I had an interesting experience while researching the 81st Infantry Division last week. The unit, which was formed during World War I, was made up of recruits from North Carolina, South Carolina, and Florida. Training was held at Fort Jackson, South Carolina, near Wildcat Creek. During training, it was decided that patches could make it easier for the soldiers to identify one another in battle. So the patches were made; naturally, the wildcat was the emblem used. The 81st infantry division’s patches were deemed such a success that the Army implemented them for all units.
If that wasn’t interesting enough, I stumbled across this nugget of information the very same day: former North Carolina Governor William B. Umstead was a member of the 81st Infantry Division–the very same Wildcats! I rarely remember details when it comes to military ranks and divisions, so I was quite surprised (and pleased) to put together those two pieces of information. Serendipitous, you might say.