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SBButler Letters, December 1917

Dec 2, 1918
Dec 16, 1917
Dec 19, 1917
Dec 24, 1917
Dec 30, 1917

December letters to Eva


Camp Devens
Sunday eve., Dec. 2.


Dear Mother,

It was a quarter to five before I got back Friday morning, but I was fortunate enough to have the train stop right near our section of camp, as that I didn't have to come way up from Ayer station. The ride was not over-restful, naturally, and I spent a kind of drowsy day Friday.

Yesterday we had lots of snow & rain & slush, and now it's freezing over so that we ought to have skating in our front yard.

Today Lieut. Achorn has had a couple of his lady friends up to see him, and I have been spending the afternoon around with him and them.

Tomorrow the whole division will be inspected and reviewed by the assistant secretary of war and the inspector general of the Army. The review ought to be quite a procession. We don't know just what time of day it's coming yet; it's likely to happen anytime, at the signal of 3 blasts of the fire whistle. Then the men must be gotten together, and each organization marched to a set place, where they will be formed in double rank on each side of the road, and stand there until the above named dignitaries have ridden thru the lines forward by each organization of the Division. After that the whole Division will march in review by them in column of squads, which will probably take no little time. I hope Ralph is enjoying his little furlough.
Lots of love to all
Sylvester

P.S. Many happy returns of yesterday. [Dec. 1st was Carrie Savage Butler's birthday --David]


Camp Devens
Dec. 16, 1917.


Dear Mother,

I have been in to see Mr. And Mrs. Rosie over the weekend. I went in late yesterday afternoon and got back just before supper tonight. They have a very pleasant home overlooking a playground and skating lake. They live in the same house with a man by the name of Cousens who went to Tufts while Willis Warner was there. Norman is wearing long trousers and is a sophomore at High School; he is not at all good looking, but of course not at a good looking age. Edgar is a handsome boy, and a very likable one; prone to make frequent more or less self- conscious wise remarks. Mr. & Mrs. Rosie both look real well. Norman has quite a photographic developing outfit, and has just been developing pictures from some of Jim Chalmers' old plates taken on the Plains ten or twelve years ago - among them that one of our house with Ralph and Alfred [Chalmers] and myself on the front lawn; I think we have one of this down home. [note- it's in a box under the bed in the south bedroom.] The snow has interfered somewhat with work outside this last week. I just had a drill ground all cleared off when Thursday's storm covered everything up again. It surely did rage here; blew snow all over my room and in my face for some time before I woke up enough to get sufficient intelligence to rise & close the window.

Major Schoonmaker arrived Saturday morning and stayed just long enough for dinner. I presume he'll be back to-morrow morning again. He seems right pleasant and I hope everything will ride along smoothly. But we surely are disappointed to have Lieut. June go.

Ralph's transfer is stuck at Division Headquarters and I can't move it. I carried Lieut. June's formal request that he be attached here pending final settlement of his case thru all necessary channels straight to Division Headquarters to the Assistant Adjutant. But there it got stuck. And they won't touch it until they get some instructions covering all the National Guard men. In the meanwhile Ralph has addressed a letter thru the Adjutant of the Northeastern Dept. thru military channels requesting transfer to the 76th Division and I hope it goes thru without undue delay.

Two of the new 1st lieutenants from Plattsburgh have been attached to us, for the sake of experience, I presume.

I found Aunt Sarah's letter on returning tonight; interested to know Ern Binks has his orders, also glad to know Ralph Savage has gotten in.

I enclose copy of bulletin which carries instructions in regard to cables. I have sent in request for registry of my codeword.

Co.3 gives its big dance in Roxbury Friday night and it looks as though we're going to do pretty well with it. I don't know yet how I'll be fixed up on getting home over Christmas. Four of us will have to stay here, and I presume the only way it can be decided will be by drawing lots.

I am going to try and write a couple of extra letters to-night for once - the Devere Allens and Robert Savage. I don't believe Ralph will want his ear-laps, because he is using mine. He is down here with me to-night.
Lots of Love
Sylvester.


