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Letters Home From WWI


Lloyd Carpenter

     Lloyd Carpenter is in the 63rd Infantry, which reached Camp Meade, Md. In the middle of August. His address is Co. M. S. 37, 63rd Infantry. In a letter to his sister, Mrs. C.F. McPherson; now living at La Grande, he wrote:
     I will drop you a few lines as we are located again. We are located but not settled as we only got here yesterday noon and have been busy since. This morning we were told not to leave quarters till further orders, not until we get cleaned up and get or bunks, and everyone wants to clean up at once, so there is no room to turn around in the wash room.
     Camp Meade is a divisional camp and they say it covers 27 square miles. Our quarters are much better than those at the Presidio. We are near Chesapeake Bay, 19 miles south of Baltimore. Some think we won't stay here only a few weeks, till we will go to France, but I hardly think we will go in less than two months. The camp is not nearly filled up and lots of those here are recruits who have not had as much training as we.
     We had a great trip but got awful dirty. We went thru 12 different states, California, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Maryland. Much of this is fine country. I don't like Nevada, it is all desert and I don't like Kansas as it is all plains. Missouri is too hot. The people there don't look healthy, but the country looks pretty enough. St. Louis is an awfully dirty town, lots smokier than Pittsburgh. The important cities we went thru which I remember are Stockton, Sacramento, Salt Lake City, Kansas City, St. Louis, Columbus, Pittsburgh and Baltimore.
     The climate here seems to be a good deal like Oregon in the summer. Of course I haven't been here long enough to find out much about the place. Three of our company helped themselves to a furlough in St. Louis and for or five from other companies did the same some place along the line. There were about 1200 of us got in there at the same time. We all marched about ten blocks up to the Y.M.C.A. to take a swim, so it was easy for them to skip out. Those from our company were men who had been in the service for quite a while.
     They say this regiment is going to be split up here. Uncle Sam is going to have this war finished up by this time next year. I will see lots more of the world by that time, but a fellow does not learn a great deal by just going thru a country. In the cities he sees things that he has seen pictures of before. It did seem strange to be where you could not see any mountains. It makes you feel that you are in a great big valley and the mountains are just a little farther than you can see. It seems as if they ought to be there, only you know they are not.
     I saw Iver Simonson before I left the Presidio, also George Rogers. They are at Camp Fremont. I also saw the Winn boy from Elgin. He was transferred from Camp Lewis the day before we left Friscoe.
     We had lots of fun coming here. We had some hard tack, made out of biscuit dough in the shape of crackers and they were as hard as rocks. I would write my compliments on one side and write "soldier's delight" on the other and hand them to the girls, telling them to take my card. We were treated fine in most places where we stopped. They gave us postcards, stamps, candy, cigars and cigarets.

Enterprise Record Chieftain
Thursday, September 5, 1918

Lodge Hears From Soldiers

The two following letters were received by the Lostine I.O.O.F., No. 155 from brothers with the colors:

     Quantico, Va., Brothers - In answer to your letter, which I received today, I will say that I was surely glad to hear from you. I am in the best of health and like this branche of service fine. (He is in the Marines.) I truly believe that it is the best that Uncle Sam has to offer as there are no _____ or any foreign element in it. I am in the third replacement battalion and expect soon to be in France so it is impossible to tell whether you will hear from me soon or not.
     The weather has been rather disagreeable as it rains every day and the ground is like putty. It surely is quite a job even to walk Taps closes this letter. - Sanford E. Chapman.

