Historical Society To Present Tennessee Maneuvers

Historical Society To Present Tennessee Maneuvers

In the Presence of Soldiers, a new book by Tennessean Woody McMillin will be discussed by the author at the Auburntown Historical Society on Feb. 17, with a book signing to follow.
Auburntown and Cannon County’s role in Tennessee’s World War II Maneuvers is the subject of a free program to be presented by author Woody McMillin, at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 17, at the monthly meeting of the Auburntown Historical Society.

From 1941 to 1944 the U.S. Army conducted seven large-scale maneuvers across most of Middle Tennessee, involving more than 800,000 soldiers in series of simulated combat operations. McMillin’s new book, In the Presence of Soldiers, is an unprecedented account of the massive 2nd Army of Tennessee Maneuvers in which 25 airborne, infantry and armored divisions practiced and refined their deadly skills in the backyards of civilians.

“Many local residents remember this time period, and they are especially encouraged to attend the lecture,” said Mary Hughes, president of the Auburntown Historical Society. “Woody McMillin spent two years researching and interviewing, collecting hundreds of stories from these who lived through this challenging time in our history.”

McMillin noted that two soldiers were killed in July of 1943 in a tank accident near Auburntown, during the fouth of seven maneuvers. One was Jerres D. Morrison of Clarksville and the other was Eugene F. Novotny of Cleveland, Ohio, and they were most probably from the 10th Armored Division, according to McMillin.

Hughes said that the book offers explanations of every operation with information about where and when the action occurred, divisions and units involved, mission objectives, tactical issues air support and results. It also describes what happened to divisions after they left Tennessee. Much of this information was gleaned from now-declassified National Archives documents.

“The personal recollections of soldiers, war workers and civilians interwoven throughout the narrative helps to recreate the emotions of the time,” Hughes said, adding that McMillin’s broad telling of the story of the Tennessee Maneuvers helps to preserve and record the actions of everyday men women and children as well.

The 498-page book contains 28 pages of photos, most from the National Archives and unpublished until now.

“While I don’t pretend to be a scholar, I’m hopeful that this book preserves an important element of the WWII years and a good read for those who appreciate history,” said McMillin, who will be autographing books after the meeting.

For more information about the book, email woodyair@comcast.net.

The program begins at 7 p.m. at Auburntown Church of Christ Fellowship Hall and is free and open to all. For more information about the Auburntown Historical Society visit www.auburntowntennessee.blogspot.com.