El Paso, Texas 10/16/1916

Dear Em,

 

Well we are still waiting to leave. We havent done a tap since getting back from the hike, outside of packing up everything that is to be packed and stuff that we will not use. The Fifth is well on the way now, and we are still here not knowing just what day we are to follow. No doubt it will be next week some time. The trouble seems to be in the lack of cars. Ive eaten my finger nails all off waiting to go. We are well outfitted with cloths as follows. 5 suits of summer under wear, 2 suits of winter underwear, 3 o.d. shirts 3 pairs of shoes, ten pair of stockings two hats, 3 pair of summer cotton breaches, 2 suits of o.d.’s including blouse and pants. 1 sweater, 1 over coat, two blankets. 2 pairs of leggings 4 towels besides toilet and other articles. Outside of 1 suit of under wear on our backs and one in our pack. 1 shelter half, 1 ponchow 1 blanket, polls pins, sweater and toilet articles, everything that I have mentioned is to be put in a bag and shipped home. Some out fit, what?

 

You can see I have nothing to say when I will try to fill up a sheet of paper with this kind of junk. Im simply writing this any way to let you know that I am still waiting anxiously for my seat in the train to start on that long journey home. This army life is the same old stuff day after day and Im sorry I can’t gather some news to make up an interesting letter.

 

I received your letter and was sorry to hear that Henry is not feeling well. Just the opposite with me I tell you. Young Kinsman is in the hospital and has been ever since the next to last day on the hike. He was one of six in our company that had to fall out. It is real chilly here today and reminds me of a fall Saturday after noon, when I am home with all kinds of time on my hands but nothing to say. Katherine Holland sent me a letter which I received yesterday and Im going to answer it so if you will excuse this short and poor letter Ill close and start one to her.

 

Im feeling fine and expect to prove it soon when I get home.

 

Sam

 

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

Camp Cotton, Texas 10/12/1916

I am feeling fine with a big F.

 

Dear Em

 

It is raining like the devil now and the tent is leaking but I am going to write this letter even if the paper is all wet. I put in a very busy morning washing and getting ready to go home, and we may be on our way by the time you get this. We got back to Camp Cotton yesterday and believe me dear old Camp Cotton (that is the desert that we made into a camp) looked good. Say but we were a tired bunch when we struck here, for we must have made 14-15 miles in wet, heavy marching order. We had to walk (plough) through about five miles of deep sand. Now we are getting ready to (Go Home). Saturday is the expected day, and although it is only two day away, I suppose it will seem like a month. The Fifth leaves tomorrow. I guess Id be washing mending or some such thing now if it wasn’t raining. But somehow every time it rains I think of a nice dry place where it is comfortable, and the result is a letter (Home). A little of this life is all right but four months is pretty near enough for any sane man.

 

I have received quite a lot of cards and a letter from you and the rest and they did cheer me up a lot while on that indurance test (they called a practice march). We covered 84-85 miles in eight days, doing all our marching in the morning, between 8-9 to 11-12. First it was lack of water, then water that I couldn’t get by my throut, heat, rain, cold. All this was met and yet today we all laugh at it and say wasn’t that worth going through. I wish you could see it rain and blow even now. We have some pretty hard rains and blows on our old corner at 297 but nothing in it with what is going on now.

 

We have been issued woolen underwear and are to be fitted out in o.d. coat and pants tomorrow. I hope Bert enjoyed his trip to Maine. It is said that we are to go home by way of New Orleans and up the east bank of the Miss river which will be some trip. I don’t know what they are going to do with us when they get us to Mass., and I don’t know as I care much. Well Em its all over but the cheering I guess, so Im saying. Let er rain. (To Tipperary, → Farewell to dry old Texas, Farewell El Paso, It’s a long long way to Massachusetts, But believe me we’ll go.)

 

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

On the Road back to El Paso, Texas 10/9/1916

Mesquite N.M.

