From the Boss, Boston Mass. 7/31/1916

Dear Sam:

 

Many thanks for your letter of the 13th. It has been my intention to answer a long while ago, but I have been very busy. I intend to go away for a few day’s vacation tomorrow night, and I want to clean up my personal correspondence before I go, which, while it does not seem very complimentary, I am afraid is the reason I am answering even as early as I am.

 

Am sorry you fellows are not seeing more action, that is, providing you want to see it. In a way, I think it is just as well perhaps that it is ending up the way it is. I am still not so sure that it is all ended, for I cannot imagine a country that has as little respect for its own Government as Mexico seems to have settling down peaceably of itself. In my opinion there are sure to be other outbreaks and there will be one outbreak serious enough to compel some action on the part of this country more drastic than any already taken.

 

There is a great deal in our newspapers on the doings of the Massachusetts Militia on the Border, and from all we can see, you fellows are pretty well taken care of, at least, as well as can be expected under the circumstances.

 

It occurred to me to tell you before you left that if there was anything you wanted me to send down to you, not to be backward in asking for it, as I shall be very pleased to send down some little necessities or luxuries that you might not be able to get hold of yourself. If so, do not be at all afraid to write me for anything that you may want.

 

I showed your letter to the boys throughout the store and without a doubt a number of them are writing you. I hope they will, as I can understand that letters would be nice to get, especially from your old friends, situated as you are.

 

I hope you will be good enough to drop me a line once in a while and I shall write you again as soon as I get back.

 

With kindest regards and best wishes,

Yours very sincerely,

H.T. Melbye

 

 

© Copyright 2009 by Richard Landers, All Rights Reserved. No reproduction without permission.

From Em, Charlestown Mass. 7/31/1916

Dear Sam.

 

Well I got 2 letters today and Pa got a post card. It is awful hot hear today. I never mind the heat till I get home because it is so cool in the shop. Every body is fine and Mary is over with us again. Molly is going to move tomorrow. I am glad you had a little change of senery. Seeing the country down there is something you will never forget.

 

I got your little souvernier and will always keep it. Madge is about the same. What she needs is a good long rest and I don’t think she will ever get well unless she gets one. She trys to do too much. I am sitting in the window while writing this watching the sights and believe me there is some sights going by.

 

There was a big forest fire in Canada and it made yesterday and today 2 yellow days. Everything you looked at was yellow. Napolean is just the same and still does the errands for his mother. Speaking of Maine I wish I was on my way down there now. Those were the happy days.

 

You are having your vacation now and are enjoying yourself play soldier. Well play the game good and come home soon. Pa just got home from a trip to Provincetown so I must get him something to eat. Wishing this finds you well I must close.

 

With Love from all

Em.

 

 

© Copyright 2009 by Richard Landers, All Rights Reserved. No reproduction without permission.

Rio Grande, El Paso & Southwestern R.R. Tunnel, 7/30/1916

Dear Em.

 

I have just received your letter and although I have just sent each of you a postal I am going to sneek a few minutes and answer a few question. You know this is the land of the (Manyanna) or tomorrow and if you let any thing go over for a minute, even, you are bound to keep putting it off. So you see I am going to keep up with you and go one better if possible. Now Em don’t go to work and send a lot of candy that will cost more for postage than twice what the candy is worth. Don’t get me wrong on this now, but you see it costs so much for the sending of it that it hardly pays. I am dissappointed myself to hear that our Henry went back on you like that, but never mind Em, you know I am very queer my self some times. Just tell him that I really want a picture of him, for he used to be good in taking me around with him to different places when I was a kid.

 

You bet I am looking forward to the time when I will wear those clothes and I am glad you mentioned the fact that Lena has taken care of them. I’ll wear them out, looking at them I guess. We wear these clothes out washing them (All in the game you know.) I wish I could tell you how long it will be before we get home but I can tell you when it is said we will return. There is a lot of talk, that we will parade Oct. 12th in Boston. It may be sooner than that but, lets not kid ourselves will we Em. I bet you dread my pestering and teasing when I get home there. We’ll have a great boxing bout if you will promise before hand not to make me laugh too hard. As for washing clothes, that’s got to be part of the manual of arms now. They may have an event and give prizes, at the Armory, if so I’ll bet right now that I won’t be last, what do you say.

