; but every man should be compelled to serve in the same capacity.
A National Reserve Army suggests a plan of service and preparatory training that would meet the military requirements of each state for protection against internal disorders, and at the same time furnish trained recruits for the National Army, instead of unloading upon it enormous batches of raw material at each call. A law could be enacted providing for a preliminaary draft of men between eighteen and forty-nine who should be required to serve in local units until such time as they might be drafted into the National Army.
Their duties would be such as not to interfere with their present occupations, including drills two nights a week and Sunday mornings. Their active service might be limited to service within their respective states at the discretion of the Governors. By this plan no more would be required of any man than is being voluntarily given by many thousands today. The expense to the Government would be comparatively small -- consisting only in uniforms and equipment, all of which might be transferred to the National Army, if necessary, as the men were drafted for the latter service.
We should give men preliminary training before placing them in the National Army. That this is worth while is evidenced by the fact that the large majority of Reserve Militia men are made squad leaders and noncommissioned officers immediately after reaching National Army training camps, although, in Illinois, at least only two hours drill a week is required. In a year we are required to attend drill for a total period of training that aggregates less than two weeks of average working days. If it is worth while under such conditions how much greater would be the benefits to Government, state and individual if these units could drill three times a week under a compulsory law that would insure maximum instead of minimum attendance?
If this sort of preliminary training served to eliminate two weeks' elementary training at the National Army cantonments, then saving to the Government would be well worth while. The actual saving in subsistence and pay would more than cover the cost of equipping these men for the Reserve Army, while the saving in time might easily prove far beyond possible estimate were we able at the end of six months to place an additional man in France two weeks earlier than under present conditions. Nor is this all -- the longer the war continues the more proficient would the men of the National Reserve Army become and the shorter the course of training required at National Army cantonments.
The greatest difficulty which presents itself is the efficient offering of such a Reserve Army; but even this may be overcome by a system of examinations and by establishing training camps for those officers where they would receive instruction for short periods and at such intervals during the year that their means of livelihood might not be seriously interfered with.
It is, of course, a great undertaking; but it is worth the effort and most assuredly warrants serious discussion. From an intimate knowledge of conditions affecting the Reserve Militia and the Volunteer Training Corps gained by actual experience since the first unit was formed, I am convinced that such a plan would meet with wide approval, not only among men already affiliated with these organizations, but with those who have not yet enlisted in one or the other. At present a few men in each community bear the expense and make the sacrifices to a thankless service which they believe a necessary service. With Federal backing and the consequent standing it would give these organizations, one of the greatest present discouragements to the work would be eliminated -- I refer to the national tendency to ridicule the "Home Guard."
The nucleus of a new Army is already trained -- a sincere, intelligent, patriotic nucleus of men who are not only contributing voluntarily and by taxation to the support of the Government's war policy; but who for over a year have been training themselves practically without recognition or support against the time the President might need them as fighting men. Let us use these men -- let us have a law that will build around them a National Reserve Army.