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SBButler Letters, November 1918
November 5, 1918
November 7, 1918
November 10, 1918
November 11, 1918
November 13, 1918
November 25, 1918
November 25, 1918
November Letters to Eva
My dear Sylvester -
We have had a very pleasant & busy weekend. Ralph was home for twenty four hours, Winnie was down from Portland, Maine, where she is helping out in the Conn. Mutual Office. Aunt Lucy was here from Northfield & Lucinthia was still here putting the finishing touches on getting well. Jack came up also from New London, so we managed to have quite a crowd together. If you and Eva had only been here, it would have been complete, but there is also something more that we would like, no matter how much we have. Lucinthia went back when Ralph did last night. She seemed all well. We took the trip in the motor to Hartford, Waterbury & New Haven, leaving the "kids", at the latter place to take their trains. R. & L. to N.Y. - & Winnie to Boston, enroute to Portland. Aunt Lucy has just gone back this afternoon. She was so glad to be here, and it does her a lot of good, she gets down-in-the- dumps quite often, so a change like that is good for her. Ralph thinks that he may not get home again before sailing, but something may turn up this time to hinder his getting away.
Harold Barrows has been made Ass. Super. up at Dutch Point - and I guess from the way he talked, might be married before a great while.
Are you still in your canopied feather beds? or in tents? It is so nice that you are seeing some of the beautiful things about you, while the work is going on. The soldiers seem to be making great progress now on the other side. Hurrah for America & all their allies!
The influenza is very much abated on this side now. I hope you don't get it in the camps over there. The people that hear your letters think they are very interesting, and we all surely enjoy them.
Is J.M. with you now? I have to go down to C. on this next car, so will have to stop right here.
Lots of love-
Election Day tomorrow
[note - Jack would be Jack Savage, Uncle Watson's son who was in the Navy. Harold Barrows is "Curley" and Dutch Point was a power plant in Hartford in the same general area as the Colt Building. Dad said Curley was still working there in 1951 when Dad went there to inspect for Travelers, and he later transferred down to the Middletown power plant at Maromas. J.M. would be James Moody, and I assume C. would be Cromwell.]
15 France, [St. Amand-Montrond] 7 Nov 1918
I missed a Sunday back awhile and mentally vowed I must not miss another, but here last Sunday went by again; it was so late when I settled down to write I hardly settled but thought of the morrow when I wanted to work. And on week-days it has been still easier of course to say tomorrow. So this evening I have said "Enough of To-morrow, & get busy."
Day before yesterday we got another batch of mail, which brought me your letter of Oct.6, & covered Eva up to the 11th. I also heard from Ralph, who has surely been very generous in writing to me, and has written most interestingly. I was somewhat surprised to learn of Curly's new engagement. I guess he couldn't stand being the last of the crowd.
These have been interesting days, these last two weeks - in fact since the day we sailed - July 16 - how marvellously the Tide has turned ! The Terms which Austria was willing to sign are unbelievable, and if she is so desperate as to sign such an agreement surely Germany can't be much better off. Today we know from the newspapers that she has sent her envoys to the front to negotiate, & I have heard sub rosa thru French official sources this afternoon that the armistice has been signed and Germany has accepted all. I cannot believe it, I won't let myself believe it, though, until I see it in print, a substantiated fact. Greene has been saying nothing but "La Guerre est fini" every two minutes the last ten days, is wondering whether he'll get in his trout-fishing in Rhode Island next Spring &c. Fine, surely, if it is, & they have accepted everything, but I wish it might take the Kaiser & his outfit with it; & if it wouldn't, that they would hold on just long enough for it to do so. Give them no chance to build up their power again. I don't believe they ever can but still, one would feel safer with them out of the way.
Sunday the Major and I spent late afternoon and evening again at the Marquise de la Roche's very pleasantly. Her young son-in-law, the Count de la Rochefaucault was present this time, and he represents quite accurately what I think is the American idea of French counts - sleek, puttering, not overly endowed with grey matter, little jerky mannerisms, &c. He's a decent fellow, however, & perhaps my first opinion wouldn't prove justifiable. The old Marquis doesn't seem to take a bit of interest in life - sits around with his mouth open & coughs betimes to relieve the monotony of existence. The female side of the house seems to have the brains - the Marquise & her daughter, The Comtesse. The Count shot a wild boar Sunday afternoon, part of which we were given to take back with us, incidentally with a story of how we had bagged it.
