Alvin C. York

From Infogalactic: the planetary knowledge core
Jump to: navigation, search
Alvin C. York
Sergeant Alvin York
Birth name Alvin Cullum York
Nickname(s) "Sergeant York"
Born (1887-12-13)December 13, 1887
Pall Mall, Tennessee
Died September 2, 1964(1964-09-02) (aged 76)
Nashville, Tennessee
Place of burial Wolf River Cemetery Pall Mall
Allegiance  United States
Service/branch  United States Army
Rank Corporal (at the time of Medal of Honor action), Sergeant (at end of war), Colonel (Tennessee State Guard WW II rank)
Unit 82d Division
Commands held 7th Regiment, Tennessee State Guard
Battles/wars World War I
Awards Medal of Honor ribbon.svg Medal of Honor
Distinguished Service Cross ribbon.svg Distinguished Service Cross (Initially awarded. Later upgraded to Medal of Honor.)
Legion Honneur Chevalier ribbon.svg Legion of Honour
Croix de Guerre 1914-1918 ribbon.svg Croix de guerre (Palm)
Croce di guerra al merito BAR.svg War Merit Cross
ME Order of Danilo I Member BAR.svg Order of Prince Danilo I
This battle scene was painted in 1919 by artist Frank Schoonover. The scene depicts the bravery of Alvin C. York in 1918.
This battle scene was painted in 1919 by artist Frank Schoonover. The scene depicts the bravery of Alvin C. York in 1918.

Alvin Cullum York (December 13, 1887 – September 2, 1964), known also by his rank, Sergeant York, was one of the most decorated soldiers of the United States Army in World War I.[1] He received the Medal of Honor for leading an attack on a German machine gun nest, taking 32 machine guns, killing at least 20 German soldiers, and capturing 132 others. This action occurred during the United States-led portion of the broader Meuse-Argonne Offensive in France masterminded by French Marshal Ferdinand Foch to breach the Hindenburg line and make the opposing German forces surrender.


Alvin Cullum York was born in a two room log cabin near Pall Mall, Tennessee.[2] He was the third of eleven children born to William Uriah York (15 May 1863 – 17 November 1911) and Mary Elizabeth (Brooks) York (1866-1943).[3][4] William Uriah York was born in Jamestown, Tennessee, to Uriah York and Eliza Jane Livingston, both travelers from Buncombe County, North Carolina.[5] Mary Elizabeth York was born in Pall Mall to William Brooks and Nancy Pile, and was the great-granddaughter of Conrad "Coonrod" Pile, an English settler who settled Pall Mall. William York and Mary Brooks married on December 25, 1881, and had eleven children. The York children were, in order: Henry Singleton, Joseph Marion, Alvin Cullum, Samuel John, Albert, Hattie, George Alexander, James Preston, Lillian Mae, Robert Daniel, and Lucy Erma.[5] The York family is of mainly English ancestry, with Scots-Irish ancestry as well.[6][7] The York family resided in the Indian Creek area of Fentress County.[5] The family was impoverished, with William York working as a blacksmith to supplement the family income. The men of the York family harvested their own food, while the mother made all the family clothing.[5] The York sons attended school for only nine months[2] and withdrew from education because William York wanted his sons to help him work the family farm and hunt small game to feed the family.[5]

Claim of Appeal for conscientious objector status by Alvin York.

When William York died in November 1911, his son Alvin helped his mother in raising his younger siblings.[5] Alvin was the oldest sibling still residing in the county, since his two older brothers had married and relocated. To supplement the family income, York first worked in Harriman, Tennessee,[2] first in railroad construction and then as a logger. By all accounts, he was a very skilled worker who was devoted to the welfare of his family. York was also a violent alcoholic prone to fighting in saloons and accumulated several arrests within the area.[2] His mother, a member of a pacifist Protestant denomination, tried to persuade York to change his ways.[citation needed]

Despite his history of drinking and fighting, York attended church regularly and often led the hymn singing. A revival meeting at the end of 1914 led him to a conversion experience on January 1, 1915. His congregation was the Church of Christ in Christian Union, a Protestant denomination that shunned secular politics and disputes between Christian denominations.[8] This church had no specific doctrine of pacificism but had been formed in reaction to the Methodist Episcopal Church, South's support for slavery, including armed conflict during the American Civil War, and opposed all forms of violence.[9] In a lecture later in life, he reported his reaction to the outbreak of World War I: "I was worried clean through. I didn't want to go and kill. I believed in my Bible."[10] On June 5, 1917, at the age of 29, Alvin York registered for the draft as all men between 21 and 31 years of age were required to do on that day. When he registered for the draft, he answered the question "Do you claim exemption from draft (specify grounds)?" by writing "Yes. Don't Want To Fight."[11] When his initial claim for conscientious objector status was denied, he appealed.[12]

In World War I, conscientious objector status did not exempt one from military duty. Such individuals could still be drafted and were given assignments that did not conflict with their anti-war principles. In November 1917, while York's application was considered, he was drafted and began his army service at Camp Gordon in Georgia.[13]

