“Gratiot County’s Animals at War, Summer 1917”


Above: Advertisements from the Alma Record and Gratiot County Herald, 1917.

     They served Gratiot County as well. They most likely had names, they were born and raised here, however, we know little about them, where they went, or what ultimately happened to them. These animals were the numerous horses who went off to the Great War in the spring and summer of 1917 from Gratiot County.

     What is known about horses in World War I is that they were used for men to ride, for transportation, to haul food, guns, ammunition, and to transport the sick during the war. Over one million horses and mules were sent to Europe as part of the American war effort in World War I. Approximately 200 returned home.

     Eight million horses and mules died during the Great War. Two-thirds of the horses used by the British and French Armies during the war came from North America.

      For many, their dead bodies often appeared in pictures and photographs depicting the barbarity and severity of warfare on the Western Front. Yet, they often served their masters faithfully.

     Just how many “war horses” were taken from Gratiot County is uncertain. Were they only sent to army camps here in the United States? Did any make it to Europe? Did any of them return to Gratiot County? We do not know the answers to these questions, however, these horses (and possibly mules) also served somewhere in the war effort in World War I.

Copyright James M Goodspeed 2017


Above: images from the Library of Congress.


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