I saw Tom Beers for the first time in France yesterday morning at the bank. He wished to be remembered to all you folks.
Our stay here promises to be short, probably a matter of days, and the immediate future is filled with doubt, even as to our staying together. We are working our level best to keep it so, and wish we might at least get in on the final licks if there are to be some more.
My best to everybody, & lots of love.
Captain S. B. Butler
301st Supply Train
American Expeditionary Forces
16 France, Nov.10, 1918.
Today, the papers say the Kaiser is to abdicate; the German chancellor talks in the past tense about Germany's being no longer able to keep up the struggle against ever-increasing forces; to-morrow the German delegates at the armistice conference must accept or reject Foch's terms; with the above & with the Bavarian revolution it would seem a foregone conclusion what the answer will be. What marvellous things have happened in the last three months! The French feel seemingly a sort of wondering joy over the turn things have taken, and all say generously "It's because you Americans have come", without us the war would have lasted ten years, probably lost. It is very satisfying and heart-warming to hear them say it. And it seems as though the people who said we should not enter the war, had nothing to gain thereby, and what not, must rather regret that ignoble stand, if they now realize that it was America's throwing of her might into the scale against Prussian brutality & selfish ambitious, which saved the world from it. I am also absolutely convinced of it. Our part physically does not seem so large, though surely what has been done in such a short time is marvelous, and our troops hold the most difficult section of the front; but the moral force of out entry alone has counted tremendously, first, that we showed our colors, we gave the judgment of the greatest disinterested nation of the world that the Allies were fighting a battle for the world & civilization against brute force & evil; second, the mere fact that we were coming gave our war weary allies new courage to hold on during 1917, the waiting year, and the terrible anxious days of last spring; and this fall, our troops I am convinced, made possible the great general allied advances which has ended so gloriously, though at a tremendous cost which you folks don't dream of. The Germans have done more than run. A mule may run but has good hind legs. That's the German machine-gun.
I had a much later letter from you this week which skips a week, & brings me up to Oct.20. Aunt Sarah wrote me at the same time and tells me Lucinthia had the influenza. I hope not for long. You have surely had a time with that over home.
Last night the Major, Fred, Lou Taylor, & I took supper and spent the evening with the Marquise de la Roche again, it probably being the last opportunity we'll have of doing so. It was a delicious supper we had - a mousse de lapins" (rabbit mousse, sort of a rabbit meat jelly), which just melts in your mouth; roast turkey stuffed with chestnuts; chocolate pudding & whipped cream - those were the particularly tasty things. The Marquise's son-in-law was home again, and waxed extremely funny last evening. He "doesn't like ze cats. Zey are good for not'ing. It always gives me much pleasure to kill ze cat, and when I have my pistolette, I will say 'Come 'ere kitty, kitty,' and when ze cat comes I shoot it in ze head - Ping! Oh! but I like ze dog, and my dogs and I we have ze great time whenever we see ze cat", and so forth & so on. The beautiful smooth brown cats were walking over the table again and he vented his dislike on them by snapping them in the tail. The Comtess was telling how some young girl relative of theirs was quite an attractive miss, but Pierre pooh-poohed with "attractive? Yes, perhaps, but her eyes! Bah! With ze one she looks at New York, wit' ze ot'er she looks at Paris!"
Today I have been over at another chateau, about 25 miles [note - he had originally written 40 kilometers but crossed that out and substituted the more American distance] to the southeast, visiting Madame Thuret, with Don Fitts (Yale'16 & Zeta), who is a Lieut. in our outfit, assigned to us since February, but not for duty until recently. She has an estate of about a thousand acres, and quite a beautiful ivy- covered chateau, with the inside appointments which make them all so attractive. She has a little grandchild there, only eight, who plays the piano remarkably well, & pieces with quite difficult technique. Her niece owns the chateau where the armistice negotiations are going on at the present time.