From the day he registered for the draft until he returned from the war on May 29, 1919, York kept a diary of his activities. In his diary, York wrote that he refused to sign documents provided by his pastor seeking a discharge from the Army on religious grounds and refused to sign similar documents provided by his mother asserting a claim of exemption as the sole support of his mother and siblings. He also disclaimed ever having been a conscientious objector.[14]

World War I

York was drafted into the United States Army and served in Company G, 328th Infantry Regiment, 82nd Infantry Division at Camp Gordon, Georgia. Deeply troubled by the conflict between his pacifism and his training for war, he spoke at length with his company commander, Captain Edward Courtney Bullock Danforth (1894–1974) of Augusta, Georgia and his battalion commander, Major Gonzalo Edward Buxton (1880–1949) of Providence, Rhode Island, a devout Christian himself. Citing Biblical passages about violence ("He that hath no sword, let him sell his cloak and buy one." "Render unto Caesar ..." "... if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight."), they persuaded York to reconsider the morality of his participation in the war. Granted a 10-day leave to visit home, he returned convinced that God meant for him to fight and would keep him safe, as committed to his new mission as he had been to pacifism.[13][15] He served with his Division in the St Mihiel Offensive.

During an attack (Meuse-Argonne) by his battalion to capture German positions near Hill 223 (Lua error in Module:Coordinates at line 668: callParserFunction: function "#coordinates" was not found.) along the Decauville rail-line north of Chatel-Chéhéry, France, on October 8, 1918, York's actions earned him the Medal of Honor.[16] He recalled:[17]

The Germans got us, and they got us right smart. They just stopped us dead in our tracks. Their machine guns were up there on the heights overlooking us and well hidden, and we couldn't tell for certain where the terrible heavy fire was coming from ... And I'm telling you they were shooting straight. Our boys just went down like the long grass before the mowing machine at home. Our attack just faded out ... And there we were, lying down, about halfway across [the valley] and those German machine guns and big shells getting us hard.

Under the command of Sergeant Bernard Early, four non-commissioned officers, including recently promoted Cpl. York,[18] and thirteen privates were ordered to infiltrate the German lines to take out the machine guns. The group worked their way behind the Germans and overran the headquarters of a German unit, capturing a large group of German soldiers who were preparing a counter-attack against the U.S. troops. Early's men were contending with the prisoners when machine gun fire suddenly peppered the area, killing six Americans[19] and wounding three others.[20] The fire came from German machine guns on the ridge. The loss of the nine put Corporal York in charge of the seven remaining U.S. soldiers.[21] As his men remained under cover, guarding the prisoners, York worked his way into position to silence the German machine guns. York recalled:[22]

And those machine guns were spitting fire and cutting down the undergrowth all around me something awful. And the Germans were yelling orders. You never heard such a racket in all of your life. I didn't have time to dodge behind a tree or dive into the brush... As soon as the machine guns opened fire on me, I began to exchange shots with them. There were over thirty of them in continuous action, and all I could do was touch the Germans off just as fast as I could. I was sharp shooting... All the time I kept yelling at them to come down. I didn't want to kill any more than I had to. But it was they or I. And I was giving them the best I had.

During the assault, six German soldiers in a trench near York charged him with fixed bayonets. York had fired all the rounds in his M1917 Enfield rifle,[23] but drew his .45 Colt automatic pistol[24] and shot all six soldiers before they could reach him.[25]

German First Lieutenant Paul Jürgen Vollmer, commander of the First Battalion, 120th Landwehr Infantry, emptied his pistol trying to kill York while he was contending with the machine guns. Failing to injure York, and seeing his mounting losses, he offered in English to surrender the unit to York, who accepted.[26] By the end of the engagement, York and his seven men marched 132 German prisoners back to the American lines. Upon returning to his unit, York reported to his brigade commander, General Julian R. Lindsey, who remarked "Well York, I hear you have captured the whole damn German army." York replied "No sir. I got only 132." His actions silenced the German machine guns and were responsible for enabling the 328th Infantry to renew its attack to capture the Decauville Railroad.[27]

York was promptly promoted to Sergeant, and received the Distinguished Service Cross. A few months later, an investigation by York's chain of command resulted in an upgrade of his Distinguished Service Cross to the Medal of Honor, which was presented by the commanding general of the American Expeditionary Force, General John J. Pershing. The French Republic awarded him the Croix de Guerre and the Legion of Honor. When decorating York with the Croix de Guerre, Marshal Ferdinand Foch told York "What you did was the greatest thing ever accomplished by any soldier by any of the armies of Europe."

In addition to his French medals, Italy awarded York the Croce di Guerra al Merito and Montenegro decorated him with its War Medal.[28][29] He eventually received nearly 50 decorations.[29] York's Medal of Honor citation reads:[30]

After his platoon suffered heavy casualties and 3 other noncommissioned officers had become casualties, Cpl. York assumed command. Fearlessly leading seven men, he charged with great daring a machine gun nest which was pouring deadly and incessant fire upon his platoon. In this heroic feat the machine gun nest was taken, together with 4 officers and 128 men and several guns.

