A life remembered: WWI soldier exhibited bravery on, off the battlefield
By Michael Reid
via the Southern Maryland News web site
In the shade of an old beech tree at the Christ Church cemetery in Port Republic sits a dark gray headstone pockmarked with splotches of moss.
While his grave may be unassuming, the life of First Lt. Milton Barkley Mackall was anything but.
After being seriously injured in World War I, Mackall spent six years confined to a bathtub.
“Lt. Mackall’s story shows one of true heroism even though not awarded as such,” Maryland Secretary of Veterans Affairs George Owings said. “Meaning that he literally gave of himself far beyond what could be expected.”
“I thought somebody down there should know this story,” said Brian Reynolds, who has been a volunteer at Fort McHenry with the National Parks Service since 2009. “Mackall’s story is the most unique from that era because of his circumstance of treatment.”
Mackall was born July 4, 1893, in Baltimore, but at the age of 9 went to live with relatives in Great Mills, presumably after his mother Anna died in 1902 at the age of 30.
He enlisted in 1916 with the Fourth Regiment, which morphed into 115th Infantry Regiment as part of 29th Infantry Division, also known as Blue-Gray.
Mackall listed his next of kin as an aunt and uncle, Mr. and Mrs. I.P. Bowen of Great Mills.
In October 1918, Mackall was fighting in the Battle of the Meuse-Argonne in France. The 47-day battle, which involved 1.2 million U.S. soldiers, was the deadliest in the history of the U.S. Army, and resulted in more than 350,000 casualties, including 26,277 American lives.
Mackall was crossing an area known as No Man’s Land — the area between opposing trenches — when a sniper’s bullet partially severed his spinal cord in the thoracic area.
Mackall was sent to Army General Hospital No. 2 at Fort McHenry on April 8, 1919, and, in an attempt to lessen the strain on his spine, spent his days in a bathtub suspended by floating bags.
Read the entire article on the Southern Maryland News web site.
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