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Albert H. Blanding papers, 1917-1958, bulk 1917-1940.
0.50 cubic ft.
Terms Governing Use:
Albert Hazen Blanding was a prominent National Guard officer in Florida. He graduated from East Florida Seminary in Gainesville in 1894. In 1895 he enrolled in the Gainesville Guards, Florida State Troops. By 1899, he was a Colonel in the 2nd Florida Infantry Regiment, which he commanded when it was called into federal service during the Mexican Punitive Expedition, 1916-1917. In August 1917, President Woodrow Wilson appointed Blanding to Brigadier General, making him one of only eight National Guard officers promoted to such rank. During World War I, Blanding served in France with several units and earned the Distinguished Service Medal.
After the war Blanding returned to Florida and worked in the lumber and citrus industries. He was active as a veteran in the American Legion in Florida. He remained in the National Guard and commanded the 31st Infantry Division from 1924 to 1940. Blanding served in Washington as the Chief of the National Guard Bureau from 1936 to 1940. During World War II, Blanding returned to public service as military advisor to Governor Spessard Holland and as coordinator of the state's civil defenses.
The collection contains the papers of Albert H. Blanding. It includes photocopies of three pocket diaries kept by the General during his service in World War I, covering the periods of December 15-29, 1917 and May-September, 1918. The records also include correspondence, clippings, publications, speeches, telegrams, and photographs. The papers document Blanding's involvement with the American Legion and his duties as Chief of the National Guard Bureau.
Blanding's diaries document the participation of American troops in World War I. The diaries begin in December 1917, while Blanding was still in the United States, awaiting deployment to France. Included in this section is his poignant description of a last Christmas visit home to his wife and children. Blanding sailed for France on April 7, 1918, and his diaries begin again about one month later. His entries are generally detailed and lengthy. He comments on a variety of subjects, including French geography, troop training, the officers he meets, and the conduct of operations against the Germans. He comments on the looting of abandoned homes by French troops, and his conflicts with "Regular Army" officers who did not feel that any National Guard officer was qualified to hold a position of high responsibility. His entries from August 31 to September 2 describe the offensive operations of the troops in the Deckabush Lake Sector of the American line.
Part of the volumes contain Blanding's daily entries on current military conditions, while other portions contain miscellaneous notes and checklists. Blanding often completed one side of a notebook and then added notes on the reverse side of the pages. There are also gaps between some dates and his notes and checklists are mostly undated.
Folder listing available. 0
Additional Physical Form:
Location of Originals/Duplicates:
Original diaries in possession of donor.
Electronic Records Access:
Subject Access Fields:
American Legion. Dept. of Florida. Florida. National Guard. United States. National Guard Bureau.
Patriotic societies Florida Veterans Societies, etc World War, 1914-1918.