Camp Cotton, Texas 9/25/1916

Dear Em,

 

Well here it is the 25th, and still there is no sign of our leaving for home or anywhere else. I got your letter of the 19th in which you openned up with saying, that you thought it was me in the right of the picture post card I sent you. You said I may not be getting fat but that when I got home Id get fatter. Well yes I may not be getting fat but beleive me it’s a sure bet Im not getting thin or am I any the worse for spending this last three months on the border. As “Teddy The Big Stick” would say “Im Feeling Bully” and say folks I am. Eating three good squares every single day, and havent felt an ailment of any kind what ever for at least a month.

 

Gee but this Gretter guy is there when it comes to putting up the eats. As far as we are concerned Im glad the trouble happened, (for it wasnt until he got the telagram, that he was appointed cook. He makes cottage pudding, raisin puddin, muffins in the morning, griddle cakes, doughnuts, and a lot of such things. I wish you had a peice of the apple pies he made. There was only one thing we all kicked about. Another peice, yes, every thing is fine here now.

 

Yesterday (being Sunday) two other serg. two musicians and myself (we all live in the same tent although it is more like a house than anything else now,) got a lot of lumber (I guess I have to admit we stole it,) and built up and boarded in this tent as if we were to stay here for life. In the centre of the tent we hang all our over coats, and a stand in which we sergeants place our rifles and round abouts, and the musician’s place their bugles and revolvers. Then we have a water bag in which water that is left over night is as cold as ice water in the morning, and stays so all day. These bags are called desert water bags and hold about 2 gallons. We also have two wash basins that hang tidy all the time. Then we have a little barrel which we use for a waste basket, (and beleive me it isn’t there for an ornament either.) Around the sides of the tent (which is all boarded in) we hang all our cloths. Shelves are plentiful also. Well I could probably go on and fill a couple of sheets of this paper, discribing (our little home) but I don’t know as it would be interesting reading.

 

We were out on a pretty stiff hike this morning with full field equipment less rations and I must confess I was pretty near all in and glad to get back to (our little home) for it was away after one oclock when we did hit camp. I guess we hiked 8-9 miles all together. It was pretty warm and the packes cut into us a lot but such things come and go, and really we are the best for it after it is over. It is just this way day after day. Get up at five fifteen for reveille, breakfast at six, police up the street and tents, air out blankets and by that time it is seven oclock and time for drill. We either drill, drill drill, or hike, hike hike until eleven or eleven thirty. (today it was after one as I said above) Come in all tired and sweety and beleive me I mean sweet. Wash up and get ready for mess, after which we feel like (Looking for Villa again.) Down to the showers and a complete change of under cloths uniform and all (for me any way). Then a wash tub, wash board, a peice of army soap and a good strong set of arms and back. My cloths are all dry at three or four oclock and in they come. Retreat is at five twenty and mess is at six. After that you can get ready for tomorrow. You can see I use the day up pretty good.

 

Well Id better cut this out or you will be saying “Doesnt he like to talk about himself”. I see by the El Paso Times tonight where there are about two brigades coming to El Paso to releive Mich and Penn, but no one to releive poor Mass. I guess theyll have to go some to find any body to take our place what? I see where we are to get our state money amounting to $10. per month. I have signed it over to Lena, and if we stay here any length of time I want one of you to let me know if youve received it or when you will. Keep sending your mail just the same and dont let the Post kid you into thinking we are on our way home. We may start home to night for all I know, but that would be to much of a good thing. So keep writing to El Paso as if I was to stay here all winter, and if I should happen to pop up, I think I (personally) would be more appreciated than the answer to letters I probably would not receive.

 

Youve got to hand it to me for finding some such stuff (as Ive been writing for the last ten minutes) to fill up a letter. Excuse the writing any way, and when I get home to 297 Ill make up for all I havent explained and make things (that I have only partially explained) more clearly understood. A little dark but still

 

Sam

 

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

Camp Cotton, Texas 9/22/1916

Some class to this letterhead what?

 

Dear Lena,

 

First of all, I don’t know when we are going home, why they are keeping this information from us, or why the Boston papers are pretending to know so much about the matter. It is the same I think as if war really was on, for to keep news of such small importance to the public in general is some stunt. One of the boys just came in and said that he saw a Boston Post on the front page in large print which said that the Ninth and Fifth had got orders to leave and that the boys threw their hats in the air and great inthusiasim was shown. Nothing doing. They are waiting I guess for some state to send a Brigade to releave us. Some troops from N.Y. have been sent home, having reached here latter than we did. Well I for one (personally) dont care if we stayed here all winter, as far as crying and fretting about home is concerned. Of coarse Id like to get home and see you folks as soon as posible, but Im going to say right here that Im as contented and settled to this life now as if I was on a two weeks vacation. Get me right, now.

