Sgt Troy D Barnett
B:AUG. 18, 1893 D: NOV. 5, 1918 KILLED INACTION
WORLD WAR I
Details about Troy Barnett’s life and death are sketchy.
Other than being born to Mrs. W.J. Barnett of RFD 2, Hampton on August 18, 1893, available records about Troy Barnett unfortunately don’t tell the tale of his father or siblings or anything else about his early life.
The first verifiable information beyond his birth is that he enlisted June 29th, 1916 in a unit of the National Guard known as the “Spalding Greys”. That unit received its training at Camp Harris in Macon then deployed to the border with Mexico to fight Pancho Villa, and later to Florida to guard the railroads on the East Coast.
On July 3rd, 1917 the nation’s entire National Guard was mobilized in response to Americas’s entry into WWI.
Patriotic fervor was so high, Governors and National Guard officers competed for the honor to be the first troops sent to France. To pacify everyone, it was decided to form a composite division made up of troops from every state in the union.This was the origin of the famous “Rainbow Division” and the path that lead Troy Barnett, a soldier in the 2nd Georgia Division, to be reorganized into Company C, 151st Machine Gun Battalion and assigned to the 42nd Division. The chief of staff of this division was the soon to be famous Douglas McArthur.
The 42nd shipped out for France as the first U.S. Army combat troops in the European Theater arriving October 29th, 1917 and trained there until mid February 1918.
Possibly indicating a certain disrespect for authority, Barnett enlisted as a private June 1916, was promoted to corporal July 1916, busted to private August 1917, promoted to corporal again and then busted again to private and finally, a week before his death, promoted to sergeant on October 28, 1918.
In late spring, early summer 1918, the 42nd and Barnett were engaged in the fighting on several important battlefields, notably near Verdun and Chateau Thierry where they were instrumental in stopping the German advance on Paris only 40 miles from the city.
Barnett was wounded July 18, 1918, although not seriously.
By October 1918, the last German offensive had been repulsed and what was left of their army was beginning to unravel. The war was staggering to it’s conclusion.
The Allies had won and Germany had lost, yet the fighting continued as both sides jockeyed for position in the negotiations over the terms of a cease fire. In some sectors of the front fighting was still fierce. In others German resistance melted away in the face of overwhelming allied troops and material.
Sedan, France had a long history of being captured and liberated in previous wars and was highly symbolic as a military objective. By early November it was opposite Sgt. Barnett’s position and only a few miles inside the German lines.
Commanding General “Black Jack” Pershing saw the liberation of the city as the “crowning vindication of America’s role in the war.” Lacking a clear “victory” up until that time, it would be proof that the “doughboys” were as good as any troops of the other allies – an issue that was still in contention.
Pershing essentially authorized a free for all, removing all limitations on troop dispositions and declaring: “to the first to get there, belongs the glory”.
Pershing’s subordinate officers got the message and drove their men to the absolute limit of their endurance to get “the glory”. Unfortunately Troy Barnett became a victim of his commanding officer’s vanity.
On November 5th a failed attempt to break through German lines into Sedan lead to heavy fighting along the Muese River. Somewhere in the fighting that day Sgt. Troy Barnett was killed in action – six days before peace was declared.
The details of his death are as lost to the passage of time as the details of his life.
He was nevertheless not forgotten. Shortly after the war ended, American Legion Griffin Post #15 was named in his honor and carries his name, together with that of another lost hero, till the present day.