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C Undericood & Underwood

A FRENCH GENERAL REVIEWS OUR TROOPS CLOSE TO THE FIGHTING FRONT

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THE FIRST TEN THOUSAND

BY HERBERT REED HATEVER may be in the the little I have seen so far, and con- attitude of the gray-haired man of minds of the five thousand vinced as I am that these molders of forty who had fought the workaday or so student officers under- men have always before them the vision world for the sort of life he meant to

going, many for the first of those shadowy drafted millions which live and had lived till now; who had time, some for the second, the intensi- are in the last analysis the nation. They thrown away the fruits of that fight fied training under way at Plattsburg are determined that these millions shall to fight for the world that he had found Barracks that is designed at some no not be thrown away—indeed, that they so good. These two stand side by side distant date to produce “The First Ten shall have every chance for their lives in the ranks, the older as proud as the Thousand" who are to organize, in- compatible with victory.

younger of the new equality. struct, and finally lead the shadowy I want that fact to sink home in the On the surface these things do not millions of Americans who thru the breasts of the mass of men of all orders appear. One has to dig deeply. But selective draft will be called to serve who will be called to the colors, for I they are everlastingly there and they their country, there is in the minds have been on the ground where the are that "atmosphere" of which I of their experienced instructors one problem is being worked out, and I spoke. The process of stilling those basic idea, and that is that we are at have been among hundreds of men who who were not and never could be of war. Not that we are preparing for will be called, and I know their fears that atmosphere began early, and, as I war, but that we are at war. It is based on the experiences of the old vol- write is still going on. You cannot a sweeping change in attitude from unteer system with its rank favoritism. serve Caesar and the ideal which is the old training camp days when we

.-.. ours at the same time. And those who were preparing for war perhaps. The FORTUNATELY for the purpose of prefer Cæsar are being sent back. change is evident in little things, but T this chronicle I reached Plattsburg One man wanted a few days off to above all in the great fundamental on the day when the first thousands of attend to his business. He had forgotdetermination to wipe out at one student officers, after a week of shak- ten that he was now about his counstroke in the personality and pre- ing together, had been set free for rest try's business. He received an honorvious attainments of the candidate and recreation. From little talks here able discharge on the spot, and even everything but the man himself. The and there, with men I had known, with that was a concession. There were military life of every man who re- men I was seeing for the first time, here and there cases of overanxiety ported at the bleak barracks on the with pairs, with groups; from a study which will wear off, of sheer exubershores of Lake Champlain after the of their faces and of their bearing Iance which will also wear off to a large preliminary weeding out process in his gained an indelible impression of seri- extent without adversely affecting the home territory, which in this case ousness. There were exceptions, of morale of the men. Despite discomcomprises New York and New Eng- course, but in the main I found a real- forts due to the sudden, the tremendland, began the moment he reported ization of the task in hand among men ous, and in some ways unexpected for duty. His future lay thereafter of all classes, of all sort of previous growth of the post, it has so far been in his own hands. In the mass I be- attainments and experience, from the a happy encampment. Much has been lieve that has been understood by the youngest to the oldest. There is as I said of the grinding work, but there is candidates for commissions. And that write vividly before me the face of the nothing in the schedule that need understanding in the mass cannot help young man just out of college, superb wear down men who are physically fit but grow until it so dominates the in his youth, ardent in his aspirations, for it, and the intensive mental trainplace that the exception will be oblit- who said: “I want my ticket for ing is well within the powers of the erated.

France.” Hardly less vivid is the tense type of man who has been sent on by That is the way "atmos

the examining boards. And phere" is made in any

I have never seen any great assemblage of men

course of study, even of afield whether in the great

the non-military order, games of peace or the

better worked out to shift greatest of all games now

swiftly from theory to in its third year on the

practise, and from pracraw fields of Europe. And

tise to theory. The mind is in such an atmosphere the

rested as the body swings man who hugs his indi

into action, and the body viduality cannot breathe.

relaxes as the mind takes And yet, from Lieutenant

up the burden. Tact, quanColonel Paul Wolf down

tities of it, goes with the there is not a regular

instruction every minute army instructor at Platts

of every hour, and so far burg who does not realize

as such a quality may be that this is but half the

passed on, it is being problem. How to crush out

passed on here. Men are of the candidate every

being taught not merely thing but the priceless

how to act, but to teach kernel of his character,

others how to act. and so nourish that char

I know not what better acter that it will develop

to call it than a famous leadership of an order

football man once called it, never before demanded in

Coaching the coaches." such a branch of human

It is that with this addiactivity in this country

tion, that the new coach that is the problem in its

must be also a personal Snal form. Will it be

leader. solved? I believe so, bas

Just a word more about American Pre88 ing my judgment on even MR. REED REVIEWING A PLATTSBURG SQUAD

the real democracy of this

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quota of officers-to-be. There are in for some days the men have been stok- sorbing interest, but this is a serious the ranks day by day men who by ing up on pie and cake and milk sup- business, and I venture to predict that virtue of previous instruction, prepa- plementary to the mess. They have in the future there will be less and ration and examination, much of it been good-natured about it, for they less of individual news from this post, undergone at considerable personal sac- have realized the size of the task here and more and more interesting "group" rifice, had already attained rank, some in taking care of more than twice the news. And this group news is new inas high as major, in the Officers' number of men who had been antici- deed with the American people. So it Reserve Corps. They wear the in- pated, and who have appeared suddenly would be as well for the reader to say signia and draw the pay of their sind in batches of varyi

and in batches of varying and in some good-by to the great rames here in the rank, yet they are privates, and they

cases not predetermined size. Here is ranks until such time as they thrust up must fight in competition with the

the comment of one of the men, and it out of those ranks thru their toil and veriest newcomer for the right to reis typical of the corps:

their brains and the great good thing tain that rank or even a lower one in the New Army. The men at their side

“It has been pretty tough at times, that is deep within them. Today they but it will work out all right."

are as dra' and dull and all but indisdo not even salute them. And yet I have not heard one of them grumble.

Now, as every one knows, there are tinguishable against the brownish backThere have been obstacles, and seri

in the ranks men of great family names ground of the parade ground as the ous oncs, to a quick getting under way. and great family fortunes. Their pres- shoemaker's son. to the processes of even development. enc

e

n tence is "news" to photographer and How far can this thing go in the They included a shortage of food a reporter, and there is no doubt that the brief time allotted? No man can tell. shortage of blankets. this a serious appearance of their pictures and “spe- but this I know, that the beginning drawback in a country where nights cials" about them in the newspapers has been good and that the promise is are often bitterly cold at this time of has stimulated interest in this difficult great. There is the “atmosphere." there year. No. there has not been enough undertaking thruout the land. In their is the democracy, and there is that to eat for men doing the work of these own behalf, be it said, they have craved vision of the shadowy millions who men. The fault is whose? I do not none of this publicity. In another day must not be cheated of their right, to know; but this I do know, that it does the continued following of their move- back the promise. not lie at this end of the line. Thus ments as individuals might be of ab- Plattsburg, New York, June, 1917

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