ARMY LETTERS FROM AN OFFICER'S WIFE ***
Scanned by Dianne Bean, Prescott Valley, AZ.
ARMY LETTERS FROM AN OFFICER'S WIFE
FRANCES M. A. ROE.
PERHAPS it is not necessary to say that the events mentioned in the letters are not imaginary--perhaps the letters themselves tell that! They are truthful accounts of experiences that came into my own life with the Army in the far West, whether they be about Indians, desperadoes, or hunting--not one little thing has been stolen. They are of a life that has passed--as has passed the buffalo and the antelope--yes, and the log and adobe quarters for the Army. All flowery descriptions have been omitted, as it seemed that a simple, concise narration of events as they actually occurred, was more in keeping with the life, and that which came into it. FRANCES M. A. ROE.
ARMY LETTERS FROM AN OFFICER'S WIFE
KIT CARSON, COLORADO TERRITORY, October, 1871.
IT is late, so this can be only a note--to tell you that we arrived here safely, and will take the stage for Fort Lyon to-morrow morning at six o'clock. I am thankful enough that our stay is short at this terrible place, where one feels there is danger of being murdered any minute. Not one woman have I seen here, but there are men--any number of dreadful-looking men--each one armed with big pistols, and leather belts full of cartridges. But the houses we saw as we came from the station were worse even than the men. They looked, in the moonlight, like huge cakes of clay, where spooks and creepy things might be found. The hotel is much like the houses, and appears to have been made of dirt, and a few drygoods boxes. Even the low roof is of dirt. The whole place is horrible, and dismal beyond description, and just why anyone lives here I cannot understand.
I am all upset! Faye has just been in to say that only one of my trunks can be taken on the stage with us, and of course I had to select one that has all sorts of things in it, and consequently leave my pretty dresses here, to be sent for--all but the Japanese silk which happens to be in that trunk. But imagine my mortification in having to go with Faye to his regiment, with only two dresses. And then, to make my shortcomings the more vexatious, Faye will be simply fine all the time, in his brand new uniform!
Perhaps I can send a long letter soon--if I live to reach that army post that still seems so far away.
FORT LYON, COLORADO TERRITORY, October, 1871.
AFTER months of anticipation and days of weary travel we have at last got to our army home! As you know, Fort Lyon is fifty miles from Kit Carson, and we came all that distance in a funny looking stage coach called a "jerkey," and a good name for it, too, for at times it seesawed back and forth and then sideways, in an awful breakneck way. The day was glorious, and the atmosphere so clear, we could see miles and miles in every direction. But there was not one object to be seen on the vast rolling plains--not a tree nor a house, except the wretched ranch and stockade where we got fresh horses and a perfectly uneatable dinner.
It was dark when we reached the post, so of course we could see nothing that night. General and Mrs. Phillips gave us a most cordial welcome--just as though they had known us always. Dinner was served soon after we arrived, and the cheerful dining room, and the table with its dainty china and bright silver, was such a surprise--so much nicer than anything we had expected to find here, and all so different from the terrible places we had seen since reaching the plains. It was apparent at once that this was not a place for spooks! General Phillips is not a real general--only so by brevet, for gallant service during the war. I was so disappointed when I was told this, but Faye says that he is very much afraid that I will have cause, sooner or later, to think that the grade of captain is quite high enough. He thinks this way because, having graduated at West Point this year, he is only a second lieutenant just now, and General Phillips is his captain and company commander.
It seems that in the Army, lieutenants are called "Mister" always, but all other officers must be addressed by their rank. At least that is what they tell me. But in Faye's company, the captain is called general, and the first lieutenant is called major, and as this is most confusing, I get things mixed sometimes. Most girls would. A soldier in uniform waited upon us at dinner, and that seemed so funny. I wanted to watch him all the time, which distracted me, I suppose, for once I called General Phillips "Mister!" It so happened, too, that just that instant there was not a sound in the room, so everyone heard the blunder. General Phillips straightened back in his chair, and his little son gave a smothered giggle--for which he should have been sent to bed at once. But that was not all! That soldier, who had been so dignified and stiff, put his hand over his mouth and fairly rushed from the room so he could laugh outright. And how I longed to run some place, too--but not to laugh, oh, no!