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June 3, 1919
June 12, 1919
June 27, 1919
June 27, 1919 (Carrie to Sylvester)
Letters to between Sylvester and Eva
I think I wrote you last that we were about to be formed into a provisional battalion, with a total personnel of about 1500, for convenience in handling for equipment inspection & for transportation home. I thought at first that the provisional organization would last only to the port, but it appears now that it will exist all the way to the other side.
We were formed last week into the 149th Provisional Battalion under the command of a field Artillery Major, named Marchant - a banker from Columbia, S. C. The Prov. Bn. is a motley assortment of troops, counting among its numbers half a Supply Train, 3 companies of Air Service Mechanics, 2 Military Police companies, 2 hospital units, 2 sanitary squads, 1 laundry company, one ambulance company, and one field Remnant Squadron. Can you think of a wider variety than that?
Our first formation after the organization of the battalion was for equipment inspection, which was all laid out in presented fashion on a large field in the Forwarding Camp. The 301st Supply Train came thru clean on this, as it did also on the physical inspection coming the same afternoon. The latter was however very hasty & perfunctory. With that everything was done, but to wait for entrainment to the port. However it was necessary to send the battalion from the Forwarding Camp out to this Belgian Camp where we now are, because transportation was not yet ready to take us to the port, & troops were filling the Forwarding Camp up to overflowing. The 12 miles between the two camps was covered by marching with full packs on a nice warm afternoon. The 301st S. T. came thru without casualties. We found this Belgian camp much pleasanter than the sandy, ill-organized Forwarding Camp. The Belgian camp is a model of neatness, cleanliness, and orderly arrangement and management. It is most attractive also because trees have been allowed to remain & form pleasant groves about, and just at present with the white locusts, which line all the roads, out in full bloom, the air is very fragrant. It is now Tuesday, and we have waited since Friday. However, I hardly believe there could be a better place to wait.
Sunday the sudden news came that General Pershing would inspect and review all troops in the area, whom he had not previously inspected, on Monday. Quick arrangements had to be made, and I myself had some hustling around to do when I learned Sunday evening at 7 o'clock that I was designated to command the units of the 149th who were scheduled for the inspection and review. My battalion was made up of Camp Hospital 111 under a Medical Major, Field Remnant Squadron 315 under a Q. M. Captain, the 280th Military Police Co. , the 308th Laundry Co. , Sanitary Squad 26, all under 1st Lieutenants, and the 301st Supply Train under Lieut. Achorn. We had first call at 4:00 A. M. Monday, breakfast at 4:15 and our column was under way at 5:30. We had to go about 5 miles to a large aviation field where the event was to take place. About 15000 troops were assembled thereon in a formation known as line of platoon columns, all in helmets and with light packs (rather good - to be wearing a helmet for the first time 7 months after the armistice). At the appointed hour, 9:15, the Commander-in-Chief arrived; his arrival was made known to the command by a prearranged signal on the bugle, at which all troops were brought to the "Present Arms" or the hand salute, depending on whether of not they were armed with the rifle. Then came the ride around the Troops, which gave me my first view of General Pershing - going by at a gallop. That was followed by the detailed inspection of the troops. The General, accompanied by one Brigadier General, and one Colonel (his senior aide- de-camp) and the acting C. O. of the troops (the Lieut. Col. who commands the Belgian camp), wound rapidly in and out among the platoons which were arranged with the front rank facing the rear rank, so that he could see both at once. As he approached each unit, the unit commander would salute, report his name, rank & organization, and fall in rapidly at the side of the General who would ask rapid fire questions as he walked along, incidentally taking in each man with a rapid glance, stopping occasionally to ask a man a question, particularly if he had a wound stripe on his sleeve. My task was very simple during the inspection as I had only to report the battalion and follow behind while he went thru it; he wanted the individual unit commanders at his side for questions. So the burden of answering for the 301st Supply Train fell on Lieut. Achorn, who was quick & ready with his answers, and we came thru O. K. Following the inspection, the command marched by the Commander-in-Chief in review, stopping at the end of the field; then assembling there around a small speaking stand from which General Pershing made an address. I am surely glad of the opportunity to have seen him, and be able to say that I and my outfit has been thru a ceremony for him. He is a splendid looking soldier - Tall, erect, smart, clean-cut. His voice has no trace of gruffness, is not even deep. On the contrary it is smooth and clear but unmistakably authoritative and decisive.
