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Raymond L. Harman

Courtesy Eric Hedrick, Pendleton County Historical Society

West Virginia Veterans Memorial

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Raymond L. Harman
1895-1918

"Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear."

Ambrose Redmoon

Raymond L. Harman was born on December 30, 1895, at Brandywine, Pendleton County, West Virginia. His parents were Charles Grant Harman and Carrie Belle Lough Harman, who were married on September 2, 1894, in Pendleton County.

Raymond’s siblings were Mary G. (Mrs. Earl B. Pyles), Mayme G. (Mrs. Cletus Osceola Byrd), and Russell Lough.

Following the sinking of American merchant ships by German submarines, the United States declared war against Germany on April 6, 1917. When the call for volunteers failed to produce the needed one million troops to support the war effort, the Selective Service instituted the draft with the first registration on June 5, 1917, for all men between the ages of 21 and 31.

Raymond registered for the draft on June 5 in Pendleton County. He was 21 years of age at that time and working as a farmer for his father on the family farm in Pendleton County. His World War I draft registration card states he was single and describes him as being of medium height and build with brown eyes and brown hair.

Raymond Harman

Pvt. Raymond L. Harman at Camp Lee. Courtesy Eric Hedrick, Pendleton County Historical Society

Raymond claimed an exemption from the draft because of a “physical disability.” However, he was called on September 17 to serve in Battery “A,” 313th Field Artillery Regiment, 155th Field Artillery Brigade, 80th Division. Composed primarily of soldiers from Virginia, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia, the 80th Division had been organized on August 27, 1917, at Camp Lee, near Petersburg, Virginia. As seen in the illustration below, it was common practice for soldiers newly ensconced at camp to inform officials back home of their status.
post card

Post card from Pvt. Harman to Mr. Calhoun. Courtesy Eric Hedrick, Pendleton County Historical Society

The 80th came to be known as the “Blue Ridge Division,” a designation that gave rise to its unique insignia of three blue mountain peaks and its motto, “Vis Montium” (“Strength of the Mountains”). The 155th Field Artillery Brigade was comprised of the 313th, 314th, and 315th Field Artillery units, which were made up of men almost exclusively from the State of West Virginia. The 313th departed on May 27, 1918, for France aboard the U.S.S.Siboney, along with a convoy of nine other transports, the cruiser U.S.S. North Carolina, and one destroyer.
USS Siboney

Courtesy Naval History and Heritage Command

After a period of training, the American forces commenced the Meuse-Argonne Offensive on September 26, 1918. The objective of this campaign was to repel the Germans eastward from the Hindenburg Line to deny them access to important rail lines supplying the German front. Thirty-seven French and U.S. divisions were opposed by 24 German divisions.

By early October, the German Army was exhausted, demoralized, and plagued with an influenza outbreak. The Meuse-Argonne Offensive, which lasted until the Armistice on November 11, was the largest in U. S. military history. It was also one of the bloodiest battles in U.S. history. More than 95,000 American soldiers were wounded and over 26,277 were killed. During the St. Mihiel and Meuse-Argonne Offensives, the 80th Division suffered 1,141 battle deaths and 5,622 wounded.

During the Meuse-Argonne Offensive, Private Raymond L. Harman, a machine gunner, was mortally wounded on October 14, 1918, by a shell fragment while guiding an ammunition train between Montfaucon and Nantillois.

In World War I, the remains of some soldiers were buried several times—first in battlefield graves, then in U.S. cemeteries in Europe, and finally in the United States. At the conclusion of the war, France resisted removing bodies for reburial, but in 1920 the French agreed to the return of American soldiers to the United States. The remains of 46,000 war dead were returned to the U.S. at a cost of over $30 million.

grave marker

Grave marker for Pvt. Harman. Courtesy Sharon Nunley, Find A Grave, accessed 12 Sept. 2015

By 1920 the Harman family had moved to New Creek in Mineral County, West Virginia. After the war, at their request, the body of Pvt. Raymond L. Harman was returned to Mineral County and reburied in the Duling United Methodist Church Cemetery in New Creek.

Article prepared by Leon Armentrout
September 2015

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Raymond L. Harman

West Virginia Archives and History welcomes any additional information that can be provided about these veterans, including photographs, family names, letters and other relevant personal history.


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