SOUTH CAROLINIANA LIBRARY
UNIVERSITY SOUTH CAROLINIANA SOCIETY
Millage J. Gomillion Papers, 7 March-8 November 1918
Nine items, 7 March-8 November 1918, reflect the World War I experience of Millage J. Gomillion, an African American who served as a corporal in Co. I, 371st Infantry, U.S. Army. Gomillion grew up and worked on the Benjamin Boatwright family's homestead at Ridge Spring known as Fair Pines plantation. In France he saw action in the trenches and was awarded the Croix de Guerre by the French government for bravery in action after rescuing the wounded lieutenant of his company.
In the earliest letter, written on letterhead stationery from Camp Jackson, Columbia, Gomillion lightheartedly asked Mr. Boatwright when he planned to visit—"See hear I have been looking to see you over hear as you promise when are you coming?"
Gomillion's first letter from France is dated 17 July 1918 and speaks longingly of his South Carolina home—"while sitting out in the lovely sun shine this afternoon in france thinking of my dear sweet home and country and the lovely times that I have spent around there a thought come to my mind to write you a few lines, as to let you know that I am yet living and havent forgot you....this leaves me well and getting along nicely." Gomillion goes on to inquire about crops at Ridge Spring and to urge Boatwright to "have me a nice car to drive for you when I get home...."
Writing again from France on 23 October, he noted—"I trust you all will get through it soft and make a plenty for us soldiers for we are doing our bit. I recon we are doing it too I am soldiering for the good old U.S.A. and dont believe the hun can beat me and I do trust that god will be with you all at home and us in france too...." Another letter bearing the same date but addressed this time to Mrs. Boatwright, requests prayers for the American soldiers in France and jokes about the good food back at Fair Pines—"if I could only get to that little safe in the Butler Pantry about now I would hurt myself...you dont know how I have long for the old kitchen at home since I have been over hear....some of those Biscuit and Wafer would make me sick now, and one cup of that good milk would make me drunk...."
Three days later Gomillion wrote mentioning Mrs. Boatwright's youngest brother, Rene, who also was stationed in France, and giving information on his own involvement in combat—"I was in school one month since we been over hear had a very nice time there but...when I left I went streight to the front and went over the top...you cant imagine what a time it was but we came out very well we did some grond work we was in it for eight days it was something to see but above all god must have been with us I was in lead when we started and in lead when we stop and didnt get hurt enough to stop...it was a time but we taken lots of grown and two villages also lots of prisioners too." The final letter, postmarked 8 November 1918, again reminisces about life with the Boatwrights—"it is so nice that you all are raising lots of chickens....Only wish I was there to catch them for you...I am often thinking of the old plantation at home where I long to be. And when the Battle is fought and the victory is one, and god spares me to be one among those who are left you all may loke for your old servant M.G. back to you again...." A World War I era postcard portrait pictures Gomillion in his military uniform.
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