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May 11, 1973

Dear Alice:

I think it was on January 9, 1918, that I stood all day in the rain on a hillside near Gondrecourt.  The ground had been covered with snow ever since our arrival in the area on the 3rd, but that day it was turning into slush.  Most of the time it just drizzled, but now and then the rain came down harder for a while.  My only comfort was to reflect how smart I had been to buy that trench coat in Paris.

I was there playing a small part in a war game.  If the ground had been drier and firmer my stage props would have included two 75 guns with their caissons.  But that morning the generals who were running the show had wisely decided not to risk getting the guns mired up in the muddy fields.  Our 75's remained parked at Houdelaincourt.  On the hill I had only imaginary guns.  I did have real live gun crews.  They aimed those guns and loaded them with imaginary shells.  When I commanded "Fire!" they pulled imaginary lanyards.  No doubt our shelling gave the imaginary enemy a bad time.

War games will be necessary as long as we have wars.  I would not think of ridiculing them.  But my part in that one had some comic aspects.  For the rank and file of the First Division, that day was, as the French might have expressed it, [[underline in pencil]] un peu de trop. [[/underline in pencil]]  They had already been driven hard through a week or so of war games in freezing weather.  They had been told on the previous day that it was finished.  They had gone to bed with the rare and blissful prospect of sleeping until 8 A. M.  This was to have been a day of relaxation if not of rest.  Instead they had been roused as usual at daybreak and marched out again, this time into the rain.

All that came about because General Pershing had arrived at Gondrecourt late [[insert]] ^[[the]] [[/insert]] previous night.  He had intended to witness the war exercises on the final day, but somehow he had been detained and got there too late.  Now the final day was being played all over again for the general's benefit.  Orders had gone out around midnight.  I suppose each company and battery commander had been awakened and told to pass the orders down the ranks, not forgetting the buglers who would have to sound reveille earlier than they had expected.

Somehow everyone in Battery C had been alerted except that new
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