AT AGE FORTY-six, Joseph Andrews Sargent was considerably older than most run-of-the-mill soldiers. But then, he wasn't exactly run-of-the-mill! Born in Michigan in 1872, Sargent had a degree in civil engineering and a hankering to see the world. After serving with the 2nd U. S. Engineers during the Spanish-American War, he traveled to France, Germany, Spain, Switzerland, Italy and the Dominican Republic to work on hydroelectric projects.
When war broke out in Europe, Sargent was commissioned as a Captain with the 2nd Engineering Battalion. Unlike most soldiers, his family accompanied him to France; his wife and children lived in a village near Paris.
Although not a Sheridan resident, Joseph Andrews Sargent was not unknown to Sheridan residents; he visited the county before the war while serving with the United States Geological Survey and still had friends in the area. His strident letter, detailing the hardships of the French people and the evils of Germany, was published in The Sheridan Daily Enterprise on June 8, 1918.
There is not much to say beyond the things you already know, that we all have one big job on our hands, but we are glad to be able to do it.
When you see on all sides the French people - old men and old women, young women and children - working long hours in the field to make each little bit of land produce its share, it makes you feel that all that any one can do for his country certainly is little enough.
Old French men and women have continued to cultivate their gardens and grain fields right up to the ends of the shelled areas. And often inside of the areas, they will figure where the German shells are falling and then will cultivate the fields on the reverse hill side slopes where the shells very seldom fall. And, except when the French officer commanding the sector orders them out for their own safety, they continue to live in their ancient tile roof, moss-covered houses right up to the hour when the German batteries begin to shell their villages.
The commanding officer sends a couple of French soldiers to help the old people load their scant possessions and they trudge off down the long white winding road. Sometimes they take what they have in a hand push-cart. Sometimes they have an old horse left and a cow and a dog and cat and a few chickens, a white rabbit and a cart load of old household furniture. They take it away sadly, of course; but at the same time bravely, and without complaint. Above all, they are profoundly grateful that America finally awoke to the great danger that civilization, as we know it, was being crucified by the Prussian beast of despotic military greed. And they all seem to feel that now we are in it, we have got to make a good job of destroying the monster - and everyone knows that half way measures are no remedy. Saint George did not destroy the dragon by putting salt on the dragon's tail. He SLEW the dragon, if I remember the story correctly. And that is what we are here for. Mercy to the MERCIFUL, but iron justice to the MERCILESS.
We have been in many historic places of France. Awhile ago I was near the old castle where Richard Couer de Leon (Richard the Lion Hearted, Richard Plantagenet) was born. Recently I was along a trail where Julius Caesar, a few years before Christ (in 50 and some odd years B. C.), found the early Germans. And again we were near one of the places where Attila, the original Hun, who called himself the Scourge of God, was finally beaten and driven out of France. Also I was on part of the early battlefield where Charles Martel defeated the Saracen hordes, who tried to conquer the early Christians and make Mohammadanism the world's religion.
In the end - all of the would-be conquerors who placed GREED and LUST OF POWER above HUMAN KINDNESS have had to give way to men who KNEW they were RIGHT and also FOUGHT TO THE FINISH rather than be made SLAVES. And of course, THAT is what will be the ultimate end of the vast German military scheme of world conquest, based upon general hatred of all that tends toward human liberty and also based upon scientific devil worship.
The German government, as at present constituted, made the ancient blunder of setting up the false gods and worshiping a new kind of brazen image, and that government has got to be brought to reason by a GREATER FORCE (based on righteousness), than it could itself bring forth. No matter how long it takes, German militarism is going to be beaten - and every man here is glad to do what he can to speed the day, hoping that sooner or later the German people themselves will cease to be CATTLE and strike for LIBERTY.
State Historic Site