I let my mother and brother know that I'm being transferred to Nitro, West Virginia to guard a munitions plant. Most of the content in the letter is repetitious of what I wrote Minnie on the same day so I'll only include the material that is different.
Addressed to Mrs. Hattie P. Griffing, Manhattan, Kansas
December 11, 1918
Well, Willis, you might as well tell Mr. Hays to hand over that dollar because I will be about fifteen hundred miles away from home at Christmas.
Monday the Captain said ... we would likely go to Nitro, West Virginia sometime this week. I didn’t want to write you folks about it until we were ready to entrain. I was afraid it might be another of those false reports. However, we began to pack up yesterday so there isn’t any doubt but what we are going. They packed all the dishes so we are eating off of mess kits again. Lieutenant Boone said this morning that we were to go yesterday (we didn’t go out to drill at all) but they decided to wait until they could get Pullmans. We could have gone in chair cars yesterday but they thot that only two companies could go in more style than that, so we may not start until Monday.
Our job will be to guard the Hercules Powder Plant. He said it would be a ticklish job because the miners and munitions workers there didn’t like the soldiers. He said that if we went hunting for trouble, we could sure find it. There are tons and tons of high explosives stored there too so they will be mighty strict about what kind of a guard we put up. This place Nitro is about 15 miles north of Charleston, which is quite a large city and is connected [to Nitro] by trolley.
The Captain [said] they are going to keep 12 army divisions in the U.S. besides the men in Europe. Things are a long ways from settled and now South America is trying to start something.
The 20th [Infantry Regiment] is going to be scattered from Fort Riley to West Virginia. [Companies] A & B went to Fort Riley today. G & H go to Leavenworth. C & D go to Fort Brady (that is where we almost went), L goes to Rock Island Arsenal, Illinois, E & F to West Virginia, and some go to Fort Sheridan. They will probably be assembled in the spring at Ft. Douglas, Utah.
Washington [D.C.] is only about 300 miles I should judge by the map from Charleston [West Virginia] so I may get a chance to go up there before coming home. Maybe you had better tell [my sister] Gussie to wait until you get my new address before she sends that paper. All men who were out on passes were called in by wire and no more passes are being issued, I will try and call you folks up just before I leave if I can. I got that pillow today. As soon as I get settled, I will want you to send me my serge suit probably. There are wooden barracks there similar to these here but of course the camp is very small. Our work all winter will be guard duty and close order drill. We went out to drill this morning and most of it was close order, but believe me it was snappy.
Well, I hope you folks will write often and tell me how the weather is and how the cattle are getting along, etc. I have been so close, I could tell about when you could pasture or not, but it will be different [when I am] there. This is still good pasture weather, isn’t it? I expect they are on the whole field now and doing fine.
Well, I will be home in two or three months any way so do the best you can. I would be home now if I could but I can’t so there is no use worrying about it. Write often and don’t worry about me. With lots of love, -- Ward