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Somewhere in France
It is nearly a week since I wrote you and
I have forgotten the number of my last letter and
as near as I can remember this should be #7
There has been many things this last week
to see that were interesting and if it had
not been that way it would have been very
much harder for us. Just today we have
arrived in camp after a 40 hour ride in
side door pullmans (Freight cars). We did not have room
enough for all to lay down and to make matters worse
a couple of fellows from another car joined ours because
they had particular pals in there. They were not
welcome after we all tried to lay down and found
at best we could only lay with our legs doubled up.
However even though we all kicked among our
selves we have managed to live through it and
at that we will have lots worse coming to us.
Though we sleep on slats tonight it is the most
comfortable camp we have struck. It is American
and even over here we find things American are
the best. None of us will trade our own
country for anything we have seen over here
as yet. Everyone is very tired, I have slept all
afternoon, and will make up some more tonight
of late, to lose a nights sleep is nothing in
our young lives. Early in the week we had
a 7 or 8 mile march that was all up hill and
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When he wrote this letter sometime in late July, Edward Wirt's division, the 76th ("Liberty Bell"), had been assembling for several weeks near the town of St. Aignan in the French province of Loir et Cher (some 100 miles from Paris). His unit arrived there uncomfortably packed in railroad freight cars; they had been there one week already. On their arrival, the units making up the 76th division had immediately been put through more training. The 76th was a "National Army" (draftee) division that had been hastily thrown together with little training. The marches Wirt writes about were a part of the effort to toughen up the soldiers. But in the end many of the National Army divisions were not used in combat; many were broken up, their men distributed to other units. Wirt enclosed a card thrown him by a French woman expressing her gratitude. By 1918, France had suffered more than any other western Allied power. Its losses had been so heavy (by the end of the war, more than 4 million killed and wounded) that in early 1917 there had been a large-scale mutiny in the army. It recovered, but the arrival of fresh American troops was greeted with joy and relief.
There are ninety letters from Mr. Wirt to Miss Bartlett in the PVMA collection; twelve of them are reproduced here.
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WWI letter to Emily Gladys Bartlett
| author Edward Roswell Wirt (1891-1942)
| date Jul 23, 1918
| location France
| height 8.0"
| width 5.0"
| process/materials manuscript, paper, ink
| item type Personal Documents/Letter
| accession # #L01.016
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