Sgt. Ervin Reuben Wakefield

ABOUT ME: Sgt. Ervin Reuben Wakefield - I was born on January 21, 1890 to Reuben Edson and Adaline Miles Wakefield (Frost) in Hardwick, Vermont. I was the sixth of seven children. At the age of four, I was sent to live with my maternal aunt, Ida May and her husband Willis Parker. I joined the Vermont National Guard.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Letter to Aunt Ida - January 7, 1918 (dated 1917)

The war has been raging in Europe since 1914. President Woodrow Wilson wins the November 1916 election with the slogan: "He kept us out of war."

New York Times article April 23, 1916: "CLOSER NAVY YARD GUARD" tells about how security was increased at all of the forts (including Fort Slocum) in the New York defensive zone. One goal was to safeguard the fleet of ships in the Navy Yard.

[envelope missing]
Fair Haven, Vt.
January. 7th 1917 [Sunday]

Dear Aunt Ida:

You will be surpprised to hear that I am up here but you see I got a few days off and as I hadn’t been here I thought I had better before I got too far away.
I am at Fort Slocum yet and expect to be there for some time as I understand they have the measles down where they expect to send me (N. C.)
Everything has seemed to turn out very good for me and it seems as if everything is for the best. I went over to see Martha while I was down there and stayed all night with the people that Martha is working for. Mr. Phillips that man that she works for took a liking to me and he told Martha that he wished I wasn’t going away that he could place me in his office at $125.00 per month to start with. And when I came back that I should come and see him before I did anything else. He seems to be a very nice man and they think the world of Martha. They said I should make that my home as long as I stayed at Fort Slocum.
I enlisted in the 1st Vt. but am going in as a cook or meat cutter, that is classed as a cook.
I am in very good quarters now and it is very comfortable there the only thing it has been so cold there that the boys have been getting cold and it has caused a lot of sickness I have had a cold but am getting over it now.
All the boys that came with me are now down at the camp in N. C.
I haven’t got much now to write about except that I am alright and I wished I could come up there and stay a few days but as I couldn’t come down here before I went away I thought I had better the first chance I got.
Have Uncle Will send me $20.00 as I borroughed it from Martha to make this trip I have spent more money than I expected as I have had to buy most of my food the way they feed one down there is a sight - as I was feeling mean I bought most of my food.

Write me at 2nd company, Fort Slocum.
With Love,

January 7, 1917 notes:

Fair Haven, Vt.: Ervin was probably visiting his mother and stepfather, Addie and Andy Frost.

Fort Slocum: Occupied David’s Island., which is located in the Long Island Sound. It is only 80 acres.

David's Island: "After the war (Civil War), the U.S. Government acquired the island outright for the construction of a permanent administrative and support facility for the New York Harbor Defense posts, Forts Totten and Schuyler, which served to protect the northern approach to New York City at the west end of Long Island Sound."

Measles:“In 1917 the measles, complicated by bronchopheumonia, was the first cause of death among soldiers especially in the camps in the south, especially those made up of southern recruits causing admissions and deaths." Annual report of the Surgeon-General, U.S. Army, Part 2, pg. 787-788. By United States. Surgeon-General's Office.

1st Vt. The First Vermont Infantry was a National Guard outfit. The NG was made up of citizen soldiers who kept regular jobs but were called up as needed.

cook, meat cutter: A New York Times article in 1916 stated that every branch of the armed forces was having trouble finding bakers, cooks, and butchers.

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