In attempting to explain his actions during the 1919 investigation that resulted in the Medal of Honor, York told General Lindsey "A higher power than man guided and watched over me and told me what to do." Lindsey replied "York, you are right."[31]

Homecoming and fame

Before leaving France, York was his division's noncommissioned officer delegate to the convention which created the American Legion, of which York was a charter member.[32]

York's heroism went unnoticed in the United States press, even in Tennessee, until the publication of the April 26, 1919 issue of the Saturday Evening Post, which had a circulation in excess of 2 million. In an article titled "The Second Elder Gives Battle", journalist George Patullo, who had learned of York's story while touring battlefields earlier in the year, laid out the themes that have dominated York's story ever since: the mountaineer, his religious faith and skill with firearms, patriotic, plainspoken and unsophisticated, an uneducated man who "seems to do everything correctly by intuition."[33] In response, the Tennessee Society, a group of Tennesseans living in New York City, arranged celebrations to greet York upon his return to the United States, including a 5-day furlough to allow for visits to New York City and Washington, D.C. York arrived in Hoboken, N.J. on May 22, stayed at the Waldorf Astoria, and attended a formal banquet in his honor. He toured the subway system in a special car before continuing to Washington, where the House of Representatives gave him a standing ovation and he met Secretary of War Newton D. Baker and the President's secretary Joe Tumulty, as President Wilson was still in Paris.[34]

York with his mother and younger sister at the family home in June, 1919. One of the offers he turned down was for a vaudeville tour that was worth $30,000.[35]

York proceeded to Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia, where he was discharged from the service, and then to Tennessee for more celebrations. He had been home for barely a week when, on June 7, 1919, York and Gracie Loretta Williams (February 7, 1900 – September 27, 1984)[36] were married by Tennessee Governor Albert H. Roberts in Pall Mall. More celebrations followed the wedding, including a week-long trip to Nashville where York accepted a special medal awarded by the state.[37]

York refused many offers to profit from his fame, including thousands of dollars offered for appearances, product endorsements, newspaper articles, and movie rights to his life story. Instead, he lent his name to various charitable and civic causes.[38] To support economic development, he campaigned for the Tennessee government to build a road to service his native region, succeeding when a highway through the mountains was completed in the mid-1920s and named Alvin C. York Highway.[39] The Nashville Rotary organized the purchase, by public subscription, of a 400-acre (1.6 km2) farm, the one gift that York accepted. However, it was not the fully equipped farm he was promised, requiring York to borrow money to stock it. He subsequently lost money in the farming depression that followed the war. Then the Rotary was unable to continue the installment payments on the property, leaving York to pay them himself. In 1921, he had no option but to seek public help, resulting in an extended discussion of his finances in the press, some of it sharply critical. Debt in itself was a trial: "I could get used to most any kind of hardship, but I'm not fitted for the hardship of owing money." Only an appeal to Rotary Clubs nationwide and an account of York's plight in the New York World brought in the required contributions by Christmas 1921.[40]

After the war

York after World War I

In the 1920s, York formed the Alvin C. York Foundation with the mission of increasing education opportunities in his region of Tennessee. Board members included the area's congressman, Cordell Hull, who later became Secretary of State under President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Secretary of the Treasury William G. McAdoo, and Tennessee Governor Albert Roberts. Plans called for a non-sectarian institution providing vocational training to be called the York Agricultural Institute. York concentrated on fund-raising, though he disappointed audiences who wanted to hear about the Argonne when he instead explained that "I occupied one space in a fifty mile front. I saw so little it hardly seems worthwhile discussing it. I'm trying to forget the war in the interest of the mountain boys and girls that I grew up among."[41] He fought first to win financial support from the state and county, then battled local leaders about the school's location. Refusing to compromise, he resigned and developed plans for a rival York Industrial School. After a series of lawsuits he gained control of the original institution and was its president when it opened in December 1929. As the Great Depression deepened, the state government failed to provide promised funds, and York mortgaged his farm to fund bus transportation for students. Even after he was ousted as president in 1936 by political and bureaucratic rivals, he continued to donate money.[42][43]

In 1935 York, sensing the end of his time with the institute, began to work as a project superintendent with the Civilian Conservation Corps overseeing the creation of Cumberland Mountain State Park's Byrd Lake, one of the largest masonry projects the program ever undertook.[44] York served as the park's superintendent until 1940.[45]

During World War II, York attempted to re-enlist in the Army,[46][47] however at fifty-four years of age, overweight,[46] near-diabetic,[48] and with evidence of arthritis, he was denied enlistment as a combat soldier. Instead, he was commissioned a major in the Army Signal Corps[46][48] and he toured training camps and participated in bond drives in support of the war effort, usually paying his own travel expenses. Gen. Matthew Ridgway later recalled that York "created in the minds of farm boys and clerks...the conviction that an aggressive soldier, well-trained and well-armed, can fight his way out of any situation." He also raised funds for war-related charities, including the Red Cross. He served on his county draft board, and when literacy requirements forced the rejection of large numbers of Fentress County men, he offered to lead a battalion of illiterates himself, saying they were "crack shots."[49] Although York served during the war with the honorary rank of Colonel in the Army Signal Corps[46][48] and as a Colonel with the Seventh Infantry of the Tennessee State Guard,[50] newspapers continued to refer to him as "Sgt. York."[51]