Enterprise Record Chieftain
Thursday, May 16, 1918


Sanford E. Chapman

Two letters have been received by Mr. and Mrs. J.J. Chapman of Leap from their son, Sanford E. Chapman, 20th Company, 5th Regiment, U.S.M.C., in the overseas forces, who was wounded recently in battle. We wrote, June 28:
     Suppose you have seen by the papers that I have been wounded. It happened the evening of the 25th. I am in a good hospital and am receiving good medical treatment, and nursing. You need not worry for I am getting along nicely and have every care and attention. The Y.M.C.A. man who is writing this (Rev. H.M. Markley of Cofferville, Kansas), comes to see me every day. I suppose I will be out of the fighting for some time so your mind can rest easy as I am no longer in danger. Will write when I can sit up.
     July 5. - I am getting a Y.MC.A. worker to write this letter for me because I am not yet able to use my hand. It is getting on well now. Since I wrote you I have been brought to an American Base hospital where I am getting fine care and everything going as well as it possibly could. They do everything possible. Yesterday they brought us a rose apiece and some candy and cigarettes and played and sang for us, but it was not much like the Fourth at home. There is not much to say. Just that I am patient as I can be and will write you again before long.

Enterprise Record Chieftain
Thursday, August 15, 1918


Sanford E. Chapman

     Sanford Chapman, son of Mr. and Mrs. J. J. Chapman, of Leap, wounded in action in France, has been returned to the United States. A letter just received by his parents followed:
     Brooklyn Naval Hospital, No. 1, Brooklyn, N.Y., Sept. 21, 1918 - Dear Folks: - I suppose you will be surprised to hear from me here, but it is so. I am feeling fine and hope this will find you all the same. I arrived here the 19th of this month and have just got settled good for now.
     We are sure getting good treatment. The people here treat us like kings and they won't let us buy anything, as they say our money isn't any good here.
     We left France last Friday night, and came across the pond in six days. When he landed here in the navy yard the sailors on the battleship Arizona sure gave us the cheers. Had the band out and played all the time.
     My wounds are almost well now, but I wasn't fit for duty any more in France so I won't have to go back any more. I am going to get some clothes today and then go for an auto ride.
     France is a good country for the Frenchmen but no good for an American, as it is rough on his clothes.

Enterprise Record Chieftain
Thursday, October 3, 1918


Sanford E. Chapman

     Further details have come to Mr. and Mrs. J. J. Chapman of the wounds suffered by their son, Sanford E. Chapman, in France. He is now at Brooklyn navy hospital No. 1, where he is recovering, with every prospect of regaining the use of his arms. Both arms were broken and the first finger of his left hand was lost. Eight wounds were counted on his body. While he was in a hospital overseas, a French girl had to feed him, as he was quite helpless.

Enterprise Record Chieftain
Thursday, October 17, 1918

Alvin Clayton

     Alvin Clayton of Battery D. 65th Artillery, A. E. F. wrote his mother, Mrs. Ella T. Clayton, June 23, as follows:
     Received your letter today. This was the first mail we had received for about three weeks and we had begun to think the post office department had gone out of business.
     We have a Y.M.C.A. here now, not a building or anything like that, just a tent with a small canteen in connection where they sell cigarets, candy, and toilet articles. They have some magazines but you have to get there early in the evening to get one, on account of the general rush to get a magazine, Immediately after supper.
     Reading material is very scarce here and before the U.M.C. came there was nothing in camp to read at all except a French edition of the New York Herald printed in Paris. This little paper, generally two sheets, is a daily, printed in English, and sells for 15 centimes or about two cents. If it wasn't for that, we wouldn't know what was going on at all.
     We haven't moved yet and are still drilling hard every day. Friday, we had a hike in heavy marching order - full pack - and after going about ten miles we came back and climbed a hill, almost straight up. I though I was pretty hard and in good condition but that last hill showed me and a good many others up. I got up all right and in good shape but I was just about all in. My breath was about gone and my legs felt like so much lead.
     I was on pass today and I saw a bunch of wounded soldiers come in. They were mostly French and a few Germans. Also some French Colonial troops - negroes. There were three Americans among the bunch, Marines, I think. I was talking to one for awhile and he was sore as could be because he was wounded and had to leave the front. He said killing Germans was the most fun in the world.

