Camp Bartlett, Westfield Mass. 9/6/1917

Hdq. Co. 103rd U.S. Inf.

 

Dear Pa.

 

Im feeling as good if not better that at any time in my life. It is getting pretty cool out this way, and it was realy cold last night. There was frost outside the tent. The sun sure does feel great today. I was out to drill for the first time since hitting this camp, and it was good, honestly. I havent heard from either of the sisters yet but I suppose they dont know my address yet. Id like to know how every thing is as soon as they get home.

 

It is a grand sight to see 250 men in one long line marching at evening parade. Its pretty. I hope this finds you well, also tell the Holland’s I was asking for them. It looks as though we stay here for some time yet. Ill try to get home after pay day. I suppose you will be making the fire very soon.

 

Sam

 

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

Scofield Farm, Dracut Mass. 9/3/1917

Dear Em,

 

I suppose you’ll wonder at my writing from hear but when (all told) it is a short story. I got a forty eight hour leave of absence got home at 11 PM Sat. night and went to bed. Pa called me at five oclock to have some breakfast. He said he had a great feed for me. I went down and there was some beans, bread and coffee. I guess I made him late for work for he kept talking (you know him). Lil is spending two weeks vacation up hear, and I thought Id run up and see her. She saw that I was put up last night and we’ve just eaten breakfast. Ive got to catch the five oclock train tonight for Springfield so Im going to make to best of the day. I feel very sorry that I will not see you on this trip, but as I expect we’ll stay in Westfield for some time yet, I hope to see you later.

 

I got your address off a letter. I hope it right for I thought I get home before I wrote and therefore make sure. Are you folks enjoying yourself? If not why not. Pa seems to be having the time of his life, all alone. By the way, Mr. Holland gave me a great dinner Sunday. She kept pairing potatoes as Id eat them.

 

Well I know I should write more but I haven’t got much time now. Ill write when I get back to camp. Ill expect a letter from you when I get back.

 

Sam

 

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

Camp Bartlett, Westfield Mass. 8/25/1917

Dear Em.

 

They are busting us right and left. There are only twenty men left. The captain, 1st and 2nd Lieuts are gone and the Lord only knows what is to become of the rest of us. Im writing this to stop you from sending any mail until I find out just where Im going. I might go to Maine, N.H., Conn., R.I. or any place they happen to send me. The 8th Regiment is no more. Ill write soon and tell you more.

 

Sam

 

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

Camp Bartlett, Westfield Mass. 8/23/1917

Dear Em.

 

Well here we are out here in Westfield and the Lord only knows what is to become of us. Everything is very uncurtain. They are crouding about every soldier in N.E. in here. The Maine troops are a wonderful body of men. There will soon be 250 men to each company. Some company. I told Lil to call and tell you that we would leave Lynnfield, the reason being that I was afraid Id never get you on the phone. Something will be doing very soon I think. Im feeling fine and hope this will find you the same.

Address 8th Inf M.N.G. Westfield.

 

Sam

 

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

Camp Houston, Lynnfield Mass. 8/1917

First Sergeant Sam Avery and the rest of K Co., 8th Mass Infantry left Somerville on 7/27/1917 and moved to Camp Houston at Lynnfield, Mass. where they remained for nearly a month until 8/21/1917. During this time Sam did not write any letters home because he was local enough to still enjoy direct visits from the family. He also knew that his ultimate destination would be Camp Bartlett in Westfield, Mass. where many New England National Guard troops were being assembled for reorganization.

While supervising his men in Lynnfield, Sam handled the usual disciplinary matters which primarily involved being A.W.O.L. (Absent Without Official Leave). These offenses were handled first by court martial to determine guilt based on the facts, then followed by punishments including confinement, extra duty and labor. Following are some notes from Sam’s pocket diary regarding events and activities during this period of time.

