Somewhere on the Border, Texas 9/13/1916

 

Dear Em

 

Although it is the night of the 12th I am writing this now to make sure that I send my regular daily mail. You see I never can tell what will come up the next minute and the only way to get any thing done (for yourself) in this game is to follow out that old saying “Do it now.” I got your card today on which was the picture of Kings Chapel and it took me back to the day we marched and left Boston for Framingham, for we got a great send off by the firemen in front of the City Hall and we past the old land mark you sent a picture of very soon after. But the thing that mosts interests me, the boys and I guess you also, is, How long will it be before, this tough looking (army) that you reviewed that day will pass this historic chapel which hasn’t changed in the last hundred or so years, and the (army) that you realy will not know was the same one.

 

If they do parade us I think it will be well worth seeing, not only for the parade but to see the change that has taken place in us after three months of military training. Now the Fifth, Ninth, and Eighth are composed of the same kind of humanity and we all come from the same old Bay State. Then we are all going to return one no better than the other and none any worse than the next. A battalion of the Ninth was on Evening Parade this evening and say it was great. We are not having hardly any of this, now but I suppose we will get it soon. The Fifth have it every evening, and beleive me it does look good. I just wish you could see one of these field ceremonies. We were out drilling to day with full field equipment and say didn’t old Sol beat down on us. Take now for instance it is eight oclock, and as nice and cool as can be. But, between about nine A.M. and four P.M. it is hot.

 

Let me tell you how we eat, now that we have the cook shack and mess hall ready. There are twelve tables, which are divided as follows. Each corporal takes his squad up for their eats and these eight men sit down to one table assined to them. Now there are nine squads, and that takes up nine tables. (right Roger go to the head of the class.) We sergeants have a table to our selves, the cooks have a table to themselves, and the men that happen to be on detail sit and eat by them selves. The rules are, no profane language, hats off, no spitting on the floor (I hope this is not being read at the supper table) no throwing food around, those making a mess are detailed to clean up the whole mess hall. Well we have a lot of rules, but I can’t write them all for I am getting along towards the bottom of this page and I want to write about some thing else.

 

We have a new cook, (out of the company of coarse) and say he is a beaut. He makes cakes, johnny bread, griddle cakes, puddings, and cold drinks to perfection. By the way he is a baker by trade in some large place in Boston. I don’t know which has the most ink on it this whole sheet of paper or my thumb and fore finger. You know I always did take a bath when I wrote with a pen, but I guess Im taking two with the same one this trip.

 

Tell the Hollands I send my best regards and hope they are all well, Teddy too of coarse. They had a show here the other night and it was pretty good considering. I am sending a programe so you can imagine the caste. We expect to have another one soon “Forty five minutes from Broadway.” Well we are a little more than that from Bunker Hill but in the best of spirits.

 

Sam

 

 

Dear Lena.

 

I sent a letter a day before the 12th dated the 13th and I guess you thought it made pretty good time what? Well I am feeling the same as usual and hope to return as soon as we expect to. The whole 2nd Brigade of Mass. had a hike this morning of ten miles with full field equipment and we all did fine. Only two men from our company fell out. Kingsman who is in pretty tough shape was one, and a fellow that was hurt very badly while we were doing that 15 day outpost duty was the other. It was the day after pay day too and most of the boys were down town last night and (well you know)

 

Tomorrow we are going to have another field inpection, and I am thinking of making up my pack tonight so that I can assist the less experienced men tomorrow. Gee but it was cold last night and hot today.

 

See you soon
Sam

 

 

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

Camp Cotton, Texas 9/11/1916

Dear Em

 

I received your card and Lena’s letter of the fifth yesterday which was the tenth. I dont know what the matter can be with the mail leaving here, but you see that the mail leaving there seems to be all right. From all appearances it looks as though we will soon be home. It was very chilly here last night, and about three oclock this morning the moon was shinning and lit up every thing as if it were day.

 

Never mind the fancy paper stuff, even that that is rapt about a loaf of that good old Mr. Walker’s bread will do as long as it is news from 297. I am glad you all seem to like my last picture. You folks must have a lot of fun with Mary all right. The number on the picture is my number at Washington if I should desert or commit murder or some thing.

 

My best regards to all.
Sam

 

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

Camp Cotton, Texas 9/10/1916

Dear Lena.

 

I am acting first sergeant this morning and I thought I would sit down to this field desk for a change and write a few lines in ink. Now I know I am not going to do very well with this pen and ink but as long as you can read it I think it will carry out its message. I got your letter of the 5th and was much releaved when I read that you had received the check, for there are fellows here that claim money has been sent them but not received. Twenty five green ones is an awful bundle of dough in this game, (and right here I want to say that I have managed to get along. We are, or ought to be paid the first of next week, and after settling up my debts Id ought to have enough to carry me through till we hit Boston. (If we do you know.)

