Looking back: General Vaughan is retired from Army

Published 11:34 am Friday, March 16, 2018

by Clyde Parker

MARCH 15, 1918

An abrupt change in Brigadier General C.C. Vaughan’s military status has occurred. In an almost unbelievable turn of events, General Vaughan, who just two months ago was placed in command of the 58th Infantry Brigade at Camp McClellan, Ala., has now been relieved of his duties; he has been honorably discharged from the U. S. Army. The Brigade, with General Vaughan in command, was in the process of being deployed to France to enter the European War. 

The Adjutant General of the United States recently declared that General Vaughan’s physical condition acts as a barrier to active service in France, a duty that General Vaughan has been keenly anxious to do for his country.

Those who have followed General Vaughan’s career in military life know that he established a splendid record of service going all the way back to when he enlisted in Franklin’s  Company “I” in 1892 —  prior to the Spanish-American War. His departure from military service is regrettable.

The peculiar circumstances attendant upon selection of officers for overseas service, as it is done by the War Department, will prevent his going to France in command of the troops he has commanded for so long — and for whose welfare he has worked untiringly and unceasingly at all times.

He was elected 2nd Lt. of Company “I” in 1892, serving through the Spanish-American War, in Cuba, as a Captain. Elected Lt. Colonel of the 71st Virginia Regiment soon after that war, he was unanimously chosen as its Colonel in 1906 and was also unanimously chosen by the officers of the 1st, 2nd, and 4th regiments as Brigadier General of the Virginia Volunteers (National Guard) in 1907. Always maintaining an active interest in everything pertaining to the welfare of the volunteer troops, he was a prominent member of the National Guard Association of the United States and was second vice president of that organization.

When war was declared against Germany in April 1917 and the troops were sent to various training camps, General Vaughan went to Camp McClellan, Anniston, Alabama where he was placed in command of the 54th Depot Brigade; and, upon the discharge of General Gaither of Maryland, he was made commander of the Fifty-Eighth Infantry Brigade.

General Vaughan has been before the examining board of the War Department three times, on December 21¸ January 19, and March 2, and between the second and third examinations went to Muldoon’s famous health farm at White Plains, New York for reduction in weight.  In this connection, Mr. Muldoon’s letter is interesting in showing what the noted ex-pugilist and trainer thought of our townsman’s physical fitness for U.S. Army work.

His letter follows:

White Plains, N. Y., February 23, 1918   

To Whom it may Concern:

This is to certify that General C. C. Vaughan Jr., who has been in training under me for the past 16 days, has materially reduced his weight and greatly improved his muscle tone. I regard him as now being in good physical condition and fit for long and arduous military service. 

I have tested well his endurance and ability to stand violent exercise and found him equal to the demand.  It is my opinion that his weight should be 165 to 170 pounds, depending upon the amount of work, mental and physical, that he is doing.  Loss of rest, long hours of duty, and irregular meals would reduce his weight to 165; the opposite condition would cause him to gain four or five pounds which would in no way incapacitate him for his best work as a soldier.


William Muldoon

General Vaughan was also under rigid training at his home here for some weeks before working with Muldoon; but, after his third examination on March 2, he received the following letter from the Adjutant General:

Brigadier General C. C. Vaughan Jr.

Franklin, Virginia

My dear General Vaughan:

This is in reference to your physical re-examination by a board of medical officers convened at Washington, D.C. on March 2, 1918, before which you were authorized to appear with a view of determining your physical fitness for active field service. I am directed by the Secretary of War to inform you that the Board reported a reduction of nineteen pounds in your weight since the examination of December 21, 1917; but, there was no material improvement in your muscles which remained soft and of poor tone. The Board did not consider you well-fitted for long continued active exertion, being still “soft” and considerably overweight for your height.

All the papers in our case were referred to the Surgeon General who concurred in the findings of the board of medical officers and recommended that you be regarded as physically incapacitated for active field service.

Your patriotism and desire to serve your country show an admirable spirit and are deserving of commendation; and, it is regretted that your physical condition acts as a barrier to a realization of your desires.

Yours very truly,

Wm. Kelly, Jr., Adjutant General

The weeding-out process to which the War Department has subjected the officers of the National Guard has, thus, resulted in the retirement of many officers of the Guard, none of which has made a stronger or braver fight for an opportunity to serve than has General Vaughan.  When the National Guard was assimilated by the regular army, he was retired from the Virginia Volunteers with the rank of Major General (two-stars) – befitting his years of service.

It is a matter of general regret, both here and wherever he  is known, that after having thoroughly fitted himself for foreign service, in the opinion of everyone except the medical officers of the War Department, he is prevented from taking an active part in the war for which he is by inclination and training eminently capable. 

General Vaughan has returned to Franklin. He will continue to give time to his banking interests and to the various other enterprises with which he is connected.

He has been, and will continue to be, a strong advocate and influence on roadway construction in Virginia — especially the State Highway (also known as the Ridge Route) that connects Norfolk to Richmond by way of Portsmouth, Suffolk, Franklin, Courtland, Sebrell, Littleton, Homeville and Petersburg.

CLYDE PARKER is a retired human resources manager for the former Franklin Equipment Co. and a member of the Southampton County Historical Society. His email address is magnolia101@charter.net