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West Virginia Veterans Memorial

West Virginia Veterans Memorial

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Edward Jacob Mullenax
1892-1918

"The dead were and are not. Their place knows them no more and is ours today. Yet they were once as real as we, and we shall tomorrow be shadows like them."

G. M. Trevelyan

Edward Jacob Mullenax was born at Cherry Grove in Pendleton County, West Virginia, on April 30, 1892. He was the firstborn child of Robert Edward Mullenax and Serilda Catherine Sponaugle Mullenax. Edward’s twin sister, Etta Carrie, died in 1894. Other siblings included Mary Ellen (died 1895), Luther Lee, Carrie Susan (Mrs. William Allen Propst), William H., Masil Fannie (Mrs. Robert Jacob Warner), Myrtle Annie (Mrs. Denny H. Hartman, Mrs. John Amos Judy), and Mattie Lucile (Mrs. John Edwin Nelson).
Edward Jacob Mullenax

Edward J. Mullenax. Photo courtesy Leon Armentrout

Edward signed up for the army in the initial World War I draft in Pendleton County on June 5, 1917, at the age of 25. In his draft registration, he indicated that he was a natural born citizen and was single. At that time he stated he was a farmer working for his father at Dry Run in Pendleton County. His draft registration form notes that he was short and stout, with gray eyes and dark brown hair. He claimed no exemptions to the draft.

draft registration

WWI draft registration for Edward Mullenax. National Archives and Records Administration

Exactly one year later Edward’s brother, Luther Lee, also registered for the draft in Pendleton County. He was of medium height and medium build and had blue eyes and light brown hair.

Private Edward J. Mullenax served in Company I of the 58th Infantry Battalion of the American Expeditionary Forces in France. The 58th Infantry Regiment was organized following the Declaration of War on April 6, 1917, when the United States entered the war on the side of the British and French. The U.S. Army activated the 58th at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, on May 15, 1917, and assigned it to the 4th Infantry Division of the 3rd Army Corps.

The 4th Infantry Division was organized at Camp Greene, North Carolina, in December 1917 under the command of Maj. Gen. George H. Cameron. The newly-formed division trained at Camp Greene until April 1918, and they sailed to England in May of that year. On June 9, 1918, after landing at Calais, France, they were assigned to regiments of the French 164th Infantry Division. The companies of the 58th took part in Aisne-Marne Counteroffensive of July 1918. During September 1918, the 58th Infantry Regiment fought in the St. Mihiel Offensive and the Meuse-Argonne Offensive during October 1918.

On October 6, 1918, Pvt. Mullenax died of pneumonia, in all probability the result of exposure to mustard gas during an attack by the Germans at the Meuse-Argonne Offensive. Fatalities from exposure to mustard gas primarily resulted from secondary broncho-pneumonia. Fatally injured victims sometimes took four or five weeks to die of mustard gas exposure. In all, U.S. forces suffered 1,462 fatalities from gas warfare.

grave marker

Gravestone for Pvt. E. J. Mullenax, Cedar Hill Cemetery. Photo used with permission from John Hughes

The remains of some World War I 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. In 1920 Private Edward J. Mullenax’s body was repatriated to the United States. His final resting place is near those of his parents in Cedar Hill Cemetery at Franklin, Pendleton County, West Virginia.

Article prepared by Leon Armentrout
March 2015

Honor...

Edward Jacob Mullenax

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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