1879-1937; bulk: 1890-1931

Guide to the Collection

Collection Summary


This collection consists of the papers of Clarence Ransom Edwards, career military officer and commander of the 26th (Yankee) Division in World War I, including correspondence, speeches, reports and bulletins, writings, printed matter, volumes, and other papers.

Biographical Sketch

Born in Cleveland, Ohio, on 1 January 1859, Clarence Ransom Edwards was the son of William Edwards, a prominent wholesale grocer, and Lucia Ransom Edwards. His uncle was famed Union Civil War hero Oliver Edwards. Clarence Edwards decided early on a military career, attending Brooks Military Academy (Cleveland) and West Point. At West Point, he excelled at athletics, but finished last academically in a class of 52 in 1883.

Commissioned a second lieutenant, Edwards was given a tour of duty in Indian territory at Fort Union, New Mexico. His regiment was then transferred to Fort Porter in Buffalo, New York, where he served intermittently from 1884 to 1890. For two years, Edwards commanded the guard at the grave of the assassinated President James A. Garfield, 1884-1886.

After his marriage to Bessie Porter of Buffalo in 1889, he was assigned to the isolated outpost of Fort Davis, Texas. There he acted as post adjutant and gained a reputation as an expert rifleman. In 1890, he became a professor of military science and tactics at Fordham University. Three years later, he moved to Washington, D.C., where he joined the Military Information Division of the adjutant general's office in the War Department. From there, Edwards returned to Texas, where, among other duties, he was in charge of Seminole scouts.

With the outbreak of the Spanish-American War in 1898, First Lieutenant Edwards was ordered to New Orleans to be mobilized for the fighting in Cuba. Promoted to major and adjutant general of volunteers, he was sent instead to Montgomery, Alabama, where he became adjutant general of the 4th Army Corps. Soon thereafter, Edwards was made adjutant general and chief of staff for General Henry Ware Lawton. He accompanied Lawton to the Philippines and served in campaigns against the Spanish at Santa Cruz, San Rafael, and Guadalupe Ridge. After Lawton's death in battle in 1899, Edwards returned home to become chief of the Customs and Insular Division (later the Bureau of Insular Affairs) in the War Department. In this powerful post, Edwards was in charge of the civil affairs of the Philippines, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Santo Domingo, and the Panama Canal Zone during his 12 years of War Department service. In the same period, he was promoted successively to colonel and brigadier general.

From 1900 to 1912, Edwards traveled extensively to the Philippines and the West Indies with Secretaries of War William Howard Taft, Jacob McGavock Dickinson, and Henry L. Stimson. He became particularly close to Taft, with whom he had also worked when the latter was governor of the Philippines.

In 1912, Edwards was assigned to regular army duty. After commanding the 6th Brigade at Fort D. A. Russell in Wyoming and Texas City, Texas, he was sent to Hawaii to command the 1st Brigade. In 1915, he was ordered to Panama, where he showed considerable skill organizing troops in the Canal Zone and devising a complicated plan for the zone's defense.

After the American declaration of war on Germany in April 1917, Edwards went to Boston to organize the defenses of New England as head of the Northeastern Department. In August, he was given command of the 26th Division and authorized to gather National Guard troops from New England. He took his division to France, where they saw action against German forces at Chemin des Dames, Bois Brule, Seicheprey, Chateau Thierry, St. Mihiel, and the Argonne Forest.

Despite the Yankee Division's overall success in battle, General John J. Pershing, commander of the American Expeditionary Forces, felt that Edwards, who often criticized his superior officers within hearing distance of his men, was somewhat unmilitary in style and did not push his men hard enough. As a result, Pershing relieved Edwards of his command and sent him home, ostensibly to train new divisions for the fighting just 17 days before the armistice. Edwards continued to hold a grudge against Pershing, and his removal became a cause célèbre for veterans and politicians in New England. For a time, the general was mentioned as a possible gubernatorial and presidential candidate.

From 1918 to 1920, Edwards again headed the Northeastern Department. Other than issuing an alert during the Boston police strike of 1919, he had little of real consequence left to do. After his promotion to major general in 1922, he retired from the army and lived out his retirement at "Doneroving," a farm in Westwood, Mass. The general remained in touch with many members of his former Yankee Division and continued to push for official recognition of the division's accomplishments in battle. He was especially active in the movements for universal military training and against prohibition in the 1920s. He also served as chairman of the board of his father's Cleveland business and was a strong proponent of airship commerce. He died from complications resulting from an intestinal obstruction on 14 February 1931.

