Wm. Muir Writes Interesting Letter to His Cousin, John McCoy
El Paso, Tex.
Dec. 16, 1916
It has been quite a while, since I have heard from you, but nevertheless I
am going to tell you an interesting story of some of my experiences in army
Of course you know we were mobilized at the rifle range near Denver, Colo.
Well, we put in three months of preparatory drill before we received orders
to leave for the border. The order caused much excitement. It only took us
two days to pack and by Sept. 30 we were already except to load on our
horses. This took us all day and at 12 p.m. we were comfortably seated in
Pullmans. Our train was made up of eighteen horse and box cars and several
Pullmans including the baggage car, which we used for cooking purposes.
We came by way of Pueblo, Colo., and Albuquerque, New Mexico, on the Santa
Fe road. We arrived at Deming, New Mexico, Oct. 3 and were surprised at the
sight of so many soldiers who met us at the depot. But they were all doe
(infantry) boys and looked on with great delight as we unloaded our horses
and big guns. The people of Deming were also pleased for they knew that
their city would be protected while our guns were there.
Upon being shown the camp grounds we were again surprised at the sight of
the cactus and sand. All this had to be removed before we could pitch our
tents. Well, we got an early start and finished before dark. But very few of
us slept that night, as there were so many insects and tarantulas running in
and around the tent and some were even found in the cots. However, no one
was bitten that night.
The next morning we prepared to fix up a cook and mess hall. It was
completed in a few days. Then we started in to drill and found that we could
not use our horses as the sand was so deep. Instead, we took hikes of one
day's duration, and on Oct 26 we took a three days' hike to Ft. Cummings, an
old deserted place which saw service in the Indian uprising of 1880-1884.
And, by the way, the fort and soldiers that were garrisoned there were
commanded by the father of the major now in command over us, Major F. W.
We arrived at the fort at 5:30 p.m., making 22 miles over the roughest road
we ever traveled. All that was left was the walls of a few adobe houses,
used for officers' quarters at that time. These abodes are houses which the
Mexicans built. They used mud bricks in making them.
The next morning we started back towards the mountains ten miles or so for
target practice with service ammunition. Returning that afternoon to the
fort, we had to double quick most of the way. It was the wildest ride anyone
ever had over such mountainous roads.
The next morning we broke camp and prepared for our return to Deming. We
took a different road and it being long, we did not reach camp until 6
o'clock that evening. We did not have a mishap, and covered 26 miles.
Awaiting our return was an order for us to move immediately to El Paso,
We were all up and at it, next morning at 5 o'clock and had our camp down
and ready to ship at 2 p.m. We shipped our tenatage and such things as we
could not carry on our gun carriages. We pulled out of Deming that evening,
making 9 miles before we pitched camp for the night. The next day we made 18
miles and Tuesday we made 25 miles, while every day it was getting worse and
the sand deeper, the sun hotter, and the water poorer. Wednesday we were
ordered to take all the water possible as we could not get any that day
until evening. We found a water hole about noon but the water wasn't fit for
the men. We watered our horses and moved on. That night at a ranch, we found
water but it wasn't very good. The next day we had 22 miles of the hardest
road to travel and we pulled into camp that night, with our horses in fair
shape. We stopped at the "Borderland Inn" on the Rio Grande river.
We swam our horses there nad we also had to swim ourselves. We, as well as
the horses, enjoyed it very much. The next day we had about 12 miles of nice
road to travel into El Paso. Our camp grounds were 8 miles on the other side
of El Paso, and we arrived at 2 p.m. We had finished a record-breaking hike
for artillery, having traveled 165 miles, in 9 days. The officers claim that
artillery has never done that before and be in as good condition as we were
after the trip, and I believe it.
We have been in El Paso long enough to build a cook house and a bath house,
with hot water and a place for our horses.
It has been cold here of late. There is considerable ice where there are
little pools of water. We have one drill every morning. As the other camps
we were in have been regimented with the famous Five Field Artillery of the
U.S. army, we were picked from all the other batteries here (about 25 in
number). As the Five Field Artillery is one of the best in the U.S. service,
it is a great compliment to us to be regimented, and it is a cinch that if
any troops go over into Mexico, the regulars will be sent first and we will
go with the Five Field. The Five Field use 4.7 inch and 6 inch guns and we
have a battery of 4.7 inch stationed on a mountain overlooking Juarez,
Mexico, across the river from El Paso. We have also firing data with the
distance of every bridge and important place in Juarez. These 4.7 inch guns
have a firing distance of 11,000 yards accurate firing. We have a position
marked out for us should we be called to guard the place. We use the three
inch guns with a range of 6, 500 yards. Our station is nearer Juarez than
the larger guns. They also have it arranged so that they can go into action
in 58 seconds and blow Juarez off the map.
Well, I will bring this to an end. I hope it has interested you and all. I
will tell you more about Uncle Sam's Army again some time.
1 Sep Bat. 1st F. A. Colo. Bat B
Fort Bliss, Texas.