Camp Devens
Dec. 19, 1917


Dear Mother,

It will have to be a Camp Devens Christmas. 5% only of the enlisted men are to be allowed to go away, which means only 4 men out of my company. With my company here under compulsion, I would not feel right in drawing a more fortunate lot myself. I'll have to bend all my wits together to keep them entertained and their minds off where they wish they were.

Ralph will know what chance he will have tonight. I very much doubt if he will be able to get home either; and that would, of course be a double reason for my being here. I hope that he happens to be lucky & can get away; but one chance in 20 isn't very thick.

I shall be sending you in a few days some photographs I had taken a couple of weeks ago, and I'll make up a list for you to mail them to. I don't know whether they're a very suitable Xmas present or not, but I guess that's all I'll be able to do this year, chiefly from the view point of time.

I am sending in a separate long yellow envelope, a little reading matter for the Xmas dinner table, not to be opened until then!
Lots of love
Sylvester.


Camp Devens
Dec. 24, 1917. Monday afternoon


Dear Mother,

I don't know where yesterday and today have gone to. I'm the acting commander of the Train, and everybody who wants to go outside the cantonment has to get a pass from me & has to report to me when he comes back. This has kept me pretty busy & is somewhat of a nuisance. That accounts for some of my time, at least. Saturday afternoon I went over to Fitchburg with Lieut. June and got my pictures, also some decorations for my mess hall for Christmas. Yesterday, besides signing passes, and reading the papers, I got some little work out of the way, and got pictures ready to mail. There won't be any reach their destination in time for Xmas, I'm afraid. I had hoped to have them ready earlier. Ralph got down here about two o'clock and is with me now.

I'm certainly much obliged to everyone for my Christmas. The flannel pajamas are something I have been thinking of getting, and so I would be very glad of the mate to them, you see. I have sent down to you six of my large pictures, with the three views, and four of the single ones which I will ask you to distribute as follows with my best Xmas wishes, and to those getting the group of three, the hope that they won't think I'm spreading myself over too much shelf room.

Large ones:
1- yourself and Father
1- Savage household
1- Uncle Edward & Aunt Elizabeth
1- Aunt Kate
1- Ralph -(save for him)
1- Lucinthia

Single ones
1- Aunt Sarah
1- Aunt Lucy
1- Uncle George
1- Uncle Will

I have sent copies of the large one to the Raymond Coes, to Sam Sewall, to the Wrights, and to Eva; and copies of the small one to Carl Andrus, Cousin Mary, Robert Savage, Uncle John & family, Uncle Wat and family, the Warners in New Britain & Montana, the Chalmers, Winnie, Cousin Anna, the Baldwins, Mrs. Heath, Mr. Wachter, Miss Dagnall, and Uncle Ernest. If you think of any others who ought to get one, I'd be glad to have you let me know. I only have about a half dozen more.

Things seem pretty quiet around, and I guess most of the men are taking their disappointment over not being home for Christmas like good soldiers. I'm sure my men are. Of course there are some who have taken the law into their own hands and absented themselves - about a half dozen thru-out the Supply Train. One of my men, a Private Scully, one of the committee who got up my dance, under positive orders to be back here by 12 o'clock Saturday, hasn't shown up yet. He is a newlywed of less than a year, and very much wed. I gave passes to only one or two Massachusetts men because they have been able to get home oftener, and he wasn't included either. It seemed to me that he especially could consider himself fortunate in having been in Boston for two weeks working up the dance, where he could get home every night, but evidently he didn't see into it that way. On top of that I got yesterday a personal letter from Mayor Curley of Boston, asking that this same Scully be allowed a pass over the holidays as a personal favor to him - the mayor, who had a week ago or so contributed $25 & had a "Compliments of a Friend" page in our program. So Scully is in Dutch all around. I've got another man who went on pass a week ago Sunday and hasn't shown up yet, and I've had the Boston police on his trail for three or four days. He was seen in Boston the night of the dance by one of the men in my company, who didn't know he had a right to arrest him. He's a bad character, with a police record in civil life, and a man who's given me some trouble before.

