December 12, 1918 – Letter to Robert’s mother:
Dad’s letter of Nov. 17 came today.
The news is just out that this division is not to go to Germany. At least not yet. It begins to look as though they intend to keep us here until we all die off from old age. To make it worse it rains all the time and we drill all the time. But we are trying to stand it as well as we can. I know that we all can’t go home at once.
Mother you should not have sent Aunt Aggie money to get Gilbert + I a Christmas present. It was awfully good of you tho. I only wish I had been able to remember you + Dad and the girls. But as you know I am going to need every cent I can get. Times are hard for me. Harder than they ever were before I guess.
I am awfully anxious to get back and see my boy. It is going to be a big job to raise him the way I want him to be.
We had a good athletic show in the Y. last night. And if the rain lets up are going to play football.
The morning after we came out of the big drive in the Argonne we called roll and out of 235 men there were only 19 left. I guess your prayers saved me. I had narrow escapes but did not get a scratch. I was in gas a dozen times but got my mask on without getting enough to hurt me.
I wired the barn that I live in today and will have electric lights.
Life isn’t so bad but we all hate to waste such valuable time that should be spent in America instead of wasting it over here.
I hope you are all well and wishing all of you a happy new year.
Lovingly your son, Robert
I’ve seen a lot of statistics in the last few months about the massive casualties suffered by the Allies – and specifically the 35th Division – in the Argonne. But nothing had quite the impact of reading the devastation on a smaller scale as Robert provided above. He’s talking about Company B, normally comprised of 250 men, going from 235 down to 19. That’s 216 men either killed or seriously wounded. It’s 92% of the company.
Whether it was luck, skill, prayers, or a combination, Robert certainly beat the odds.
Where was Robert today? See the timeline.