Enterprise Record Chieftain
Thursday July 18, 1918

Robert Colpitts

     Robert S. Colpitts is a private in the 6th Company at Ft. McArthur, San Pedro, Cal. In a letter to his sister Miss Ruth Colpitts at Grossman, he writes:
     I just got back from the big allies' war exhibition at Los Angeles. We have been over there several days parading and having sham battles. It was something worth seeing. There were 10,000 soldiers in one parade, and in one sham battle there were 12,000 soldiers and 15,000 sailors, and they shot thousands of blank cartridges, so you can imagine what a noise we made. There were cannons shooting all the time and the air was full of airplanes dropping bombs all the time, and when they would burst they would throw the dirt all over us. We are sure some sight now.
     There were all sorts of captured stuff such as the Germans had lost and it is a sight what they have to fight with. But they are getting the worst of it, just the same.

Enterprise Record Chieftain
Thursday, August 29, 1918


Robert S. Colpitts

     A letter to his many friends at home is sent to the Record Chieftain by Robert S. Colpitts, 8th Co., C.A.C., Fort McArthur Barracks, Lower Reservation, San Pedro, Cal.:
     To the many readers of the Record Chieftain, I would like very well to be able to see and talk with all of you but as I am in the army now there is no chance, so I will send a few lines to the paper, so you all will get to read and have an idea of what we soldiers are doing. To begin with, when we landed at San Pedro, July 14, at 1215 and, like all recruits had our first shot in the arm, we were a sick bunch, but we walked from the train to the barracks on the upper reservation, about a mile and a half. That is, part of us did. Some of the boys were too sick and gave up and the ambulance gathered them up and brought them in.
     When we got there, we were put in the barracks, some in one company and some in others. I got assigned to the 6th company and went up there and found that I was with two other Wallowa county boys, McWilliams from Enterprise and Bud Frazier, from Pendleton, altho he used to be in Wallowa.
     Everything went along fine for several days, then came another shot in the arm, which laid up all up for a day and some for two or three days. The officers would take us out and give us exercise of a morning before breakfast, and after those shots in the arm we were so sore and stiff that we could hardly use our right arms, but after trying awhile we could do fairly well. We were getting along fine after our second shot and were learning infantry drill and heavy artillery drill evenings. One day the captain said we would shoot the cannon the next day. Instead of using the dummy ammunition we would use the real thing.
     So the next morning we were all anxious to get busy. We went to the 14-inch disappearing rifle, loaded it and by the time we were ready to fire it, it seemed to me that everybody in Los Angeles and San Pedro was there to see it. But they could not get near it because the guards keep them at a safe distance. And when we shot, the most of them nearly fell over. At that time I was on the elevation detail, but have been changed since to chief of breach. Well, when we fired the first shot, we boys were about 100 feet from the gun and it seemed to me as if some one had hit us with a board, almost knocking us on the ground. But it was only the compression of the air. We were almost deaf. But we shot seven times that day, and after the first shot everything went fine.
    The trouble the first time was we were all excited and forgot to stand on our toes with our mouths open and a finger in each ear. But the second time we sure never forgot what the captain told us. After that we took drills of all kinds and everything went fine until the war exhibition at Los Angeles. We went there and did some parading and had some sham battles, which were interesting to us, but maybe not to you people out there where you never get to see it, so I won't go into details, because you would get tired of reading such stuff, or at least I would be, as it is all old stuff to me.
     After that exhibit was over, it has been about the same old thing until I got transferred to the 8th company in the lower reservation, then in a few days the boys from Oregon, or at least the most of them, were sent to West Virginia, and I and a few who are still here, expect to go any time. Sam Stace, Lundy Woods and myself are here from Wallowa county, but we are all in different companies, so we won't be together long.
     We have just got out of quarantine for what they thought was small pox, but there was only one boy sick, so they have not decided what it was. Today we went on a 10-mile hike and got back about 1 o'clock. That is, part of us, some of the boys gave out and never got here until dark.
     I guess I have written about enough for this time, altho I could write such news all night, as there are many things which would be news to you, but there has been so much of it that it does not seem like news to me.