 

Oh if you could only see the change in the camp site, the change in the eats, and climate youd say, “Go on you fellows, your living like kings.” And that is the way I am looking at it. It was probably part our fault for coming here, but beleive me Lena, it is not our fault that we are staying here. Next to home with all it means and the ones that make up ours, this is the life. Now Lena, (and the rest of you) you can see that Im as contented as if I were there, only Im not there and that is where the hitch comes. That is why I want to go home as well as the other boys, that have good homes and relatives, but didn’t appreciate it until they got so far away from them for such a long period. Get the sentimental stuff Im slinging. But it really is the sentiment that prevails through the Brigade.

 

That big parade they had in El Paso the other day was not graced with my presence for we were gaurd company that day and I was trotting around to the different post with a loaded gat on my right hip and say, pretty soft, for when those poor boys got in, they were in, that’s all. After walking about four miles they waited six hours for the rest of the division (which is the only war strength division in the U.S.

 

I got Ems card today, which by the notice on it, was really from Mary. And in all your letters and post cards you peak of our home coming. Well we have heard rumors of going home and sensibly sounding ones too, but here we are. It’s a long time before the first of Oct. yet so, who knows. We are still carrying 100 rounds of amunition, and that will all have to be turned in yet. We have been releaved of border outpost duty by the Regular Cavalry which is welcomed heartily.

 

There is a lot of cheering down to the Fifth Regiment now. Rumor 100121012364 I guess thats all. I agree with you and hope that they will herd us in the Armories, for it will be pretty cold sleeping out doors now especially now that our blood is so thin, and all so to make it easier to have you see me at the first chance.

 

All is well
Sam

 

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

Camp Cotton, Texas 9/20/1916

Dear Em,

 

Ive got a little time so I thought I would use it up writing even if I have got nothing to say. Co. K. will be on gaurd tomorrow 21st (the day of the big parade,) and I cant say that I am sorry, for it isn’t going to be any picnic parading all over El Paso in heavy marching order. It would be a great sight for you to see I guess, but you would get good and sick of it be for the first 10, or 15, thousand dusky brown stream of humanity got by. I know I wouldn’t go to the front window to see it.

 

We don’t know yet whether this is the wind up of our tour of duty down here or not. Probably you people back home there know more about it than we do. All we are taught here is how to be soldiers and how to obey orders. The out side world is a blank. I received your post card with the poem on it by Phil Osopher which is very appropriate for army life.

 

If there is an election held here for a lieutenant I will be appointed top sergeant. This will not be so bad considering the fact that when I was at Framingham I was only a corporal. It will be a job filled with responsibility but thats what Im down here for. The sweeters that were issued to us sertainly do come in handy mornings and nights but they might just as well be in Alaska in the day time for we don’t even need our underwear on in them hours. It is hard to imagine the difference in temperature that takes place here in six hours. What in the world will we do when we get back to dear old Mass., if we feel the cold so easy here now. But you see our blood is pretty thin now. The band is about as far away from my tent as the church is from 297, the musicians are practicing in the same tent with me, some one in the next tent is singing, “Loading up the Mandy Lee” and beleive me I can just about write this letter, and thats all.

 

I dont know how true it is but they say (same stuff) that we have made our last trip to the (Mesa) our drill ground, 3 miles away. Well we were just getting used to it, but we are not sorry.

 

I stopped for about 3 minutes to try and think up something to write about and what do you think it is? Well this. When I left the house that morning, I took a dish towel, a Turkish towel, a set of union suits (you know the one I paid about 37¢ for in Filene’s Basement) the razor, and tooth brush. And Ive got them all. How is that for keeping things picked up ha Lena? (Don’t get mad now.) I will say that the dish towel and union suit is pretty near in threads, but I hope I can give Lena back her dish towel a little the worse from scrubbing but never the less a (dish towel). There have been times that I wished I took my safty, but (Safty First) you know. Say and aint I fussy about my cloths. They say I am the most particular soldier in camp.

 

Sam

 

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

Camp Cotton, Texas 9/19/1916

Dear Everybody,

 

Beleive me this is a noisy and happy camp tonight, and I guess it will continue to be until Thursday of this week, when we are pretty sure we are going home. You see they have been holding the good news back, and we wouldn’t know any thing of it now unless the Boston papers didn’t get it. One of the boys got a Post dated Sept. 15 which said that we would spend our last Sunday here Sept. 17. I asked my Capt. what he thought of it and he spoke the same as he has always spoke, “All Bull.” Well if this Brigade don’t leave this place by Saturday 23 there will be a hot time in El Paso. I guess there is going to be anyway.

