(Lawrence McCoy to his mother, Martha Ellen (Fleener) McCoy, circa Jan. 1917)

Company B, 1st Batt, 1st Rpl, Reg Eng
Washington Barracks, D.C.
Ft. Foot, Md

Dear Mother

Will write you a few lines as I am out on pass again from Sat. evening until Monday morning reveille. Reveille is at 6:15 A.M. We all line up in our proper places for roll call. Retreat is at 5:30 P.M. and again, we line up for roll call and are dismissed for the day if we have been good all day. If we aren't the unruly ones work on till supper, eats their supper and go to it again till dark, and the same thing happens to the ones who don't pass inspection Saturdays only. They work every night for a week and work on Sundays, too.

I don't know how I have been getting by, but I've never had to do a minute's work for punishment, yet a week ago they had 84 men working extra and almost the same amount this week.

I haven't got anyone with me today or this evening. I was with a fellow by the name of Pearce this evening awhile but he didn't have any pass and had to go back for Retreat, but there will be a whole boat load from Ft. Foot land here in about an hour.

This fellow Pearce and I knew each other back in Franklin but I'd forgot him and he had forgot me till the other night we were on guard duty and I had to go on first turn, so when I got relieved and went in the guard house to sleep I didn't have my blankets there so Pearce says "you can sleep in my bed for I'm going on post and won't be here until you go on again at midnight, so just use my blankets." So I got to studying where I'd seen him. He didn't have to walk post in the daytime on his post so he came around and we soon located ourselves.

We Brown County boys tried for a long time to stick together but we couldn't do it, and sometimes we don't see some of the bunch for a week at a stretch. I haven't seen George Prosser for 3 or 4 days. I was in the kitchen on Wednesday and saw him when I poured his coffee in his cup, he bawled out some kind of Army B.S. to me.

You see when we get ready to serve a meal here, we have the stuff in big cans like gasoline or coal oil tanks holding from 35 to 50 gallon and there is a soldier stands by each can as the boys pass along and hold out their mess kits. He gets from the first man two slices of bread, a big dipper of potatoes from No. 2, and so on down the line to the last which is coffee or tea. Then he grabs his cup off his belt, gets his drink and passes on down on the hillside, sits down on the ground or anything he has or can find and eats and drinks. If he doesn't get enough first time he can keep on going around till he does, if he has nerve enough to cuss the cook a little when he gets tired of seeing you come around.

These boys who work in the kitchen are called kitchen police but we hardly ever say kitchen police, it is always K.P. That's the way we get it when we get orders to go to the kitchen it's "You're on K.P. today so get your fatigue clothes on and skidoo." I've heard that just 7 times in Ft. Foot. I was on two days this week. They shipped out a bunch and got the thing mixed up and put me on about two weeks ahead of my time. They had to get dinner for the boys when they got back off the hike and they took me and my whole bunch of carpenters and put us on K.P. On Sat. there were 13 of us, they generally only take 8 and if they have anyone on sick report just getting well, they mark him down for light duty and put him to peeling potatoes or stringing beans. The way we cook potatoes is to just go out to the storehouse, get two or three sacks full or whatever they need, cut the strings, pour them into one of the big cans and slash in some water enough to cover, and set the whole cheese on the stove, guts, feathers and all. Sometimes they don't get all the sack off. They are peeled, then when boiled and fixed to eat (in Army slang peeling potatoes is skinning Murphys) and to put your light out is "douse your glimmer" and there are others too numerous to mention.

They have some way of fixing yellow corn meal as a kind of breakfast food and its just fine. They take and mix it and boil it just like mush till it's real thick, then set it off the fire and put in 6 or 8 cans of condensed milk (pint cans) and a lot of sugar to each (wash) boiler full and stir it all up and say, she is lairping. I said some of these fine hairs turn up their nose at it but I would rather have it any day than their toasted corn flakes, shredded wheat or grape nuts. We get shredded wheat biscuits about twice a week, then grape nuts and cornflakes, and my mush I told you about the rest of the time. We always get milk over our breakfast food but this is just a dessert. The other stuff that sticks to your ribs you get just the same.

Down at Camp Taylor, Ky they fed us macaroni for a week or two straight and one night they had a big fire over in Louisville and had an engine or two from the Camp there. We were all up watching it and someone says "What is it burning?" and one fellow says, "I hope its that g.d. old macaroni factory." Ha! Ha! Well, I weigh just ½ pound more now than I did when I left Camp Taylor. I weigh 152 ½ but I've both lost and gained since I left there. About three weeks ago I weighed about 140 lbs. I haven't felt bad all the time either, but they just shot so blamed much of that old typhoid and smallpox serum in my arms I was losing everyday. I could taste that typhoid stuff before he got the needle out of my arm, but its just the thing for everyone whether he is a soldier or not. That vaccination wasn't much to start with that we got on Mon. after we left home. Just a cross like this - # - just below the shoulder on the back of the arm. Just did make the blood come but, say, what arms we had in about 10 days! My arm isn't plumb healed up yet, neither is Colba's but it isn't sore anymore. There is a scar about the size of a quarter left but you can see that on every soldier's arm. We certainly are puncture proof now but everyone who passes the oversea duty examination gets another shot in the hips for them diseases like Iva said Turner had! Ha! Ha! He will get them in N.Y. City before he goes across.

But I'm a little afraid we won't get to take any boat ride. If we go to Texas I know we won't. Well, I guess this is about all the definitions I can think of so will close before I work the shovel overtime. Say, I'm stuck on the pens they have here for us to write with. A fellow has to write just as fast as he can or the ink all runs off in a spot.

Well, I must close so write soon. As ever,

Lawrence Mc