Camp Cotton, Texas 10/17/1916

Dear Em

 

Im not going to say any thing more about going home. We just came in from 24 hours of out post and Im feeling fine. They are laying out drills for a week ahead so I guess they are going to try and take our mind off the subject that most consernse us. Two men (a serg. & corp.) left this morning for home their time having expired. They have given up the idea of waiting for us to move and I think they have taken a wise step. It is nice and cool in the day time now, but good and cold nights. The whole camp is like a grave yard. Some of the companies are getting very little disapline out of the men.

 

Sam

 

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

El Paso, Texas 10/16/1916

Dear Em,

 

Well we are still waiting to leave. We havent done a tap since getting back from the hike, outside of packing up everything that is to be packed and stuff that we will not use. The Fifth is well on the way now, and we are still here not knowing just what day we are to follow. No doubt it will be next week some time. The trouble seems to be in the lack of cars. Ive eaten my finger nails all off waiting to go. We are well outfitted with cloths as follows. 5 suits of summer under wear, 2 suits of winter underwear, 3 o.d. shirts 3 pairs of shoes, ten pair of stockings two hats, 3 pair of summer cotton breaches, 2 suits of o.d.’s including blouse and pants. 1 sweater, 1 over coat, two blankets. 2 pairs of leggings 4 towels besides toilet and other articles. Outside of 1 suit of under wear on our backs and one in our pack. 1 shelter half, 1 ponchow 1 blanket, polls pins, sweater and toilet articles, everything that I have mentioned is to be put in a bag and shipped home. Some out fit, what?

 

You can see I have nothing to say when I will try to fill up a sheet of paper with this kind of junk. Im simply writing this any way to let you know that I am still waiting anxiously for my seat in the train to start on that long journey home. This army life is the same old stuff day after day and Im sorry I can’t gather some news to make up an interesting letter.

 

I received your letter and was sorry to hear that Henry is not feeling well. Just the opposite with me I tell you. Young Kinsman is in the hospital and has been ever since the next to last day on the hike. He was one of six in our company that had to fall out. It is real chilly here today and reminds me of a fall Saturday after noon, when I am home with all kinds of time on my hands but nothing to say. Katherine Holland sent me a letter which I received yesterday and Im going to answer it so if you will excuse this short and poor letter Ill close and start one to her.

 

Im feeling fine and expect to prove it soon when I get home.

 

Sam

 

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

Camp Cotton, Texas 10/12/1916

I am feeling fine with a big F.

 

Dear Em

 

It is raining like the devil now and the tent is leaking but I am going to write this letter even if the paper is all wet. I put in a very busy morning washing and getting ready to go home, and we may be on our way by the time you get this. We got back to Camp Cotton yesterday and believe me dear old Camp Cotton (that is the desert that we made into a camp) looked good. Say but we were a tired bunch when we struck here, for we must have made 14-15 miles in wet, heavy marching order. We had to walk (plough) through about five miles of deep sand. Now we are getting ready to (Go Home). Saturday is the expected day, and although it is only two day away, I suppose it will seem like a month. The Fifth leaves tomorrow. I guess Id be washing mending or some such thing now if it wasn’t raining. But somehow every time it rains I think of a nice dry place where it is comfortable, and the result is a letter (Home). A little of this life is all right but four months is pretty near enough for any sane man.

 

I have received quite a lot of cards and a letter from you and the rest and they did cheer me up a lot while on that indurance test (they called a practice march). We covered 84-85 miles in eight days, doing all our marching in the morning, between 8-9 to 11-12. First it was lack of water, then water that I couldn’t get by my throut, heat, rain, cold. All this was met and yet today we all laugh at it and say wasn’t that worth going through. I wish you could see it rain and blow even now. We have some pretty hard rains and blows on our old corner at 297 but nothing in it with what is going on now.

