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July 1, 1917
July 4, 1917
July 8, 1917
July 15, 1917
July 22, 1917
July 22, 1917R
July 29, 1917
Letters to Eva, July 1917
This week just gone by marks the middle week of the camp; my chief thought in connection with it is a hope that at the end of another six weeks I'll know more than twice as much more how to be a lieutenant than I do now. We have been introduced to a brand new subject this last week, to last thru this, and about the hardest thing I have had yet; this is map sketching. There are two kinds of sketches, position sketches and road sketches; its the former we have been working on, three hours a day, this last week. We are given a certain area to map out to scale, indicating slope by contour lines, indicating roads, telegraph lines, trees, houses, and many other things by standard signs used in the U.S.Army for the purpose. We are equipped with a board, in which a compass is set, & from which is suspended a 6 in.long triangular piece of wood, around which is wrapped paper with various scales - known technically as an alidade, but more popularly as an Adelaide. I guess I won't attempt to describe the details of how we work it; its job enough to do it. I guess we've been quite a trial to automobilists & wagons, for there are certain "critical points" on the road where a large number will be gathered together at a time, trying to get accurate sight with the alidade across the board in the exact direction to be traveled , or trying to get the board "oriented", that is, get it into the position where the compass needle points exactly north, - at least, intent on something we don't want to be disturbed in, and horns may be blown till doomsday, for they don't move anybody. The only force to whom one gives right of way is a railway train, of the approach of which we have ample warning, if we are working on the track.
I got two bull's eyes on Wednesday's shooting, but I didn't shoot consistantly well, so the total score wasn't any improvement on previous ones. We have had two very interesting mornings of field work, or terrain exercises, as they are called, this last week, one a problem in attack, the other a broblem in defence; I think I have gotten more out of these terrain exercises than anything we have had. Major Tibbotts, who conducts them, is a very good instructor, & Incidentally a man of pleasing personality, & one who commands your attention because his voice or personality or something about him makes you like to hear him talk; that's my experience, at least. Then because the problems are worked out right on the ground, they mean very much more than the principles which they embody do when just read in the abstract out of the Field Service Regulations.
The Saturday evening entertainments are being constantly enlarged, and now performers are being brought up from New York every week. Last night they had a very good bill, including a hoop-roller, two strong men in some quite marvelous gymnastic feats, a comedy skit or two, singers, a boxing match, and two chaps with a silly but amusing dancing act - these last when they were thru told the audience it might call for any dance it wanted and they would do it; someone in the rear shouted to them to do the St.Vitus', but I noticed they took somebody else's choice. They have added Sunday evening entertainments, too. I think the last two weeks they have had moving pictures and music by the post band, but tonight Sousa's band is on the schedule, with an entertainment by various members of the Lamb's Club, famous stage artists; and next Sunday evening, as I have heard, the Boston Symphony Orchestra is to be here! I certainly hope it's true. They are charging admission for the entertainment, but only 25 [cents], and that carries you in both Saturday & Sunday evenings. I have never heard Sousa, and so am looking forward especially to hearing him to-night.
This morning I took quite a long walk with Tom Beers, and another fellow that worked at Pierson's & is up here - his name is Cotterelli (or something like that). We went up to the Hotel Champlain [the word "trenches" is crossed out and overwritten] grounds (somebody behind me was just talking trenches, that's why I made the error); to see men around up there in their comfortable white flannels & civilized blue serge coats, made our tight fitting uniforms seem suddenly many times tighter. We got the view there, and then walked back into the road & out into the country.
Yes, there are quite a number of distinctive camp songs we regale ourselves with when on the march, in the barracks, and at other appropriate places. Co.4 has a song all it's own about the "finest little company
"That ever did squads right and ran into a tree" [note - I think "squads right" is a command]; something the rest or most of the rest don't seem to have. The popular tune in vogue a few summers ago, "I Want to Be in Dixie," has come back with some new words about wanting to be at least a colonel and give the majors and captains "hell". "Tipperary" is very popular, also one called "Pack up your Troubles in Your old Kit-Bag and Smile, Smile, Smile," a popular song which maybe you've heard. There's a new song, called "Over There" which is superseding them all; its a good one, and will be, I think perhaps, the [note - "the" is underlined] war song for our present war.
