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Wm. Muir Letter


Mexican Border


sent by Wm. Muir Letter to His Cousin, John McCoy

 and printed in the "Emmetsburg Democrat", Emmetsburg, Palo Alto Co., Iowa, 03 Jan 1917




Wm. Muir Writes Interesting Letter to His Cousin, John McCoy

El Paso, Tex.
Dec. 16, 1916

Dear Cousin:
It has been quite a while, since I have heard from you, but nevertheless I am going to tell you an interesting story of some of my experiences in army life.

Of course you know we were mobilized at the rifle range near Denver, Colo. Well, we put in three months of preparatory drill before we received orders to leave for the border. The order caused much excitement. It only took us two days to pack and by Sept. 30 we were already except to load on our horses. This took us all day and at 12 p.m. we were comfortably seated in Pullmans. Our train was made up of eighteen horse and box cars and several Pullmans including the baggage car, which we used for cooking purposes.

We came by way of Pueblo, Colo., and Albuquerque, New Mexico, on the Santa Fe road. We arrived at Deming, New Mexico, Oct. 3 and were surprised at the sight of so many soldiers who met us at the depot. But they were all doe (infantry) boys and looked on with great delight as we unloaded our horses and big guns. The people of Deming were also pleased for they knew that their city would be protected while our guns were there.

Upon being shown the camp grounds we were again surprised at the sight of the cactus and sand. All this had to be removed before we could pitch our tents. Well, we got an early start and finished before dark. But very few of
us slept that night, as there were so many insects and tarantulas running in and around the tent and some were even found in the cots. However, no one was bitten that night.

The next morning we prepared to fix up a cook and mess hall. It was completed in a few days. Then we started in to drill and found that we could not use our  horses as the sand was so deep. Instead, we took hikes of one day's duration, and on Oct 26 we took a three days' hike to Ft. Cummings, an old deserted place which saw service in the Indian uprising of 1880-1884. And, by the way, the fort and soldiers that were garrisoned there were commanded by the father of the major now in command over us, Major F. W. Sharp.

We arrived at the fort at 5:30 p.m., making 22 miles over the roughest road we ever traveled. All that was left was the walls of a few adobe houses, used for officers' quarters at that time. These abodes are houses which the
Mexicans built. They used mud bricks in making them.

The next morning we started back towards the mountains ten miles or so for target practice with service ammunition. Returning that afternoon to the fort, we had to double quick most of the way. It was the wildest ride anyone ever had over such mountainous roads.

The next morning we broke camp and prepared for our return to Deming. We took a different road and it being long, we did not reach camp until 6 o'clock that evening. We did not have a mishap, and covered 26 miles. Awaiting our return was an order for us to move immediately to El Paso, Texas.

We were all up and at it, next morning at 5 o'clock and had our camp down and ready to ship at 2 p.m. We shipped our tenatage and such things as we could not carry on our gun carriages. We pulled out of Deming that evening, making 9 miles before we pitched camp for the night. The next day we made 18 miles and Tuesday we made 25 miles, while every day it was getting worse and the sand deeper, the sun hotter, and the water poorer. Wednesday we were ordered to take all the water possible as we could not get any that day until evening. We found a water hole about noon but the water wasn't fit for the men. We watered our horses and moved on. That night at a ranch, we found water but it wasn't very good. The next day we had 22 miles of the hardest road to travel and we pulled into camp that night, with our horses in fair shape. We stopped at the "Borderland Inn" on the Rio Grande river.

We swam our horses there nad we also had to swim ourselves. We, as well as the horses, enjoyed it very much. The next day we had about 12 miles of nice road to travel into El Paso. Our camp grounds were 8 miles on the other side of El Paso, and we arrived at 2 p.m. We had finished a record-breaking hike for artillery, having traveled 165 miles, in 9 days. The officers claim that artillery has never done that before and be in as good condition as we were after the trip, and I believe it.

We have been in El Paso long enough to build a cook house and a bath house, with hot water and a place for our horses.

It has been cold here of late. There is considerable ice where there are little pools of water. We have one drill every morning. As the other camps we were in have been regimented with the famous Five Field Artillery of the
U.S. army, we were picked from all the other batteries here (about 25 in number). As the Five Field Artillery is one of the best in the U.S. service, it is a great compliment to us to be regimented, and it is a cinch that if any troops go over into Mexico, the regulars will be sent first and we will go with the Five Field. The Five Field use 4.7 inch and 6 inch guns and we have a battery of 4.7 inch stationed on a mountain overlooking Juarez, Mexico, across the river from El Paso. We have also firing data with the distance of every bridge and important place in Juarez. These 4.7 inch guns have a firing distance of 11,000 yards accurate firing. We have a position marked out for us should we be called to guard the place. We use the three inch guns with a range of 6, 500 yards. Our station is nearer Juarez than the larger guns. They also have it arranged so that they can go into action in 58 seconds and blow Juarez off the map.

Well, I will bring this to an end. I hope it has interested you and all. I will tell you more about Uncle Sam's Army again some time.

I remain
Your cousin,
Wm. Muir,
1 Sep Bat. 1st F. A. Colo. Bat B
Fort Bliss, Texas.



~ contributed by Palo Alto County IAGenWeb Celtic Cousins http://www.celticcousins.net/