 

We have been issued woolen underwear and are to be fitted out in o.d. coat and pants tomorrow. I hope Bert enjoyed his trip to Maine. It is said that we are to go home by way of New Orleans and up the east bank of the Miss river which will be some trip. I don’t know what they are going to do with us when they get us to Mass., and I don’t know as I care much. Well Em its all over but the cheering I guess, so Im saying. Let er rain. (To Tipperary, → Farewell to dry old Texas, Farewell El Paso, It’s a long long way to Massachusetts, But believe me we’ll go.)

 

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

With the Militia on the Rio Grande, 1916

Just a passing remark from the border. It sounds pretty good to me. How about it? Im fine.
Sam

WITH THE MILITIA ON THE RIO GRANDE

We joined the militia in the old home town
For the fun to be had each year at the camping ground;
Little thinking as we took the oath in the armory hall,
That quite so soon would we hear the call
To pitch our tents and take our stand
Way down in Texas on the Rio Grande,
There to guard the line with a watchful eye
To see that no Villa bandits pass us by.

And so Texas we’re here we’ll say
To do our duty and draw our pay
We’re here from almost every state—
From Maine to where the sun sets at the Golden Gate,
From up in Washington on the sound,
Down to where the Florida alligators abound.

Some of us came willingly, others not,
But each and all must accept our lot
And do the drilling and standing guard
Although some times we find it hard
To be content with the army chow
Of bacon and beans and some canned cow.

But there are times when it’s not so bad
For there are days when there is fun to be had
And then some evenings down town we stray
And have a good feed at some café,
While some who enjoy their cigars and wine
Find other ways to spend their time
Then back to camp we go feeling fine
Not so sorry to be guarding the line.

Now cheer up boys there’ll come a day
When these Mexican troubles will have cleared away
Then back to our homes and loved ones dear
We’ll march with good will and many a cheer
And in after years as time goes by
We’ll often laugh and wonder why
We didn’t take things more as a joke
Instead of cursing when we were broke
We would of had more fun along with the rest
When the militia encamped in the great Southwest.

—A.R.H., El Paso, Texas
(Copyright Applied For)

 

(Editor’s Note: See Postal from Camp Cotton, Texas 9/18/1916)

 

On the Road back to El Paso, Texas 10/9/1916

Mesquite N.M.

 

Well Everybody

 

Here we are back here again to day, and if we are not in Boston soon I will be very much dissapointed. They held us up at Las Cruces N.M. one day and the night of that day we got orders to be ready early this morning to start hiking back to El Paso. We did 12-13 miles to day and are camping (for tonight) on the very same spot as we occupied the 7th. Gee my face is burning from the sun and I suppose tonight I will be almost frozen. Beleive me if they would let us have our way we wouldn’t stop until we struck C. Cotton again. It will take us three or four more days to get there I guess, so when you get this you will know that we are getting ready to “Hit the trail for Boston” instead of Villa. I am receiving all the cards you are sending including Bert’s. I feel as strong as an ox now and the Lord only know how Ill feel when I get an honest to God bath. XXXXXXXXXXX for Mary.

 

Sam

 

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

Las Cruces, New Mexico 10/7/1916

On the road to Fort Seldon, Las Cruces N.M.

 

Dear Everybody

 

I sent one of you a card last night, and while writing I was so tierd I hardly knew what or who I was writing to. I was not in camp 5 minutes before I was off for the town for some thing to eat. I had about a dollar for about ten minutes. We tryed to get a feed in the only cheap resturant in the Town, but oh what a chance. The door was jamed and thinking that there would be more room later we waited. We went back in about ten minutes and they didn’t have even a slice of bread or a cup of coffee left. Sold out. We then got into a bakery shop some how and I bought two jelly rolls for my pal and I. They were ten cents apiece and there was just about one mouth full in it. We then bought some cakes and tonic.

 

The town is completely gaurded, no inlisted man being able to even look inside a bar room. We crawled back to camp at taps and I bathed my sore and aching feet. Today Im feeling fine again, ready for any thing they say.

 

Some hike. Rotten town.

 

Sam

 

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

Mesquite, New Mexico 10/6/1916

Mesquit N.M.