 

Say Pa is some sport what, and I sure do hope he has a pleasant and interesting trip. If he sees the West Pointers it will be as good as half the whole vacation for they are the finest type of physical development in the country. The papers sertainly told the truth when they spoke of our going on out post and patrol duty and I will say right here that paper notoriety is left intirly to the Ninth. We got some towels last week and I suppose it is the result of just such concert as you mentioned. I hope they get a lot of money, for you know we can always use that.

 

The woman who owns the house in which Mollie is to live, didn’t change her mind any for Mary is a doll, not a child. I sent her a postal the other day, in care of Lena for I didn’t know but what she had moved. I also sent one to the Higgin’s and I guess they have both been received by this time.

 

It is great fun roaming in among the hills here, doing patrol duty, and really I never knew that I was so sure, yet light on my feet. We were given a can of tobacco and a plug of chewing yesterday, the first hand out since leaving Kansas City. I guess you notice that these letters are simply filled with the same kind of stuff every day, but I know you realize that news is very scarce in this part of the country, and also that a soldiers life is one tiresome thing followed by the very same tiresome thing one day after the other day. But then if it was not, every body would be a soldier.

 

Just up the rail road there is a house where we get our water from which flies “Old Glory”, and as I looked up and saw it just now, it reminded me of the letter in which you said that Lena was going to keep our stars and stripes in the breezes until the boys come marching home.

 

Samuel.

 

 

Dear Em.

 

Although this is sunday, its the same old slogan “No rest for the weary.” Up this morning at five and out on the tunnel again at twelve. In the mean time, I washed all of my clothes that I used since yesterday, which was, a suit of underwear, two pair of socks pair of breaches, pair of leggings, dish (the same one I took from 297) and bathe towel my bed cot. No sooner had I completed this than we had to stand inspection of every thing in our possession. Then I was handed a slip of paper with a list of 14 privates 2 corporals, draw rations and beat it. We havent got time to get lazy or sick here . I am tip top.

 

Sam

 

P.S. –I havent the time or material with me to write a letter. We had a N.E. boiled dinner today. I wonder how the table looks at home. Give my regards to Emma, and the Studleys. Is the pan under the ice chest emptied. Hope Pa enjoys his trip to N.Y. Give Mary my love. How are you all. I am glad to hear from Henry ever time you write.

 

 

Dear Lena,

 

I just sent Em’s postal in but I am going to write this in hopes that the next visiting patrol that comes around will get this back in time to catch todays mail, so that the both of them will make a small letter. I am saving all the mail I am receiving and I hope to send it all home when we get back to Camp Cotton or what we call home. We just had a little target practice up in the hills and I hit a peice of grass, at about five hundred yards the first time I tried it and a telephone poll with pistol at about one thousand yards three times out of four. You see we can’t use all the amunition we want to, for we are only issued 210 rounds per man and at inspection, if we cannot account for any that is missing we have to pay 2 ½ cents apeice for them besides a dose of 11/55 Texas. (get it) Gee but it would be great to have a little brush with some Mexicans but no such luck. (Part of the game) You would think we were pack mules if you could see us loaded down with amunition climbing the mountains. I got Berts card. How is the gas stove. I bet I could lift and put that piano any where you want it. How many brooms have you worn out? Oh for a strawberry short cake and one of your puddings. I suppose you havent used one yeast up yet well when I get home buy a ton of it, Im getting to like bread again. I bet Ive used 20 cakes of soap. As this is all I can think of I guess Ill stop.

 

Sam

 

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

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Rio Grande, El Paso & Southwestern R.R. Tunnel, 7/29/1916

Dear Em.