Enterprise Record Chieftain
September 19, 1918

Alfred Couch

     Camp Lewis, May 4: (to his mother, Mrs. T. R. Akins) I am still alive but I surely do feel bum. Yesterday we got the second of those typhoid germs and believe me, it surely put us out for a while. The first was only play. The arm that was vaccinated is sore as the devil. My throat also is sore, but it is all to be expected.
     They treat you here like a big bunch of school kids; the officers are not all snappy, all good fellows.
     I have been one day on kitchen police already. That is the only thing that I don't like so far. They scrub the floors after each meal, also scrub the tables. Talk about being clean, I never saw the like in my life. Everyone has to take a turn at kitchen police. It is all the same as flunkey only a whole lot worse. I scrubbed an Ice box three times before they said it was clean.
     Well, I have been issued my gun today and have been busy all day cleaning it. And to cap the climax, they put us in quarantine, but that will soon be lifted, I think, so we can go about more. We have to stay in the barracks except for drill. The way they start training you is fine: just simple little exercises such as we had in school: then Mark Time, March. Then sounds right and squads left: a squad is eight men. It will be fine when we get over all this recruit stuff, such as the shots in the arm - we have one more to take next Friday. About three out of ten faint away, simply scared to death. It hurts no more while they are giving it to you than if you stuck a needle half way in your arm.
     I have seen none of the other boys I know, for you cannot get away. We work or drill an hour and then the officer in charge gives us a talk on different subjects. I don't think I will be here more than a month or so. We have had an all day rain and that makes things worse. If you could step into this barracks now you would think you were in a hospital, but by tomorrow noon they will be all right again. You don't have to do a thing for 48 hours after you get the shot. I am feeling fine except for my arms.

Enterprise Record Chieftain
Thursday, May 16, 1918

Douglas Cox

     S.D. Cox received a letter the first of this week from his son, H. Douglas Cox, setting at rest fears which had arisen from his failure to hear from him since the middle of February. It seems that "Doug" had gone overseas shortly after writing in the late winter, and mails to and from him had been interrupted ever since. He has been getting along very well, as is shown from the following letter:
     Somewhere in France, August 15, 1918. My Dear Daddy:- You might think I am dead. Have been as far as writing letters is concerned. Received three of yours, besides the package from sister and Chet. Am having the best of health, not being sick more than one day and that was on the boat. A good many of the boys fed the fishes on that trip. I never had a better ride in my life, but one more will be a plenty.
     Old man, when you tell me everything is running all right, what more could I wish for, then I have nothing to worry about, but what ever happens, I'd like to know anyway. I get a little more money now (not bragging). I never received my questionnaire, which don't matter now. Have taken two days off, tho I have rights to more, you know, but I was never much for running around.
     This climate is as near like home as any we have been in and France, what I have seen of it, looks much like Alder Slope: it's trees, vineyards and gardens like Uncle Jimmie Mitchell's at Joseph. The people have nothing more than the smallest type of burro to farm their land with, and for travel they hook them single to carts with wheels higher than your head, a comic combination. I'm not knocking at al, but everything else, no matter what it is, seems likewise. Have hopes that there may be a chance to see South America if we are not here too long. Otherwise, it's straight home for me. No place like home anyway.
     If you speak French you are in luck here, but they treat you fine all the same. Wine is the most of their living and soldiers can have it just so they watch their step. It don't bother me much. Have been to town since starting this letter so will try to describe the city. Buildings most all alike and very substantial, being made of brick, rock and concrete, and much of the streets are laid with rock, along which are stone walls and lots of hedges, vines, roses, etc. Reminds one of that old Virginia calendar.
     As to the business part of the towns about every other place is a wine joint, only run in an orderly manner. Don't have any idea how long we are going to be here any more than you do, and will say, I have enjoyed being here so far; but just the same, I've seen a plenty, any time they call it off.
     Want you to send my any lists and papers and postals of Wallowa lake, E. O. Mill and schoolhouse, etc. I want to show them to the boys I'm working with. Some are from Montana, Idaho, Washington and California. You see we feel almost at home when we get to talking about home and photos do a lot of good. One boy from Idaho knows some people that I do. Outside of him I have run on to no one from home. But have just heard one of Lou Eaton's boys from Newton, Iowa, is in this camp.
     How are the crops? Tell P.O. Shirley I would like fine to sew sacks for him. Would like to know if the town still booms or not. Just the same. I notice old Wallowa, Oregon, is always first over the top with Liberty bonds. Time never went so fast before as it does here. Thank Chet and Sis for me and I promise to write them soon and am ashamed for not doing so sooner. Have a little more patience about this letter writing because it's hard to write, but will do better after this. You see I am working seven days a week, not so hard, but long hours and something is always butting in when I take a notion to write. This time I got to this line and your letter of July 17 came. It does no good to worry. Just make the best of it. This is a great life if you don't weaken. Takes about a month for letter to reach me so write soon. H. Douglas Cox, 481 Areo Squadron.