Collection Description

This collection consists of the papers of Clarence Ransom Edwards, career military officer and commander of the 26th (Yankee) Division in World War I, including correspondence, speeches, reports and bulletins, writings, printed matter, volumes, and other papers. The papers in this collection deal with Edwards's service as chief of the Bureau of Insular Affairs, 1902-1912, in the War Department, Cuba, the Philippines, the operations of the 26th (Yankee) Division in World War I, General John J. Pershing's removal of Edwards as division commander, and Edwards's advocacy of universal military training and his opposition to prohibition. Among the correspondents are Edwards's wife Bessie Porter Edwards, John W. Hyatt, W. Cameron Forbes, James G. Harbord, Hunter Liggett, William Howard Taft, and Leonard Wood.

Acquisition Information

Gift of the Clarence Ransom Edwards estate through John W. Hyatt, 1932. Additions from Ginny Hale Ridabock, November 2014.

Detailed Description of the Collection

I. Correspondence, 1890-1931

Arranged chronologically.

This series contains Edwards's general correspondence, including papers related to his work as chief of the Bureau of Insular Affairs, 1900-1912; his World War I service; and the aftermath of his dismissal. His most frequent correspondents are Leonard Wood and William Howard Taft. Other correspondents include: Winthrop Murray Crane, J. M. Dickinson, W. Cameron Forbes, Archbishop John Ireland, Henry Cabot Lodge, Orville H. Platt, Elihu Root, Francis E. Warren, John W. Weeks, and military leaders Henry T. Allen, Tasker H. Bliss, William C. Gorgas, James G. Harbord, Hunter Liggett, Frank McIntyre, and William S. Sims. The series also contains a number of letters of Major John W. Hyatt, a close Edwards aide, but only a few letters from John J. Pershing to Edwards. Most of Edwards's correspondence to and from his wife, Bessie Porter Edwards, is located in the undated material in Box 1.

Box 1
Undated, 1890-1901
Box 2
1902-May 1903
Box 3
June 1903-June 1904
Box 4
July-Dec. 1904
Box 5
Jan.-Aug. 1905
Box 6
Sep. 1905-Aug. 1907
Box 7
Sep. 1907-1909
Box 8
1910-June 1912
Box 9
July 1912-July 1913
Box 10
Aug. 1913-June 1915
Box 11
July 1915-1916
Box 12
Jan.-May 1917
Box 13
June-Sep. 1917
Box 14
Oct. 1917-Oct. 1918
Box 15
Nov. 1918-July 1919
Box 16
Aug. 1919-Feb. 1920
Box 17
Mar.-Dec. 1920
Box 18
Jan.-Sep. 1921
Box 19
Oct. 1921-May 1922
Box 20
June 1922-Dec. 1925
Box 21

II. Miscellaneous papers, 1881-1937

This series contains Edwards's biographical notes; his speeches on military and political matters; copies of army correspondence, bulletins, memoranda orders, and reports, mostly pertaining to the operations of the Yankee Division; similar material related to the Philippines and Panama; army lectures and instructions on subjects ranging from trench to chemical warfare; and a large collection of pamphlets.

A. Army correspondence and reports, 1917-1919

This subseries contains army correspondence related to the movement of the 26th Division and liaisons with French, English, and other organizations; a history of the 26th Division, including reports of staff officers and division, brigade, and regimental commanders; reports on German propaganda and fraternization with the enemy; commendatory letters to Edwards; miscellaneous printed material, including casualty figures, 1918; and General Pershing's report to the secretary of war, 1918-1919.

Box 22

B. Essays, addresses, and other writings, 1912-1928

This subseries contains Edwards's essay on the "Preparation of Youth for Citizenship" and his speeches welcoming General Pershing to New England, 1920, and endorsing the repeal of prohibition; the draft of an Edwards bill for army reorganization; and miscellaneous other writings and speeches.

Box 23

C. Subject files, 1899-1930

Arranged alphabetically.

This subseries contains correspondence, memoranda, reports, printed material, lectures and addresses, bulletins, orders, and other papers on a variety of subjects.

