2. I JOINED THE ARMY


Up: Contents Previous: 1. GERMANY AND THE ARMY Next: 3. ARMY HOUSE-KEEPING


[page 19]

I WAS put in charge of the captain of the North German Lloyd S.S. “Donau,” and after a most terrific cyclone in mid-ocean, in which we nearly foundered. I landed in Hoboken, sixteen days from Bremen.

My brother, Harry Dunham, met me on the pier, saying, as he took me in his arms, ‘‘“You do not need to tell me what sort of a trip you have had: it is enough to look at the ship—that tells the story.”’’

As the vessel had been about given up for lost, her arrival was somewhat of an agreeable surprise to all our friends, and to none more so than my old friend Jack, a second lieutenant of the United States army, who seemed so glad to have me back in America, that I concluded the only thing to do was to join the army myself.

A quiet wedding in the country soon followed my decision, and we set out early in April of the year 1874 to join his regiment, which was stationed at Fort Russell, Cheyenne, Wyoming Territory.

I had never been west of New York, and Cheyenne seemed to me, in contrast with the finished civilization of Europe, which I had so recently left, the wildest sort of a place.


[page 20]

Arriving in the morning, and alighting from the train, two gallant officers, in the uniform of the United States infantry, approached and gave us welcome; and to me, the bride, a special “welcome to the regiment” was given by each of them with outstretched hands.

Major Wilhelm said, ‘‘“The ambulance is right here; you must come to our house and stay until you get your quarters.”’’

Such was my introduction to the army—and to the army ambulance, in which I was destined to travel so many miles.

Four lively mules and a soldier driver brought us soon to the post, and Mrs. Wilhelm welcomed us to her pleasant and comfortable-looking quarters.

I had never seen an army post in America. I had always lived in places which needed no garrison, and the army, except in Germany, was an unknown quantity to me.

Fort Russell was a large post, and the garrison consisted of many companies of cavalry and infantry. It was all new and strange to me.

Soon after luncheon, Jack said to Major Wilhelm, ‘‘“Well, now, I must go and look for quarters: what's the prospect?”’’

‘‘“You will have to turn some one out,”’’ said the Major, as they left the house together.

About an hour afterwards they returned, and Jack said, ‘‘“Well, I have turned out Lynch; but,”’’ he


[page 21]

added, ‘‘“as his wife and child are away, I do not believe he'll care very much.”’’

‘‘“Oh,”’’ said I, ‘‘“I'm so sorry to have to turn anybody out!”’’

The Major and his wife smiled, and the former remarked, “You must not have too much sympathy: it's the custom of the service—it's always done—by virtue of rank. They'll hate you for doing it, but if you don't do it they'll not respect you. After you've been turned out once yourself, you will not mind turning others out.”

The following morning I drove over to Cheyenne with Mrs. Wilhelm, and as I passed Lieutenant Lynch's quarters and saw soldiers removing Mrs. Lynch's lares and penates, in the shape of a sewing machine, lamp-shades, and other home-like things, I turned away in pity that such customs could exist in our service.

To me, who had lived my life in the house in which I was born, moving was a thing to be dreaded.

But Mrs. Wilhelm comforted me, and assured me it was not such a serious matter after all. Army women were accustomed to it, she said.

Up: Contents Previous: 1. GERMANY AND THE ARMY Next: 3. ARMY HOUSE-KEEPING




© Arizona Board of Regents