It looks as though the Stars and Stripes would be covering their little share of the Western front pretty soon. We're surely all glad the troops got over so successfully, and hope those who follow will get across in as good shape.
We have a piano here in Co.4 barracks, but I haven't played except for a short period a couple of times. Popular music seems to have the call, and I'm not an artist with it; hear more than enough of that style without adding my contribution. I think I'll go up and try "Over There" sometime when I think of it & there aren't too many folks around.
Everyone says I look as though I'd gained 10 pounds since I came here, but according to my physical exam, I think I have gained 2 1/2. If I remember rightly I weighed 144 in N.Y.; & the figure was 146 1/2 here. There's scarcely ever difficulty in getting enough to eat. I have an unenviable reputation as the biggest eater in the company; it naturally does no good to vow I'm usually the last to leave the mess hall because I eat slowly, but I think that's three-quarters of the story.
I don't believe there is a thing I need in toilet articles, thank you. I have a celluloid soap case, which I brought up with me. Every man in camp received a full tube of complimentary Kolynos [Note - toothpaste, for anyone who doesn't remember that brand] a while ago, so I don''t need any of that. If you could get the Times of the 3rd & 10th of June, of course it would be fine, but don't go to any trouble to do it. I don't know whether thee vaccination took or not; it was a little sore and itchy for about three days, and since then I haven't heard from it. That was everyone's experience.
I don't know what the hot weather was the newspapers spoke of. It hasn't been uncomfortably hot at all yet; we have had a few days on the border line this past week, and I presume July & August will furnish their full quota. It surely would be nice if it were so you could spend a week-end here; each Sunday brings more and more visitors, which makes the unvisited ones wish they weren't quite so far away from home.
Thank you for the good things sent along last week. I passed around the oatmeal wafers to two or three, who seemed to like them very much. When you send back my laundry this week, please include one of my larger bath towels; I use the smaller size for hand & face towels and the other for bath towels - I usually get in three or four showers a week in the early morning, which is the best time of day for showers & shaving because the lavatory building is then the least crowded.
It seems to be setting in for a rainy evening, which doesn't augur well for the entertainment. Perhaps they'll be able to fix up the gymnasium in time, but of course they can't use the outside seats if it rains.
Wednesday of course we have a holiday but I don't know what's on the docket. The next holiday will I hope will last for a couple of weeks after the end of camp.
With much love to you & all
to: George S. Butler, Esq
Connecticut Mutual Bldg.
Your letter and check were received O.K. last week; thank you very much. It's not very businesslike to be acknowledging it a week late, but I hardly took a minute to myself all last week, and Sunday I couldn't finally get at it. We were finally paid Saturday up to May 31st.
You surely would have sprung a surprise on me if you had appeared up here last week. I wish it were so you could come up and see me & the camp readily. Some Sunday I am going over to Burlington with Burke & Briggs, and if you should by any chance ever come without my knowing it beforehand and not find me, you'll find a message on my bunk that I've gone there, with directions as to how to get over.
Candidates are getting more & more frequent chances to show what they can do as commanders, and I have had two in the last week and a half. Mr.Ally, one of the older men in the platoon complimented me on what I did yesterday, but how the captain has me labelled in his notebook might be another story. If I can make military precision more and more a part of second nature, I feel reasonably confident that I can take charge of drills satisfactorily. I've had a hard time with map sketching, and haven't gotten a good conception of the thing yet, particularly the matter of contours; am of course very slow at it too, and the two record sketches we've had to hand in I haven't anywhere near finished. I haven't gotten good scores on the rifle range yet either - 26,20,21,21 out of 50 at 200, 300, 500, & 600 yds., respectively; then 19 out of 25 back at 200, using battle sight (sight leaf down), which wasn't quite so bad. Yesterday I had a bad day at 300 yds., using battle site, with only 19 out of 50; but I got an opportunity to shoot ten more shots which weren't a matter of record, however, and made 40. So, I can do better.
There is a lawyer from Hartford by the name of McCook now in the company. His mother was a Butler, and he is a descendant of Deacon Richard. Do you know him, I wonder? A quite short man, perhaps 35 years old.