 

Say this was sertainly Santa Claus day and he was the mail man, for I got six postal cards and a letter from Anna and Aunt Molly. You see now I have some job answering all these, but I welcome it. Now really, all the time we have is one afternoon and night every two days and then some times we do not get that afternoon. We sure do feel like sleeping the whole night, and any part of the day we have off is well use in cleaning up, washing under clothes, legging, pants and o.d. shirt besides hankercheif and other little things. We take a shower and change and wash our clothes every day when we get a chance. I am sorry I cant write a letter but I trust you will realize my position.

 

S.E.A.

 

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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.

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From Em, Charlestown Mass. 7/27/1916

Dear Sammy.

 

Your letter recieved and I’m glad your feeling good. Uncle Al is coming tomorrow to take Pa to Lawrence to see Mr. Snell a cousin of theirs. Pa goes back to work Aug. 1. Lena sent you some stamps and mailed her letter before yours was recieved telling us not to send any more but I guess you can use them. We like to send them because sometimes some other fellow might need them and you could give them to them. Some fellow might want to write a letter home but not have a stamp and I would be glad to know that you and I helped him out. For instance. A girl in the shop goes with a fellow who is down there and his mother hasn’t heard from him since he left and I told her that maybe he has no money or stamps. She is worrying now because she knows that I hear from you most every day. So if a fellow wants a stamp give it to him.

 

Have you seen Jimmie Coyne yet? I think John wrote to you telling you he was in Co. H. of the Fifth. I think he must be crazy because he wrote home and told his mother not to believe the papers because he could go anywhere he wanted to at anytime and do anything he wanted to. Can you imagine that Bull.

 

You told me in one of your letters that the Non Comps had some pictures taken and I’m still waiting for them. Say will you tell me if there is any fellows down there who did not take the Federal Oath as I had an argument in the shop. There was a piece in the paper that 600 men who didn’t take the oath have to return to Framingham and these 2 who are against me in the argument say they are at the border and I say that they must be in their homes. The paper didn’t say where they were but only that they must return to Framingham.

 

As for the City of Somerville I think is all graft. I didn’t hear or see about any one getting any help as yet. They had fire works and charged admission and I saw them selling ice cream Tue. night but I fail to see where any one got any thing from it. They ask for money to buy underwear and goodies etc for you fellows and as you say you don’t nead it what is the money for? I fail to see where the families are getting it. Its all Graft I think.

 

Bill who works with Pa got a Texas newspaper from his son and I would like you to send Pa one as I know he would enjoy reading it. As I wrote to you yesterday and Lena wrote today there is not much news. I will ans. your letters all right and send mail every day but some of it will be postcard as I don’t have as much news as you.

 

Everyone is well and Pa is still enjoying his vacation. Lena and I have been alone since Mon. and the house is very quite. You say you like ice cream and as long as you don’t want paper and stamps I will have to send you a gallon of ice cream and a bottle of ginger ale. Hoping this finds you well I will close

 

With Love from all

Jane Smiley.

 

P.S. If you see Jimmie Coyne and he starts to throw the Bull just show him where he gets off. Get me. Em.

 

 

© Copyright 2009 by Richard Landers, All Rights Reserved. No reproduction without permission.

Somewhere Along the Rio Grande, 7/27/1916

Dear Em.

 

Now I will explain about some of the trash I hustled together in my last letter, which I didn’t mail until I got back today, and which I wrote while on post.

 

You see the Fifth Regiment, which is doing great work here, have been patrolling all along the border in this vicinity for the last fifteen days. This means, that they broke their camp at Camp Cotton and each company was detailed to a sertain place to releave the regulars, who have been doing this since the trouble with Mexico started. Now we are doing nothing more than releaving the Dandy Fifth. Now this camp where we are now is just (Gee I get a lot of nouns in my letters don’t I? the same as the Camp at Cotton only each company is separated anywhere from a mile to twenty miles, and we have a great deal more work than at Cotton. For instance Co. M is about seventy miles from us. Company L from Laurence is here with us for there are a lot of railroads and bridges at this point, which, by the way is a cement factory, and a big one too. Well picture two lines of tents, one for each company, in a small strip of land between the Rio Grande river and the main road to El Paso.

