Co. B, 1st Bn. 1st Rpl Reg Eng
Washington Barracks, D.C.
Just got your letter a minute ago. Haven't time to write much. Am going out of D.C. tonight. I don't know where I'm going but I'll be on my way. We have orders to line up at the flagpole at 6:45 PM. We haven't done a thing for 4 days only set and wait for orders to march out. There are 10 of us going out of Co. B, and altogether there is probably a whole battalion going from this post.
Don't worry about me and Harley for we are not bad off by any means. One soldier said to me the other night up in Washington "Here we are up here having a good time and our folks at home worrying about us." And the newspapers print so much dope about so many being killed, which is all a lie. They have reported more soldiers dead than have ever been alive since Adam's time, since the war began.
I've learned a few things since I came into the army, and the soldiers don't all line up and make a charge. There is a line of soldiers, of course, who make a charge but they're spread out so thin (probably a couple rods apart) and they can't turn no machine gun and mow them down like hay, either, Unless the ground they stood on was plumb level and the soldiers stood 40 inches apart like they do when they march. Not once in a hundred years does a man get a chance to use a machine gun on soldiers in a march formation. I've had a hold of them machine guns and they're all right if a fellow wants a shotgun and can't hit anything with anything else. But give me my old Enfield and I'll get more Dutch in a day, every day, than any machine gun that was ever built. I'd rather charge a machine gun than an expert rifleman for it would just be an accident if a man hit me with a machine gun and a good shot with a rifle would take his time and make one shot, and the stuff would be all off. There's not anyone who can see through blaze and smoke and white heat, and that's all you can see after the first shot is fired from a machine gun till you shut it down. Then you've got to sight again, of course. They're just as true as a rifle the first shot; after that, it's a chance if you hit the ground within 600 yards of the target.
So there's too many thinking that war is a butcher shop. It's just like life everyday any place. You take a chance in civil life. You take a chance against disease and if you get sick you've got to let the doctor fight for your life. You don't know if he is fighting for you or against you. In the army disease is very scarce nowadays and all you got to fight you can see and fight yourself. You've got your own tools and know how to use them, you're well and hearty and feel like going to it, and if you lose the fight then the stuff is off quick and you haven't suffered a minute.
There's not very many more killed in battle than would die every day at home anyway. If they were killed as fast as the papers say there are, there wouldn't be enough men left in the world to have a prize fight. There's a lot gets killed, of course, but you hear about all of them at once plus it's ten times the real truth. There's also a lot of them dying everyday at home. You hear of only a few of them. I'm not going to France to get killed and am not going exactly to kill anyone else. I'm going to build roads and bridges, and if need be, I will fight as long as I've got an arm to fight with or a leg to stand on. I'm no poor shot, either, and I am wearing a silver plate on my left breast pocket that reads like this MARKSMAN in big capitals that will put a pain in many a German's eye and a kink in his back, if he pesticates me any! I won that by laying on my elbows 600 yards from the target and pumping hot steel at the rate of one shot every 4 seconds. If I'd had one more clip of shells I'd made a sharp shooter badge, but I know I can do it anyway so I should worry about the badge. It wouldn't make me shoot any better anyway. I sometimes wish I was in the Infantry so I could get a chance to pick a few Dutch at long range. Those helmets would make an ideal target.
Well, here's a verse some fellows got up for his special orders on Post 6 (the lumber yard post).
One fool was on guard down at Ft. Foote one night that didn't know the officer of the day, so the officer of the day came around and asked him what his orders were and he said he didn't have any. The officer says "What did the Corporal tell you when he put you on this post?" Oh, he says, the corporal said for me to keep my eyes skimmed for fire and keep shy of the officer of the day for he was an SOB! Ha! The officer started to hunt up the Corporal and got to thinking about it and got so tickled he couldn't say anything when he found him. The officer was Lieutenant Gardner C. George. He is in Georgia now. He is a good fellow, too.
Well, write to this address. I won't be here but it will follow me up and I will write more some other time. As ever your brother,