Fries, Amos A. (Amos Alfred), 1873-1963

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Amos Alfred Fries (b. March 17, 1873, Viroqua, Wisconsin-d. Dec. 30, 1963), Major General in the U.S. Army, graduated from West Point in 1898 and fought in the Philippines in 1901. He organized the first gas service as part of the American Expeditionary Force in France in 1917 and, later, headed the Chemical Warfare Service, Overseas Division, which conducted extensive gas, smoke, and incendiary operations in the American sectors of the Western Front during World War I. In 1920 he became Chief of the permanent Chemical Warfare Service and remained in that position until his retirement in 1929.

From the description of Fries, Amos A. (Amos Alfred), 1873-1963 (U.S. National Archives and Records Administration). naId: 10570759

Amos Alfred Fries was born in Debello, Wisconsin, in 1873. His family moved to a farm in northwestern Missouri when Fries was two. When Fries was fifteen, they moved again to Medford, Oregon. After high school, Fries attended West Point, graduating in April 1898. He was immediately assigned to the Army Corps of Engineers as a 2nd Lieutenant. Fries later served under Captain John Pershing in the Philippines and was present at the Moro uprising in 1901.

Up on his return to the United States, Fries was an engineer in the construction of The Dalles-Celilo Canal in Oregon. He was later placed in charge of all harbor work in Southern California and the Colorado River. During 1906 - 1909, he and his associates developed the plans for Los Angeles harbor.

Fries (now a general) was ordered to France when the United States entered World War I in 1917. He had expected to be the Director of Roads, but was ordered by General Pershing to organize a gas service. This later became the Chemical Warfare Service. Since all the qualified chemists were already busy with other matters, Fries had to recruit and train men who were totally unfamiliar with chemical warfare. Some of the junior officers recruited by Fries included Ty Cobb and Christy Mathewson, baseball players, and Charles MacArthur, playwright. Fries made a success of the gas service, and after the war, Fries made sure there would never be a shortage of qualified men by having the Chemical Warfare Service established as a permanent part of the Army. Fries was appointed its Chief in 1920, and remained so until his retirement in 1929.

Upon retiring, Fries and his wife, Elizabeth (whom he married in 1898) devoted their time to promoting conservative patriotism. In 1935, Fries (who was then president of the District Public School Association in Washington, DC) attempted “to ban the teaching of communism in Washington schools.” He organized the Friends of the Public Schools of America, Inc., and he and Elizabeth edited the Friends of the Public Schools Bulletin, which warned against “subversive influences in education.” Fries also accused schools of not teaching patriotism and allowing children to read books containing un-American propaganda.

Fries was also active in the American Legion. Elizabeth Fries was active in the Daughters of the American Revolution; she wrote and gave speeches on topics relating to the DAR. Elizabeth Fries died in 1957. Amos Fries died in 1963 at the age of 90.

From the guide to the Amos Fries papers, 1903-1952, (Special Collections and University Archives, University of Oregon Libraries)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn Records of the Office of the Chief Signal Officer. 1860 - 1985. Historical Films. 1914 - 1936. ACTIVITIES AND REVIEWS AT HEADQUARTERS S.O.S., TOURS, FRANCE, 1918-1919
creatorOf Scott, Francis E. United States Army Gas School notebook ; 1918. Chemical Heritage Foundation, Othmer Library of Chemical History
referencedIn McNutt mss., 1899-1955 Lilly Library (Indiana University, Bloomington)
referencedIn Herty, Charles H. (Charles Holmes), 1867-1938. Charles H. Herty papers, 1884-1938. Emory University Library, Special Collect Department
referencedIn Papers, 1898-1957 Harvard Law School Library, Harvard University.
creatorOf Fries, Amos A. (Amos Alfred), 1873-1963. Correspondence with Edgar Fahs Smith, 1921-1925. University of Pennsylvania Libraries, Van Pelt Library
creatorOf Amos Fries papers, 1903-1952 Special Collections and University Archives, University of Oregon Libraries
Role Title Holding Repository
Direct Relationships
Relation Name
associatedWith Chafee, Zechariah, 1885-1957 person
associatedWith Herty, Charles H. (Charles Holmes), 1867-1938. person
associatedWith McNutt, Paul V. (Paul Vories), 1891-1955 person
associatedWith Scott, Francis E. person
associatedWith see: Parsons, Charles Lathrop. person
associatedWith see: United States. Army. Chemical Warfare Service. corporateBody
Place Name Admin Code Country
World War, 1914-1918--Correspondence
World War, 1914-1918 Chemical warfare
Civil engineers--Oregon


Birth 1873-03-17

Death 1963-12-30




Ark ID: w6k93887

SNAC ID: 35962901