Legacy and film story

York cooperated with journalists in telling his life story twice in the 1920s. York allowed Nashville-born freelance journalist Sam Cowan to see his diary and submitted to interviews. The resulting 1922 biography focused on York's Appalachian background, describing his upbringing among the "purest Anglo-Saxons to be found today", emphasizing popular stereotypes without bringing the man to life.[52][53] A few years later, York contacted a publisher about an edition of his war diary, but the publisher wanted additional material to flesh out the story. Then Tom Skeyhill, an Australian-born veteran of the Gallipoli campaign,[54] visited York in Tennessee and the two became friends. On York's behalf, Skeyhill wrote an "autobiography" in the first person and was credited as the editor of Sergeant York: His Own Life Story and War Diary. With a preface by Newton D. Baker, Secretary of War in World War I, it presented a one-dimensional York supplemented with tales of life in the Tennessee mountains.[55] Reviews noted that York only promoted his life story in the interest of funding educational programs: "Perhaps York's bearing after his famous exploit in the Argonne best reveals his native greatness....He will not exploit himself except for his own people. All of which gives his book an appeal beyond its contents."[56]

The mountaineer myth that Cowan and Skeyhill promoted reflected York's own beliefs. In a speech at the 1939 New York World's Fair, he said:[57]

We, the descendants of the pioneer long hunters of the mountains, have been called Scotch-Irish and pure Anglo-Saxon, and that is complimentary, I reckon. But we want the world to know that we are Americans. The spiritual environment and our religious life in the mountains have made our spirit wholly American, and that true pioneer American spirit still exists in the Tennessee mountains.
Even today, I want you all to know, with all the clamor of the world and its evil attractions, you still find in the little humble log cabins in the Tennessee mountains that old-fashioned family altar of prayer–the same that they used to have in grandma's and grandpa's day–which is the true spirit of the long hunters.
We in the Tennessee mountains are not transplanted Europeans; every fiber in our body and every emotion in our hearts is American.

For many years, York employed a secretary, Arthur S. Bushing, who wrote the lectures and speeches York delivered. Bushing prepared York's correspondence as well. Like the works of Cowan and Skeyhill, words commonly ascribed to York, though doubtless representing his thinking, were often composed by professional writers.[58]

York had refused several times to authorize a film version of his life story.[59] Finally, in 1940, as York was looking to finance an interdenominational Bible school, he yielded to a persistent Hollywood producer and negotiated the contract himself.[60] In 1941, the movie Sergeant York directed by Howard Hawks with Gary Cooper in the title role told about his life and Medal of Honor action.[61] The screenplay included much fictitious material though it was based on York's Diary.[62][63] The marketing of the film included a visit by York to the White House where FDR praised the film.[64] Some of the response to the film divided along political lines, with advocates of preparedness and aid to Great Britain enthusiastic ("Hollywood's first solid contribution to the national defense", said Time) and isolationists calling it "propaganda" for the administration.[65][66] It received 11 Oscar nominations and won two, including the Academy Award for Best Actor for Cooper. It was the highest-grossing picture of 1941.[62][67] York's earnings from the film, about $150,000 in the first two years as well as later royalties, resulted in a decade-long battle with the Internal Revenue Service.[68] York eventually built part of his planned Bible school, which hosted 100 students until the late 1950s.[69]

Political views

York originally believed in the morality of America's intervention in World War I.[70] By the mid-1930s, he looked back more critically: "I can't see that we did any good. There's as much trouble now as there was when we were over there. I think the slogan 'A war to end war.' is all wrong."[71] He fully endorsed American preparedness, but showed sympathy for isolationism in saying he would fight only if war came to America.[72]

A consistent Democrat – "I'm a Democrat first, last, and all the time",[73] he said – in January 1941 he praised FDR's support for Great Britain and in an address at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier on Memorial Day of that year attacked isolationists and said veterans understood that "liberty and freedom are so very precious that you do not fight and win them once and stop." They are "prizes awarded only to those peoples who fight to win them and then keep fighting eternally to hold them!"[74] At times he was blunt: "I think any man who talks against the interests of his own country ought to be arrested and put in jail, not excepting senators and colonels." Everyone knew the colonel in question was Charles Lindbergh.[75]

In the late 1940s he called for toughness in dealing with the Soviet Union and did not hesitate to recommend using the atomic bomb in a first strike: "If they can't find anyone else to push the button, I will."[76] He questioned the failure of United Nations forces to use the atomic bomb in Korea.[76] In the 1960s he criticized Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara's plans to reduce the ranks of the National Guard and reserves: "Nothing would please Khrushchev better."[77]

Personal life

The graves of Alvin York and Gracie Williams York

York suffered from health problems throughout his life. He had gallbladder surgery in the 1920s and suffered from pneumonia in 1942. Described in 1919 as a "red-haired giant with the ruddy complexion of the outdoors" and "standing more than 6 feet... and tipping the beam at more than 200 pounds",[78] by 1945 he weighed 250 pounds and in 1948 he had a stroke. More strokes and another case of pneumonia followed, and he was confined to bed from 1954, further handicapped by failing eyesight. He was hospitalized several times during his last two years.[79][80] York died at the Veterans Hospital in Nashville, Tennessee, on September 2, 1964, of a cerebral hemorrhage. After a funeral service in his Jamestown church, with Gen. Matthew Ridgway representing President Lyndon Johnson,[81] York was buried at the Wolf River Cemetery in Pall Mall.[82] His funeral sermon was delivered by Richard G. Humble, General Superintendent of the Churches of Christ in Christian Union.[83] Humble also preached Mrs. York's funeral in 1984.[citation needed]