 

I have started this letter and been interupted so often that I have turned my job over to one of the other serg. and told him that I would be down in my tent, but not to disturb me again even if the C.O. wanted me. It has been nothing but, Two men for this. I want three men for that. You will observe by the date that it is Sun., which is a very easy day in the army (if your not top serg.) We had breakfast at 6.30 the last named to consist of Jam Bread & Coffee. Some thing like a Sun at home what?

 

A long train of Ohio troops pulled in this morning, and when I say long I mean it for one of the boys counted 62 cars. Must have been about two regiments. Some of the fellows are getting letters stating that they are decorating the stores in Boston for the parade that is to follow our return. How about it? Say dont be backward in writing about any rumor or notice that you may hear or see for I like to get the strait dope.

 

My grand father must have been some guy in his day to have had such a resemblance as I seem to carry. I am glad you can see by the picture that Im not getting any skinnyer any way. Im afraid though that Im not getting any fatter either (although my face makes me look so. I am glad it is getting cooler up there and I hope if they do send us home that it will be soon for it is going to be another job getting aclimated at home. That’s going some isn’t it Aclimated at Home.

 

Your letter of the 5th reached hear the 9th so you see the service is very good from there down, now. It will go hard for the fellow that you refer to in regard to falling asleep and letting the prisoner escape. Mary’s little doily is still hanging in my tent and will till we leave and Ill take it right back there to 297 and hang it in Sam’s room. It must be funny at that to hear Mary go at it and I can imagine a lot of it.

 

Do you know that this is the laziest feeling region on the face of the earth I think; and Im going to admit that it is getting me. I wonder how long it will take for me to feel like work.

 

Well I have no more to say only that I am well. Tell Em that Kingsman is sick, not serious though. Well hoping just the same as you’re hoping I remain

 

Sam

 

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

Camp Cotton, Texas 9/8/1916

Dear Em.

 

I got your letter of the 1st but fail to hear whether or not you have received that check for 25 dollars I sent away back in Aug. I also got a post card from Bert and tell him I sure would like to be present at just such a party as it pictures. I didn’t get any mail from you this morning but trust Ill have better luck tonight.

 

All of the recruits caved at drill this morning and beleive me I pity them for the next week or so. We had a very easy drill this morning. The flies are not quite so dense now, and I think that we are getting the best of them. Jim Coyne drove by our company, and he hollered “Hello Sam” I forgot my self and yelled back “Hello Jim” I will probably go over and see him today or tomorrow.

 

Give my regards to every body and tell them Im still swimming, with my head above water. Cut me another slice of bread.

 

Sam

 

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

Somewhere on the Border, Texas 9/7/1916

Dear Em.

 

Here we are again, out on the drill hills, after a 24 hour tour of out post work. We got six more new recriuts from Framingham last night, but they are not drilling with us yet. I guess they don’t want to kill them so they are going to let them take it easy for a while. Im feeling fine. Some of the boys are sick, but they have to drill just the same. This is a place for well people only. All others are out of luck.

 

I got your letter yesterday stating that the band concerts are all over. Sounds like winter what? It is a nice cool morning and I hope it continues to be so all day. Tell Mary I send a big X.
I am still the same

 

Sam

 

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

Somewhere on the Border, Texas 9/6/1916

Dear Em,

 

Here we are again on out post. It is pretty cool today. The mornings here are fine. I am fine. We are eating pretty good now. Did you all get my card with the poem on it? Isnt this some card? I am glad Madge is better. But say Em did you receive that envelope with the check in it yet? It is about time it got there, for I sent it the first of last week. I am only sending this any way to let you know Im not sick.

 

Sam

 

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

The Day of the Soldier Boy, 1916

 

THE DAY OF THE SOLDIER BOY

 

WHEN it’s morning on the border, and the sun is breaking through,

And the sands begin to glisten like the good old home town dew,

I look across the river, and it makes me kind of blue,

When it’s morning on the border, Love, my thoughts go back to you.

 

WHEN the sun is in the heavens and the air is mighty hot,

And its hard to breathe and stifling, and my throat is dry as rot,

I’ve got to grin and bear it, I’ve got to see it through,

To make the burden lighter, Love, my thoughts go back to you.

 

WHEN the sun has passed the border, and the after-glow is red,

And the silver moon is shining on the silent desert bed,

I’m feeling kind of lonely like, I know you’re lonely too,

When the sun has passed the border, Love, my thoughts go back to you.

 

WHEN the greaser stops his sniping and skulking in the sand,

When the raider hies himself away beyond the Rio Grande,

And the “spick” doffs his sombrero to the old red, white and blue,

And its calm along the border, Love,  THEN I’LL COME BACK TO YOU.

 

 Segt. Wm. H. Barter, 5th Mass. Infy. El Paso – On the Border

 

(Editor’s Note: See Postal from Camp Cotton, Texas 9/5/1916)

 

Camp Cotton, Texas 9/5/1916

 

Dear Em,

 

It is Sunday and all is well along the Rio. Tomorrow is Labor Day and another day off.

