Saturday, June 30, 2018

A Fourth of July in France, 1918

        Captain Mike Hogg and his men soon arrived at the small village of Rouvres-sur-Aube, on the Aube River in northeastern France, just behind the battle lines of the Western Front. Here they would begin training in earnest for combat just a few kilometers away. He wrote to Ima: 
                                                               Somewhere in France
                                                               Monday, July 1, 1918
         Dear Sis:
         I believe this red stuff is wine that I am writing with. It smells like it. My company just arrived at this place at 2 p.m. today. We made a long, hard hike, the kind you read about, to get here--sixteen miles from the station where we detrained. All men carried heavy packs, which, as you know, weigh about seventy pounds. Ours weighed more, because we had extra stuff to carry. However, not one man fell out. Our march was fine. . . .
         It is late spring here and everything is green. The whole country is alive with flowers. 
         I am trying to learn this lingo. Am doing very well at present. Can say few things and understand more. . . .
         This band of ours is a great institution. When marching through villages, it always plays. You have no idea the impression it makes. Many of the villages have never had a band anywhere near and others have not had one for years. It has afforded us lots of fun and pleasure.
         We had a very interesting Fourth here. We took our companies over to the next town, where there is a wonderful chateau, and had a regular American field day on the lawn in front of the chateau.
         Our work out here is just as hard as as we can stand. Many hours per day. All are doing it, though, and there seems to be nothing hurt by it.
         Well I will close; it is now nine-thirty p.m. It will soon be so dark I can’t see without a light, and I have only a candle.
         With much love - 
         Mike’s “work” was indeed hard: the 90thDivision and all other U.S. divisions were training for offensive warfare. General John J. Pershing, commander of the American Expeditionary Force, was readying his troops for battle.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Captain Mike Hogg Goes "Over There."

         In the summer of 1918 Captain Mike Hogg, still at Camp Travis, was eager for overseas action. Meanwhile, he and his men, who prided themselves on “having the best singing regiment in Camp,” were hearing local talent: “These darn fool civilians, who have singing societies, or think they can sing, are always inviting themselves out to sing. . . . If they just knew how much misery they caused the poor men, not to speak of the officers! We have had the pleasure of hearing everything in San Antonio croak that even has a semblance of a voice. They come to us as flies go to sugar.”
       In June the men of the 360th Regiment left San Antonio by train, at last on their way overseas. An undated note from Mike to his sister Ima reads: “Just got here last night and leaving tonight. . . . No sleep at all last night. Worked all night. . . . Passed right through New York. . . . Will write you every week over there.”    

For more of Mike Hogg’s war adventures, see this blog in the coming weeks. 

His letters are part of a new WWI book. Look for THE SMELL OF WAR on