Box 24Folder 1-3
Air Service, 1917-1927
Box 24Folder 4-7
Airways Corporation of America, 1924-1925
Box 24Folder 8
Alaska, 1907
Box 24Folder 9-10
American Investigation Corporation, 1922-1924
Box 24Folder 11-13
American Legion, 1920-1930
Box 24Folder 14
Armenia, 1919
Box 24Folder 15
Armistice Day, undated
Box 24Folder 16
Army, 1918-1920
Box 24Folder 17-24
Army, United States, 1912-Jan. 1920
Box 25Folder 1-3
Army, United States, Oct.-Dec. 1920
Box 25Folder 4-7
Army, United States: Examinations, exercises, and lectures, 1919-1926
Box 25Folder 8
Army, United States: Individual service records and recommendations, 1919-1922
Box 25Folder 9
Army, United States: Military bulletins, 1919
Box 25Folder 10
Army, United States: Miscellany, 1919
Box 25Folder 11
Army, United States: National Guard, 1917
Box 25Folder 12-13
Army, United States: Northeastern Department, 1919-1922
Box 25Folder 14-16
Army, United States: Reorganization of, 1909-1919
Box 25Folder 17
Army, United States: Reserve Corps, 1913, 1921
Box 25Folder 18-26
Army, United States: Yankee (26th) Division, 1917-1930
Box 26Folder 1-5
Army, United States: Yankee (26th) Division: Congratulatory memoranda, 1918
Box 26Folder 6
Army, United States: Yankee (26th) Division: Orders, 1919
Box 26Folder 7
Boats: Blueprints, descriptions, and photographs, undated
Box 26Folder 8-9
Edwards, Clarence Ransom, 1901-[1920]
Box 26Folder 10-20
Edwards, Clarence Ransom: Biography, undated
Box 26Folder 21-23
Edwards, William Co., 1930
Box 27Folder 1-2
Hawaii, 1914-1916
Box 27Folder 3
International law and treaties, 1922
Box 27Folder 4
Mexico, 1913
Box 27Folder 5-7
Miscellany, 1902-1930
Box 27Folder 8
Miscellany: Government, United States, 1909-1917
Box 27Folder 9
Naval War College, 1919-1920
Box 27Folder 10-21
Naval War College: Addresses and lectures, 1919-1920
Box 27Folder 22
Navy, United States, 1905-[1924]
Box 27Folder 23-27
Navy, United States: Addresses and lectures, 1920-1923
Box 27Folder 28
Panama, 1930
Box 27Folder 29-31
Panama: Canal and railroad operations, 1905-1916
Box 27Folder 32
Panama: U.S. military involvement, undated
Box 27Folder 33
Panama: U.S. military involvement: Defense, 1916
Box 27Folder 34
Panama: U.S. military involvement: Housing and location of troops, undated
Box 27Folder 35
Panama: U.S. military involvement: Military schools, undated
Box 27Folder 36
Pershing, John Joseph, 1919-1920
Box 28Folder 1
Philippine Islands, undated
Box 28Folder 2-4
Philippine Islands: Revolution, 1899-1901
Box 28Folder 5-6
Philippine Islands: U.S. involvement: Commerce, [1903]
Box 28Folder 7-8
Philippine Islands: U.S. involvement: Government, 1902-1908
Box 28Folder 9
Philippine Islands: U.S. involvement: Military, 1901-[1907?]
Box 28Folder 10
Philippine Islands: U.S. involvement: Schools, 1902-1914
Box 28Folder 11
Philippines: Bureau of Insular Affairs, [1902]
Box 28Folder 12
Poetry and songs, undated
Box 28Folder 13
Politics, 1908-1929
Box 28Folder 14
Prohibition, undated
Box 28Folder 15
Radicalism, opposition to, 1920-1930
Box 28Folder 16
Tuberculosis, 1919-1930
Box 28Folder 17
Universal military training, 1917
Box 28Folder 18-20
War memorials, 1920-1930
Box 28Folder 21
World War I, 1918-1930
Box 28Folder 22-24
World War I: Accounts of battles and military operations, 1918
Box 29Folder 1-20
World War I: Bulletins, 1917-1919
Box 29Folder 21
World War I: Fraternization with the enemy, 1918
Box 29Folder 22
World War I: Individual service records and recommendations, 1918
Box 29Folder 23
World War I: Instructions and directives, 1918
Box 29Folder 24-28
World War I: Intelligence reports, 1918
Box 30Folder 1-5
World War I: Lectures: Army General Staff College, 1917-1918
Box 30Folder 6-23
World War I: Lectures: Miscellaneous, 1917-1919

Included are lectures on camouflage tactics, tank and trench warfare, and other subjects.