York and his wife Grace had eight children, six sons and two daughters, most named after American historical figures: Alvin Cullum, Jr. (1921–83), George Edward Buxton (1923– ), Woodrow Wilson (1925–1998), Sam Houston (1928–1929), Andrew Jackson (1930—), Betsy Ross (1933– ), Mary Alice (1935–1994), Thomas Jefferson (1938–72).[84] Thomas Jefferson York was killed in the line of duty on May 7, 1972, while serving as a constable in Tennessee.[85][86]

After York's death, his wife sold most of the York farm to the State of Tennessee. The farm is now open to visitors as the Sgt. Alvin C. York State Historic Park.

Honors and awards

Military awards

Medal of Honor
Distinguished Service Cross (Initially awarded. Later upgraded to Medal of Honor.)
World War I Victory Medal
American Campaign Medal
Légion d'Honneur (France)
Croix de Guerre with Palm (France)
Croce di Guerra al Merito (Italy)
Montenegrin War Medal (Montenegro)


Seven public buildings have been named for Alvin York, including the Alvin C. York Veterans Hospital located in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.[87] The Alvin C. York Institute was founded in 1926 as a private agricultural high school by Alvin York and residents of Fentress County. Due to the depression in 1937 the school became public and continues to serve as Jamestown's high school.[88]

On May 5, 2000, the United States Postal Service issued the "Distinguished Soldiers" stamps, one of which honored York.[89]

York Avenue on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, New York City was named for the Sergeant in 1928.[90] In the 1980s, the United States Army named its DIVAD weapon system "Sergeant York"; the project was canceled because of technical problems and massive cost overruns.[91] Laura Cantrell's song "Old Downtown" talks about York in depth.[92] The riderless horse in the funeral procession of President Ronald Reagan was named Sergeant York.[93] The 82nd Airborne Division's movie theater at Fort Bragg, North Carolina is named York Theater.[94] The traveling American football trophy between UT Martin, Austin Peay, Tennessee State, and Tennessee Tech is called the Alvin C. York trophy.[95][96] A monumental statue of York by sculptor Felix de Weldon was placed on the grounds of the Tennessee State Capitol in 1968.[97] The U.S. Army ROTC program has a ribbon award for its cadets that is named after York.[98] A memorial to graduates of the East Tennessee State University ROTC program who have given their lives for their country carries a quotation from York.[99] The Third Regiment of the Tennessee State Guard is named for York.[100]

Pulitzer Prize-winning author Robert Penn Warren used York as the model for characters in two of his novels, both explorations of the burden of fame faced by battlefield heroes in peacetime. In At Heaven's Gate (1943), a Tennessee mountaineer who was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor in World War I returns from combat, becomes a state legislator, and then a bank president. Others exploit his decency and fame for their own selfish ends as the novel explores the real-life experience of an old-fashioned hero in a cynical world. In The Cave (1959), a similar hero from a comparable background has aged and become an invalid. He struggles to maintain his identity as his real self diverges from the robust legend of his youth.[101]

Doubt over official version

For years beginning soon after York's return to the United States at the end of the war, doubt and controversy periodically surfaced, questioning whether the events detailed in his Medal of Honor documents had taken place as officially described, and whether other soldiers in York's unit should also have been recognized for their heroism.[102] Corporal William Cutting, who was present with York during his Medal of Honor action, and Bernard Early, the noncommissioned officer under whom York was serving during the events which led to his receiving of the Medal of Honor, were among those who argued against the official version. Of the 17 American soldiers who were involved in York's Medal of Honor action, six were killed. York received the Medal of Honor, and over the years, eight of the others who lived through that day's fighting also received valor awards,[103] including the Distinguished Service Cross for Early in 1929,[104] and the Silver Star for Cutting (aka Otis B. Merrithew) in 1965.[105]

Search for Medal of Honor action site

In October 2006, US Army Colonel Douglas Mastriano, head of the Sergeant York Discovery Expedition (SYDE), conducted research to locate the York battle site. After forensic ballistic analysis verified that the rifle and pistol cartridges that his team recovered matched York's weapons, French and American government officials determined that Mastriano had pinpointed the location of York's exploits, and the finds largely corroborated the official version and dispelled the controversy surrounding York's Medal of Honor action.[106][107] Dr. Tom Nolan, head of the Sergeant York Project and a geographer at the R.O. Fullerton Laboratory for Spatial Technology at Middle Tennessee State University, had earlier placed the site 500 meters south of the location identified by Mastriano.[108][109][110]

Among the Mastriano expedition's finds were 46 American rifle rounds at or around the position York claimed to have fired from, and 23 .45 ACP rounds fired from a Colt 1911 handgun, which were located where York claimed to have repelled a German bayonet charge of six soldiers with his pistol. The rounds were all linked to York's firearms. In addition, pieces of German ammunition and weaponry, including items which could be linked by name to individuals involved in the fighting against York's unit, were found where the men York captured laid down their arms.[111]

