Friday, November 24, 2017

“All Things in The Army Have to Be in The Right Form.” July-August 1917

by Captain William Carraway
Historian, Georgia Army National Guard

Company H, 2nd Georgia Infantry Regiment returned to Camp Harris, Macon, Ga. June 30, 1917 from their duty in Jacksonville, Fla. and began a rigorous schedule of training as recounted by Sgt. Robert Burton.

July 8, 1917 letter written by Sgt. Robert G. Burton

Camp Harris, Macon, Ga.
July 8, 1917
My dear mama,
My application for discharge was sent back for proper military form. You know, You know, all things in the Army have to be in the right form 
or they are sent back. I think that when it does go thru these headquarters it will go all right and I will get my discharge.
We are working nearly all day these days. Our day starts at 0530 and lasts til six in the afternoon, so I haven’t much time to get into any trouble. At night I am too tired to go to town and spend any money much. I am spending only what I have to have. Don’t you know it looks funny to see me get up at 5:00 o’clock and eat breakfast at 6:10.
Had a letter from my Jaxville girl this morning. I think that after I come home I will go to see her. She asked me when I was coming back to see her.
Write to me real soon and let me know what you think about my coming home.
As ever, your devoted son,

Burton’s discharge and hopes for leave were soon dashed.

Camp Harris
Saturday Morning (July 14, 1917)
My dear mama,
I can’t come this weekend. Lt. Dickinson took one of his crazy notions yesterday afternoon and would not let me come. He told me yesterday morning that I could come, and I had a grip packed ready to get in the car and he told me that I could not come.
He let Jack Felker go and he went home while we were in Fla. He let (Sgt) Tom Hensler go and he was absent without leave while we were in Fla. I have never been absent without leave.
I think that perhaps I can come next Friday and if I can I will stay over till about Wednesday. I hate the very air that Lt. Dickinson breathes. I am going to run him to the dogs when I get there.
I surely did want to come home and be with all the children.
I am getting along just as fine as can be.
There is no news today. Will write to you again this week.
Hoping to see you by this time next week. I am.
Your devoted son,

Burton did get leave the following Friday and spent a joyous weekend at home in Monroe. It was the last time Burton would be home before sailing for France.

Sgt. Robert G. Burton (Right) at home on leave in July, 1917.

Big changes awaited the regiment in the coming weeks as related by Burton.

Hotel Lanier, Macon Ga.
Wednesday Night (August 8, 1917)
My dear mama,
The regiment is being reorganized under the new law and so we have been pretty busy since the 5th of August. A machine gun battalion has been made out of one battalion of the Second. All of the best non-commissioned officers of the regiment have been transferred to it. Out of our company, Ed Williamson, Tom Hensler, C. J. Mears and myself have been transferred as privates so after tomorrow just address my letters as Mr. R. G. Burton. It is expected that we will be sent to Mass or somewhere near New York City. The general opinion is now that we will leave about Tuesday.
I suppose that by the papers you have seen about the Macon companies being reorganized into machine gun companies.
Capt. (Sidney L.) Conner of B Co has been assigned to Co H since the discharge of Capt. Aycock. We all like him fine so far.
I am getting along just as fine as possible I suppose. If I can’t come home will let you know by mail.
Your devoted son,

Sgt. Robert Burton wrote home from the Hotel Lanier August 8, 1917

The machine gun battalion Burton referenced was the 151st Machine Gun Battalion which was destined to serve in the 42nd Infantry Division. But for now, that information was unknown to Burton or his comrades.

Days later, Burton sent the following telegraph informing his parents of his impending reassignment.

Western Union Telegram Camp Harris, Macon, Ga. 1045 AM August 28, 1917

Next Chapter:  Camp Mills, New York

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