Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Nashville Boy Trains for WWI

From Training Camp At Chickamauga Park, Tenn.

Dear Mr. Lincke:

Thinking that perhaps you might be interested in the work of the Officers Training Camp, I shall briefly give you a sketch of our work.

The location is an ideal one, in that it is contiguous to the city of Chattanooga, Tenn. Its broad plains; towering peaks; innumerable forests and splendid roads wonderfully contribute toward its especial adaptability for the purpose of training. The company to which I belong does all of its drilling on the famous "Snodgrass Hill." This hill was the place which was so hotly contested during the Battle of Chickamauga, and incidentally, it is the vantage point which General Thomas gained and for his success at this point he was later characterized as the "Rock of Chickamauga."

The sanitation of the camp is splendid. A one month camp was held here several years ago, but was resultant of many untimely deaths due to the sanitary methods then employed.

Our work is very strenuous and may be attested by a brief outline of a day's work. We rise at 5:15, AM, and take thirty minutes exercise. Breakfast is called at 6:00 o'clock; we then report at the company street at 6:30 for police duty. This duty of course consists of removing all filth of whatever nature. At 7:00 we fall in for drill which lasts until 11:30 AM. Close order drill, bayonet exercise and signaling constitute the work of this period. We have dinner at 12:00 M. At 1:30 we again fall in for drill or possibly hike four or five miles with about forty pounds. We have from 4:30 until 5:30 to make preparation for supper and rest. At 7:00 PM, we go to our respective mess halls and study the assignments in the text until 9:00, or about three times a week we have a lecture at the amphitheater on some phase of military work. All are required to retire at 9:30 PM. The remaining hours are at our disposal, subject to the express regulation of sleeping.

Today about six hundred men are being transferred to other branches of the service: field artillery, court artillery, aviation and cavalry. There will only be nine companies left or about 1600 men in training for infantry. Cantonments are being built on the park and I understand will eventually accommodate 40,000 troops of the regular army.

The Y.M.C.A. has erected a very commodious building here for the benefit of the men. Various musical instruments and a motion picture machine are furnished free. We have Saturday noon until Sunday evening 10:00 at our disposal.

The people of Chattanooga are true types of southern hospitality, having thrown their homes open to men who desire to stay over-night.

Major General Wood was here some days ago and witnessed the drilling of the various companies and expressed himself as being highly pleased with the one month training, and felt that the remaining two months would graduate men in position to competently handle the new conscript army.

Very Truly,
Archie D. Odom

[This letter appeared in the Nashville Graphic, Nashville, NC, on 6/21/1917. Mr. Lincke was editor of the paper.]

Photo of World War I barracks came from Administrative History of Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park by John C. Paige and Jerome A. Greene: February 1983 The book can be found at http://www.nps.gov/archive/chch/adhi/adhi.htm

This story was published in The Connector, newsletter of the Tar River Connections Gnealogical Society in the Fall 2007 issue.

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