There are a great number of visitors up here to-day, and I suppose Plattsburg will be quite a social center all summer.
[Note- Deacon Richard Butler is our direct Butler line, there being a second Butler line, of which Elnathan was a part. El's daughter Anna married Sylvester Butler, and they had George Henry, who had George Sylvester, who had Sylvester Benjamin. Deacon Richard came to America in 1633, first to Cambridge, MA, then to Hartford, CT with Rev.Thomas Hooker. He had 3 daughters and 5 sons and we descend from 2 of the sons, Joseph, who is the direct line, and Samuel who was a secondary line. Elnathan descended from a John Butler, born about 1653, who settled in the New London area.]
My brain seems to move more or less at a standstill this morning, as I have spent at least an hour on a very short letter to Mr.Wachter. I guess it must be a typhus fever innoculation I got yesterday; it's given most everyone a fine sore left arm (lame from shoulder to wrist), and I presume is likely to affect the rest of the body. We have to get stuck for three successive weeks for this innoculation the same as for typhoid and yesterday's was only the first. We ought to be pretty immune from disease by the time the camp is over. I've heard it hinted that the next innoculations will be against sunburn and toothache. [Note - I think he was right about his brain at a "standstill" and in the following paragraphs I am putting in brackets what I think he means for a couple of obvious misspellings]
The performance of the Lamb's Club Sunday evening was very entertaining. Before it was half over it began to rain by showers, so that the band had to scuttle, and we didn't hear much of it. The crowd stuck for the most part, and the majority had provided themselves with protection; I had my poncho with me. The entertainers were an aggregation of well known stage men like DeWolf Hopper & Raymond Hitchcock. Besides their stunts, four well known cartoonists - among them Goldberg of the New York Evening Mail, who used to draw those "Foolish Questions" cartoons, and more recently the "It Ain't Right, Oswald" pictures, and Geo. McManus, who makes the newlyweds and Rosie's Beau pictures for the Sunday comics - those men drew pictures while the crowd looked on.
Fourth of July evening we had a camp talent performance, which was good for the most part but too long drawn out. A near riot was started at the very beginning when a group of singers from one New England company was on the stage and started a song to the tune of the Battle Hymn of the Republic which went something like this: "New England will be leading when we're marching up the Rhine New York will be the read guard and will follow far behind" I said "started" - they finished it, too, but you couldn't hear much of it. From then on the New York representatives were cheered vociferously by the New York part of the audience everytime they came on the stage, and New Englanders by New Englanders; also the New Yorkers in the audience started a chorus beginning "Lord, have mercy on New England" but they never had a chance to finish. I think in general New England had the best of it in the sound combat.
Last night it rained pitchforks in the early evening, so that the scheduled vaudeville performance took place in the gymnasium. It was the best one yet, except the Lambs, of course. There was a very skillful juggler starting the bill, who juggled with knives, and all sorts of things. And there were two of the cleverest acrobats I ever saw, who by the way didn't dress in athletic uniforms but in full dress, and one wore a monocle all the time he was doing his stunts; imagine for instance, one man grabbing another, the latter being tossed over the former's head, taking a complete somersault, and landing on the other man's back, his hands on his shoulders, and his feet along the other man's hips, help [held?] up by the latter's hands. Well this is the kind of thing they were doing, and usually after they completed some crazy stunt like this one would grab a cigar out of the other's mouth & put it in his own & take a puff, as though he'd done nothing at all. There were two singing acts and a little playlet called "Findin's Keepin's", also a little pleasant nonsense from a couple of black-faced comedians. Some woman singer is going to be here tonight; I've forgotten what her name his [is?]. The Boston Symphony rumor must have been a false alarm.
I spent a quiet Forth, among other things making a very poor attempt at washing one of my government pair of breeches. It was such a poor attempt that I sent them home with the laundry to be washed again. I hadn't missed the nickel I accidently left in the other trousers, so I can't be credited with any generous intention toward the laundress.
Map sketching ended the day before the Fourth, but I've been expecting the schedule would be altered so as to give us some more, after some of the sketches handed in had been looked over. The new work we have started this week hasbeen bayonet drill, which is the most strenuous physical exercise of anything we have had. Tuesday our squad had to show what we could do as commanders at company drill.
