Somewhere on the Border, Texas 10/2/1916

Dear Folks,

 

I am going to start a letter in my note book for I don’t expect to finish it before we start of again to (the Lord only knows). We are now in a column composed of more troops than ever before participated in a practice hike. This is our second day out and we are leading the column. It is about half past six now and we expect to move any second. We started yesterday morning at seven oclock and for the first five miles it was all fine and dandy but the next five was pretty tough. Sand up to our shoe tops, and the dust and sand kicked up made it imposible for me to see the second man in front of me. The boys got a good idea of what real hiking is and I know the worst is yet to come. Yesterday each man carried his own dinner consisting of three hard tack, and ¼ of a can of beans. It tasted very good only we couldnt get any water. I saw some of the Ohio troops getting down on their knees and drinking water from the side of the road. I dont want to pin any medals on my self but I havent gone through 5 years of this life without knowing that a canteen of water is a soldiers best friend. When the hike was finished and camp pitched, some of the other fellows were begging for (just a mouth full of my water. Such is life in the army. And just think it is peace time at that.

 

We just got orders that one platoon of our company is to act as gaurd over the Brigade wagon train, and we are also to arrest all men that fall out of the line who have no docters certificate. Last night we had some water with a little milk and corn in it that they called corn chowed. This with some thing that tasted like cocoa and three hard tack constituded our meal. This morning we had some tomatoes which tasted as though they spilt all the pepper they had in it and three hard tack. We got a half a cup of (I dont know what you would call it. I think they call it coffee. For our dinner (which we are carrying) we have a can of beans one package of H.J. to go for four men. We are all starting out with a full canteen of rotten water, but I know that the water will taste the best and go faster than every thing else. It is going to be hot today, but I am feeling as strong and as well as the fittest and the best so I should worry. OH we are right into the real life now.

 

The suit of under wear Ive got on and a suit in my pack will have to do the whole trip which is listed for fifteen days. I dont know how or where I am going to mail this but some kind person on the road will take it as I pass I think. There are about 26,000 troops on the hike, and I dont know if you can imagine the extent of this mob or not, but I know I cant. We are carrying twenty five rounds of blank amunition, two blankets, ponchow, shelter half, pole and pins, one suit of under wear, towel, soap, tooth brush, comb, tooth paste, razor, brush, shaving soap, two ration cans, and a sweater in our packs. Of coarse our rations, mess pan, dipper, canteen full of water, bayonet, round-about (or belt) and rifle. This load gets heavy after a while but as usual (I should worry).

 

Well I guess it is about time I put this in an envelope for we have been on the road about an hour now and the stops are gettin fewer. I am just as strong as when I started and getting stronger if any thing. We are having an awful time with these teams, for the roads are pretty tough. Never mind well get there. I hope the one with K. Co. gets along all right any way for we at least want some coffee for supper. I hear the Red Sox only have to win one more game to win the penant. Pretty soft for them what. Id like to get back in time to see a World Series game and probably I will. I hope you can make out a few of the words on these pages any way. You will have to excuse it for I am under considerable handicap, writing a little every time a team gets stuck or we make a stop. You see it is in my note book and all I have to do when we start is close it up and put it in my pocket.

 

We are sertainly getting it now, some of the boys are all in and want to drop out but (nothing doing.) Walk or lay down and starve or go dry is what they are told. Talk about your desert. Well I must close hoping you are all well and remain so until I return. I remain the same old (fresh guy)

 

Sam

 

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

Greetings from the Border-Land, 1916

GREETINGS FROM THE BORDER-LAND

Here’s greetings from the Border-land
Where the wind blows to beat the band,
O’er valleys fair and mountains high
Kissed by the sun from a cloudless sky.
Where the soldier boy with his ready gun
Tramps the desert under a scorching sun.
Yes, this is the land where the cacti grow
And the long-eared burro tries to crow.
Where the centipede walks on a hundred legs
And the rattlesnake lays its soft-shelled eggs
The tarantula too, and vinagroon
Bask in the sunshine and lazily roam
Over the rocks and through the sand
Away out here on the Border-land.

By the Poet-Lariat
(Copyright Sept. 1916 by Jos. T. Grant)

 

(Editor’s Note: See Postal from Camp Cotton, Texas 9/15/1916)

 

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)

 

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)

 

I Wonder How The Table Looks At Home, 1916

I wonder how the table looks at home

I wonder if they miss me while I roam

I wonder how it feels,

to sit down to three square meals

While we are here just starving all along
    

I can see the steaks and chickens coming in.

I can see the fried potatoes thick and thin.

I can hear my mother say

Boys what will you have today

I wonder how the table looks at home.

 

This is one of many that are sung every night before taps…

 

(Editor’s Note: See Postal while On Patrol, Texas 8/9/1916)

 

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

We’ll Hit The Trail For Villa, 1916

The regiment composed a song on the train which runs,

We’ll hit the trail for Villa

We’re Yankees through and through

We’ll show the sons of Mexico,

What the U.S.A. can do.

We come from Massachusetts,

Victory or die,

So give a grand old cheer boys

As the Eight goes marching by. Ra. Ra. Ra.

 

This is sung to the tune of “We’ll hit the line for Harvard.” Then the two Somerville companies follow it up with,

Soma, Soma, Somervilla

Panka, Panka, Panko Villa

Spanka, Spanka, Spanka Villa

We’ll beat him black and blue. Ra. Ra. Ra.

 

The whole battalion made a hit all the way down here with this song and I guess it is going to stick through out the regiment.

 

(Editor’s Note: See Letter from Camp Cotton, Texas 7/8/1916)

 

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