The dance went off quite successfully Friday evening. Between ads and tickets we cleared over seven hundred dollars outside expenses. [note - the dance program is in the AEF scrapbook] It was a good crowd for the most part and I think everyone enjoyed it. Major Schoonmaker came down with us, also Lieuts. June, Anderson, and Thorpe. We all like the major first rate. He is exceedingly pleasant off duty and very efficient on duty. Though this is a different proposition than he's ever handled, he seems to have sized it up to a T already. Lieut. June is still here, and I hope the Major will make a final appeal to have him kept here. I have expressed my sentiments to the major in the matter, and so have two or three of the others. Anderson gave him a long story about Moody, but it doesn't seem that it would do much good to do that.

I am glad to have Aunt Lucy's suggestions for Xmas day, and this evening with them & some embryonic ideas of my own I am going to try to get together with myself and plan an afternoon for to-morrow.

We're going to have a turkey dinner here in our quarters. Lieut. Green will be here with Mrs. Green, I expect the Major will be back, and maybe a couple of the other lieutenants. Greene & Fox have been here all the time thus far, but Fox is going away tomorrow.

I must get at sending out some Xmas cards. Merry Xmas to all.
Lots of love
Sylvester


Camp Devens
Dec. 30, 1917


Dear Mother,

This has been a very busy week since Christmas. Naturally the major has some new ideas he wants us to put in effect, as to schedule, as to arrangement of barracks, & added conveniences in barracks. We are all very taken with him, & I think he will be a first rate commander.

Christmas Day I really didn't do so very much. We sat down, five of us, to cuts from a 17 pound turkey, & a thoroughly good Christmas dinner all around. For the afternoon and evening I planned a few stunts with the aid of Aunt Lucy's suggestions, in case the men should be in that state where they didn't know what to do with themselves. But they seemed to be entertaining themselves satisfactorily & I didn't interrupt, except that night I acted Santa Claus with Red Cross packages. An amusing thing about these Red Cross packages was that from the inscriptions inside they were practically all intended for soldiers "somewhere in France".

Saturday I heard two fine lectures by an English Colonel who was machine gun officer of the 9th English Army Corps, the main part of the attacking forces at the Battle of Messines in June. Machine guns played the principal part in that British victory, and he planned their tactics in the battle altogether. It was most interesting to realize that a man who had played such a real part in the war was talking to you, particularly when he described the Battle of Messines, for which he himself had made part of the plans. His first lecture was on machine guns in the war, and the other a straight-from-the-shoulder wake-up talk on what we have got to do to make our forces count effectively & successfully.

Last night I went up to Lowell with some of the other officers to Keith's vaudeville, in the Ford. We were all bundled up good & tightly so that I don't believe any of us were much chilled despite the 15 [degree] or so below zero. We're surely having a regular cold snap here.

I saw Ralph a little while this afternoon. He asks that if you haven't already done so to please send his ear laps up right away.

Later in the afternoon I went to a concert in the big Y.M.C.A. auditorium by members of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. I will enclose the program - a most enjoyable one.

I suppose laundry will be late getting home this week again for I couldn't get it off until Saturday morning, because the clean laundry didn't get here until Friday evening. The old serge uniform I am returning because I have completely outgrown it. Probably if it's hid away in the garret somewhere, it might come in handy for someone at a costume affair sometime.

I just got a big package from the Wright's with several varieties of candy, nabiscoes, a big box of popcorn balls, toilet articles, socks, & a handkerchief. The package was marked "Happy New Year" A picture of Ruth Savage came in tonight's mail. She could pass for more than 15 years of age, by her picture. We have a holiday New Year's Day, and I think I shall try to get some correspondence caught up. I am glad you had such a pleasant party Christmas. Please tell Lucinthia that in case Major Schoonmaker's sister says anything to her when she gets back to college about a joint visit by the major & myself to out respective sisters, that she can safely go ahead as far as our end of it is concerned. The major has spoken to me of it two or three times, and I take it from what he says that he has spoken to his sister.

Dad's calendar came in last night and it surely is a beauty.

With the laundry I also enclosed a pair of sneaks & a pair of cotton pajamas I shan't want. I'll use the flannel altogether now. And, by the way, thank you for my New Years present as well as my Xmas present.
Lots of love
Sylvester.


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