 

I got your (Em’s) card today, and I hope you don’t send any more, for we may be on our way now while you are reading this letter.

 

Sam

 

 

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

Camp Cotton, Texas 9/18/1916

Just a passing remark from the border. It sounds pretty good to me. How about it? Im fine.

 

Sam

Poem printed on the front of postcard

WITH THE MILITIA ON THE RIO GRANDE

We joined the militia in the old home town
For the fun to be had each year at the camping ground;
Little thinking as we took the oath in the armory hall,
That quite so soon would we hear the call
To pitch our tents and take our stand
Way down in Texas on the Rio Grande,
There to guard the line with a watchful eye
To see that no Villa bandits pass us by.

And so Texas we’re here we’ll say
To do our duty and draw our pay
We’re here from almost every state—
From Maine to where the sun sets at the Golden Gate,
From up in Washington on the sound,
Down to where the Florida alligators abound.

Some of us came willingly, others not,
But each and all must accept our lot
And do the drilling and standing guard
Although some times we find it hard
To be content with the army chow
Of bacon and beans and some canned cow.

But there are times when it’s not so bad
For there are days when there is fun to be had
And then some evenings down town we stray
And have a good feed at some café,
While some who enjoy their cigars and wine
Find other ways to spend their time
Then back to camp we go feeling fine
Not so sorry to be guarding the line.

Now cheer up boys there’ll come a day
When these Mexican troubles will have cleared away
Then back to our homes and loved ones dear
We’ll march with good will and many a cheer
And in after years as time goes by
We’ll often laugh and wonder why
We didn’t take things more as a joke
Instead of cursing when we were broke
We would of had more fun along with the rest
When the militia encamped in the great Southwest.

—A.R.H., El Paso, Texas
(Copyright Applied For)

 

 

Dear Lena,

 

We are going out this morning to be gone all day. It is now six thirty and the only time I will probably get to write today. As far as I can make out we are to particapate in Brigade battle practice with blank amunition. I see by the papers that El Paso is going to see one of the largest parades since the review of the Union troops at Washington at the close of the war. We are to be in the parade I think. All we do here is think, we don’t know any thing. Hope to see you soon but Im not sure when.

 

Sam

 

 

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

Camp Cotton, Texas 9/17/1916

Dear Em,

 

Although it is Sunday, I feel that the time that it takes this letter to be written is not my own. You see I am acting top sergeant again to day and on account of there being so many men that have got in wrong in the last week, for one thing or another, I have to scout around and find work to keep them busy. Ive got ten men digging a trench a foot deep the whole length of the company street, three scrubbing tent floors, five in the kitchen, and two corporals with six other men doing every and any thing to (keep busy.)

 

This Kingsman has turned out to be a tough little guy and it has landed him in the gaurd house. Im afraid more will follow. Talk about your quitters, and yet when they get back home they will be all heros you know. It is getting so that we non comp are the hardest worked of all. Of coarse the boys are getting sick and tiered of staying here and not getting any satisfaction as to when they are going home. I got over that long ago. Say I was feeling pretty blue the first week or so wasn’t I? I must have written some pretty cloudy letters. Then I used to sit and dream and write, but now there is absolutly no time for me to kill time this way. I hope you will all forgive me for not writing any oftener but I think what I am doing will be appreciated by you.

 

Two meals today is all we get and it is three oclock now. Dinner had ought to be ready. We are going out tomorrow to particapate in a sham battle. We are to be out all day eating two meals in the field. All our ball amunition is to be collected and blanks will be given us. We will all be glad to get rid of this stuff. I hear we are going to have another field inspection. Im afraid if we dont leave here next week it will mean that we will stay here till March. We are all getting another pair of shoes. Gee but some of the boys are sorry they ever saw the army.

 

I got Lena’s letter and tell her I will send her a letter soon. Take it easy all of you. Glad to hear Pa is well.

 

With love
Sam

 

 

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

Camp Cotton, Texas 9/16/1916

Dear Em,

 

We were issued overcoats and sweaters today and beleive me we will need them mornings for every body was just about froze this morning. The sun was very hot today which felt just like standing in front of a stove. Im sorry I cant do my part by writing, but as Ive said before Im losing the nack, and I be home and tell you all about it soon.

 

We feel pretty sure that we will start next week. I am fine, so is the weather.

 

 

Dear Lena.

 

All is well. Fine weather. Good eats (plenty of drilling) lots of sleep. And then I cant get fat. Hopeless case.