Box 31Folder 1
World War I: Memoranda, 1918
Box 31Folder 2-3
World War I: Messages, 1918
Box 31Folder 4
World War I: Notes for commanders and staff officers, 1917
Box 31Folder 5
World War I: Officer roster, American Expeditionary Forces, 1918
Box 31Folder 6
World War I: Operations reports, 1918
Box 31Folder 7-23
World War I: Orders, Jan.-Aug. 1918
Box 32Folder 1-6
World War I: Orders, Sep.-Dec. 1918
Box 32Folder 7
World War I: Telegrams and communiqués, 1917-1918
Box 32Folder 8
YD Club, 1919-1930

Included are by-laws and other papers of the YD Club, the Boston chapter of the Yankee Division Veterans Association.

D. Printed matter, 1881-1937

Miscellaneous printed matter, 1881-1931

Arranged alphabetically.

Box 33Folder 1
Air Service, 1914-1925
Box 33Folder 2
American Legion, 1919-1930
Box 33Folder 3-5
Army, United States, 1898-1930
Box 33Folder 6-7
Army, United States: Veterans, 1915-1930
Box 33Folder 8-11
Army, United States: Yankee (26th) Division, 1918-1930
Box 33Folder 12
Commendations and awards, 1912-1931
Box 33Folder 13-16
Invitations, 1908-1930
Box 33Folder 17
Memorials, 1929-1930
Box 33Folder 18-19
Military clubs and organizations, 1908-1930
Box 33Folder 20
Miscellaneous societies, 1913-1930
Box 33Folder 21-23
Miscellany, 1881-1927
Box 34Folder 1-3
Miscellany, 1928-1930
Box 34Folder 4
Navy, United States, 1914-1923
Box 34Folder 5-6
Panama, 1905-1916
Box 34Folder 7-8
Peace movement, 1922-1929
Box 34Folder 9-15
Philippine Islands, 1902-1929
Box 34Folder 16-17
Poetry and songs, 1917-1924
Box 34Folder 18
Politics, 1908-1928
Box 34Folder 19
Prohibition, 1929-1930
Box 34Folder 20
Red Cross, 1919-1930
Box 34Folder 21
Training camps, military and youth, 1913-1921
Box 34Folder 22
Universal military training, 1917-1926
Box 34Folder 23
Versailles Treaty, undated
Box 34Folder 24
West Point, U.S. Military Academy, 1906-1930
Box 34Folder 25-26
World War I, 1915-1930
Box 34Folder 27
YD Club, 1919

Pamphlets, 1897-1937

Arranged alphabetically.

Box 35
Extracts of World War I bulletins, memoranda, and orders, 1917-1919
Box 36
Extracts of World War I bulletins, memoranda, and orders, 1917-1919
Box 37
Air Service, 1913-1924
Box 37
Army, United States, 1897-1937

Included are Army troop rosters, speeches, and copies of legislation related to military spending and preparedness.

Box 38
Army, United States: Veterans, 1907-1920
Box 38
Army, United States: Yankee (26th) Division, 1919-1929
Box 38
Cuba, 1902
Box 38
Historical societies, 1917-1921
Box 38
Magazines, miscellaneous, 1917-1928

Included are issues of Brazilian American, Harvey's Weekly, the Independent, and other magazines.

Box 39
Memorials, 1916-1921
Box 39
Military organizations, 1919-1929
Box 39
Miscellany, 1898-1919
Box 40
Miscellany, 1920-1931

Included are pamphlets alleging an international Jewish conspiracy.

Box 40
Navy, United States, 1917-1923
Box 40
Panama, 1906-1930
Box 41
Philippine Islands, 1900-1930
Box 41
Poetry and songs, 1918-1924
Box 41
Prohibition, 1929-1930
Box 41
Societies and organizations, miscellaneous, 1912-1925
Box 42
Speeches, miscellaneous, 1912-1930

Included are reprinted speeches on financial and labor questions.

Box 42
West Point, U.S. Military Academy, 1912-1929
Box 42
World War I, 1915-1924

E. Pictorial matter, 1910-1929

This subseries contains a small number of drawings, postcards, and miscellaneous other items.

Note: Photographs have been removed to the MHS Photo Archives. Artifacts have been removed to the MHS Artifacts Collection.

Box 43

F. Additions, 1925-[1931]

Gift of Ginny Hale Ridabock, November 2014.

One folder of additions includes a printed speech by Edwards to the U.S. House of Representatives and a message sent to Edwards at the Massachusetts General Hospital.

