New Jersey Department of Military and Veterans Affairs
The National Guard Militia Museum of New Jersey  
Front Line of the Home Front

The National Guard Militia Museum of New Jersey in Sea Girt is commemorating the centennial of American entry into World War I with a special exhibit dedicated to the state’s role in the conflict. The exhibition tells the story of New Jersey’s soldiers and its home front as well, with original artifacts, rare images, a life-sized trench diorama, and weaponry, including rifles and artillery pieces.

New Jersey produced massive amounts of explosives and ammunition for the Allies prior to official U.S. entry into the war, which led to German sabotage, most notably at the Black Tom ammunition pier in Jersey City.

Former New Jersey governor and then-President Woodrow Wilson ran for reelection in 1916 on the campaign slogan “He kept us out of war.” Within weeks of his inauguration, however, the United States declared war on Germany on April 6, 1917.

In July 1917, more than 9,000 New Jersey National Guardsmen joined the 29th Division, known as the “Blue and Gray” because it included Guardsmen from opposing sides during the Civil War, at Camp McClellan, Alabama. New Jersey soldiers also served in other units, particularly the draftees of the 78th Division, organized at Camp Dix in the summer of 1917. Both divisions were engaged in heavy combat in the Meuse-Argonne offensive of 1918.

On October 12, 1918, New Jersey National Guard Capt. William J. Reddan led his company of the 114th Infantry “into hell” at Bois D’Ormont, France. Only thirteen men from Reddan’s company came out unscathed in the most savage battle New Jersey soldiers had been involved in since the Civil War.

Trenton-born Needham Roberts of the African-American 369th Infantry was manning an outpost with Sgt. Henry Johnson when Germans assaulted it on May 14, 1918. Both men were wounded, but fought off the attack, killing many of the enemy. Since the 369th, like most African-American units, was assigned to the French army, they received the Croix de Guerre.

The war came home to the state as well. On June 2, 1918, later recalled as “Black Sunday,” a German submarine sank six ships off the New Jersey coast.

These stories and more are told in the exhibit, which is open to the public seven days a week, except state holidays, from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

World War I Related Photos
World War I veterans return home

World War I veterans return home

Montclair's WWI Memorial, 1924

Montclair's WWI Memorial, 1924, Charles Keck

Newark's WWI Statue

Newark's WWI Statue

The 78th Division in World War I

The 78th Division in World War I

'Feats with Feet' Poster

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