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Leslie, Stewart and Smith among World War I casualties

Note: Third and final in a series, this article honors Madison residents who died in military service during World War I. These men are memorialized at the Wall of Heroes in Captain Jesse Ollie Wikle Jr. Veterans Memorial Park in downtown Madison. Madison Legionnaire Richard Lewis Blanton Jr. contributed to this article.

MADISON – American Legion, Post 229 in Madison is interested in learning more about citizens of the City of Madison whose lives were ended short because of military conflict.

Any relative who has more information or photographs to share on the ‘doughboys’ of World War I can call 256-258-8534, visit AmericanLegionPost229.org or Facebook/AmericanLegionPost229 or mail to P.O. Box 194, Madison AL 35758.

Sergeant Thomas Allen Leslie, U.S. Army, was born June 21, 1891 in Bridgeport, Jackson County. His parents were Mr. and Mrs. James H. Leslie.

Sergeant Leslie compiled prior military service enlisting in 1916 and serving 10 months in Company K, 4th Alabama Infantry Regiment (Alabama National Guard) as Private First Class. He worked as a bookkeeper at Fort Oglethorpe, Ga.

Leslie left Camp Jackson as a Private with the April 1918 Replacement Draft. He departed for France from Hoboken, N.J. on April 6, 1918 on board the S.S. America assigned to 322nd Infantry Regiment.

In France, he was reassigned to Company I, 102nd Infantry Regiment, Infantry Division, A.E.F. and was promoted to Sergeant. Leslie was wounded in fighting and eventually died of his wounds on Oct. 24, 1918. His body was returned to Hoboken on Aug. 6, 1921 and sent to Ben Lee Allen in Athens, according to Richard Blanton Jr. with Madison American Legion.

Corporal James Fletcher Stewart was a Madison farmer. He was born Jan. 31, 1896 in Belle Mina, Limestone County, to Edward Lafayette Stewart and Mary Jane Smith.

He enlisted in the U.S. Army on Jan. 5, 1917 in Madison and was inducted on July 9, 1918. Stewart reported for training at Camp Shelby, Hattiesburg, Miss. He then transferred to Camp Albert L. Mills on Long Island, N.Y., one of three camps controlled by New York Port of Embarkation. Typically, 40,000 troops were held for deployment to Europe.

While at Camp Mills, Corporal Stewart contracted Spanish influenza and died from his illness on Sept. 17, 1918. He is buried in the Old Madison Cemetery.

Private Joe Smith, U.S. Army, was born 1892 in Madison. He was assigned to Casual Company, 161st Depot Brigade at Camp Grant.

Camp Grant was a U.S. Army facility on the outskirts of Rockford, Winnebago County, Ill. The camp was named in honor of General Ulysses S. Grant, and the facility served as a primary training base during World War I.

In 1918, the Spanish influenza pandemic sickened around 4,000 soldiers. More than 1,000 soldiers died. Private Smith died during this pandemic on Oct. 7, 1918. Private Smith was interred at Fort Sheridan Cemetery, Highwood, Lake County, Ill.

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