 

Well Everybody

 

Here we are back here again to day, and if we are not in Boston soon I will be very much dissapointed. They held us up at Las Cruces N.M. one day and the night of that day we got orders to be ready early this morning to start hiking back to El Paso. We did 12-13 miles to day and are camping (for tonight) on the very same spot as we occupied the 7th. Gee my face is burning from the sun and I suppose tonight I will be almost frozen. Beleive me if they would let us have our way we wouldn’t stop until we struck C. Cotton again. It will take us three or four more days to get there I guess, so when you get this you will know that we are getting ready to “Hit the trail for Boston” instead of Villa. I am receiving all the cards you are sending including Bert’s. I feel as strong as an ox now and the Lord only know how Ill feel when I get an honest to God bath. XXXXXXXXXXX for Mary.

 

Sam

 

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

Las Cruces, New Mexico 10/7/1916

On the road to Fort Seldon, Las Cruces N.M.

 

Dear Everybody

 

I sent one of you a card last night, and while writing I was so tierd I hardly knew what or who I was writing to. I was not in camp 5 minutes before I was off for the town for some thing to eat. I had about a dollar for about ten minutes. We tryed to get a feed in the only cheap resturant in the Town, but oh what a chance. The door was jamed and thinking that there would be more room later we waited. We went back in about ten minutes and they didn’t have even a slice of bread or a cup of coffee left. Sold out. We then got into a bakery shop some how and I bought two jelly rolls for my pal and I. They were ten cents apiece and there was just about one mouth full in it. We then bought some cakes and tonic.

 

The town is completely gaurded, no inlisted man being able to even look inside a bar room. We crawled back to camp at taps and I bathed my sore and aching feet. Today Im feeling fine again, ready for any thing they say.

 

Some hike. Rotten town.

 

Sam

 

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

Mesquite, New Mexico 10/6/1916

Mesquit N.M.

 

Dear Em

 

After hiking about 10-11 miles yesterday we made camp in (this mans town) as Al would say. Every man in the company was as fresh as a daisy including yours truly. We had quit a shower and out side of our little pup tents blowing down two or three times and our blankets getting a little wet we enjoyed the nights rest very good. I bet Ill be able to sleep comfortably on a row of tacks after this hike.

 

Shelter Tents from Military Instructors Manual, 1917

 

It seems as though every thing you touch is filled with thorns. It is very windy this morning and we are all ready and anxious to get started and get the benefit of the cool part of the day. We will be in Las Crusas soon. Every one is happy and well.

 

Sam

 

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

On the Road to Fort Selden, New Mexico 10/5/1916

On the road to Fort Seldon 10/5/16

 

Dear Em

 

Well here we are after a days rest, waiting for the word that will start this army on the move again. We expect a forced march today to make up for yesterday. Some of the mules are dieing and a lot of the men are in pretty bad shape for hiking. I am as usual feeling great, and Im anxious for the order to start.

 

We went swimming in the Rio Grande yesterday, and I bet we walked about six miles to and from the river. I dont beleive we are any cleaner for our wash for it is the muddiest water in any river there is I guess.

 

I am rotten dirty and expect to remain so until we get back to Camp Cotton or some where where it is possible to get a wash. I dont know where we are going today but we will soon be on our way.

 

Sam

 

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

On the Road to Fort Selden, New Mexico 10/4/1916

About 2 miles beyond Anthony N.M. 10/4/1916

 

Dear Lena.

 

When I sent that card last night I had no idea that we would get this lay off today. I thought (yes, and I hoped) that we would push on and get this job over with, for I am feeling in the pink of condition now.

 

Say that was some tough hike yesterday and it came pretty tough on me for this reason. I was left guide and when in column of squads the left guide of a company is in the rear of the company. It was all right for a while but after the water began to give up the men wanted to fall out to get some or lay down. Now I being in the rear had to see that no one fell out, and if any one did for any reason I was to wait and see that he or they got back to the company. Now it is hard enough to keep walking ones self, but when youve got to keep howling “Close up.” etc all the time when your mouth is as dry as a fish bone. Not only this but see that men get back to there company as soon as possible and act like a dirty dog by preventing them to drink any water or fill there dry canteens with water from wells or houses along the road. Yes we non comps get our orders and we have to carry them out but with a very unwilling spirit.

