Total Pageviews

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Letter 50 ~ October 11, 1918

I write a letter to my mother to let her know that I am still alive. I finish the letter the following day and inform her that I have been selected with 19 others from my company for special training. I also include a note to my niece, Carol Cunningham, who lives with my mother and brother Willis.

Addressed to Mrs. Hattie P. Griffing, Manhattan, Kansas

Camp Republican
October 11, 1918

Dear Folks, Well the “flu” hasn’t gotten me yet and I am beginning to think that I will get by without getting it. If I do, I will consider myself lucky because so many got it. It sure pays to take care of yourself as much as possible when you’re in the army because nobody else will look out for you.

October 12, 1918

Well this letter is somewhat broken up but I expect it will reach you sometime. Last night when I was writing the first part of this letter, [Clinton] Scott brought in that package of candy and nuts so we celebrated and I thot I would get to finish my letter today but I couldn’t because I had to drill instead of having a holiday as most of the others did.

Last night about 20 picked men from the company were ordered to report to the orderly room. I was lucky enough to be one of them. These men will join other picked men from the other companies of our regiment and will form a crack company. We had to drill today and we will drill tomorrow. When I say drill, I mean drill too because it was sure hard. Old non-commissioned officers and new non-commissioned officers are drilling right in the ranks with us. In fact, most of the picked men are noncoms or at least acting noncoms as I am.

The first of next week, this picked company will be taken to Smoky Hill Flats where it will receive special intensive training along such lines as bayonet work, trench fighting, bomb throwing, etc. It will be very hard work but I am sure glad I will get to go because it gives a fellow a chance to see what he is made of and it is quite an honor too. If I only keep well, I think I can stand up with most of them and I think I will. I sure am tired tonight. We have drilled fairly hard all the week and were looking forward to a good Saturday and Sunday layoff but instead of that, we have to work about twice as hard as usual – but I wouldn’t miss it for anything.

The influenza seems to be slacking up here but there are still plenty of cases. Quite a large number are dying but I think that is slacking up also.

Don’t be surprised if you don’t get a letter from me for a while because during that special training next week, I may not have the time or accommodations to write. But I will try to at least drop you a card to let you know I am still alive. I got a letter tonight that you wrote on October 4. It must have gone to some other company first. I got your letter today telling about the Cunningham troubles. They sure are having their share, and then some. You folks must be careful and keep well because you can neither one get along with the other sick.

Bill [Willis], you sure are blowing yourself on calves. Don’t sell too short of feed. Both of those deals sound good; better than going to Kansas City. Don’t you think Mr. Munger’s old mare is too big for our purposes? She would be hard to mate. What you said about Hays’ sale surprised me.

Do you remember Becker? He was one of the men picked from the 36th Company for that special training and I saw him out on the field today, but didn’t get a chance to talk to him.

I got Lew [Griffing’s] letter [that you forwarded to me] all right but forgot that you wanted it back. I will send it in this letter. Say, you don’t need to send me any stamps because I can buy them at the “Y” now. I don’t suppose I will be transferred to any eastern camp so that I could see [my sister] Gussie but it sure would be fine if I could. Well, I must go to bed, so goodnight. – Ward



  1. Ward is somewhat fortunate to be included in the special training. Soldiers often identify their chances of success (read survival) around the other men they serve with. Not a few veterans will admit that they volunteered for the airborne or the rangers or the special forces because they wanted to fight alongside the best soldiers. Ward isn't being given the opportunity to volunteer, but someone thought that he was a good soldier. It's a good sign. And it's a good sign that Ward recognizes that his training comes first and that he might not be able to write.

    Naturally the Army does stupid things with good men, but still Ward's chances of success are better.

  2. The term "crack company" is one my great-great grandfather used to describe his Civil War company. He used the term with pride and admiration for his fellow soldiers. It's use is the highest form of a compliment. It's no wonder Ward considered it an honor to be chosen to be a member of such a company.