 

A view of Smeltertown, El Paso Texas

 

From where we are we can count two very high trestle R.R. bridges and four other railroads that run along side of the river and are finally lost winding off through great gourges. I think I explained our experience in crossing one of these bridges to get to our post. Just below us on the banks of this brown muddy stream is a settlement of Mexican and say, the rottenest family that lives in the North or West end of Boston live like kings in comparison to these poor people of Mexico. The most of the Mexican families that I have seen, live in what is called dobe huts, a substains that is made from the soil here mixed with water into block about one foot square and about four or five inches thick. Of coarse they use a little straw to make it hang together. These are placed flat one above the other, and a hole is left for a window, a hole in the roof to let smoke out, and a place in the middle for a door. I haven’t seen one yet that was more than the size of the kitchen in which you are reading this letter (some guess what.) and they are never more than one storey high. In this room for that is all the most of them consist of, they cook eat, bathe, sleep, and I have seen pigs and chickens being fead. Now this is the average mood of living of a Mexican family. But, oh this settlement here is terrible. We are not allowed to talk with them, and to go near any of the dwellings, unless so ordered, by an officer, in line of duty is a military offence. It is said that ninty percent of the population of this dump has tuphus, a desease most dreaded by an army. We are forbidden to drink any water whatsoever unless it is brought to the kitchen twice a day.

 

I looked into one of these holes and in one corner there was an old woman all bent over, looking at, I dont know what, a girl about seven years old was playing with a baby on the floor, and there must have been two feet of empy cans, old clothes, paper, and filth thrown up in one corner, the children rolling around in some other dirt, that I guess hadn’t happened to blow up into the corner where so much had been collected. You would hardly beleive this but it is only what Ive seen. Some of the other fellows have more wierd stories of which I will not relate.

 

From this camp, one of the two companies are sent out in different directions, in small detachments and are stationed, some place, (like I was yesterday about one and one half miles from camp, others are farther. One company does this one day, the other doing it the next. When we leave it is to stay for twenty four hours, and are given rations for three meals. A fire is built on which we cook our bacon potatoes, warm our beans and corned willie, and make coffee. This cooking buisiness sure does make a fellow hungry, and we eat more while doing this duty than we do in camp but it seems we don’t get half as much. (Part of the game.)

 

It is very strict here as far as getting out is concerned although I could get off all I want to if I want to, that is on the day that we are not on duty. I just went to the gate with three of the fellows to get them by for no man can leave his company street with out a sergeant or corporal being with him. We have shower bathes here and an electric light for each tent. (Some class I tell you) We also have a mess hall, which is a square shack put up with benches and long tables on which we can eat out of the sun and flies, it being all screened in. Some better than Camp Cotton beleive me. We are getting an awful sand storm even here, but say if we were in Camp Cotton the air would be as dense with sand as a heavy fog.

 

I have read many stories of this country, and places like it but you can’t get the full benifit of any book the way you can if you climb one of these small mountains and gaze off over a valley of the Rio Grande and low rising hills running up from it and in the distance still larger and larger mountains. I ran across some cactus bushes yesterday and I cut up one of them with the idea of carrying it back to show the rest of the fellows but the fellows on the post with me tried to get some water out of it and spoiled it. I expect to get another one soon for I am a great one to roam around in the vallies and hills. I have the excuse that I am observing my surroundings if the officers of the out gaurds should visit our out post, and ask for me. Well Ill write again as soon as I find time. Hoping you are all well I remain

 

Sam.

 

P.S. How is every body? I am tip top.

 

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

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Camp Cotton, Texas 7/25/1916

Dear Em,

 

I don’t expect to write more than a few lines for we are waiting to have our feet inspected and after that I am going to be very buisy getting ready to leave this place. I have to take a shower (you know how long it takes me to bathe) and then I have to wash out all my things, including a pair of pants, suits of underwear, two pair of socks, an o.d. shirt, and some hankerchiefs. Then Ive got to get my traveling kit together and pack away all the things I will leave behind. I’ve also got to sew two sets of shevrons. (sergeants stripes on a couple of o.d. shirts so you see I will be pretty buisy from now until taps tonight. There we go for feet inspection, I’ll finish this later.

