Military Service (1917 - 1918)
The seed for world war was sown June 28, 1914, when Gavrilo Princip, a Serbian trained terrorist, fired the shots that killed Archduke Ferdinand, heir to the thrones of Austria and Hungary. The Austro-Hungarian government, with the backing of Germany, demanded that Austrian officials be allowed to take part in the trials of those involved in the assassination. Serbia, with the backing of Russia, refused and on July 28, 1914, Austro-Hungary declared war.
President Woodrow Wilson declared that the United States would remain neutral, but as Germany continued to attack U.S. ships supplying Great Britain, the U.S. began to prepare for war. Military camps were set up to train volunteers and in September 1916 congress voted a seven billion dollar defense budget.
In January 1917 the U.S. learned that Germany was trying to make an alliance with Mexico promising to restore land Mexico lost in the Mexican-American War in return for Mexico's help. On April 6, 1917 the U.S. declared war on Germany. By the time Luther was 25 in August 1917, a selective-service system had been established and all men between 21 and 30 were required to register for the draft.
Luther had just completed the Summer Term at Lone Grove. He either enlisted or was drafted and on September 4, 1917, he was in the army. He eventually qualified for officer candidate school and went to Camp Beauregard in Louisiana for training.
In April 1918 he went home on furlough to marry Eugenia Francis Houston.
They were married on April 21, 1918 at Atkins, Arkansas, not far from Old Hickory. Gene's brother, John Hawk, was best man. Gene was just a month short of her nineteenth birthday and Luther was almost twenty-six.
4th Officers Training School
Camp Beauregard, La. - 1918
Luther completed Officers' Training School at Camp Bauregard with the rank of 2nd Lieutenant. It was the 4th Officers Training School and he was in the Second Infantry Company according to his handwritten notes on the photograph. He was proud of his officer's rank and had it inscribed on his tombstone 65 years later. He also spoke proudly of having been in a unit that Dwight Eisenhower was involved with. Luther also wrote "Colonel" and "British Lieutenant" on the photo margin. I think that the British Lieutenant looks obviously British. Luther identified himself with a '^' over his head and a line leading from it to his name. He is in the first row behind the front row of leaders. The brim of the hat in front of him is just even with the tip of his nose. Not shown in this copy of part of the original photo are the 1st Infantry Company, which was on the right of this group, and the Battalion Battery, which was on the left.
The date of the photograph and the date of graduation from Officer's School is unknown, but apparently it was before there was an indication that the war might soon be over. The newly graduated officers were being assigned to various military groups as they were needed and Luther had received an assignment for overseas duty. However, he still lacked the boots required to complete a 2nd Lieutenant's uniform. His departure was delayed while he tried to get the boots through the quartermaster and fortunately the armistice was signed at 11:11 a.m. on November 11, 1918, and was not required to go overseas. Interestingly enough, the Special Order relieving him and the other officers from duty was dated November 5, 1918.
Luther's older brother Marvin was also in the military and did serve on the front lines in Europe.
This is an excerpt from the orders relieving Luther and many other officers from duty:
Special Orders No. 227
HEADQUARTERS, CAMP COLT
November 5, 1918.
S.O. 227. Par. 8. Page 3. (mimeograph copy of Special Orders relieving officers from duty)
2nd Lt. Luther A. Maxwell, Inf. U.S.A. from 309th Center, Tank Corps.
By order of Lt. Col. Eisenhower:
W. S. Roberson,
Captain, Tank Corps,