DOPE SHEET
· Emerson A.W.O.L. Aug. 4/17 summary court. and convicted for 3 days in confinement.
· Priv Miller A.W.O.L. Aug. 5 Company Punishment.
· Henry E Babineau, in that he did fail to report for profalactic treatment after sectual intercourse 10 days labor.
· Left Camp 12.30 Aug 5/17 to take part in Belgian Parade. Arrived back in camp 7 pm.
· Gaurd Aug. 6/17
· Summery court. Aug. 11 Privs. Gilpatrick, McIntosh, Alsen A.W.O.L. from 9 am Aug 10 to 6.50 pm Aug. 13.
· Priv. Hanson, Leroux A.W.O.L. from 1st class 14th. Company punishment or in quarters for 14 days. E.D. Aug. 14/17 to 28th.
· Left Camp Houston 9.30 am Aug 21, Arrived at Westfield at 2 pm Aug 22/17.
· 8 oclock Monday night all non comps march to Y.M.C.A.

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

Camp Cotton, Texas 10/30/1916

Dear Em

 

I started this letter and found that this fountain pen was very dry. On looking to see if I could fill it, found that all the black ink was either all gone or packed. It looks like real business now, for they are loading the trains now, but we (the men) won’t get started until tomorrow some time. The boys can hardly beleive it. They all slept, out in the cold last night but didn’t mind it a bit. They will do any thing to get home, and nothing if this is a farce. The poor Ninth havent got any orders as yet but probably will soon. Another Georgia Reg. pulled in this morning and they all seem to be a fine sort.

 

Every night latly we can look across the river and see a lot of camp fires burning, around which the Mexican army is gathered. I havent received any mail from any body latly and it is just as well for I know you folks up there dont know what minute now we will be saying good by to Texas.

 

I suppose we will freeze by the time we get off the train some where in Mass. but we all have woolen under wear, new olive drab uniforms, sweeters, (those that havent got so hard up that they sold them) and over coats. But even at that I suppose we will be an awful bunch of cold blooded men. It looks as though it is going to be a race for us to get home in time to vote, which is no little discution here among the men.

 

Kinsman came home from the hospital yesterday, but I dont believe he would have been releaced if we wasnt going right home. He alway was thin you know, well you can hardly see him now. It is too bad but as you said once before in your letter, he was always a wise, tough kid. This will probably be the last letter I will be able to write, but then, Ive been saying that for some time.

 

The Georgia fellows seem to take things very seriously but they will get over that very soon. Three of them were stopped last night from killing a Mexican. They are some wild when they get started. The Regulars will take that out of them if they start any funny business with them.

 

Well that Sunday when you Lena, Bert and Tom was at Framingham I felt good and strong the same was the case when Pa came to see me off. Now Im coming back to you folks the same guy the only change being four months away,

 

Sam

 

P.S. There is no doubt but what we will be on our way now while Pa is listening to you speel off this line of guff. If not, why we are still waiting to go that’s all. Another slice of bread.

 

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

Camp Cotton, Texas 10/27/1916

Dear Em,

 

Well here it is Thursday and we are still here. We got orders last night that every thing would be loaded this morning at 8.30. But late we got orders that the Georgia troop trains were delayed twenty four hours on account of a burnt bridge. At present the orders are to wait until different orders comes in before going any further. We haven’t given up all hope though and here is hoping that we will be well on the way before this letter reaches you. Beleive me kid we are all right on edge and praying that this isnt another farce. Ive been feeling pretty sore over it for some time but as First Serg. Ive got to keep my mouth and feelings from getting the upper hand.

 

I spoke of my teeth in the last letter I sent you but they are getting along pretty well now. I went to the army dentist and he drilled a hole in it and pulled or killed the nerve. I thought for a while that he imagined I was a Mexican and was trying to kill me but he releived me a great deal. I went again this morning and he lanced my gums and cheek. I suppose I acted like a baby while this pleasant operation was in progress but we can all stand just so much.

 

Say if you could have seen my face this morning it would have reminded you of that dear old soul John Bunny. My left eye was closed and as blue as dear old Chelsea (you know that view from the kitchen window on a cold dreary Sunday morning.) Well any way I feel fine and my face only weighs 10-12 pounds. Im going over to the dentist again tomorrow and I guess he’ll fix me up all right. My only worry now is the long trip home in the train if my teeth are not fixed up before we leave.