 

Well I just found out that I will have to wear a size ten. If I ever hit the ocean I will sail home, what? Every thing is hustle-bustle now, that is Companies L & K. The rest of the Regiment are going some where else but I don’t know when or where.

 

I just heard my name called at the head of the street, and what luck. It was a letter from you and one from Mary. It is just as you say, these letters do bring us pretty close together.
I always start the other page first, well I’ll get wise when I write a few more letters. I just found out that we are to move about seven miles from here, and you would think the boys were going on a vacation, but I know that it wont be long before they find out that it is going to be anything but such. It is going to mean one day patrol and the next day gaurd, for fifteen days steady.
I am writing pretty fast now before it gets dark and I might get careless but I know you will overlook any error. Send your letters to the same place and I will get them all right.

 

The money I was going to send home will be delayed now, for a couple of the fellows went broke, and knowing that I had some they hit me and hit me hard. But I will get it next pay day and I will try my best to railroad it home. I am sorry I can say no more, also that I can’t answer the letter Little Mary wrote but I will write a real letter soon.

 

Sam

 

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Camp Cotton, Texas 7/23/1916

Dear Em,

 

I forgot to thank Lena for the stamps that she sent with the paper and I will do so now. But I am also going to say that they have just finished the Y.M.C.A. building and from now on, as long as we are stationed here I advize you not to send any more stationary, news papers or stamps, for we got paid yesterday and Ive got enough money for these things anyway.

 

I am going to send home fifteen dollars if I can get down town again and if you need it why go to it. You may not think it is easy to spend money here but let me tell you it is. As I told you before, we are dry all the time and they always have ice cold tonic and ice cream at the canteen. I am sertainly learning to like ice cream and it seems as though the more of this and tonic I drink the thirstier I get.

 

Talking about sending stationary and stamps. What does this little girl of mine do but send down a whole box of it, a pad of paper and a book of stamps, also a pencil into which you can feed sticks of lead. She sent two bunches of lead sticks. It costs her twenty four cents to send it and you can see that it is not nessessary. Of coarse I thanked her and all that stuff, but I was not backward in telling her not to do this again. Now I hope you will take the hint, and not send any thing but letters. But do send letters. I hope you will take this the way I send it for I appreciate all you are doing to make me seem at home. I got $4.40 about two weeks ago and $72. yesterday so you see Im not broke, but I am going to try and send some home, for if I hold it long, well its gone that’s all. All you can see down through here is silver and gold. Yesterday I got a ten dollar gold piece and two silver dollars. The minute the fellows got their money in their hands they started the cards and dice going and they have been at it ever since in their spare time. Today being Sunday they are at it all day.

 

I wish you could see the crowd in this tent just now. I guess this is the hottest day we’ve had here yet, and I know it must be terrible up there. Well cheer up Winter is comming and I hope I will be there with it. There is a lot of talk just now of our pulling out of here next week. I hope so, for the change, if nothing else. I suppose Pa’s vacation will be all over when this letter reaches you, but no doubt he injoyed it. Some of the fellows are going to take advantage of that bill that excuses all married men that are now on the border. Well to tell the truth, no matter how hard it is down here for me I am not or would not quit. Of coarse some of them are married and have three or four children, and I don’t blame them. The City of Somerville was going to do this, that, and the other thing, for all these kind of fellows, but I guess the Town is living up to all that Pa thinks of it, for they are doing practically nothing, from what I hear. Well Im feeling fine and hope you are all the same

 

With love
Sam.

 

 

Dear Em,

 

I have just got in from drill and received your letter, and don’t be surprised if it is the last one for a few days. Ive told you I think, in some of my others that we are expected to move very soon. I was going to write this letter last night when I though I had all the time up till taps. But the Ninth had to go and start some thing, which pulled the whole Brigade out. I was just sitting down trying to get a comfortable light from a candle to write this, when bang-bang-bang. There wasn’t a one in our tent that paid any attention to it, until it sounded like a machine gun. Then (Call to Arms) was blown, all lights went out, the half finish letter was lost in the scramble for round abouts and rifles. In the mean time the firing continued at great speed.