At other times since I last wrote I have worked with reasonable zeal and fidelity. Have spent a little time cursing the results of the Congressional election. They are surely disappointing especially at such a time, and in view of the base and untruthful statement made by our ex-Presidents just preceding the election. Apparently their subtle attempt to make the American people read an attempt at a back-down into the President's answers to Germany's appeal for an armistice was successful with the portion of the public which doesn't base it's vote on reason. Such a black-guard attempt to discredit the President of the United States at a time like this seems just about the most contemptible political trick ever perpetrated in our politics. It is the sort of thing we expect from T.R. but it is surprising Taft would lend himself to it. I marvel almost that Wilson can keep himself from directing the Attorney-General to prefer charges of treason against his predecessors. I can't see that their act falls far short of it. Incidentally that's what the American soldier thinks.
It's getting late, and the fire's out. I don't know where I'll be next time I write.
Lots of love to all.
Capt. S. B. Butler
301st Supply Train
American Expeditionary Forces.
Nov. 11 - Rocky Hill
My dear Sylvester -
I was awakened about four this morning by some pistol shots. I then went to the window & heard the bells & whistles blowing and I turned & said to Dad, "The armistice is signed allright, this time". I am thankful there will be no more terrible slaughter of men, but I would like to have seen our men get on to German soil. You regret probably that you did not have the experience of being at the front, & see the laying down of arms, but your life may have been spared by not getting any nearer.
Such a wild time last Thursday when the false report came over the wires of surrender - it must have been a sight in the big cities.
I am going up to Hartford to-night to see the monster parade. I played the National Htmns when I came downstairs this morning, for I must have some little celebration of my own. We surely are living in wonderful & history making times, something I never expected to experience five years ago. I heard a fine sermon by a Hartford Seminary man yesterday on the text - "The Lord hath not dealt so with any nation", applying it, of course, to our own United States. I can't set myself about anything this morning, as I feel as though I want to be out seeing, hearing & celebrating in some way.
The soldier votes in Cromwell were just even, five & five, which was rather a coincidence. Raymond won't get into the service now, as he had visions of doing, but thinks he never could have made it any way. I had written Eva to send her Christmas things here, and I would pack the box & send from here, so she did & also sent along the coupon. I will get it packed & off this week. I have just been doing up a package for Eva's birthday, which I hope she will like. I saw you had M.T.C. on your coupon, & I know you will be so glad to have the insignia of your real work.
I wonder if Ralph will finally get across. I am taking fifty of my hundred to buy a Liberty bond of my very own money. We went down to the War Chest rally in Cromwell last Thursday night, which was addressed by Richard Higgins of Hartford, & then they run off the Cromwell 4th of July film & a war film - it was a very enthusiastic rally. The drive is on this week for the allied work of Y.M.C.A. & the other activities for the soldiers. I expect Lucinthia is enjoying being in New York in these grand & glorious times.
Ruth Beers said that Tom had just seen you to wave to. He was in a hospital three weeks with rheumatism and also has been to Paris twice. Have you seen the gay city yet? I guess it is about time to get my dishes done. Uncle Bill was up to dinner with us yesterday, the first time since we lived here.
Three cheers for the glorious ending of the war, & good health to the soldiers until the after work is over.
Lots of love
November 13, 1918
At last I am 'mancipated [this was Gram's 21st birthday] and shall assert my independence by never getting up unless I want to, and only washing my face when I wish etc. I just imagine I am going to have a wonderful time.
Your package made me so happy. It was really the first time I ever received a package of presents as my gifts usually come singly. I enjoyed every single bit of it from the pin down to the cocoa-bar and the sunshiny ribbon. It is all really so wonderful and such a happy surprise I just don't know what to say. The pin is just wonderful and such as I have always wanted and I certainly shall prize it doubly because of its associations. Do you know I have often heard of spatulas but never actually saw one until Winnie showed me hers and I have really sorta longed for one ever since. Sometimes I'll let Sylvester dry dishes and use my towel and that will make his work easier. No one can appreciate a hot pan holder more than I as I am always burning myself. I saw just oceans of your sunshine loose today and endeavored to bring home some in a huge bunch of yellow chrysanthemums and a bunch of large yellow marigolds and a pumpkin. I am, just in honor of myself tonight, letting my chrysanthemum vase stand on my doiley. Nut candies are my favorites so I suppose it is needless to say I haven't much left. The card and its wishes just about made me cry as a finishing touch you have been so good to me. I wish I could really say what I felt.
