By Mick Woodcock

On the morning of November 8, 1918, five motor cars carrying the German delegation to negotiate the end of World War I stopped at a railway car parked on a siding in the Compiegne Forest in France. This was Allied commander Marshal Ferdinand Foch’s personal car and was the scene of three days of discussion between the German delegate and Allied officers. Although Foch is credited with writing most of the surrender terms, he chose not to be present during the negotiation process. 

Beginning shortly after 5 AM on November 11, the document was signed, its main objective being a cessation of combat. At 11 AM that morning, Paris time, fighting ceased on the Western Front. The Armistice signed at Le Francport near Compiègne, France marked the end of actual fighting, but it took six months of negotiation before the Treaty of Versailles was signed June 28, 1919.

When America entered the war, Arizona’s quota of men was 2,000, but by July of 1917 that had been raised to 3,472. Its draftees were put into the 90th Division along with men from Texas, New Mexico and Oklahoma. The division was activated in August, 1917, and was in France by June, 1918. They participated in both the Saint-Mihiel and Meuse-Argonne offensives.

The Arizona National Guard (First Arizona Infantry) organized into the 19th Division (later the 40th Division) along with troops from other western states on September 16, 1917. It arrived in France in August, 1918, and was renamed the Sixth Depot Division. This group provided replacement troops for divisions already at the front.

Arizona’s African-American enlistees and draftees were sent to Camp Funston, Kansas, to be part of the newly formed 92nd Infantry Division. Since the Army was segregated at the time, the 92nd and 93rd Divisions were made up entirely of African-American enlisted men. Activated in October, 1917, it was shipped to France in July, 1918, to participate in the Meuse-Argonne offensive.

With the Armistice, President Woodrow Wilson ended all draft calls. Demobilization began, but many Army units remained in France as occupation forces until the Paris Peace Conference was concluded. This included Arizona National Guard troops who served as the President’s honor guard. The regiment’s band also acted as the President’s honor band. Men with the 90th Division returned home in June, 1919, after which they and were discharged.

The people of Prescott received the news of the armistice at 2 AM on a Monday. This was announced by steam whistles at the Santa Fe Railway shops and by locomotives screeching and the fire department siren blaring. People turned out in the middle of the night to hear the news. At last, there would be an end to food and fuel rationing, calls to buy war bonds and young men being called away by the draft, some never to return home.

A parade was organized for 10:30 that morning led by the Prescott Band and, at one time, had nearly 800 people in it. One might wonder how many people were left on the sidelines watching.  However, photographs of the event show that mostly local organizations made up the entries.  The parade ended, after several trips around town, at the plaza bandstand where speeches were given; people then left for other forms of celebration.

“Days Past” is a collaborative project of the Sharlot Hall Museum and the Prescott Corral of Westerners International ( This and other Days Past articles are also available at The public is encouraged to submit proposed articles and inquiries to Please contact SHM Research Center reference desk at 928-277-2003, or via email at for information or assistance with photo requests.