Today, after the prescribed custom, troops which were in the review are having a holiday. Last week I thought I had written you my last letter; I didn't expect that we should be in Le Mans area so long, or that so much would happen.
With lots of love
I shall round out my last day in France with one more last letter covering the last short period of my stay in the A. E. F.
We finally left the Le Mans area Sunday afternoon - riding on an American special made up of American freight cars for the men. We rode all night, arriving at this port - St. Nazaire - about four o'clock in the morning. The first new sight of water as we walked out to Camp 2 was a welcome one. At Camp 2 everyone was physically examined (again!), and was assigned barracks, but at 6 o'clock we got orders to move to another camp at 7 the same evening. At this other camp we have been waiting now for three days, busily engaged in more paper work and red tape involved with embarkation. Our first touch with America came in exchanging our many colored French notes for good old green bills.
Twice yesterday we had orders to move to the docks & twice they were rescinded. We expected to get out then this morning but when the boat intended for us (Santa Teresa - an American bottom) arrived, it developed that she needed some repairs. But one unit has gone aboard tonight, and the rest of the battalion goes on in the morning.
Major Marchant, who commands our battalion, comes from Columbia, S. C. , and knows Margaret Babcock's father well, but not Margaret herself.
I have cabled Lucinthia today my date of sailing in the hope that she may have a chance to meet me in New York, and perhaps get Eva up that far. I don't suppose we shall be there long after debarking.
My last word from this side of the water.
Lots of love
Lucinthia told me last evening that she had telegraphed you of my arrival, so that I didn't send a separate one.
Lucinthia and Eva met me at the Pier Wednesday, then followed me out to [Camp] Mills, where I visited with them all evening. Then I came in here yesterday afternoon, Eva went around town with me to different places I had to go; then we went back and got Lucinthia and together with Lieut. Fox, we went out to supper, and from there Eva and Lucinthia and I went to Keith's.
I am going back to camp in about 2 hours. I may find no orders when I get there, I may find some for Upton or may find some for Devens, I don't know which yet. If I go to Upton to be discharged, Eva is to wait for me in New York until I get out, then we're going down to N. J. for just long enough time to get some things she wants, following which we shall make a bee line for Rocky Hill. -- Since I started the paragraph I have gotten Achorn on the phone at Mills, and he tells me we have orders for Upton. In the Devens contingency I was going to have Eva come up and stay over one night with you, then go up to Raymond & Eleanor's until I was discharged there. The way it has come out, I hope to get discharged by Monday, which will get me home Wednesday, I think.
Shall reserve rehearsal of other plans for the next month & summer until I see you, for lack of time now. I have already seen Fisk and got them going. [note - I believe that this was the employment agency]
It's wonderful to be home again, sure enough. I can hardly wait to see you!
Lots of love
To: Capt. Sylvester B. Butler
301st. Supply Train
149 Provisional Battalion
Long Island, N. Y.
My Dear Sylvester
Lucinthia's telegram reached us yesterday afternoon. We were very glad to hear of your safe arrival. Welcome home from foreign shores! Hope to see you soon.
Uncle George stopped off to see or hear from you, & Aunt Lucy was up to get the news for herself & Aunt Sarah. I see by the paper that you had quite an event on the trip. [note - one of the war brides on the same ship delivered a daughter on the trip] I suppose you added your bit to Marcelle Teresa Smith's bank account. I hope Lucinthia & Eva had a chance to see you land, and glad they will spend the evening with you.
I made a huckleberry pie for the 15th, but I'm not going to make another until I know you are coming. It didn't seem best for Dad & me to try to meet the boat in N. Y. I would rather meet you here at home. Lucinthia probably told you of Catherine Hubbard's wedding July 7. Mrs. Hubbard said she hoped you could be there. The invitations are all very informal.
I must get a line off to Lucinthia.
Lots of love and a big cheer for being so near.
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