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



© 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.





© 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.



Poem printed on the front of postcard


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.





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



© 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.


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

Camp Cotton, Texas 9/10/1916

Dear Lena.


I am acting first sergeant this morning and I thought I would sit down to this field desk for a change and write a few lines in ink. Now I know I am not going to do very well with this pen and ink but as long as you can read it I think it will carry out its message. I got your letter of the 5th and was much releaved when I read that you had received the check, for there are fellows here that claim money has been sent them but not received. Twenty five green ones is an awful bundle of dough in this game, (and right here I want to say that I have managed to get along. We are, or ought to be paid the first of next week, and after settling up my debts Id ought to have enough to carry me through till we hit Boston. (If we do you know.)


I have started this letter and been interupted so often that I have turned my job over to one of the other serg. and told him that I would be down in my tent, but not to disturb me again even if the C.O. wanted me. It has been nothing but, Two men for this. I want three men for that. You will observe by the date that it is Sun., which is a very easy day in the army (if your not top serg.) We had breakfast at 6.30 the last named to consist of Jam Bread & Coffee. Some thing like a Sun at home what?


A long train of Ohio troops pulled in this morning, and when I say long I mean it for one of the boys counted 62 cars. Must have been about two regiments. Some of the fellows are getting letters stating that they are decorating the stores in Boston for the parade that is to follow our return. How about it? Say dont be backward in writing about any rumor or notice that you may hear or see for I like to get the strait dope.


My grand father must have been some guy in his day to have had such a resemblance as I seem to carry. I am glad you can see by the picture that Im not getting any skinnyer any way. Im afraid though that Im not getting any fatter either (although my face makes me look so. I am glad it is getting cooler up there and I hope if they do send us home that it will be soon for it is going to be another job getting aclimated at home. That’s going some isn’t it Aclimated at Home.


Your letter of the 5th reached hear the 9th so you see the service is very good from there down, now. It will go hard for the fellow that you refer to in regard to falling asleep and letting the prisoner escape. Mary’s little doily is still hanging in my tent and will till we leave and Ill take it right back there to 297 and hang it in Sam’s room. It must be funny at that to hear Mary go at it and I can imagine a lot of it.


Do you know that this is the laziest feeling region on the face of the earth I think; and Im going to admit that it is getting me. I wonder how long it will take for me to feel like work.


Well I have no more to say only that I am well. Tell Em that Kingsman is sick, not serious though. Well hoping just the same as you’re hoping I remain




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

Camp Cotton, Texas 9/8/1916

Dear Em.


I got your letter of the 1st but fail to hear whether or not you have received that check for 25 dollars I sent away back in Aug. I also got a post card from Bert and tell him I sure would like to be present at just such a party as it pictures. I didn’t get any mail from you this morning but trust Ill have better luck tonight.


All of the recruits caved at drill this morning and beleive me I pity them for the next week or so. We had a very easy drill this morning. The flies are not quite so dense now, and I think that we are getting the best of them. Jim Coyne drove by our company, and he hollered “Hello Sam” I forgot my self and yelled back “Hello Jim” I will probably go over and see him today or tomorrow.


Give my regards to every body and tell them Im still swimming, with my head above water. Cut me another slice of bread.




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

Somewhere on the Border, Texas 9/7/1916

Dear Em.


Here we are again, out on the drill hills, after a 24 hour tour of out post work. We got six more new recriuts from Framingham last night, but they are not drilling with us yet. I guess they don’t want to kill them so they are going to let them take it easy for a while. Im feeling fine. Some of the boys are sick, but they have to drill just the same. This is a place for well people only. All others are out of luck.


I got your letter yesterday stating that the band concerts are all over. Sounds like winter what? It is a nice cool morning and I hope it continues to be so all day. Tell Mary I send a big X.
I am still the same




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

Somewhere on the Border, Texas 9/6/1916

Dear Em,


Here we are again on out post. It is pretty cool today. The mornings here are fine. I am fine. We are eating pretty good now. Did you all get my card with the poem on it? Isnt this some card? I am glad Madge is better. But say Em did you receive that envelope with the check in it yet? It is about time it got there, for I sent it the first of last week. I am only sending this any way to let you know Im not sick.




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

The Day of the Soldier Boy, 1916




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)



Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 402 other followers