HARLEM VALLEY TIMES AMENIA NEW YORK
LETTERS FROM OUR BOYS AT CAMP
Leon Springs, Texas
October 23, 1917
Editor of the Harlem Valley Times:
Thinking perhaps that some of the folks at home would like to hear from the boys in this locality, I decided to write a summary of our doings.
I enlisted in New York City in June of this year and was sent from there to Ft. Slocum where I went through the final examination and was sworn into military service.
After spending seven days at Ft. Slocum I was one of a contingent of eighteen hundred soldiers which pulled out of Jersey City on Saturday noon June 22nd. This train was one of the longest troop trains that ever left for the South. Our departure was heralded by the shrieking of locomotives, blasts from the boats on the river and cheers from the throngs of people.
The trip down here was slow but very interesting to us all. We stopped at many places en route and were most royally received, the inhabitants dispensing words of cheer, cigars, cigarettes and candy.
We arrived at Leon Springs on Friday A.M., June 29th and were immediately assigned to different batteries and regiments. Two new regiments of artillery were organized at that time and those same regiments present a much different aspect today, thanks to the efficiency and patience of our officers and the willingness of each and every fellow soldier. We are now almost at the stage where we feel we could make quick work of the Keiser’s men and are eager to get into actual service.
Leon Springs is a small village situated twenty-seven miles from San Antonio. The reservation that we are on covers 1700 acres and the climatic conditions are such that it makes an ideal spot for military training purposes.
Our sanitary conditions are unexcelled and there is yet to be a case of serious illness of any kind here. Our officers and members of the hospital division are worthy of special mention. We get plenty to eat and while it is not of the choicest of foods yet it is substantial.
There are regiments of artillery, engineers, and signal battalions stationed here: Also an Officer’s training camp similar to the one at Plattsburg.
We are not long in acquiring the first rudiments of a soldier, namely: left face, right face, how to salute, camp courtesy and etc. But the first few lessons in horsemanship were both amusing and for a good many days one could see the boys (of which I was one) limping about and showing signs of bad humor, but now every lad is “at home” in the saddle and equally so in the use of guns.
We put in nine hours of drilling daily under officers who are both kind and patient. The booming of guns and crack of muskets are constantly going on and our target is a good semblance of how the “Hunns” will look when Uncle Sam’s boys get thru with them.
I am attached to the Signal Detail of our battery and find the work both interesting and instructive. Our time is not all taken up with soldiering by any means. We have regimental football leagues here and great rivalry exists among the different batteries. Every Wednesday is “Regimental Field Day” and sports of all kinds are indulged in.
Last Thursday was Liberty Bond Day here and a holiday. Details from the different batteries, led by the regimental band paraded around the camp advertising the opening of the Liberty Bond Sale. At its termination, Colonel Payne addressed the men relative to the importance and advantage of the purchase of the bonds and from the close of his remarks up to the time of retreat there was a constant stream of khaki clad boys filing into their respective offices pledging their mite towards the preservation of democracy.
Not long since I had the pleasure of a visit from Guernsey Palmer, one of our well known Amenia boys who was in this vicinity on business pertaining to the water works connected with this camp. It surely was a pleasant surprise and seemed good to see “a friend from my old home town.” I trust I may meet with a similar surprise soon again.
Before closing I want to acknowledge the receipt of the resolutions sent to me by the Amenia Hose Co., which tended to show that its members who are in Uncle Sam’s service are not forgotten and that their willingness to serve the latter is appreciated by their brother members in good old Amenia.
I would be pleased to hear from any or all my friends and extending to you my best wishes for a happy and joyous Thanksgiving.
Very truly yours,
Corporal Edward R. McDonald
20th Field Artillery