 

Dear Em

 

After hiking about 10-11 miles yesterday we made camp in (this mans town) as Al would say. Every man in the company was as fresh as a daisy including yours truly. We had quit a shower and out side of our little pup tents blowing down two or three times and our blankets getting a little wet we enjoyed the nights rest very good. I bet Ill be able to sleep comfortably on a row of tacks after this hike.

 

Shelter Tents from Military Instructors Manual, 1917

 

It seems as though every thing you touch is filled with thorns. It is very windy this morning and we are all ready and anxious to get started and get the benefit of the cool part of the day. We will be in Las Crusas soon. Every one is happy and well.

 

Sam

 

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

On the Road to Fort Selden, New Mexico 10/5/1916

On the road to Fort Seldon 10/5/16

 

Dear Em

 

Well here we are after a days rest, waiting for the word that will start this army on the move again. We expect a forced march today to make up for yesterday. Some of the mules are dieing and a lot of the men are in pretty bad shape for hiking. I am as usual feeling great, and Im anxious for the order to start.

 

We went swimming in the Rio Grande yesterday, and I bet we walked about six miles to and from the river. I dont beleive we are any cleaner for our wash for it is the muddiest water in any river there is I guess.

 

I am rotten dirty and expect to remain so until we get back to Camp Cotton or some where where it is possible to get a wash. I dont know where we are going today but we will soon be on our way.

 

Sam

 

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

On the Road to Fort Selden, New Mexico 10/4/1916

About 2 miles beyond Anthony N.M. 10/4/1916

 

Dear Lena.

 

When I sent that card last night I had no idea that we would get this lay off today. I thought (yes, and I hoped) that we would push on and get this job over with, for I am feeling in the pink of condition now.

 

Say that was some tough hike yesterday and it came pretty tough on me for this reason. I was left guide and when in column of squads the left guide of a company is in the rear of the company. It was all right for a while but after the water began to give up the men wanted to fall out to get some or lay down. Now I being in the rear had to see that no one fell out, and if any one did for any reason I was to wait and see that he or they got back to the company. Now it is hard enough to keep walking ones self, but when youve got to keep howling “Close up.” etc all the time when your mouth is as dry as a fish bone. Not only this but see that men get back to there company as soon as possible and act like a dirty dog by preventing them to drink any water or fill there dry canteens with water from wells or houses along the road. Yes we non comps get our orders and we have to carry them out but with a very unwilling spirit.

 

One poor fellow in the company some how or other got his canteen filled with water and was about to wet his parched lips when it was snatched from him by our captain (who was under orders.) and emptied. One canteen a day is the order and that from the army barrel.

 

Toward the end of this long and tiersome march one fellow fell out and as usual I had to see that he got back to the company. He lagged and stalled off until the whole column got by (and although I didnt tell him I didnt blame him. When we did get started it was away back with the ambulance train and if you could see the men on both sides of the roads and in the hospital teams you would agree that it was a tough old hike. It was mainly the scarcity of water. We came to a house where we just sat by a well and drank drank drank. It was the best water we had since leaving Cotton and oh it did taste good. If we never appreciate any thing else when we get home we will, that good old N.E. water.

 

I just found out that the reason we are being held up today is on account of the sore feet of the mules. We are supposed to be ready to move on at 2.30 and I suppose they will push us to make up for lost time. I should Worry. Im ready for Mexico if need be. This is the last letter you will get until we get to Fort Sheldon I guess. In the mean time rest assured that Sam is there and will stand up with the best of them.

 

Sam

 

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

Anthony, New Mexico 10/3/1916

Dear Em

 

Here we are after a 13 or 14 mile hike. I am feeling fine. We are sertainly roughing it now. Expect to hit Las Crusas Friday. We didn’t have hardly any thing to eat all day yesterday but tonight at about 8 oclock we got some bacon and coffee and say it was great. Don’t think Im crying for it isnt going to last forever, but beleive me I will be glad when we hit Fort Sheldon. This is a funny little town.

 

Sam

 

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

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