The US declared war on Germany on April 6, 1917.
The Selective Service Act of 1917 was enacted one month later on May 18, 1917. It called for a draft to raise a million man army.
June 5, 1917 – Register for the draft
The first registration was just a month later, on June 5, 1917. It included all men between 21 and 30.
Later registrations included all men age 18 to 45.
On June 5, Ben Teply dutifully registered, along with many others from Washington County, Kansas.
July 27, 1917 – First Lottery Names in Washington County
The draft operated by lottery number. Each person had a serial number, the sequence their name was drawn locally. Each person also had an order number, the sequence in which the serial numbers were selected by the national lottery board.
Ben Teply’s serial number was 906; he was the 906th name selected in Washington County, Kansas. In Washington DC, the lottery board drew the number 906 as the 262nd position in the draft. So there were 261 people in Washington County to be selected before Ben.
August 21, 1917 – Report for physical exam
On August 16, Ben received an order to report for a physical exam on the 21st.
August 31, 1917 – Called for military service
Ben was notified that he had been called to service on August 31, 1917.
Ben had been selected in the second group of 250 men from Washington County. As you can read next, there were lots of exemptions.
September 24, 1917 – Ben Teply Enlists
On September 24, 1917, Ben Teply enlisted in the US Army at Washington, Kansas. On October 5, he reported to Camp Funston, Kansas, near Fort Riley.
Nibbles Extra Credit
John Teply enlisted in the fall of 1917. He reported to Grand Island, Nebraska on November 9, 1917.
John didn’t pass the medical exam, and was discharged by November 1918.
Albert Teply drew a low lottery number in the draft in the class of 1918. I don’t know if he was drafted or if he served.
Will Teply was in the Army, as this news clipping shows him visiting from Camp Funston. I don’t know if he was drafted or if he volunteered.
More Nibbles Extra Credit
The US declared war on Germany on April 6, 1917, after more than two years of President Woodrow Wilson trying to avoid it. The US declared war on Austria-Hungary on December 7, 1917.
American public opinion reflected that of the president: the sentiment for neutrality was particularly strong among German Americans and other immigrants from central and eastern Europe.
German Americans by this time usually had only weak ties to Germany. They were fearful of negative treatment they might receive if the United States entered the war. This was no doubt true of people of Austrian-Hungarian background, like Bohemians.
The United States had remained aloof from the arms race in which the European powers had engaged during the decades leading up to the war.
The American army had about 120,000 active duty soldiers. The French, British, Russian, and German armies had already fought battles in which 10,000 men had been killed in one day and campaigns with 200,000 casualties. So the entire US Army could be wiped out in a few months.
The Selective Service Act of 1917 or Selective Draft Act, enacted May 18, 1917, authorized the federal government to raise a national army for service in World War I through conscription.
Under the Selective Service Act, all males aged 18 to 30 were required to register for military service. Congress amended the law in August 1918 to expand the age range to include all men 18 to 45.
By the end of World War I, some two million men volunteered for various branches of the armed services, and some 2.8 million had been drafted. This meant that more than half of the almost 4.8 million Americans who served in the armed forces were drafted.
- The Selective Service Act of 1917 – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Selective_Service_Act_of_1917
- American Entry Into World War I – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_entry_into_World_War_I
- Uncle Sam and Military Registration photos – Wikipedia (above)
- Woodrow Wilson photo and war posters – Wikipedia (above)
- Ben Teply military documents and photos – Teply family memorabilia
- All news articles are from The Hanover Democrat, The Hanover Herald, The Marysville Advocate, Washington Register. All are available on Newpapers.com and are free for Kansas residents – Kansas State Historical Society – https://www.kshs.org/ancestry/drivers/dlverify