With the support and endorsement of the French government, two monuments and a historic trail were built on the site identified by Mastriano.[112] Battlefield guides are available at the Sergeant York Historic Trail.[113][114][115]

See also


  1. Ron Owens, Medal of Honor: Historical Facts and Figures (Paducah, KY: Turner Publishing, 2004), 97–8, available online, accessed September 21, 2010. Five Marines earned the Medal of Honor twice for World War I service, while Lt. Samuel Parker is generally recognized as the most decorated serviceman of that conflict.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Legends and Traditions of the Great War: Sergeant Alvin York by Dr. Michael Birdwell, Ph.D.
  3. "Mary Elizabeth York". Find a Grave. Retrieved September 20, 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. "William Uriah York". Find a Grave. Retrieved September 20, 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 5.5 Laughter & Lawter Genealogy: Gladys Williams, "Alvin C. York", accessed September 20, 2010 Archived October 21, 2006 at the Wayback Machine
  6. Sergeant York and His People By Sam Kinkade Cowan page 85
  7. York Indian Heritage at
  8. Lee, 1985, 9–13
  9. Lee, 1985, 15–6
  10. Capozzola, 2008, p. 67
  11. Capozzola, 2008, p. 68, includes a photograph of York's Registration Card from the National Archives
  12. "Claim of Appeal for Conscientious Objector Status by Alvin Cullum York"
  13. 13.0 13.1 Capozzola, 2008, pp. 67–9
  14. Sergeant York Patriotic Foundation: "Sgt. Alvin C. York's Diary: November 17, 1917", accessed September 21, 2010
  15. Lee, 1985, 18–20
  16. The events of the day are recounted in brief in Official History of the 82nd Division: American expeditionary Forces, "All American" Division, 1917–1919 (Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill Company, 1919), 60–2; available online, accessed September 20, 2010
  17. York 1930.
  18. Lee, 1985, 25–6
  19. Corp. Murray Savage, and Pvts. Maryan E. Dymowski, Ralph E. Weiler, Fred Waring, William Wine and Walter E. Swanson
  20. Sgt. Early, Corp. William S. Cutting (aka Otis B. Merrithew), and Pvt. Mario Muzzi
  21. Pvts. Joseph Kornacki, Percy Beardsley, Feodor Sok, Thomas G. Johnson, Michael A. Saccina, Patrick Donohue, and George W. Wills
  22. Sergeant York Patriotic Foundation: "Sgt. Alvin C. York's Diary: October 8, 1918", accessed September 21, 2010
  23.,-1914-1918/us-winchester-model-1917-bolt-action-rifle.aspx | National Firearms Museum "U.S. Army Sergeant Alvin York carried an Enfield in 1917 when he won the Medal of Honor for capturing nearly the whole German army."
  24. York, Alvin C. "The Diary of Alvin York". Archived from the original on 2013-09-21. Retrieved August 31, 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  25. Sergeant York Patriotic Foundation: "Sgt. Alvin C. York's Diary: October 8, 1918", accessed September 25, 2010
  26. Lee, 1985, 32–6
  27. Mastriano, Douglas, Colonel, U.S. Army Brave Hearts under Red Skiesand Douglas Mastriano: "A Day for Heroes", accessed September 21, 2010
  28. Lee, 1985, 39
  29. 29.0 29.1 New York Times: Sergeant York, War Hero, Dies", September 3, 1964, accessed September 20, 2010
  30. "York, Alvin C. (Medal of Honor citation)". Medal of Honor recipients — World War I. United States Army Center of Military History. June 8, 2009. Archived from the original on 1 September 2010. Retrieved August 29, 2010. Unknown parameter |deadurl= ignored (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  31. The Sergeant York Discovery Expedition:, Accessed January 26, 2013
  32. Perry, John (2010). Sergeant York. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, Inc. p. 58. ISBN 978-1-59555-025-5.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  33. Lee, 1985, 53–5
  34. Lee, 185, 58–60
  35. "Be It Ever So Humble". Underwood & Underwood. June 7, 1919. Retrieved December 20, 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  36. Karlene Kost (July 18, 2005). "Gracie Loretta Williams York". Find a Grave. Retrieved August 31, 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  37. Lee, 185, 60–62
  38. Lee, 1985, 62–4
  39. Lee, 1985, 63–4, 74–5
  40. Lee, 1985, 64, 71–4, quote 73; "Hero York Harassed, Can't Make Farm Pay". New York Times. July 21, 1921. Retrieved September 13, 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  41. Lee, 1985, 76
  42. Lee, 1985, 75–90. On the political context of the disputes about school funding, see David D. Lee, Tennessee in Turmoil: Politics in the Volunteer State, 1920–1932 (Memphis State University Press, 1979) ISBN 0-87870-048-X
  43. "Education: Fentress Feud, May 25, 1936". TIME. May 25, 1936. Retrieved September 20, 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  44. Cumberland Mountain State Park: A Civilian Conservation Corps Legacy at You Tube
  45. Van West, Carroll (2001). Tennessee's New Deal Landscape: A Guidebook. Knoxville, TN: University of tennessee Press. p. 166. ISBN 978-1-57233-107-5.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  46. 46.0 46.1 46.2 46.3 David E. Lee, Sergeant York: An American Hero (Lexington, 1985). ISBN 0-8131-1517-5
  47. "Sergeant York Signs Up Again" Life (11 May 1942): 12: 26+.
  48. 48.0 48.1 48.2
  49. Lee, 1985, 116–20
  50. Barry M. Stentiford, The American Home Guard: The State Militia in the Twentieth Century (Texas A & M University Press, 2002), 94 ISBN 1-58544-181-3; available online, accessed September 20, 2010
  51. "Sgt. York Urges Aid for Red Cross". New York Times. February 19, 1942. Retrieved September 12, 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  52. Lee, 1985, 93–4
  53. New York Times: "Tennessee's War Hero", July 16, 1922, accessed September 20, 2010. Review of (Cowan, Sam K. (1922). "Sergeant York And His People".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>). Called "worthwhile", adding "careful restraint is one of its charms", and objecting "The attempt to picture him as tearfully prayerful as he fought against merciless butchers for his own life and the lives of his American comrades verges on to mawkish twaddle."
  54. New York Times: "Tom Skeyhill, Author, Dies in Plane Crash", May 23, 1932, accessed September 20, 2010, calls Skeyhill the author of York's "official biography."
  55. Lee, 1985, 94–5
  56. New York Times: S. T. Williamson, "Sergeant York Tells His Own Story", December 23, 1928, accessed September 20, 2010, review of Sergeant York: His Own Life Story and War Diary, edited by Tom Skeyhill (NY: Doubleday, Doran & Co., 1928). On Williamson see New York Times: "Samuel T. Williamson, 70, Dies", June 19, 1962, accessed September 20, 2010. Skeyhill wrote a version for children Sergeant York: Last of the Long Hunters (John C. Winston Company, 1930)
  57. New York City: "Hull 'Nominated' on Tennessee Day", July 23, 1939, accessed September 20, 2010
  58. Lee, 1985, xi–xii
  59. Lee, 1985, 101–2
  60. Lee, 1985, 102–4
  61. The story that York insisted on Gary Cooper in the title role derives from the fact that producer Jesse L. Lasky, who wanted Cooper for the role, recruited Cooper by writing a plea that he accept the role and then signing York's name to the telegram. Lee, 1985, 105ff.
