Student Army Training Corps


Upon entering World War I the United States was eager to exhaust all energy into fighting, and ultimately winning the war, bringing peace to Europe.  During the war, the search for young men to fill positions in the military was something that the military looked at as top priority.  This pulled many students away from their studies in college and put them into training and ultimately the War.  When thinking of ways in which colleges could contribute to the war in a greater way, the Student Army Training Corps (S.A.T.C.) was formed.  In 1918, “the government . . . announced its intention of establishing a military unit in every college that could furnish a minimum of one-hundred able-bodied men of military age.”This resulting in the S.A.T.C., which consisted of 157 colleges and universities, by April 1918, and was put in place “to train draftees in a variety of trades needed for the war effort, and was jointly administered by the military and the university.”This gave students the chance to take part in a collegiate, learning atmosphere while also partaking in the training to become a soldier.  Illinois College was a participant in the S.A.T.C. program and when this program came into place it had its own influence on campus. 

                Charles Henry Rammelkamp wrote a Centennial History of Illinois College 1829-1929, in which he goes in depth of the plans for the S.A.T.C. and what it did to, and for the college.  Illinois College was grouped with Milikin University, located in Decatur Illinois, when the program first began on campus.  In fact, “for the first few weeks of the year the Illinois College unit and that at James Milikin University of Decatur were placed under the same commanding officer.”3  With Illinois College and Milikin both being smaller, compact settings both had their own doubts of what the program had in store for campus and what it meant for the attendance of the school.  Focusing on Illinois College, it is noted that “instead of a large decrease in attendance, as had been expected earlier in the summer, the S.A.T.C. brought to the campus a larger group of students than [they] ever had, the total registration that year being 242, of whom 164 were registered as freshmen.”The S.A.T.C. stood out on Illinois College’s campus and as it was finally induced into the service and included 118 men.These 118 men where soon commanded by Lieutenant Cordon Coons, who later reached the rank of major within the military and fit in well at the college.  Rammelkamp states that he “had some comprehension of the functions of an educational institution and was ever ready to cooperate in that spirit which produced the best results for the military unit, the College and the government.”This made the S.A.T.C.’s existence on campus much easier to cope with. 

Illinois College did issue some changes because of needs stemming from the S.A.T.C. and campus was changed to accommodate the training men.  “The dormitory and the old clubhouse were turned into barracks for the men and the upper floor of the gymnasium became a very commodious mess-hall,”7 however, the training of these men was slow.  The equipment that was provided by the war department was slow in getting to campus, for example, the uniforms did not arrive until the war was over and it is stated that the guns did not come much earlier.It is also known that the men had only gotten to train for a short while before the flu hit campus and this resulted in the “quarantine of men during the whole period of enlistment.”9   Having only been around a short time, the S.A.T.C. at Illinois College was disbanded after the armistice, not having to send a single member to war.  “In fact only four members of the unit, Bryce Whisler, Charles M. Capps, Byron Carpenter and Wilbur Rogers, were ever ‘called,’ and they never left campus, since the Armistice was declared on the day before they were ordered to report to Camp Grant.”10  The care of the men in the unit was decent, however, pure water and the lack thereof seemed to be the only struggle during its time in existence on campus.  

When the war was over the college looked back on the students that bravely answered the country’s call for assistance.  “Altogether, slightly over four hundred Illinois College men, including the Student Army Training Corps of 118, had joined the colors,” and “only nine had to make the supreme sacrifice.”11  


1 Rammelkamp, Charles H., Illinois College: A Centennial History 1829-1929, Yale University Press, 1928, 497-501, Book.

2 Brown, Marshall S., “Records of the Student Army Training Corps,” New York University Libraries, 2001, Article Stable URL: (accessed March 14, 2012).  

3 Rammelkamp, 497.

4 Ibid.

5 Ibid.

6 Ibid, 498.7 Ibid.

8 Ibid.

9 Ibid, 499.

10 Ibid.

11 Ibid, 500.