A Soldier's Letter
Letters from young  Putnam and Marshall County men fighting during WWI

Taken From the Henry News Republican, Henry, IL
November 21, 1918
From Ralph Bacon

My dear Folk: -- Received your letter of August 25th, all O.K..  I received it on the battlefield where bullets and shells were flying fast.  The last time I was on the front 9 days and 10 nights and all the while on the attack it sure was tough.  I didn't think I would ever get out alive.  I slept three nights out in the rain with nothing to put over me.  All I had to eat was hard crackers and canned corn beef.  We sure made the Germans run for three days and captured a lot of them, let alone what we killed.  Finally we came to dead man's hill where we fought them hard for six days before we were relieved.  I understand they are over the hill now and the allies have them on the down hill run.  The Germans are all in.  They run like deer when the Americans take after them, but they are awfully tricky.  You have to look out for them all the while.

At present I am in the hospital.  Nothing serious, resting up and for my nerves.  Also getting my stomach in shape.  I think I will be back to my company in a few days.  Address all mail to the company.

The way things look the war will soon be over.  I hope so as I have all I want of it.  It certainly is terrible.  When Sheman said war was hell, he never saw this war.  I had several narrow escapes.  One night about three o'clock in the morning the Germans were shelling us with their artillery and I was sleeping in a hole on a hillside with two other fellows.  (We dug the hole in ourselves, we generally slept by 3'2 so we could keep each other warm) when all of a sudden I had to leave.  The other two boys thought I would surely be killed  if I stepped out of the hole and tried to get me to stay in, but I had to go so I crawled out and ran to the foot of the hill.  When I came back a shell had hit right in our nest and my two partners were blown all to pieces.  I sure felt funny for awhile.  My timae hadn't come I guess.  

Must close as chow is ready and I am awfully hungry.  It seems as if I just can't get enough to eat any more.  If I get out of the hospital and get paid, will hit some restaurant and fill up.  If you want to send anything, send a little money as we haven't been paid for two months.  I can get tobacco and candy at the Y.M.C.A. if I have money.  Also when we are away from the firing line,  I can buy eggs and French fried potatoes, etc.    It doesn't do any good to send any packages as most of teh boys never get them.

My, it seems good to be in a good bed again and away from the noise.  My head sure did ring and ache the first day from the noise and also scared just like a jack rabbit.   This hospital is about forty miles from the front so I feel quite safe.

Yes, I received Sue's letter and expect to write her soon.  I ahve received your number one and two.  I haven't all of my officer's first names but will try and get them and send them to you as soon as possible.  None of my officers were killed, but one was gassed a little.  Must close now.  Write often as it helps.  Tell Sue and Elsie to write.  Oh, yes, did you get my insurance policy.  Be sure and let me know.  Love to all,  

Ralph C. Bacon
Co. C.  363 Inf.  
A.P.O. 776 via New York


Camp Shelby, Mississippi, July 29, 1918

Dear Friend Cook,

I'll write you a few lines on behalf of Stephen Novac and myself. We are in the same regiment but not the same company. I will tell you a few things that have happened to us since we left home. We arrived here on the morning of May 27, and were kept in the detention camp for 3 weeks and were kept in close confinement at that. We even had to ask the first sergeant if we wanted to go to the canteen. We left the detention camp on the 19th of June and were put in the 151st infantry. I am in the machine gun company and Stephen is in Company D and is learning how to throw bombs as well as handling a rifle. We are getting along fine and like our work fine. I was on stable detail today and Stephen was sent to over to the Y.M.C.A. to sweep the hall. We are all getting a chance at these little details, but don't like them for they will knock us out of so much drill and will take us just that much longer to get ready to go across to France or wherever we suppose to go. We have had our woolen clothes given to us and hope to leave here before long. Well, hoping to hear from the folks at home, I will give you both addresses, mine and Stephen's.

Stephen Novac,
151st Inf. Co. D., Camp Shelby, Mississippi
Remijus D. Stoens
Machine Gun Co., Camp Shelby, Mississippi

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