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Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Letter 64 ~ October 22, 1918

I write Minnie to let her know I am still at the Smoky Hill Flats training area but we have moved our camp to higher ground.

Addressed to Miss Minnie G. Frey, Stockdale, Kansas

Smokey Hill [Flats]
October 22, 1918

Dear Kid:

Well kid, I have another new home. General [Leonard] Wood came out here this morning and issued an order that this detail would stay here for about six more weeks. The place where we were camped was terribly muddy so we had to move back on a little higher ground & make a more permanent camp. We are in a lot better place although it is quite a ways to water. But we can’t expect to have all the advantages. We hear all kinds of reasons why we had to stay out here & we can’t believe any of them. One that sounds reasonable is that there is a strict quarantine on Detention Camp 2 [D.2.]. They will keep us here & send us to
[Camp] Funston sooner. But again we hear another rumor that the quarantine goes off tomorrow. At any rate, we are here until about Thanksgiving. I don’t know what will be done about passes after the quarantine is lifted, but I know it will be some time before I can expect to get one. Even if it is a little unpleasant here, I am glad I got a chance to come because the fellows left at [detention] camp have just been monkeying around the whole of last week.

I got the letter today that you wrote on the 17th, one from mother, & one from [my sister] Gussie. It was the first mail for 5 or 6 days & believe me, it was welcome. You can write everyday now & it will come to me fairly regularly now.

Last Sunday I got a pass to D.2. to get some more of my luggage & to take a bath. As soon as I saw
John Conrow, he told me that [my brother] Willis was sick with the influenza. Well it sure struck me in a heap. I had no idea that he would get sick. I had gotten no mail from home telling about it so I went over & put in a call at the “Y.” I had to wait about an hour for an answer but finally I had quite a good talk with mother. She said that Willis had been sick since Monday [Oct. 14th] so you see how the mail service is out this way. Well it relieved me to know that he was getting better but I don’t see how they get along with him in bed. It looks as tho it should have been me who should have gotten sick. I sure hope that this weather clears up & gets settled or we will be sick here because we don’t stop for rain, mud, or anything. Maybe it is a good thing to get accustomed to mud because that is the only thing we will have a plenty of over there except cooties.

We were issued several overcoats Sunday morning & believe me, they sure are warm. My issue socks were thin cotton & when they got wet, they rolled up behind my heel & before I came in at night, I had quite a nice blister. The next day I wore them again & of course my heel got no better. Sunday I put on my wool socks & have been wearing them ever since. They fill up my shoes better & when they get wet, they absorb the moisture. My heel festered in the blister & believe me, it sure hurt to keep up the regulation 120 steps per minute. I have had it dressed twice now & it is lots better. We moved today and didn’t have to drill on it tomorrow. It will be alright I think.

You asked if
John Conrow came with us. No, it was Aubrey. John probably would have but he was put on guard the night before we came over. As I understand it, these men will instruct the rest but, of course, things are changed overnight in the army.

I don’t think it is probable that we will go with the 10th [Division] although it is altogether possible. I sure hate to think of staying out in this camp till Thanksgiving but I suppose it could be worse. The worst part is that the field kitchen is not as efficient as the cook shack & there are no floors in our tents. But I think maybe they will improve things a little if we stay here so long.

I wonder if you are teaching school this week? I am going to address this to Stockdale & take the risk. Have you gotten those grain samples yet? I don’t know what kind of shape they are in.

I am sure getting a lot of experience out here & am learning how to soldier, if you know what that means. Well maybe I can spoil another page of good paper. This bunch that was drafted September 5 is the largest bunch that has hung together so long in the Depot Brigade. Three weeks is usually the limit but we have been in now nearly two months. If no changes are made, the Brigade will form the skeleton of a new Division which will be formed up at
[Camp] Funston as soon as the 10th [Division] can move out. These beastly quarantines have kept the 10th [Division] here nearly a month longer than the original plans & there is no telling how much longer. That fact only prolongs the war.

Well Kid, I must write a card to the folks to let them know that I am still better than the influenza & the meningitis, so good night & don’t worry about me in the least. As ever, -- Ward

  • Augusta Griffing, called “Gussie” was Ward’s older sister. She was born 16 August 1885 and was married to Harry Vaughn Harlan 15 November 1905. They lived near Washington D.C. where Harry worked for the Department of Agriculture.

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