I certainly enjoyed Ralph's visit Sunday and I wish it had been so that Winnie could have come, but I suppose she is very busy. We took some pictures and do hope they are good because Ralph's overseas cap is in most of them. Ralph gave me some candy for my birthday and I've been scared to death Mr. Hoover might drop in on us as I'm afraid two boxes a week exceeds the limit.
Sis sent me a yoke she started for me last summer and she further scared me by saying it might have to answer for a Christmas present also unless I would accept one of her "buterful drawins." Of course I'm anxious to see how she is developing and have written for her to send one of the b.d's.
Daido gave me a lovely crepe d' chine pleated waist and an apple blossom pin. The pin is a delicate pink ivory and is very beautiful.
Forna [note - I'm not sure of the spelling here] gave me an embroidered handkerchief and I got my flowers so I'm very happy.
I also got a letter from Ralph wishing me many happy returns but spoiling all my glory in reaching the grand old age of 21 by telling me I was the baby of the family. Don't you think it was rather provoking of him?
I did so hope I would get a letter from Sylvester today. Things would have been about as complete as possible then. However, I'm so happy that the war is over and he'll be back soon. It just seems 'most too wonderful to be true and in spite of the fact that I celebrated myself deaf, dumb, and motionless I can hardly believe it.
I met one of my former classmates who is in the Merchant Marine and he says he saw Sylvester get on a transport in Hoboken last July. Fred has a vivid imagination but I can't believe he would imagine that without some foundation.
If I don't hurry I won't get a letter written on my birthday to my best boy, so I'll say good night.
Much love and many thanks
School is going again.
Nov. 25 - Rocky Hill
Eva Brainerd is home from France
My dear Sylvester -
Your letter arrived after two weeks interval. Do you get my letters regularly? Ralph was home yesterday, instead of being on his way across the water. He has to be one of the officers on duty over Thanksgiving & the following Sunday, so came up for just the weekend Saturday. He tried on one of his civilian suits yesterday, and it surely did look queer enough - looks so much smaller in it than the soldier clothes. I saw by the paper yesterday that the 76th Division were among the first to be sent home, so you may be home sooner than you thought for. Dad & Ralph both think that the Supply Train will be detached from the Division & be kept over there for some part of the work, of which there is plenty.
You are probably envious of those who are marching into Germany now. I am glad the card pleased Piraman [note - the cook]. I put a small cake of chocolate in your Christmas box for him.
In the note I put in last week's letter about the Christmas gifts, I said that there was a pair of socks from me, but I could not get them in, being so bulky, so they are here for you whenever you come home. Possibly later the restrictions will be off on sending parcels, & I can send them if such is the case. I don't remember whether I told you that we were to be at Aunt Kate's for Thanksgiving, but it won't be a very large number, Lucinthia won't be up, Uncle Ernest not coming either, so there will just be the Wright's, Willis & Martha, Dad & myself - Raymond & Eleanor are coming down to Aunt Elizabeth's - Raymond's visions of getting into the service have gone up the fluke, I guess, seeing things are practically over.
You may have a chance to see Pres. Wilson on the other side. How do you enjoy eating cookies after the cats have been sniffing them? It is fine that you have the opportunity so often of going into one of the beautiful homes of the French people. Ralph thought you were going to wade in pretty deep from your selections from the Marquise's library.
I wonder if you ever will run across any of the Cromwell boys over there.
It does seem strange to be getting off Christmas things in Oct. I will let you know just as soon as the package arrives. Did you ever get off any cards to any of the relations? Don't forget Aunt Elizabeth [Coe] when you do - she had another spell of being terribly upset over Anna [her daughter who would be about 44 at this time] & Will's affairs. It's too bad that she lets it worry her so.