  62. 62.0 62.1 "Plot Synopsis". Allmovie. Retrieved September 10, 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  63. Lee, 1985, 114
  64. Lee, 1985, 110
  65. Lee, 1985, 110–1
  66. "Cinema: New Picture, Aug. 4, 1941". TIME. August 4, 1941. Retrieved September 13, 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  67. "Sergeant York (1941)". Internet Movie Database. Archived from the original on 29 July 2010. Retrieved September 10, 2010. Unknown parameter |deadurl= ignored (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  68. Lee, 1985, 128–9
  69. Lee, 1985, 113, 128
  70. Lee, 1985, 58, 67
  71. Lee, 1985, 100
  72. Lee, 1985, 100–1; New York Times: "Sergeant York Hopes We Will Avoid Wars", November 11, 1934, accessed September 14, 2010; New York Times: "Peace to be Theme on Armistice Day", November 9, 1936, accessed September 14, 2010
  73. Lee, 1985, 120
  74. Lee, 1985, 109–10. FDR quoted York's speech at length in an address to the nation on November 11, 1941. See also TIME: "Army & Navy and Civilian Defense: Old Soldiers", May 18, 1942, accessed September 14, 2010
  75. Lee, 1985, 109
  76. 76.0 76.1 Lee, 1985, 125
  77. Lee, 1985, 132
  78. New York Times: "Sergt. York Home, His Girl Says 'Yes'", June 1, 1919, accessed September 20, 2010
  79. Lee, 1985, 127, 133–4
  80. Time said he weighed 275 in 1941. "Cinema: New Picture, Aug. 4, 1941". TIME. August 4, 1941. Retrieved September 13, 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  81. Lee, 1985, 134
  82. Alvin Cullum York at Find a Grave
  83. A Goodly Heritage: a History of the Churches of Christ in Christian Union, Circleville, Ohio, pg. 122. (retrieved 24 November 2014)
  84. Lee, 1985, 150 n31. G. Edward Buxton was York's battalion commander in the 328th Infantry.
  85. "Thomas Jefferson York". Find a Grave. November 18, 2003. Retrieved August 31, 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  86. "Constable Thomas Jefferson York". The Officer Down Memorial Page. Italic or bold markup not allowed in: |publisher= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  87. "Tennessee Valley Healthcare System – Alvin C. York (Murfreesboro) Campus". United States Department of Veterans Affairs. Archived from the original on 3 September 2010. Retrieved August 30, 2010. Unknown parameter |deadurl= ignored (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  88. "York Institute: Student Handbook 2007–2008". York Institute Student Handbook. Retrieved December 29, 2008.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  89. "Distinguished Soldiers". America's 2000 Stamp Program. United States Postal Service. Archived from the original on December 1, 2007. Retrieved October 24, 2007.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  90. Pollak, Michael (August 7, 2005). "The Great Race – "A Tennesseean Honored"". New York Times. Retrieved October 23, 2007.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  91. Wilentz, Amy (September 9, 1985). "No More Time for Sergeant York". TIME magazine. Retrieved October 23, 2007.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  92. "Laura Cantrell Biography". Matador Records. June 21, 2005. Archived from the original on 15 November 2007. Retrieved October 23, 2007. Unknown parameter |deadurl= ignored (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  93. Kindred, Dave (June 21, 2004). "A proud performer after all". The Sporting News. Retrieved October 23, 2007.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  94. "Ft Bragg – York Theatre". Army and Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES). Archived from the original on 11 October 2007. Retrieved October 23, 2007. Unknown parameter |deadurl= ignored (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  95. Scott, Marlon (October 23, 2007). "The New Sergeant York Trophy Series". The All State. Retrieved October 23, 2007.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  96. " - Sgt. York Trophy presented by Delta Dental of Tennessee". Retrieved 2015-10-09.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  97. Robert Ewing Corlew, Stanley John Folmsbee, and Enoch L. Mitchell, Tennessee: A Short History, 2nd ed. (Knoxville, TN: University of Tennessee Press, 1981), 442
  98. University of Texas: "Cadet Ribbons", accessed November 21, 2010; Awarded to the cadet who does the most to support the ROTC program. Archived October 20, 2012 at the Wayback Machine
  99. "ETSU Army ROTC 50th Anniversary – Johnson City", accessed August 29, 2010
  100. Tennessee State Guard, Third Regiment: "Mission", accessed September 20, 2010
  101. Lee, 1985, 130–2; Maxwell Geismar (August 22, 1943). "The Pattern of Dry Rot in Dixie". New York Times. Retrieved September 12, 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>; Orville Prescott (August 24, 1959). "Books of The Times". New York Times. Retrieved September 12, 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  102. Talley, Robert (November 11, 1929). "Eleven Years After War Finds Members in Different Jobs: Still Can't Understand why Sergeant York Got all the Credit for Winning" (PDF). Niagara Falls Gazette. Niagara Falls, NY. p. 4.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  103. Krimsky, George (May 5, 2008). "Move over, Sgt. York". The Republican-American. Waterbury, CT.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  104. International News Service (October 5, 1929). "Sergeant Early to get Distinguished Service Cross Today". The Kane Republican. Kane, PA. p. 1. Unknown parameter |subscription= ignored (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  105. Associated Press (September 20, 1965). "Medal Comes 47 Years Late: "York and I fought Side by Side"". The Daily Citizen. Tucson, AZ. p. 33. Unknown parameter |subscription= ignored (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  106. Craig S. Smith (October 26, 2006). "Proof offered of Sergeant York's war exploits". The New York Times. Retrieved June 16, 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  107. Sergeant York Discovery Expedition: site, accessed June 13, 2010
  108. Sergeant York Project
  109. University of South Caroline: James B. Legg, "Finding Sgt. York", 18–21, accessed June 13, 2010
  110. Texas State University: Nolan, "Battlefield Landscapes", accessed June 13, 2010
  111. Mastriano, Col. Douglas. "The York Artifacts Gallery". Self-published. Retrieved 7 July 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  112. Dr. Tom Nolan (November 17, 2008). "Search for Sgt. York site turns into modern media battle" (PDF). The Record (Middle Tennessee State University). Retrieved November 17, 2008.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  113. "York trail-work begins! SYDE honors York, soldiers and preserves a piece of history". SYDE News. Sergeant York Discovery Expedition. Archived from the original on 14 October 2007. Retrieved October 23, 2007. Unknown parameter |deadurl= ignored (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  114. Army Media Center (2010). "The Sergeant York Historic Trail". Retrieved August 31, 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  115. Nolan, Tom; Kelly, M. (2008). "The Sergeant York Project". Retrieved August 31, 2010.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>


