Friday, August 11, 2017

The Great War: August 1, 1917

Last Sunday, Gossips recounted the scene in Hudson when "the F boys," Company F, Tenth Regiment, left Hudson bound for Fort Niagara. The Hudson Evening Register reported, "There were shedding of tears, women fainted and fathers and brothers broke down." But despite the drama of the departure, the "F" boys' initial experience away from home was not harrowing or unpleasant. On August 1, 1917, the Evening Register published this report. 

From The Register's correspondent with the "F" boys.
FORT NIAGARA, August 1.--Some place! The "F" boys hope they are able to stay here for the rest of the summer. They are facing the big lake, and the breezes coming off it are very refreshing. Down in Buffalo people are unable to sleep at night because of the intense heat, but the "F" boys aren't bothered much.
The "F" boys surely are thanking their lucky stars over being detailed here. Their duties are to guard the fort, barrack grounds, etc. 
I haven't had much chance to write relative to our journey here, so I'll try to make up for a little loss [sic] time.
To start off with, the boys will never forget the send-off from dear old Hudson; it certainly was a hummer, and the boys thank everyone for what they have done to make it such a great success.
After the boys got started, they settled down for a long and tiresome ride. They had no sleepers and had to make the best of it, reposing on the baggage, on the floor and every place to get a few hours' sleep.
We were very late in arriving here. We went by way of Lewiston and then transferred by three trolley cars direct to the military fort.
The baggage came later and then every one was busy making camp. We arrived here just 2 p.m. Monday afternoon.
Well, to give you some idea what we have to do: We have entire change of Fort Niagara. Each day we have a detail of military police to keep order, also to handle traffic.
We also have fire detail. Robert Decker, of course, was appointed chief fire marshal. We also have guard duty, orderlies, pumping station, mail service and other details to take care of.
The location is the best I ever camped at, and I know what I am talking about, because I have camped for the last seventeen years.
We are camping inside of Fort Niagara.
We do our own cooking and eat inside of fort. We have a fine sandy bathing beach fifteen yards from where we camp, and are facing the lake of Ontario.
The Niagara river empties also at this location.
There is a fine parade ground where men can play ball, and it is as level as a piece of glass. Shower baths are also on the grounds.
We are having hot weather, but cool nights for we get delightful lake breezes.
I think we are lucky bunch to get this camp. There are plenty of other troops camping outside of Fort Niagara, such as engineer and field artillery, but we have only to look after property of the fort and all details connected with the fort.
We are to stay here three months anyway, or until they change the officers reserve again.
Every one is happy and well. The men are now washing their clothes in the lake and getting them properly cleaned.
Fort Niagara was established in the early 18th century as a French fort. The British gained control of the fort in 1759 and held it throughout the American Revolution. In 1796, Britain was forced by treaty to surrender the fort to the United States, but it was recaptured by the British in 1813. The United States regained control of the fort in 1815, at the end of the War of 1812. 

During the Civil War, in preparation for the possibility the war would come north, Fort Niagara was fitted for battle. In World War I, the fort was used for training American soldiers.

The post card picture above shows the fort in 1906; the one below shows the parade ground at the fort on Memorial Day 1917. 

Post card image: Joseph's Hand

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