Rio Grande, El Paso & Southwestern R.R. Tunnel, 7/28/1916

Train Station, El Paso Texas

Dear Dad,

Never felt better in my life. Hope you are all well. I’d like to see Bill’s son but we are all pretty well separated now. Hope to be home soon a healthier stronger and better man

Sam

 

Dear Em.

 

Well here we are gaurding this tunnel from being blown up and any smuggling of ammunition and supplies. We wasn’t here ten minutes before we pulled a Spick (this is what they call a Mexican down this way,) off a freight train and I had him sent back. He was pretty sore and showed it to the extent that I kept my hand on my revolver for any quick work should it be nessesary. But every thing turned out all right so it’s a thing of yesterday now.

 

We broke camp this morning at half past five and were on our way at seven, using motor trucks for transportation. It is about six or seven miles from here to Camp Cotton and this detatchment of which I have charge is about one and one half miles from where the rest of the company, or our base is. Say Em, you can look back and remember when we used to go to Maine on our vacation, and how much more pleasanter than the hot, stifling streets of the city, was the cool, vast fields of Manchester. Well I have experienced that in less than two hours to day, for where we are camped now, (that is, our base) although there is not much grass or many trees, it is a paridise in comparison to Camp Cotton. I guess as I sit here, (with nothing to do but see that ten privates and a corporal are on the job) I will try to make clear to you, how we are here and the rest of the regiment is elsewhere.

 

There are two companies left behind to do gaurd duty, and I guess it will take one company alone to gaurd the prisoners, for there are quite a few and the most of them are bad ones, for instance one of them beat an officer very badly besides other charges that are against him. As I said in my last letter, Co. L & Co. K are here to gaurd the cement works and all railroads leading out of El Paso, going Northwest. Co. M is going quite a distance on the border, and the other companies are distributed at different important stations. We, (the regiment) are releaving the Fifth who have been here for the last fifteen days, and they said that we were lucky in being picked for this place. They were all dreading to go back to camp Cotton, and to tell the truth I am sorry for them too. But then we will be back there when we have done fifteen days here, then it will be sour grapes again, (all in the game.).

 

Well we drove up to the camp site, and no sooner got out of the trucks than Searg. Smith an I were told to each pick a corporal and ten privates and report with them imediately which we did. Then the old outpost comander, whose duty it is to show new detachments there positions and explain to them their duties started to lead us to where I am now indevoring to make myself under stood in writing (how is that some lingo what?) Gee but it was some hike over here from camp. We had to carry every thing we are to use for our stay here and I found out right away that we are not seasoned soldiers yet. The load we carried included, (private; half of shelter tent, one pole, five pins, a ponchow (or rubber coat), a blanket, pair of breaches, four pair of socks, extra pair of shoes, three suits of underwear, two bathe towels, pair of over alls, and extra o.d. shirts, comb, tooth brush and powder, soak. This is all in the roll. On the belt we are carrying ninty rounds of ammunition, bayonet, a brush knife, shovel or axe, wire cutters, canteen of water. This is what a private is carrying. I am carrying just the same only I carry a revolver with sixty rounds of bullets for it, besides the rifle and ammunition to go with that.

 

Now what I am getting at is the short, last oh such a hard hike to get here with all this truck on us. First you have to climb an awful steep incline to get to a trestle bridge that spanse the Rio Grande. Then all we have to walk on is a narrow board about one and one half feet wide. Then its walk along the r.r. tracks for about another half mile, and say dosen’t the sun beat down on these road beds. Then we hit across the side of a mountain, on which a misstep will not plunge you to sure death, but you’d never come out of it with out being hurt. After plowing across this hard trail for about a half mile we hit this road, which is all right, (why?) well because it was the end of this, burdensome hike. Well we got here and here we stay until July 26, at ten oclock, when we will be releaved by the other company, Co. L.

 

When I started this letter, we had just got over (a mess,) dinner. Before leaving Camp Cotton we were issued rations enough for two meals and they have got to do us for three. It consists of one can of beans a can of corned willie, also four hard tack per man for three meals. It’s a good thing there is a place about a quarter of a mile up the road where they give us water. We built a fire just out side of the tunnel and warmed up three cans of beans and three of willie and divided them amongst all the eleven of us, and it went down good beleive me. I wish I had a camera and I would bring home the prettiest picture that you ever saw in your life. It is a view that could be taken from a point that is reached on climbing a hill just side of the tunnel. This tunnel is about ¼ of a mile long. The corporal and three men are posted at one end, and yours truly with six men is posted at the other. You see I have some body gaurd. My orders are to use my own horse sense, and keep the men from causing any more hardship on train men than is nessessary.

 

The Ninth Reg. is getting to be the jok of the Brigade. One instance. At last nights intertainment that the Eighth held there was a boxing bout going on. It was a tame affair, both hugging each other like lovers. Well you know the joking and joshing that is bound to go on at this kind of an affair. Some one from the crowd hollered shoot him, and them some one else yelled “Put him up in front of the Ninth.” Every body got wise right away and had a great laugh. The fellow that said it ment that any body that gets in front of a Ninth man is taking an awfull chance for he is liable to be taken for a Mex. and bloie.

 

We are all in side the tunnel out of the sun, and every time a train comes every body jumps and runs for the opening, for ten minutes after a train goes through, it is sufocating. I hope you will accept that cheap souviner I sent you in my last, realizing that it was the only thing I could get just now. It is some thing any way, but it isnt the last. Give my regards to every body and tell the Higginses that I am very glad to receive so many letters from them. Writing on a R.R. tie is no easy job but its done so I will close.

 

Loving Sam.

 

P.S. Just to show you how thick I am I thought that the other page was the last one. And say I never noticed what page I was starting on. I just read over the whole thing and I guess you will have to if you want to read it in English. It’s a case of one page forward, two back. It is like a modern dance and probably about as easy to understand. Well so long. How is the machine. How is Pa. How is Henry. How is Mary. How is Bert. How is Lena. How is the Hollands. How are you?

 

 © Copyright 2008 by Richard Landers, All Rights Reserved. No reproduction without permission.

Published in: on June 29, 2008 at 6:55 pm  Comments (5)  
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