More than 200 of William H. Wessa’s photographs of the 107th Trench Mortar Battery Company (TMB) of Antigo, Wisconsin are now online from the Langlade County Historical Society. Wessa was a professional photographer and lifelong Antigo resident. He brought his camera with him when he signed up for service with the TMB during World War I. His photos and the short histories he wrote about the Company capture the experiences of soldiers from small-town Wisconsin before, during and after the war.
When the United States entered the war in 1917, many Wisconsinites stepped up to join the fighting overseas. Wessa was one of 185 men from Antigo who volunteered for service, forming a regiment known as Company G of the Wisconsin National Guard. The men drilled in Antigo, then headed to Camp Douglas, Wisconsin and to Camp MacArthur, Texas for training, where they were officially designated the 107th Trench Mortar Battery Company. Trench mortar units had a tough job, manipulating heavy cannon-like mortars to fire on enemy trenches.
The TMB shipped out to France to join the Allies in February 1918. The company saw its first action in the Alsace region and participated in the Meuse-Argonne Offensive. This was the largest and deadliest battle for the Americans during WWI, although the TMB saw few casualties. The war ended on November 11, 1918 and by April of the following year the Antigo soldiers were headed back to the States. They were welcomed back to their hometown with a parade on May 17, 1919.
- Browse more than 200 photographs of Antigo’s 107th Trench Mortar Battery Company captured by William Wessa.
- Read a summary of the company’s experiences, thought to be written by Wessa, and published in the Antigo Daily Journal in 1919.
- Read Wessa’s recollections of the war, compiled by his daughter Betty Fogeltanz for the Antigo Daily Journal in 2007.
- See all digital collections the Langlade County Historical Society has made available online through Recollection Wisconsin.