 

Well there is nothing more to say about it. We formed our company orderly and quietly, into a skirmish line, as did all the other companies and waited for some real action. Now we all knew, the minute that we heard the first Shot that it was the, (Grand Fighting Ninth’s) out post, that had seen a mule or some thing waving its ears at them or some such thing, and of coarse they thought it was, Villa’s Army. You said that the Boston Papers were full of news from the Ninth. Well here is some news that ought to be put in the papers. Lasts nights afair, ment a couple of hours sleep, and about three hours work this after noon on the rifle, for where we formed the skirmish line we laid down in a bank of soft sand, the most of which was picked up by the rifles. They are new guns and the least bit of dust shows very plain on them, (Part of the game.)

 

If I don’t eat any more bread when I get home as I am eating now I guess there will be very little bread consumed at 297. Gee I wish I was at that number just now emptying the pan under the ice chest, for I know there is something good in there now. I’d put a disc on the machine, and clean up, wash my own dishes, and yes if it was Saturday after noon I’d water the beans. Don’t forget to keep a cold one on the ice for Dad. I’d make a quart of cold milk look sick in less than a minute just now. You spoke of biscuits and butter, its just like talking millions to me, especially Lena’s. Gee it’s a tough job to keep going with this letter and I hope you can make out the meaning of some of the sentences anyway.

 

Well its just as hot up there I suppose so why should I kick. Is there any sharks in the Mistic? If I had that bath tub here now, I sertainly would take advantage of the fact that the Hollands have one of their own. Well be good, give my love to all.

 

Sam.

 

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

Camp Cotton, Texas 7/22/1916

Dear Em,

 

I have just got the box of candy that Lena was so kind to send, and it is hitting the right spot. It is just the kind that a fellow can enjoy. I have showted it out to some of the boys and they are of the same mind as myself. Oh, here comes a sand storm, but I am going to continue this letter regardless, and take a chance on the condition of it when it is over. It seems every time I start a letter, up comes one of these blooming showers of sand. I could almost write on this paper just now with out a pencil it is so covered with dirt and dust.

 

It was Saturday morning inspection, so we got off pretty easy so far. We are to go on out post tonight for twenty four hours, so I will not be able to write again until Monday any way. I got a letter from Little Mary, and say she is some trump. I sent her one, to South Boston, but I guess she will get it some way, in Charlestown. I see you are having a lot of trouble with sharks up that way. I think if this bunch down here could see some swimming water now they would go in, sharks or no sharks. I so hope it will soon get cooler up there before long for I know how hard it is to find a cool spot when it is hot especially in Boston. Down here, if you can get out of the sun, it is really cool, but the idea is to get out of the sun. It is as hot in the tents when the sun is shining as it is in the sun, for the sun beats right down on the canvas and you would think that you were in an oven. Well I should worry, as I’ve always said, if the other fellow can stand it, I can. I hope Pa is enjoying himself in the very short time he is given to do so. (one week vacation)

 

There is one thing that I forgot to look out for, that I hope you will, and that is my clothes. Please put some moth balls in the pockets of my new suit anyway and the other stuff that is there, for I have really forgotten just what I have got. I guess I have more clothes here than I ever had at home for we change socks and underclothes every day, after a shower bath that we are supposed to take. Can you imagine the washing that we have to do. I have sent last week’s wash to the laundry, but it costs so much that, that will never do. There will be a whole line of clothes strung from tent to tent, when a sand storm, of which we are bound to get today, will come up and make the clothes worse than ever. Gee it’s a lot of fun. I suppose you can imagine my face and mood when this happens to me. Where is that letter from Henry? Tell him he had better write now, for I will keep after him until he does. Give me his address so I can make good this threat.