No more room- Lots of Love,
[Stationary of the] HOTEL MEURICE
228.Rue de Rivoli
telephone No 233-46
18 Nov. 25, 1918
I have lost all track of the days of the week and month, almost, also I haven't my record of letter numbers with me. But I think the last time I wrote you was the evening Tom Beers was with me, which was the last night I spent in our tents & our old station. Since then I have done some little traveling. Our Train and the Ammunition Train are the only organizations of the Division kept intact, and it took a fight on our part to keep us so, and even now, though we have been given a job as an organization, we may get broken up as it is. We are at a base port, assigned to the Motor Transport Officer at the place, & our duties will be most likely convoying vehicles up to organizations in the interior. Major June is to be transferred away in a couple of days to the Third Army, and while this leaves me in command of the Train, I see nothing desirable ahead - there is no promotion in it, in fact I don't believe there will be any promotions in the Army; and it isn't like being with your Division and being responsible for the Train as a unit - we will probably just furnish men here & men there for various jobs & the M.T.O.[Motor Transport Officer] there, a Capt. Moll, has said he would probably break up the Train organization. I am going to try my best to prevent it, but whether successful or not, I shall be tickled to death if the Major is able to get me up to the Third Army with him. To be up with the army of occupation for awhile would partly compensate for not having any active part in the great events of the fall. (For instance, don't you think it would be lots of fun to make a haughty German officer get off the sidewalk for you?)
By now your curiosity must be thoroughly aroused as to the why of the letterhead. I'm in Paris, of course, and I'll come to it in a minute, after accounting for myself chronologically. We left our old station last Monday night, I think, traveling by motor transportation to another Depot Division thru which all our Division had to pass. Half of the Train had been there a week, and we joined them at their barracks in a great aviation camp near the station of this other Depot Division. We left our motor Transportation there, and on Wednesday, I think, left by rail for our base port. It was a 24 hour ride but took 48, and we were glad to arrive. For the time being our men & we are in an English rest camp nearby but this week will be moved to barracks in the motor park, barracks which are being prepared for them. Saturday morning the Major got a telegram to proceed to the same city we went to in early September, & which Fred & I went to week before last in our effort to get a job for the Train - for a conference with the Director Motor Transport Corps. Paris is on the way, and, as the Major wanted me to come with him, I spent yesterday here & am here again to-night on the way back. On our journey to Paris we fell in with two British Naval Officers, who were agreeable traveling companions, and one, DeVilliers by name, a medical Sub-lieutenant, was most interesting, as he is a South African - Boer -, and a nephew of Gen. Botha, premier of the Union of South Africa. He spoke most interestingly of the Boer people, the gold and diamond fields, how they are operated and conditions of life about them. I can't think of any previous time when it has been my privilege to talk to anyone about South Africa, who knew the country. We didn't arrive in Paris until late and we slept late in the morning. Then we went up to the American University Union, where I hoped to find Prof.Mendel at the Yale Bureau, but was disappointed. We took dinner there and spent the afternoon sightseeing on foot. We may have seen many things which one should see here & not know of it for we went without a guide book or previously consulting one. We wandered around the garden of the Tuileries & the Place de la Concorde where the most interesting things at present are the huge collection of captured Boche guns, aeroplanes, & all kinds of war material. We crossed one of the bridges over the Seine and went into the Hotel des Invalides where there is the magnificent Tomb of Napoleon, also an Army museum, and no doubt a great many other things I didn't have time to see. In the inner court they have suspended an aeroplane with which the famous Guynenier downed 19 Boches. We came back across the Seine & then promenaded down the Champs Elysees. I went back once more to the Yale Bureau at the A.U.U. but Mr. Meldel was still not there; however did see Dr. Hemingway, an English professor whom I knew slightly. We left Paris in the evening, got our business done this morning - which included the Major's learning of his new job, and this evening are once more in the big city. Just where I'll be next time I write is hard telling but I expect for two or three weeks anyway I'll be up with the Train at the new station.
With lots of love to all
P.S. The Major & I have just finished breakfast in our room(!) and he wants me to send along his best & say we are doing our best to overcome these hardships we are suffering.
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