Tom Beers had told me about Margaret Pierson's keeping her own name. If Foster can stand for that, I should think he could stand for anything. [note - Dad is pretty sure that this is Mrs. Foster who taught Kindergarten in Cromwell, which means she decided at some point to change her name to that of her husband.]
I don't think I showed in either of the postals I sent last week. I'm sending one to Lucinthia today in which I appear, also Burke.
This afternoon I'm going to take a walk with Ralph Gabriel, or expect to, anyway. I had a nice letter from Cousin Anna this week. I had a letter also from Miss Dagnall of Portland, and she said it was reported that Avery Hallock had been killed; do you know anything about the report? Thank you ever so much for the writing paper and cookies, and I feel quite honored to have the first nasturtium.
With much love to you and all
Goodness! you have been having some experiences, indeed! I do hope Aunt Lucy won't have to suffer long from her injury, and can be around on her feet again. And Raymond is certainly getting lots more than his share.
I have some fine sore muscles in my left arm again today after the second typhus inoculation, but it hasn't affected me all over as last week.
I saw by yesterday's New York Times that the National Guard from all the New England states was going into camp at Charlotte, N.C., so it looks as though Ralph had a long journey before him. I hope it won't be too frightfully hot down there. Ralph wrote me last week about wrist watches; please tell him that if he can get one he believes to be good for me while he's getting one himself, I'd be very glad to have him do so, and appreciate it. I'll need to have one.
Our practice on the rifle range ended this week. I wish we were to have more, so that I could improve on my record, as I feel that I could with practice. The last four or five shooting days were at rapid-fire practice at different ranges; this means that the ten shots have to be fired in a specified time, one minute at 200 yards, a minute & ten seconds at 300 yards, a minute and twenty seconds at 500 yards. My showing in this was much poorer than the slow-fire, where we could take all the time we wanted on each shot. We had target practice with the pistol this week, too, the targets are only 10 yards away but it isn't as easy to hit them as one might think.
Two of our mornings at field work this week have been manoeuvres of forces against each other. They're not sham battles; in fact we were distinctly told by the major of our battalion (normally four companies, but only two for the purposes of the exercise) that they should not "degenerate" into sham battles; though the attacking force is provided with blank ammunition. But the main purpose of them is practice in patrolling to get information of the enemy, and in making dispositions of troops in accordance with the information received, one side taking the attack, the other the defense, and each being given a general situation to start out with. Different candidates act as leaders from day to day, but I haven't had anything to do yet except act as signal man for the fourth platoon on the morning we had the defense. That morning's manoeuvres were reported in some Boston paper as a severe engagement which resulted in our force being driven across the Saranac river. I notice from time to time a number of curious narratives about Plattsburg life in the daily papers. This next week I believe most of the field work is to consist in digging trenches; and one night we are to be out away from the camp all night, starting out at one and getting back at twelve the next day, taking our full packs along, pitching tents, cooking meals, and establishing outposts, just like a regular body of troops on the march. It ought to be pretty good fun, I should think.
Our afternoons are at present occupied with a new subject known as Battle Fire Training. This consists of a great many subdivisions, of which we have thus far had Determination of Ranges and Target Designation. The work consists of both study and practice outdoors. Under Determination of Ranges we study different methods for estimating distances to any named target, and then have exercises in it. I have usually been able to come reasonably close. Target Designation includes the study of standard methods for indicating the location of targets, so that subordinates and men may understand without question what is meant. And in this, as in all our work, the point of view of teaching us how to teach others is maintained.
Evening study is now on the manual of Courts-Martial; as any officer is eligible to sit on a court-martial we must know about its organization, procedure, rules of evidence, and so on. So you see, I am not only trying to be a soldier but a lawyer.
Company 4, and others, were somewhat disturbed this week by new discharges. One morning without warning twelve of our men were notified to report to the commanding officer and were told that they were relieved from further duty, for various reasons, in general, that they were not believed to possess the qualifications requisite in an officer. Eight of our men were reinstated, though, after they had talked with our "skipper", Captain VanHorn, who is surely very just and will give a man every chance that's due him. Many of the men were men one wouldn't dream of, and it made everybody uneasy and shaky. Phil Buzzell was one of the eight who were first to be discharged but were reinstated. He was the biggest surprise of any, for he is a very level headed and very smart fellow, and I think he will make a fine officer. But I learn that his trouble was not a matter of ability, but a constitutional stoop to his shoulders, and a poor voice for commanding. I'm mighty glad he was allowed to stay.
