Thursday, June 14, 2012

On the Way to Camp Logan

Now that the Life in Botswana series is over, I am going to focus more of my posts on my maternal grandfather, Carl O. Ericke, and his life during the first World War. He recorded a few stories for my brother in his later years, so some of these stories are in his words. He also kept a diary, which I will transcribe for you... soon. My grandfather also put together a very beautiful scrapbook which I will post in articles and in it's entirety. I hope my cousins, who have never seen these images, will appreciate them here as much as I do. They are quite amazing.

War was declared and I wanted to enlist. My boss suggested I list in the National Guard that way he could replace me before I went overseas. So naturally, I agreed to this and I joined the First Cavalry in Illinois, National Guard. It didn’t work out the way I planned but it was interesting so I thought I would tell you a little about that.

Outstanding thing I have in my memory is the fact that I joined the cavalry because I liked horses. We went out for drill practice and it was very interesting. I remember we used to have parades and we did our stuff on Michigan Ave. My mother said she’d be in a certain hotel and would look for me. I was on horseback with my saber, parading along Michigan Ave. The captain said to present arms and we all drew our swords and held them at attention. It must’ve looked pretty good with all the swords flashing in the sun.

The thing I’ll never forget is when I got to the hotel where my mother was, watching for me. I had a sudden instinct to take a chance on getting into trouble, so I pulled in the reins on the horse and gave him my heels, which made him stand up on his rear legs. I then presented the sword by putting the heel of the sword on my chin, looking toward the hotel where my mother would be. That was something I’ll never forget and she didn’t either. I didn’t get put in jail or anything for doing that. Just a little incident I thought I would tell you.

A short time after this they sent us to Houston, Texas, for training our outfit because they didn’t need cavalry. It was the 122nd field artillery and they sent us here to learn about the French 75 guns. It was quite a thing and exciting. They put us on trains and, Colonel Foreman, who was quite a politician in Chicago, fixed it so his boys got to sleep in cars with upper and lower berths; so we went first class all the way down to Houston. 

When we got there I remember looking out the window and seeing a fellow on guard walking up and down and smacking his hand on his cheek every once in awhile. I figured there were a lot of bugs around that place and it wasn’t a very welcome sight. But we got off finally and rode out to this place that we were to train. It was quite a little difference from the cavalry!

We did a lot of walking and we had a few experiences down there. From then on, I walked instead of riding on a horse. And I walked and walked all the way over Texas, and later on in France.

They made us the first occupants of the camp down in Houston, for training. As a corporal I was made into a gunner. And that’s no small job when you think of all the training we went through. As a matter of fact, we had to learn how to dismantle the breech of the gun and put it back together again in the dark. That meant a lot of training and practice but we managed to cope with that. Finally we got settled down in camp and time began to drag a little bit. 

However it didn’t take long before there was some excitement in Houston! Rumors circulated that when soldiers were turning in their ammunition they would keep some it and then bury it under their tents. So sure enough, it wasn’t surprising when there was a fair in town and one of the soldiers shot a policeman. They immediately put in a martial law, and my unit was called in to take over for the rest of the camp.

We’d hardly been there for very long and we had to stop what might have been a mighty serious thing. Anyway, they called us together and issued each fellow one bullet for each .45 gun. And with one bullet we had to go into town and stop this trouble. We were all excited, and might say, somewhat afraid, as we drove in on trucks. We were the only outfit down there with our one battery. We stopped along the road and we all got out and they had us go through a field of grain, searching for all these soldiers who stampeded away from the fair.

There's a very interesting article, on the Texas State Historical Association website, if you're interested in reading the full history of the Houston Riot of 1917.


  1. Sarah,

    That's great stuff. I'm so glad that stuff is preserved for future generations. I'll keep looking for updates.


    Cousin Steve

  2. Where can the original photos be found?

    1. Sorry for the delay, I just saw this comment. I have the originals. Is there anything you are interested in seeing?

  3. Hello Sarah,
    I am a photo editor working with a magazine in France. We are interested in publishing one of the photos in this post. Would you please contact me at Or tel 212-463-8711. Thank you. Kind Regards, Fay