 

Sam

 

 

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

El Paso, Texas 9/15/1916

Dear Em.

 

Ive havent got any thing to say so I cant say much. As for when we are going home I know just about as much as you do. It is getting nice and cool here now. Grass is beginning to grow and every thing is getting green and nice. Hope to see you soon.

 

Sam

Poem printed on the front of postcard

 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)

 

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

Somewhere on the Border, Texas 9/13/1916

 

Dear Em

 

Although it is the night of the 12th I am writing this now to make sure that I send my regular daily mail. You see I never can tell what will come up the next minute and the only way to get any thing done (for yourself) in this game is to follow out that old saying “Do it now.” I got your card today on which was the picture of Kings Chapel and it took me back to the day we marched and left Boston for Framingham, for we got a great send off by the firemen in front of the City Hall and we past the old land mark you sent a picture of very soon after. But the thing that mosts interests me, the boys and I guess you also, is, How long will it be before, this tough looking (army) that you reviewed that day will pass this historic chapel which hasn’t changed in the last hundred or so years, and the (army) that you realy will not know was the same one.

 

If they do parade us I think it will be well worth seeing, not only for the parade but to see the change that has taken place in us after three months of military training. Now the Fifth, Ninth, and Eighth are composed of the same kind of humanity and we all come from the same old Bay State. Then we are all going to return one no better than the other and none any worse than the next. A battalion of the Ninth was on Evening Parade this evening and say it was great. We are not having hardly any of this, now but I suppose we will get it soon. The Fifth have it every evening, and beleive me it does look good. I just wish you could see one of these field ceremonies. We were out drilling to day with full field equipment and say didn’t old Sol beat down on us. Take now for instance it is eight oclock, and as nice and cool as can be. But, between about nine A.M. and four P.M. it is hot.

 

Let me tell you how we eat, now that we have the cook shack and mess hall ready. There are twelve tables, which are divided as follows. Each corporal takes his squad up for their eats and these eight men sit down to one table assined to them. Now there are nine squads, and that takes up nine tables. (right Roger go to the head of the class.) We sergeants have a table to our selves, the cooks have a table to themselves, and the men that happen to be on detail sit and eat by them selves. The rules are, no profane language, hats off, no spitting on the floor (I hope this is not being read at the supper table) no throwing food around, those making a mess are detailed to clean up the whole mess hall. Well we have a lot of rules, but I can’t write them all for I am getting along towards the bottom of this page and I want to write about some thing else.

 

We have a new cook, (out of the company of coarse) and say he is a beaut. He makes cakes, johnny bread, griddle cakes, puddings, and cold drinks to perfection. By the way he is a baker by trade in some large place in Boston. I don’t know which has the most ink on it this whole sheet of paper or my thumb and fore finger. You know I always did take a bath when I wrote with a pen, but I guess Im taking two with the same one this trip.

 

Tell the Hollands I send my best regards and hope they are all well, Teddy too of coarse. They had a show here the other night and it was pretty good considering. I am sending a programe so you can imagine the caste. We expect to have another one soon “Forty five minutes from Broadway.” Well we are a little more than that from Bunker Hill but in the best of spirits.

 

Sam

 

 

Dear Lena.

 

I sent a letter a day before the 12th dated the 13th and I guess you thought it made pretty good time what? Well I am feeling the same as usual and hope to return as soon as we expect to. The whole 2nd Brigade of Mass. had a hike this morning of ten miles with full field equipment and we all did fine. Only two men from our company fell out. Kingsman who is in pretty tough shape was one, and a fellow that was hurt very badly while we were doing that 15 day outpost duty was the other. It was the day after pay day too and most of the boys were down town last night and (well you know)

 

Tomorrow we are going to have another field inpection, and I am thinking of making up my pack tonight so that I can assist the less experienced men tomorrow. Gee but it was cold last night and hot today.

 

See you soon
Sam

 

 

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

Camp Cotton, Texas 9/11/1916

Dear Em

 

I received your card and Lena’s letter of the fifth yesterday which was the tenth. I dont know what the matter can be with the mail leaving here, but you see that the mail leaving there seems to be all right. From all appearances it looks as though we will soon be home. It was very chilly here last night, and about three oclock this morning the moon was shinning and lit up every thing as if it were day.

 

Never mind the fancy paper stuff, even that that is rapt about a loaf of that good old Mr. Walker’s bread will do as long as it is news from 297. I am glad you all seem to like my last picture. You folks must have a lot of fun with Mary all right. The number on the picture is my number at Washington if I should desert or commit murder or some thing.

 

My best regards to all.
Sam

 

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

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