Box 43

III. Bound volumes, 1879-1931

This series contains an account book of Edwards as a West Point cadet, 1879; a volume of drawings of various styles of army uniforms, 1908; a program for the inauguration of President Taft, 1909; a copy of Edwards's detailed brief entitled "Project for the Defense of the Panama Canal," 1917; a journal of operations for the Yankee Division and summaries of army intelligence, 1918; an instructional manual on aspects of naval warfare, 1918; and a copy of the unpublished manuscript of Civil War recollections of Oliver Edwards.

Box 44Folder 1Vol. 1
West Point cadet account book, 1879
Box 44Folder 2Vol. 2
Uniform of the Army of the United States (disbound), 1 Oct. 1908
Box 44Folder 3Vol. 3
William Howard Taft inauguration souvenir program, 4 Mar. 1909
Box 44Folder 4-5Vol. 4
"Project for the Defense of Panama Canal" by Clarence Ransom Edwards (disbound), Mar. 1917
Box 45Vol. 5
Journal of operations, including Marne drive, 18-25 July 1918
Box 45Folder 1Vol. 6
Summaries of Intelligence—First Army, American Expeditionary Forces Part I, 29 Aug.-19 Sep. 1918
Box 45Folder 2Vol. 7
Summaries of Intelligence—First Army, American Expeditionary Forces Part II, 20 Sep.-11 Nov. 1918
Box 46Folder 1Vol. 8
Sinuous Courses and Automatic Course Indicator for Naval Warfare by Lindell T. Bates, 1918
Box 46Folder 2Vol. 9
Guest book, 1930-1931
Box 46Folder 3Vol. 10
"My Recollections of the Civil War" by Brigadier General Oliver Edwards, undated

IV. Oversize materials, 1892-1930

This series contains certificates documenting Edwards's military commissions and his other honors and organizational memberships, as well as a number of maps of France, some of which plot in detail the 1918 movements of the Yankee Division.

Note: The maps in this series are located in extra-large oversize.

Box OS
Certificates, undated, 1892-1930

Included are Edwards's commissions as first lieutenant, captain, lieutenant colonel, brigadier general, and major general; his appointment as chief of the Bureau of Insular Affairs; honorary degrees from Boston College, Fordham University, and the University of Maine; cartoons depicting General Edwards; honorary memberships in the Charitable Irish Society, the Veterans of Foreign Wars, and other organizations; miscellaneous banners; and a certificate for the French Croix de Guerre awarded to Edwards in 1919.

Folder OS 1
Maps, [1917-1918]Located in XL oversize.

This folder contains blueprints and a large number of World War I military maps of France.

Folder OS 2
Maps, [1918]Located in XL oversize.

This folder contains a large World War I situation map in seven parts plotting the movements of the 26th (Yankee) Division.

Preferred Citation

Clarence Ransom Edwards papers, Massachusetts Historical Society.

Access Terms

This collection is indexed under the following headings in ABIGAIL, the online catalog of the Massachusetts Historical Society. Researchers desiring materials about related persons, organizations, or subjects should search the catalog using these headings.


Edwards, Bessie Porter.
Forbes, W. Cameron (William Cameron), 1870-1959.
Harbord, James G. (James Guthrie), 1866-1947.
Hyatt, John W.
Liggett, Hunter, 1857-1935.
Pershing, John J. (John Joseph), 1860-1948.
Taft, William H. (William Howard), 1857-1930.
Wood, Leonard, 1860-1927.
Edwards, Oliver, 1835-1904.
Bates, Lindell Theodore, 1890-1937.


Massachusetts. Militia.
Massachusetts. National Guard.
United States. Army. Infantry Division, 26th.


Cuba--History--American occupation, 1906-1909.
Philippines--Church history--20th century.
Philippines--Politics and government--1898-1935.
United States--Foreign relations--1865-1921.
United States--History, Military--20th century.
Universal military training.

Materials Removed from the Collection

Photographs from this collection have been removed to the Clarence Ransom Edwards photographs (Photo. Coll. 264).

Artifacts have been removed to the MHS Artifacts Collection. These consist of a carved ebony cane given to Edwards by W. Cameron Forbes, governor general of the Philippine Islands, in Aug. 1910; a dagger and scabbard connected to Filipino counterinsurgents in the Philippine War, 1899-1902; and an incense burner made from a silver 1916 Peruvian one-sol coin.