 

There is nothing more to say outside of my feeling fine, beginning to eat all I can get ahold of, and working hard to hold down this job. I am getting mail every day now, and I wish I could return all I get in answers, but between, drilling for four hours, washing which takes about an hour, non comps school in the after noon two hours, and drilling recruits, and resting a little, I have nothing to do but write letters.

 

With love to all

Sam.

 

Dear Lena,

 

I suppose it surprises you to find me shooting so many letters, but who could help it when he has such people as you at home that are constantly keeping him in touch with, that home as you folks are. And the greatest thing that pleases me in all your letters, (for it is mentioned in all your letters) is Pa’s health and gamness. You can talk about all your soldiers and there battles. But men don’t always remain soldiers nor are they always fighting battles. But Pa, has always remained a soldier, and he is as game as any man that ever faced an enemy. In other words (He’s there).

 

I sertainly hated to say good by to him that day he put him self out so much to go to Framingham to see me off. I guess he felt no better, (that is,) the way I judged it. But we all know now that there is going to be no fighting, and that they just roped us into the army. Well the country was for (Preparedness) and we are practically paying for it by serving our young lives down here. But say it is going to make a grand lot of men out of us, and some of us will be glad it happened, (when it is all over) yes when it is over. It must be pleasant to have Our Little Mary around all the time, and tell her I want her to be there when I come home. I have not been sending any mail to anyone outside of you folks and (one) other for the last few days, so I will have to get busy soon and remember some of my other friends. But they are not going to interfere with home anyway.

 

You see there is so much guard, patrol, and out post work, and when we are not on this duty we are, what they call alarm company. I guess they figure, when we are working we have no time to get sore or discontented, and say I agree with them. Its about time I told you just what we do when we are not doing any thing.

 

First call in the morning 5.20. Gee this is tough, (get up.) Revielle Roll call, when we all fall in and answer to our names as the First Sergeant calls it. 5.30. Between 5.45 and 7.20 wash up, eat, clean up the tents, furl tents, so that the sun (you know we don’t get much of this stuff) can get at all the clothing and ground under the tent. Fatigue, which is to form the company and have them cover about one quarter of a mile of each company limit and pick up every thing except sand. By that time it is about time to fall in for drill.

 

At 7.30 the company is march out on more sand and given what we call setting up exercises. And say if every young man in this great country was given this physical instruction (Theres a shot out on the border but it is getting common now so ish ka bibble, there is another.) we would have the grandest set of men in the world. It is a set of execises that developes the shoulders, arms, fingers, legs, chest, and reduces the stomack. I don’t think Ill have to work hard at the latter exercise. I washed out a set of underclothes, pair of socks, face towel, and hankerchief to day, and as usual, just as I got them hung up a sand storm came along, and the only consolation I have is that they saw water. Well Im getting away from the subject now.

 

After the setting up drill, we are given bayonet drill, which lasts for about one half hour. Then the real work begins. The companies are gathered together into its respective battalions and are drilled in close and extended order until half past eleven. And say kid its hot out in the sun. About ten oclock the boys begin to drop, and are taken to the field hospital for treatment. I guess these are the fellows that don’t know enough to take care of them selves. At half past eleven we come in all played out and we just sit down and rest until twelve when mess blows. Well I tell you its no scramble for eats, especially at noon, but we eat just by habit, for they generally have some thing cold to drink. Then we unfurl tents and get ready for feet inspection, and inspection of quarters. After inspection we hit for the shower baths, and this is the best part of the day. Washing out the clothes that we have changed is next, and by that time school is in progress, until four. 5.30 we all fall in for (Retreat.) or the lowering of the colors. Then comes mess. Nine oclock Tatoo, which means you can go to bed if you want to. Ten minutes of ten call to quarters, and ten, Taps, all lights out and go to sleep. Now this is a days work down here. Of coarse I can find time if I want to but it doesn’t pay to kill it to much. You know how much I stay out of work, well Im the same here. Well don’t get lost in a snow storm.

 

With love

Sam.

 

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

Published in: on June 16, 2008 at 10:24 pm  Comments (2)  
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