I took a walk with Ralph Gabriel last Sunday, and he took a picture of me out in the pine grove south of the camp, where, by the way, I am writing at present, on a field desk which was used when we had gallery practice out here. The picture came out pretty well, I thought, and I am having half a dozen extra ones printed. [note- in AEF Scrap Book] I have a postcard I'll send somebody at the house today, which shows us getting a little drill in handling the pistol [note- also in AEF-SB as well as other postcard pictures of aspects of training he talks about]. We don't have enough to go around, so some have to watch while others work. The photographer happened to catch us as I was watching. The picture was taken right back of the barracks, and as you see more of me than in the other you probably won't think I look very thin. Our squad had its picture taken on the range a few days ago, and all are getting fair sized ones to keep as momentoes of each other. It's very poor of myself and Neeld, but is pretty good of the rest. [AEF-SB 8x10 and I think it's pretty good of all of them. Everyone signature is on the back, but people aren't identified individually so I'm not sure who Neeld is. He could be talking about one fellow with his hat pulled a little low, which might also be his objection to his own picture.]
It is very interesting to follow up this new situation that is developing in Germany, and I have become somewhat more attentive to the daily paper for the past week, stealing twenty minutes or so out of the free hour in the afternoon. I think it's early to make predictions as to the outcome.
The laundry didn't reach me until Saturday noon, but I got it right back to you in the afternoon, so hope you get it in time Monday morning. The doughnuts kept pretty fresh, and tasted first rate. Don't send any Alumni Weeklies or Current Histories along. We were paid yesterday again, up to June 30. I am keeping my money in a safe deposit box at the camp Y.M.C.A.; it seemed the best plan to me to keep it here, as I might need it before I go, for uniform and various impedimenta, and of course I didn't want to carry it all around with me, and there would be no purpose served in banking it for this short time.
I don't hear much of any Pleasantville news; I haven't heard from the Winches since I acknowledged their sending my trunk home, and I haven't heard a word from Joe Davis, up in May's Landing - I'm scared to death lest he got himself into trouble spouting off his mouth about his pet antipathy - England and the English. The best toast I could get from Davis and Carey before I left was "the safe return of Butler but the discomfiture of England" or words to that effect. I had a letter from Ephraim Mitchell, one of my Freshman boys, who lives in Absecon, yesterday. He's been writing to two or three camps trying to find where I was; he had to leave school early in May on account of ill health so didn't see me at the end just before I came here. He was a splendid boy - sixteen and over grown - one on whom you knew you could depend - direct, honest, and manly; I thought a great deal of him, and was surely glad to hear from him. Eva is in Philadelphia living with an uncle and aunt in Highland Park, one of the suburbs ; I judge that they are pretty well-to-do people [Note- Dad says this would be Harvey & Amelia Battersby and they weren't all that well to do, just comfortable]. She is taking a summer-school course at the University of Pennsylvania, and is going to take the kindergarten teachers' examination in the fall, if I have the "dope" correctly. She and Miss Tolbert have been working in an office together, too. They see quite a little of each other and go out on lots of little trips together. Eva finds pleasant acquaintances out near her aunt's home; she tells me more about two little cousins and other kiddies in the neighborhood than anyone, for she is very fond of small children, and they of her. She writes most entertainingly and originally.
Some poor chap who was in the hospital when we had map making has just come by and interrupted me for several minutes. I was thankful, though, that I was able to give him some assistance, for I had a decided fellow feeling for his mental haze.
I am making a practice of signing out Sunday night suppers now, as the menu is inevitably bologna and cheese. I usually go to a restaurant down town with Mr. Short, and consume something more edible. I run across Tom Beers quite often - had ice cream & a long chat with him yesterday.