  • Birdwell, Michael E. (1999). Celluloid Soldiers: The Warner Bros. Campaign against Nazism. New York, N.Y.: New York University Press. ISBN 0-8147-9871-3.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Capozzola, Christopher (2008). Uncle Sam Wants You: World War I and the Making of the Modern American Citizen. New York, N.Y.: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-533549-1.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Lee, David D. (1985). Sergeant York: An American Hero. Lexington, Ky.: University Press of Kentucky. ISBN 0-8131-1517-5.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Perry, John (1997). Sgt. York: His Life, Legend & Legacy. B&H Books. ISBN 0-8054-6074-8.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Toplin, Robert Brent (1996). History by Hollywood: The Use and Abuse of the American Past. Chicago, Ill.: University of Illinois Press. ISBN 0-252-02073-1.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Wheeler, Richard, ed. (1998). Sergeant York and the Great War. Bulverde, Tex.: Mantle Ministries. ISBN 1-889128-46-5.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Williams, Gladys. "Alvin C. York". York Institute. Archived from the original on March 26, 2005. Retrieved August 31, 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

Further reading

  • York, Alvin C.; Skeyhill, Tom (editor) (1928). His Own Life Story And War Diary. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, Doran & Company, Inc. (published 1930). Retrieved July 19, 2015.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Mastriano, Douglas V. (2014). Alvin York: A New Biography of the Hero of the Argonne. University Press of Kentucky. ISBN 9780813145198. OCLC 858901754.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links