Enterprise Record Chieftain
September 12, 1918

Vesta V. Crane

     Vesta M. Crane, a Troy boy with the colors, writes the following to his mother, Mrs. Vena Crane, of Troy, telling of his safe landing in France:
     I will drop you a few lines to let you know that my journey across the ocean was made safely, and that I am well and I like it fine here. It sure is a pretty country and everything is much different here than there. I don't think I will be in place long. You know I can't tell where I am now or where I will go. But you know where I started for. I have been traveling most of the time since I left Camp Lewis, Wash., day and night , most of the time. We had sleepers on the train and on ship.
     I saw a bunch of German prisoners the other day. The whole bunch was ragged and dirty, pretty near all of them wounded. They showed that Germany was suffering, and she is going to suffer death or come to terms before we come back.
     Pvt. Vesta V. Crane, Co. G. 158 Inft. A.E.F., via New York.

Enterprise Record Chieftain
Thursday, October 10, 1918


Vesta Crane

     Vesta V. Crane, an American doughboy in Co. G., 158 Inf. A.E.F, writes to his mother, Mrs. Vana Crane, Troy:
     I have settled down here in Camp for a while, I guess and am at the end of my journey until I get some more training. I don't know when we will go to the trenches, not soon, however, I think. O can hear the cannon roar once in a while most every day, I see many airplanes, too.
     Well, this is a beautiful country and I like it very well, It is much different tho, than I expected it to be, that is the people and their ways of doing things, which are very different from our own, and they are about as slow as the ___. They were wooden shoes. But they are surely good people. They are all about as poor as you and I were when we first started out. They have been driven from the front and all they had was the clothes on their backs, and most of them have lost their loved ones in the battle line. They seem to have plenty to eat.
     We Americans feel very much at home here as they are such friendly people. They surely welcome us with all their hearts, and they would do anything for an American soldier.
     Well, I sure got my fill of traveling before I got here. I went from San Diego, Cal., to the Atlantic by rail and then across the ocean to France.
     I haven't had a sick day since I've been in the army. I've felt fine all the time. I didn't get a bit seasick crossing the ocean, which is quite a sight for one who never has been on it. You can't see anything but water for days and days. It's quite a sensation to be on a big ship. Talk about a sleeping car being nice, you ought to step on board an ocean steamer. Then you could see something nice.
    I can't help it if you do worry about me, but I have to do as Uncle Sam says and I like the army all right and best of all I am not here alone. There are many boys in my company that I know. They are from Flora, Wallowa, and Enterprise. We have staid together all the way and expect to, to the end.

Enterprise Record Chieftain
Thursday, October 31, 1918

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