With much love to you and all,
[Another "for your eyes only" insert in with this letter]
I don't care who knows this, but perhaps I'd better write the details just for the immediate family. I have resigned my teaching job. You know I wrote some time ago that the Doctor agreed to keep open the position until at least July 1st, in case anything should develop making it possible for me to teach, such as indications of peace, or of my receiving a commission at the end of camp, but not being called into immediate service. I had a letter from him the early part of the week, asking me what my decision was and urging me to decide to come back. (As if it were for me to decide!) So I wrote him that as there was no likelihood of any of the developments mentioned transpiring to make it possible for me to teach, and as even if I didn't secure a commission I should seek some other form of active military service until the war was over, I had decided to resign. There would have been no point in holding him off any longer, and he might just as well have the time to pick as good a successor as he can get. I can use his name as a reference any time, and with a year's experience behind me, together with the fact that I was reelected, I shouldn't have much difficulty in placing myself satisfactorily when the war is over. I don't believe I ever told you, did I, that I was to have been vice-principal of the High School next year, and acting principal whenever the Doctor was away. Just after I came back from New York & before I got your telegram he told me that was what he had planned.
I received a reply from the Dr. yesterday with regrets & best wishes, and last night sent off my formal resignation to the Board. I thought probably the easiest thing to tell anybody who asked was that I had resigned in July as I saw no chance of the war being over & being able to teach. Any other details you want to throw in you can. Being decidedly brainless this morning, I'll let you make the selection.
With much love
There are two or three things I want to ask to have done before I forget it. The first is to have someone find out if they can what my red ink draft number was, and in what order it was drawn; I think that will be posted up in Cromwell. If my name is among those drawn for the first contingent, I suppose I'll have to go thru some technicalities at once in order to have my name exempted, on ground that I'm already in the military service of the government. What those technicalities are, I don't know, but I presume there will be some special arrangements for men at these camps, which will be announced to us. I suppose the exemption boards will have their hands full.
Another thing I would like is to have you send with the laundry some old torn pair of B.V.D.'s; it makes pretty good gun-cleaning cloth, just as good, I imagine as the cloth one buys for the purpose. I have been buying cloths, and patches for cleaning out the barrel, and it occurred to me that I might save a nickel this way.
We took our overnight hike on Monday and Tuesday instead of Tuesday and Wednesday. The 4th and 5th companies went out together (the 5th is the company Payson Hayward of Middletown is in, also "Nubs" Blanchard, Yale'13 and Zete). Our equipment consisted of rifles and belts and full regulations army pack. This weighs about fifty pounds and includes a half-tent, usually spoken of as a shelter-half, one's poncho, a blanket, cooking utensils & food containers with rations, toilet articles, change of clothing, and intrenching shovel. We started out at one o'clock in the afternoon, and walked northward nine miles, arriving at the encampment place, a large grove by the side of the road, about four o'clock. Then we undid our packs and pitched tents; as I said, each man has a half-tent, so that two men button their halves together, and with the necessary poles & pins make shelter enough for two to sleep under, and for the equipment carried. After that we got stones and firewood together and built our fires for supper. The rations we were furnished & carried - to cover both supper and breakfast - included bacon, potatoes, onion, coffee, sugar, salt, and pepper and a loaf of bread. It was the general custom to fry the bacon first and then the potatoes (and onions for them as will eat'em) in the bacon fat. The results for me were perfect, and I made two very tasty meals. I suppose it wasn't quite playing the game to the limit but I carried along two large cakes of Baker's [note- chocolate, I assume] as well - to do this was, from appearances, the rule rather than the exception. Nobody had to stay on outpost against an imaginary enemy all night, as I had supposed would be the case; we just worked on an outpost problem, and acted it out, for a couple of hours in the evening, then it was all over. I couldn't get very comfortable for sleeping purposes, and was glad enough to see the morning come. We got up at six - or were supposed to; for it must have been about half past four when I began to hear chopping and there must have been about two-thirds of the men up when the bugle blew, while the other third grumbled and growled about "this blamed bunch of Boy Scouts." After breakfast I tried to get my utensils cleaned down at a nearby stream, but didn't find enough sand or have enough time to do a thorough job so that I wrapped the frying pan in an undershirt rather than dirty the place it goes in on my pack, with results that you may have noticed in my laundry. We cleaned up the camp, or policed it, as the army term goes, made up our packs, had a conference, then started back about half-past eight, arriving in camp a half hour before noon. I came thru first rate; of course tired, but without any foot blisters to amount to anything; many suffered a good deal in this way.
