Fascinating history of military occupation
in Vintondale, Colver, during '22 strike

Letter No. 268 | November 11, 2001

My brother and I have continued our research on the Colver Home Page (http://home.earthlink.net/~hilltj) and I thought I would drop you a note with some new "stuff" we found.

In the Bituminous Coal Strike of 1922, we found that the Pennsylvania Militia was called out and that on July 25, 1922, both Colver and Vintondale were occupied by the National Guard Troops. Colver was occupied by Troop A, First Squadron of the 104th Cavalry, a horse-mounted unit, and Vintondale was occupied by Troop A, First Squadron of the 52nd Machine Gun Battalion. Trucks of the 110th Motor Transport Company were used to mount machine guns for mechanized patrols (one was given to the mounted troops). The First Squadron, 104th Cav Headquarters was 2 miles South of Ebensburg.

The Colver Troops were from New Castle, Pennsylvania, and the Vintondale Troops were from Bellefonte. A few Colver residents (in their late 80's) recall it as the "Soldiers and the Horses." The intent was to station troops throughout Cambria, Indiana, Somerset, and Westmoreland Counties so that any region could be reached in 45 minutes by the troops.

It appears that the Vintondale troops were recalled about the end of August, but the Colver troops remained until September 8. The troops made mechanized patrols at least twice a day, as well as horse-mounted patrols between the hours of 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. As part of their training, they would make marches thoughout the area, mentioning in their dispaches riding to Nanty Glo and to Vintondale (after the 52 Machine Gun Squadron was recalled).

The troopers from New Castle felt that they were stationed on the top of the world and that the views they were afforded in the area rivaled any that could be found in Europe. These boys were well traveled. One group was at the Mexican Border in 1916, chasing Pancho Villa, and about a quarter of them were World War I veterans, so they had something to compare the sights with. At the same time, they complained about the hills they had to ride over. They were also cold; in August they sent back to New Castle to get wool blankets and overcoats.

Anyway, maybe you could put out a note to see if anybody knows anybody in their late 80's who might remember these days.

Thanks much,
Jack Hill

Webmaster's note: If anyone in the area has contact with people of that generation, please see if you can find out what they remember of the strike and occupation, and relay it to us. Jon Kennedy, webmaster

 


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