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


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


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

Published in: on July 22, 2016 at 12:30 am  Comments (2)  
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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Dear Readers:
    Please visit the page “Sams References Explained” for entries referencing “Preparedness” and drilling in “close and extended order.”


  2. Dear Readers:

    The “trouble with sharks up that way” refers to the sensational Jersey Shore shark attacks of July, 1916 in which 4 people were killed and 1 gravely injured in separate attacks from July 1-12 along the New Jersey coast.

    Local and national reaction to the attacks involved a wave of panic that led to shark hunts aimed at eradicating the population of “man-eating” sharks. Resort towns enclosed their public beaches with steel nets to protect swimmers.

    The Jersey Shore attacks entered into American popular culture, where sharks became caricatures representing danger in editorial cartoons. Many years later, these incidents inspired both the novel and feature film JAWS about a great white shark that torments a coastal New England community during Summer vacation season.


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