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-3- We did have guns at Fort Oglethorpe. They were the old American 3-inch guns, obsolete at the time of the Spanish-American war. Every army had a light field gun of near that caliber (the French 75 was the best of all). Our guns had two main defects. First, the recoil mechanism operated so slowly that it took the gun almost half a minute to recover position after firing. Second, it had a tendency to jolt out of setting after each shot, so that it had to be re-sighted before the next one. We never fired them because there was no firing range at Fort Oglethorpe, and you can't just go shooting cannon at random over the landscape. Our guns were borrowed from a battalion of the Virginia National Guard that had been mobilized and was encomped nearby. We borrowed their horses too. For two months we harnessed, groomed, hitched and unhitched these horses. We marched hither and yon in formation with the guns and caissons. We would move into gun positions, unlimber the guns, and aim them at designated targets. We went through all the motions of loading the guns with imaginary shells passed from the caissons; sighting, and finally pulling the firing lanyard. Most of this would have been done in the same way if we had had 75's, so it was not entirely wasted activity. All field artillery of all armies was still horse-drawn in WWI. It happened that both the commanders under whom I served at Fort Oglethorpe, Nicklin and Sands, had come up from the ranks. They were both therefore older than a West Pointer of the same rank would have been. Both realized that they could not really train us for modern warfare, but they were sensible men and did their best. Sands had once been in West Point, but had been let out for some reason. Then he had enlisted in the ranks and worked up to a commission. Each morning he wound up our setting-up exercises with a mile run before breakfast. Sands, tall and lean, gray haired, would trot easily alongside, making gibes at anyone who lagged. He was a fine horseman, and we spent lots of time on horseback. Here again I had an advantage over most of our city-bred candidates. I could stick on a horse while taking hurdles or riding down into railroad cuts. I had had lots of practice in earlier life, mostly bareback.
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