 

Now you can see that I must be and have been in the best of health all the time when I will whine (I guess that’s how you spell it) over a simple thing as a tooth ache. We have a stove in some of the tents now and say it is real comfortable nights sitting around it trying to get warm and at the same time trying to avoid getting burnt. Now I suppose the Boston Papers have had it that we were on the way, probably we are now, and then again probably we are not. We have received a cord of wood per company not to be touched by us but to be left for the Georgia troops. We’ve got another cord all cut in two foot lengths and split. This to be used for the train only. It looks as though we will be using this and more too if we don’t get started.

 

Well Em and the rest of you, heres hoping that Im on my way now. Im going to say Ill see you soon any way.

 

Sam

 

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

Camp Cotton, Texas 10/24/1916

“While we are waiting for Georgia”

 Dear Pa

Expect to leave any day now. Probably be in Boston before the 5th of Nov. Im feeling fine and Im going to remain in this condition until I get home.

Sam

 

 

 

Dear Lena,

 

I received your letter in which you stated that you had received the State money and no doubt you can use it to good advantage. I am going to be truthful and say that I spent a pretty tough night last night with my front teeth. You know I never had much bother with them and to have them go back on me down hear is kind of disagreeable. Im going to try and get down town today to have them fixed. Im not going to take any chances on these army dentists especially the work on these front teeth of mine. I suppose Ill get trimmed, but it will be worth it.

 

Sam

 

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

Camp Cotton, Texas 10/21/1916

Dear Lena.

 

After a very cold and dissagreeable night we awoke this morning to hear that Georgia was due to start arriving tomorrow. You remmeber how strong I was for fresh air while sleeping. Well beleive me Im getting my stumack full of this fresh air stunt now. We have all gone back to undressing night and say it is some job and takes nerve to crawl out of our blankets in the morning and slide into cloths that are almost wet from the dampness that settles in to them over night. It isn’t doing us any harm though, don’t worry. Im feeling as fine as a fiddle. Every thing is going pretty smooth. See you soon.

 

Sam

 

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

Camp Cotton, Texas 10/20/1916

Dear Em

 

Well the Second is home and the Fifth should be when you get this, and still we are here drilling just as though we were expecting nothing unusual to happen. All we do though is go out into the field for about two hours to get limbered up after a nights frost. Thirty minutes for exercise thirty for bayonet drill and sixty for close order drill constitutes the days work. It is sertainly tiresome waiting for these Georgia fellows. I suppose it is getting pretty cold in Boston now. I wonder if we will be home for Thanksgiving.

 

Sam

 

 

Dear Em, and the rest of you.

 

I am now First Sergeant of Co. K. which pleases me very much. The company clerk is making out the order now and my time will go on from tomorrow the 21st. The previous first serg. was elected the 18th and I guess the captain thought I was the man for I have jumped two sergeants that have been in the outfit longer than I have. It was some jump for the 1st sergeant to be elected 1st Leiut. and sertainly some jump for me, for if you will look back to the day we were in Framingham and see me as a corporal and now a First Sergeant of the same company you would think so.

 

I nead all the good luck and wishes you kind folks can give me for it is no snap to act as 1st serg. in a company of men that are almost on the point of desertion to go home. The boys seem to all be glad that I was the guy to get it but there is trouble ahead I know and I will have to face it even if I feel the same way the men do. I didn’t know that I would be sending a letter so soon but I wanted to let you know the good news, and I thought this, the best way to inform you.

 

I hear now that we are to leave Wed. 25 and I hope it is time. How does the dear old boys of the Fifth look. More strength to them. We are having evening parade every night now, and we should be pretty good at close order when we hit Boston, (God Bless the day) By the way I am fine, (of coarse you wouldn’t think so by the writing) but you know it is something new for me to be writing with a pen, and I know you will excuse me. I thought Id freeze last night, but never mind I only thought I would. A little setting up drill and we feel like lining up against Harvard or Yale’s foot ball teams.

 

Well I have nothing more to say and not much of that only we are going home tomorrow, but tomorrow never never comes. Hoping this finds you in the best of health, I am still the same

 

Samuel.

 

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

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