 

Sam

 

 

Dear Mary,

 

I got your Mother Hubbard and the boys and I are much pleased with it. It is hanging in my (soldier house) all the time and I have all the boys kiss it every time they come in. Im not going to put any kisses on this card for it isnt big enough for the one Id give you.

 

Sam

 

Poem printed on the front of  both postcards:

THE DAY OF THE SOLDIER BOY

 

WHEN it’s morning on the border, and the sun is breaking through,

And the sands begin to glisten like the good old home town dew,

I look across the river, and it makes me kind of blue,

When it’s morning on the border, Love, my thoughts go back to you.

 

WHEN the sun is in the heavens and the air is mighty hot,

And its hard to breathe and stifling, and my throat is dry as rot,

I’ve got to grin and bear it, I’ve got to see it through,

To make the burden lighter, Love, my thoughts go back to you.

 

WHEN the sun has passed the border, and the after-glow is red,

And the silver moon is shining on the silent desert bed,

I’m feeling kind of lonely like, I know you’re lonely too,

When the sun has passed the border, Love, my thoughts go back to you.

 

WHEN the greaser stops his sniping and skulking in the sand,

When the raider hies himself away beyond the Rio Grande,

And the “spick” doffs his sombrero to the old red, white and blue,

And its calm along the border, Love,  THEN I’LL COME BACK TO YOU.

 

Segt. Wm. H. Barter, 5th Mass. Infy. El Paso – On the Border

(Copyright Applied For)

 

Dear Em,

 

On account of our camp being on gaurd yesterday and last night, we do not drill today but company M. & K. are elected to assemble the new arm wagons that have just arrived. We had a beautiful sun rise this morning, for we were up be for sun up. I think it is going to be pretty warm today. It is 6.45 now.

 

By what they say now, we are to start home some where around the 21st of Sept., stay at Framingham until the 12th of Oct. and parade in Boston on that date. All bull I suppose. Say did you get that letter yet? There is a little stumack trouble here in camp but that will soon pass. I am fine.

 

Sam

 

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

Watchful-Waiting, 1916

 

WATCHFUL-WAITING

The Germans have their “Wacht am Rhein,”

the English play “God Save the King,”

The Frenchmen sing their “Marseillaise,”

while Russians chant their National Hymn.

Our Spirit shuns this war-like ring;

peace breathes in what we proudly sing.

THE STAR SPANGLED BANNER

Oh! long may it wave,

o’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

By these colors we stand ever true,

Three Cheers for the Red, White and Blue

 

(Editor’s Note: See Postal from Camp Cotton, Texas 8/8/1916)

 

Hell In Texas, 1916

Here is a poem that just suited this place the first week I landed, but now I am beginning to change my mind in the opposite direction…

HELL IN TEXAS

The Devil in hell we’re told was chained,
And a thousand years he there remained.
He neither complained nor did he groan,
But determined to start a hell of his own.

Where he could torment the souls of men
Without being chained in a prison pen.
So he asked the Lord if he had on hand
Anything left when he made this land.

The Lord said, “Yes, I had plenty on hand,
But I left it down on the Rio Grande;
The fact is, “old boy,” the stuff is so poor,
I don’t think you can use it in hell any more.”

But the Devil went down to look at the truck,
And said if he took it as a gift he was stuck,
For after examining it carefully and well,
He concluded the place was too dry for a hell.

So in order to get it off His hand
The Lord promised the Devil to water the land,
For he had some water, or rather some dregs,
A regular cathartic and smelled like bad eggs.

Hence the trade was closed, the deed was given,
And the Lord went back to his home in Heaven;
The Devil said to himself, “I have all that is needed
To make a good hell,” and hence he succeeded.

He began by putting thorns all over the trees,
And mixed up the sand with millions of fleas;
He scattered tarantulas along the roads,
Put thorns on cactus, and horns on the toads.

He lengthened the horns of the Texas steers,
And put an addition to the rabbits’ ears;
He put a little devil in the broncho steed,
And poisoned the feet of the centipede.

The rattlesnake bites you, the scorpion stings,
The mosquito delights you with his buzzing wings;
The sand-burs prevail, and so do the ants,
And those who sit down need half-soles on their pants.

The Devil then said that throughout the land
He’d arrange to keep up the Devil’s own brand,
And all should be Mavericks unless they bore
Marks or scratches, of bites and thorns by the score.

The heat in the summer is one hundred and ten,
Too hot for the Devil and too hot for men;
The wild boar roams through the black chaparral;
‘Tis a hell of a place that he has for a hell.

By the Author of “Texas A Paradise”

 

(Editor’s Note: See Postal from Camp Cotton, Texas 8/1/1916)

 

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 386 other followers