The Village During World War One
While Lt. Colonel Hardee Chambliss was not the first or last commanding officer of U.S. Nitrate Plant No. One, he was the first commander to live in the newly completed Village One. The Village had been constructed to provide housing for U.S. Army Ordnance officers and men working at the nearby ammonium nitrate plant. He lived in the Lt. Colonels Residence, off what is now Guntersville Circle, with his wife Emma and their three teenage sons, Joseph, Jack, and Hardee Jr.
Lt. Colonel Chambliss was a Virginia Military Institute graduate, class of 1894 and the grandson of Lieutenant General William Hardee of the Confederate Army. His accomplishments include: M.S., Vanderbilt University; Ph. D, Johns Hopkins University; Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science; Member of American Chemical Society; Member of the Society of Chemical Industry.
Hardee Chambliss joined the U.S. Army in 1917, after U.S involvement in World War One began. He expressed a preference for “duty in the line and at the front”, but his services were deemed too valuable to the Government. At this time, the U.S Army was struggling to fill positions that required the academics needed to design and manufacture the new weapons of modern warfare. He was commissioned as a Major with the Ordnance Department, and assigned duty with the Gun Division, afterwards incorporated into the Chemical Warfare Service. He transferred to the Nitrate Division and was made their representative in New York. He was then ordered to United States Nitrate Plant No. One at Sheffield, Alabama as Commanding Officer and promoted to the rank of Lt. Colonel.
Lt. Col Chambliss lived in the Village and worked at the plant with a team of Army Ordnance Department engineers and chemists working out the design and operation of the experimental Ammonium Nitrate Plant, until he left the service in 1921. From there he and his family moved to Washington, DC where Chambliss became Dean of Students at Catholic University.