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




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


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

Published in: on June 24, 2008 at 11:17 pm  Comments (1)  
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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.




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

Published in: on June 24, 2008 at 11:03 pm  Leave a Comment  
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