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At Plattsburg   By: (1870-1946)

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AT PLATTSBURG

by

ALLEN FRENCH

BY THE SAME AUTHOR THE HIDING PLACES . . net $1.35

AT PLATTSBURG

by

ALLEN FRENCH

New York Charles Scribner's Sons 1917

Copyright, 1917, by Charles Scribner's Sons

Published April, 1917

TO SQUAD EIGHT

MY BOOK THE SQUAD ISN'T AS IT REALLY WAS. SOME OF YOU ARE NOT THERE, AND THE REST ARE ALTERED. BUT WHILE, ON ACCOUNT OF THE STORY THAT I NEEDED AND THE FACTS I WANTED TO DISPLAY, I COULD NOT DRAW YOUR PORTRAITS, I HOPE I HAVE SUCCEEDED IN SHOWING THAT THING IN PLATTSBURG WHICH MEANT MOST TO ME PERSONALLY, THE SPIRIT OF OUR SQUAD

PREFACE

To describe military scenes is always to rouse the keenest scrutiny from military men. I write this foreword not to deprecate criticism, but to remind the professional reader that, while the scenes I have described are all from experience, the aim in writing them was not for technical exactness, often confusing to the lay reader, but rather for the purpose of giving a general picture of the fun and work at a training camp.

Nowadays we are making history so fast that readers may have to be reminded that last summer occurred the mobilization on the Mexican border of most of the regular army and many regiments of the National Guard, a fact which considerably affected conditions at Plattsburg.

The "Buzzard Song," which my company used with such satisfaction on the hike, was written by a camp mate, John A. Straley, who has kindly allowed me to use it, with a few minor changes.

Allen French.

Concord, Massachusetts, April 3, 1917.

AT PLATTSBURG

RICHARD GODWIN TO HIS MOTHER

On the train, nearing Plattsburg. Friday morning, Sep. 8, 1916.

DEAR MOTHER:

Though you kissed me good by with affection, you know there was amusement in the little smile with which you watched me go. I, a modest citizen, accustomed to shrink from publicity, was exposed in broad day in a badly fitting uniform, in color inconspicuous, to be sure, but in pattern evidently military and aggressive. What a guy I felt myself, and how every smile or laugh upon the street seemed to mean Me! The way to the railroad station had never seemed so long, nor so thronged with curious folk. I felt myself very silly.

Thus it was a relief when I met our good pastor, for I knew at the first glance of his eye that my errand and my uniform meant to him, as they did to me, something important. So strong was this comforting sense that I even forgot what importance he might attach to them.

But fixing me with his eye as I stopped and greeted him (being within easy hurrying distance of the station) he said in pained surprise: "And so you are going to Plattsburg?"

Then I remembered that he was an irreconcilable pacifist. Needing no answer, he went on: "I am sorry to see that the militarist spirit has seized you too."

Now if anything vexes me, it is to be told that I am a militarist. "Not that, sir," said I. "War is the last thing that I want."

"Train a man to wield a weapon," he rejoined, "and he will itch to use it." I think we were both a little sententious because of the approach of the train. "Your argument is, I suppose, that the country is in danger?"

"Exactly," I replied.

He raised both hands. "Madness! No one will attack us."

I refrained from telling him that with so much at stake I was unwilling to accept even treaty assurances on that point. He went on. "The whole world is mad with desire to slay. But I would rather have my son killed than killing others."

He is proud of his son, but he is prouder of his daughter. Said I, "If war comes, and we are unprepared for it, you might have not only your son killed, but your daughter too... Continue reading book >>




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