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Sidney Gardner MacMillan Private Papers

Identifier: SC-MS-040

Scope and Contents

This collection consists of thirty letters written by Sidney Gardner MacMillan to his family, one letter written by Jessie N. Worth to her Aunt Margaret MacMillan, and five photographic postcards of France. Sidney's letters provide a unique view of a soldier from Wilmington, NC who was part of the United States Army during the Battle of Marne in France and part of the US occupation of Germany near the end of World War I.

MacMillan's letters to his parents and to his sister, Eleanor MacMillan, illuminate the tedium of army life as well as its discomforts. Forced to muster for an inspection of the Third Division by General John J. Pershing, MacMillan wrote that he had never been so "completely frozen through in my life."[Letter dated 9 March 1919] He found the Germans, whom he called "Dutch," [from Deutch] far more agreeable than the French, whom he felt exploited the American soldiers. "The Dutch have to treat us right or we put them in jail. ...Considering that France is ...stricken and shell torn it is not justified in taking it out on the soldiers that kept the Hun out of their wonderful Paris." [Letter dated 25 March, 1919]

MacMillan was a lively observer and an eloquent correspondent; he was also very homesick for his family and for his young wife, Cynthia Polk Roundtree. His desire to be discharged and to return home is a recurring thread in the letters written after the Armistice of 1918. He found the routine of army life, with its training schools and apparently aimless troop movements burdens to be endured with a cheerful although sometimes ironic spirit, as he wrote on 8 March 1919, "When I take my army to the Fiji Islands I'm not going to have them riding around in box cars."


  • Creation: 1918-1919

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research use.

Copyright Statement

Copyright retained by the authors of items in these papers, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law.

Biographical Note

Sidney Gardner MacMillan, son of Dr. William Dougald MacMillan and Margaret Anderson MacMillan of Wilmington, served in the American Third Army in the last months of the World War I. According to his letters, Lieutenant MacMillan arrived in Europe some time around April, 1918. He was wounded in the ankle at the Second Battle of the Marne and hospitalized in Limoges, France. After rehabilitation, he rejoined the Third Army, then under the command of Major General Joseph Dickman, and served in the Third Division of US Army headquartered in Andernach, Germany. MacMillan ultimately was mustered out of the army and returned to Wilmington, North Carolina. He died 8 April 1967.

Mrs. Sydney Gardiner MacMillan (Cynthia Polk Rountree) is recognized as a member of the North Carolina Society Colonial Dames in the Supplement To Register North Carolina Society Colonial Dames 1927; Compiled by Anne Thornton Spence Bellamy; entry no. 909; pg. 5.

Note written by Patricia McGee


0.21 Linear Feet (Contains 1 document box)

Language of Materials


Arrangement Note


Acquisition Information

This collection was donated by Ms. Jane Rhett, MacMillan's niece, on December 4, 1984.

Processing Information

Collection originally processed by Patricia McGee in 1997. In 2014, this manuscript collection was refoldered and rehoused with current archival standard materials by Kate Edwards.

Sidney Gardner MacMillan Private Papers
Special Collections Staff
1997 March 18
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Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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Repository Details

Part of the Randall Library Special Collections Repository