Wednesday and Thursday mornings we dug trenches, which is hot work. A whole system of trenches was dug, different companies taking different sections; they were worked out on the general system in vogue on the Western Front at the present time. A Pathe's Weekly Moving picture man took us at it, and how the dirt did fly while his machine was going! We also went thru the motions of mopping the brow for the benefit of your motion picture audiences back home, and George Clarkson, our company humorist, did a few comics with a sand bag.
In connection with our study of court-martials, we have had two mock trials this week, Wednesday and Thursday evenings. The first one was a continual laugh, in which Clarkson was the prisoner and was alleged to have been drunk - the defense was that he had been simulating drunkenness to pay off a bet on a game of golf, and he explained away testimony as to his having a breath, by an alleged alcohol bath taken for his blisters on the return from the hike. It was full of all sorts of hits, and the skipper seemed to enjoy it; and we learned not a little from it. It would have been too much of a good thing of course to do the same thing the second time, and it was serious thruout.
Last evening I went down town for supper and then went around to a place I had heard spoken of as the historic DeLord House - a sort of private museum. It's a very interesting old place, both from historical associations and from the old fashioned things kept there. It was the headquarters of the British army for five days before the battle of Plattsburg, in September, 1814; as the British had to evacuate it in rather a hurry, they left behind an officers' mess chest full of silver; this chest is still there, on exhibit. President Monroe visited the house on July 26, 1817, just a hundred years ago this week; and I believe several other notables have visited the place in days past. The house is full of ancient things which belonged to the DeLord family, old chairs, old furniture of all sorts, a 200 year old upright clock, a saddle that was in use in the Civil War by some member of the family. A very peculiar thing was a painting of a scene in Havre, France, including the town clock. Where the clock face should be in the picture was an actual little clock face; and behind this when you lifted up the frame & picture was all the mechanism of a clock; it keeps time, too, by the way. There are some lovely old shrubs in front, among them two giant lilac bushes, taller than the house, which are at least a hundred years old. In the rear is an old- fashioned garden with many flowers growing from bulbs decades & decades old, brought over originally from England & France. I noticed especially a flower called London Pride, of an orange color, something like a phlox, something like a verbena. Out in the shed in back is an old one-hoss shay. A Mrs. Tuttle, president of the local historical society, who lives near, and is interested in keeping up the place, conducted me thru, and made it an interesting little excursion.
I am surely glad that Aunt Lucy is so much better. I have enjoyed getting her letter and Aunt Sarah's this week. Thank Aunt Sarah very much for the oranges and for the birthday cake. The little squib was very good; it did indeed remind me of early experiences here. It will be strange to think of Ralph being so far away.
With much love to you and all,
I wonder if you start off for Charlotte right away this week, or wait around Hartford for awhile. I believe the papers said you folks were going to travel in day coaches, so I expect you won't be sorry when the journey ends. I am told it's not so frightfully hot in the region of Charlotte; I don't have a very clear idea of its location, but as I recall it the place is well in from the seaboard and probably on fairly high ground,
I suppose you have many experiences ahead of you similar to mine of the last ten weeks, and I'll be interested especially to hear of them if you have time, from the viewpoint of such a comparison. If things aren't in any better readiness for you than this place was for us when we came, life will probably seem one line after another, as I've heard it expressed - lines at the post-office window, lines at the quartermaster's window, lines in front of one street hydrant supplying water for several hundred men; perhaps you'll have, too, the Saturday afternoon lines waiting for Typhoid innoculations, vaccinations, and soon. Here they allow fifteen minutes to jab a company, & so companies are scheduled to appear at the dispensary at intervals of that length. As a matter of fact it takes nearer three-quarters of an hour, with the result that there are hundreds of men in line at one time. We went out yesterday for our last para-typhoid shot at two o'clock; I got my shot at four, and so it goes. Probably you'll find the army, too, the greatest place for gossip and rumors that ever existed; somebody will have it straight that you're going to the Mexican border, somebody else will have it straight that you'll celebrate Christmas in Paris or Cork or somewhere. How many will get commissions, when they will get them, how the skipper is picking them out, and so on, furnishes a basis for countless varied stories which furnish the principal zest to life at this camp.