 

One poor fellow in the company some how or other got his canteen filled with water and was about to wet his parched lips when it was snatched from him by our captain (who was under orders.) and emptied. One canteen a day is the order and that from the army barrel.

 

Toward the end of this long and tiersome march one fellow fell out and as usual I had to see that he got back to the company. He lagged and stalled off until the whole column got by (and although I didnt tell him I didnt blame him. When we did get started it was away back with the ambulance train and if you could see the men on both sides of the roads and in the hospital teams you would agree that it was a tough old hike. It was mainly the scarcity of water. We came to a house where we just sat by a well and drank drank drank. It was the best water we had since leaving Cotton and oh it did taste good. If we never appreciate any thing else when we get home we will, that good old N.E. water.

 

I just found out that the reason we are being held up today is on account of the sore feet of the mules. We are supposed to be ready to move on at 2.30 and I suppose they will push us to make up for lost time. I should Worry. Im ready for Mexico if need be. This is the last letter you will get until we get to Fort Sheldon I guess. In the mean time rest assured that Sam is there and will stand up with the best of them.

 

Sam

 

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

Anthony, New Mexico 10/3/1916

Dear Em

 

Here we are after a 13 or 14 mile hike. I am feeling fine. We are sertainly roughing it now. Expect to hit Las Crusas Friday. We didn’t have hardly any thing to eat all day yesterday but tonight at about 8 oclock we got some bacon and coffee and say it was great. Don’t think Im crying for it isnt going to last forever, but beleive me I will be glad when we hit Fort Sheldon. This is a funny little town.

 

Sam

 

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

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.

Camp Cotton, Texas 9/29/1916

Dear Em,

 

I see by this mornings paper that about ten or twelve states are to be releaved including cavalry and other units from Mass., but not any infantry from Mass. From all accounts we are to start Sunday for a fifteen day hike, probably travaling about two hundred miles. Say but wasnt it cold this morning. All the boys made use of their over coats and sweaters, and I think I would have frozen if I hadn’t worn mine to bed last night. I slept last night in two blankets, my suit of under wear my o.d. shirt, my sweater, and my over coat. I will admit I was warm and slept good, but when first call for reveille blue and I crawled out of this mountain of woolen, say it was cold. I got up, jumped in to my shoes, and bolted for the street at a ten second clip. Up and down the street I tore and when I got back into my tent again I was feeling like Roughans on a Saturday night. We had oat meal, hot corn bread and butter, and nice hot coffee. I beleive I told you we had some cook in this fellow Gretter. The corn bread just hit the spot and the boys feel just like drilling now. There goes first call and I must cut this letter out now and fall in. Ill see you when I get back, at noon.

 

Well here I am, in after a stiff, and very interesting drill. I cant say that it was hot at any time during this drill so you must have some imagination of the change in temperature in the last 36 hours. We started in with phisical exercise, then bayonet exercise in which I had to take two rooks and howl and yell at them for about an hour. Then we had about two hours of extended order or battle exercise. In this formation, the captain has his company marching in column of squads. He sends the first squad out to act as a point the next to act as flankers or combat patrols (one of which I had charge of this morning) and the rest as the main body. Well instead of going into it any further I will say that we won. This is pretty hard work, running about 50 yards falling down, firing, crawling fixing bayonets, and charging, but when it is all over it is easy. Get me. After this we had some close order work, such as marching like we do in parades, then we came in.

 

I understand we are to have oyster stew for dinner today. Fine what? OH we are eating all right. I pity some of the boys if we go on that hike they are talking about. It will be nothing like what we are enjoying now. I just got your letter of the 25th in which you spoke of us not knowing when we are to go home, and you are right. Im glad Tom is getting along so good and hope he makes good. But tell him not to join the army. So they are going to block some of our view of the Mistic ha? I knew it. I could dry my mess kit in the sun if I had plenty of hot water to rinse them in but we don’t get all the water for this purpose that we want you know and the most of the grease is removed by the same old towel. See you soon.

 

Sam

 

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

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