The Little Lead Soldier
by Hugh D. Wise, III
Arriving in France in April 1918, Col. Hugh D. Wise, commander of the U.S. 61st Infantry Division, held a precious object. It was a toy soldier given to him by his six-year-old son, Hugh, Jr. The boy had asked the little lead soldier to write him with news of his father.
The colonel saw action in two of the most important campaigns the Americans fought, St. Mihiel and Meuse-Argonne, and the little lead soldier dutifully assured a boy thousands of miles away that his father was safe: “The men had been shelled, gassed, and raked by machine guns constantly: and undergone several intense bombardments; and made a difficult though successful attack; and had resisted a fierce counter-attack. They had dug trenches, moved, and dug again. All this time they had been without shelter, exposed to a cold driving rain and without warm food—They were wet, chilled, and tired when called upon for even greater efforts but they responded with the energy and spirit of fresh troops.”
A treasured family heirloom, these wartime letters are presented for the first time along with letter from Colonel Wise to his wife, and engrossing historical context provided by his grandson, Hugh D. Wise, III. The Little Lead Soldier: World War I Letters from a Father to His Son is a remarkable story of how a father performed his dangerous duty while keeping a promise to his boy.
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