Here's wishing you the best of luck and good health in the Charlotte camp, and as restful a journey as possible down there. Write me when you can - here until Aug.11th; after then one can never tell; they might send me down to Fort Myer to the second camp for another three months before I can put any insignia on my collar. I suppose that wouldn't [be] so frightfully far from you. Binky writes that he's signed up for it, and I hope that he'll be able to make it.
Thanks for writing about the wristwatch & for whatever you've done about it.
Dear Mother - also Aunt Sarah, Aunt Lucy,
Aunt Elizabeth, Father, Ralph and Lucinthia,
I am ever so much obliged to you all for the fine birthday remembrances, the useful and handsome wrist watch, the letters, and to Aunt Lucy for the stamps, and cards, and big chocolate lumps, and to mother, or whomever it is I should thank, for the Baker's. I wish I might have the time to thank you all individually.
This last week has been a scorcher from start to finish; from all reports it's been that way everywhere. It is a great deal cooler today, however, and I hope this augurs more civilized weather for the coming week. We spent two fine hot mornings at trench building but we work in 20 minute shifts, so that it isn't particularly fatiguing. We have had some more rifle firing on the range this week, but not anything that shows individual records; it is what is known as combat firing practice, which involves all the necessary things to be done before going into & while in action - getting troops to the firing line, sending out patrols, estimating range, designating target, division of portions of the target (a line of figures across where the targets were in individual rifle practice) among the various platoons & then among the squads, etc. The first morning, Monday, it involved merely firing by platoons from one position at a designated target, when it appeared, ten rounds of ammunition. Wednesday morning the whole company was on the firing line together, supplied with sixty rounds of ammunition; fired first from 600 yards, then at a prescribed signals were ordered by the proper leaders to cease firing & led to a new position, opened fire again, and so on thru ten or a dozen advances. As No.1 man in the rear rank in my squad it was my job to fall in action after the second rush, and play dead until it was finished. I never found resting such hot work; it was out in a blazing sun and just before noon.
Another new feature of warfare in which we are now getting instruction is the throwing of hand grenades, which have become so important in the present war. They have to be thrown very carefully and with a special straight arm overhead swing; we only use dummies, of course. The practice has consisted mostly in trying to throw them into a trench from varying distances away; there is quite a knack to it, which doesn't come easily. For study at present we are taking up the Rules of Land Warfare, which our Teutonic adversaries have made more or less extinct.
What Bubier and Ralph Gabriel received were recommendations for appointment as provisional second lieutenants in the regular army. About 18 or 20 men have been so recommended from each company, the selections being made from those who signified a desire for such an appointment. They will be called into service with the regular army, as vacancies occur, provided they pass certain special examinations. There were a large number from our company who applied, & it speaks well for Gabriel that he was selected. I think that the fate of all the rest of us in regard to commissions has already been decided. Some think we shall know this week, and others that we'll not know until Aug.15th, the date when the camp will close. This date of closing was officially announced this last week; the original schedule only outlined training to the 11th (a week from next Saturday) and I presume the extra days will be for turning in equipment, and in other ways getting ready to leave. Those who are commissioned & assigned to service will then be free until Aug 27th when they must report to their regiments.
Last Sunday afternoon I took an excursion trip with Mr. Short on the lake. "Sailing North among the Islands" is the way the trip is described on the posters. It was needless to say a very pretty ride.
I'll be interested to hear how the Wednesday evening entertainment came out; I'm sure it must have been good - particularly the execution of the Manual of Arms with hoes by the Home Gardiners' Guard, which Lucinthia told me about. I'll have to begin practicing the manual of the wrist watch - 1st count, pull up the sleeve, 2nd count, look at it, 3rd count, bring it up to your ear, 4th count, back to the side smartly.
Thank you for sending all the things I wanted. I was glad to see Binky wasn't drafted, & hope he succeeds now in getting into the 2nd officers' training camp. Does Ralph know how long he'll be in Niantic?
With much love to all
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