No historian of the future will be able to ignore the important part which that small but heroic band, the Vanguard of American Volunteers, played in the great war to make the world safe for democracy. For it was they who were the voluntary leaders along the path which the people and the government of the United States, after more than two years and a half of hesitation, were to follow; and it was they who, by the inspiring example of their self-sacrificing devotion to the cause of the Allies, were largely instrumental in creating and in crystallizing public opinion among their own countrymen in favor of the entrance of the United States into the war.
A dozen volumes such as this would not suffice to give even the barest outlines of the records and achievements of these American Volunteers. All that can be attempted here is to gather together a few typical instances of their devotion to a high sense of duty in whatever branches of the service they found themselves. Some of them enlisted under the inspiring leadership of Mr. Hoover for relief work in stricken Belgium and in devastated northern France; others, under the flag of the American Red Cross, carried surgical and medical help to invaded and plague-stricken Servia and to other points; others became drivers of ambulances over dangerous roads from the postes de secours to hospitals in the rear; still others, eager to make their influence felt more directly, joined the Foreign Legion of France or other French or British regiments; while a handful of the more daring spirits entered the French flying corps and formed the nucleus of what later was to become the Lafayette Escadrille.
Two aspects of this exodus of hundreds of young Americans to the service of the Allies are of especial interest---first, the motives that lay behind their action, and, secondly, the effects of their participation in the great conflict. A deep humanitarian impulse gave quick response to Mr. Hoover's appeal for Americans to go to the assistance of the Belgians, and was of course the force behind all of the activities of the American Red Cross. A pure love of adventure, however, an irresistible desire to take some active part in the greatest war in the history of the world, was without doubt a compelling motive in many instances. It was with this desire that scores of young college men became ambulance drivers in France. Many of them, however, after witnessing the effects of the German methods of waging war and the heroic sacrifices which the French were making in defense of their fair land, sought entrance into branches of the French or English service where they could make their presence felt to greater military advantage. It was largely, no doubt, with the same desire to take active part in a great adventure that young Americans by the hundreds, from all parts of the United States, swarmed across the Canadian border to join the regiments forming and training in the early months of the war.
The figures, however, that stand out from all the rest are those of the small group of young Americans who, through love of France and admiration for the French, or through devotion to the high ideals of freedom and liberty for which both France and England were pouring out their best blood, gave their services and, in not a few instances, made the supreme sacrifice of even life itself, as a measure of their devotion. It is true that the numbers of these young Americans were few, and the effect of their presence in the firing-lines was, in a military sense, insignificant and altogether negligible. But the influence of their spirit and of their example upon public opinion in the United States in the first two years and a half of the war was beyond all calculation. Scorning neutrality and regarding it as the refuge of the unintelligent, the irresolute and the timid among their own countrymen, they threw themselves into the conflict on the side of the Allies with heart and soul aflame, as if determined to prove that there were at least a few Americans who from the very beginning understood to the full the moral as well as the political issues involved in the mighty struggle. And, although they were only a handful, they succeeded by their zeal and their energy in keeping alive in the breasts of the Frenchmen and Englishmen by the side of whom they were fighting the hope that some day the government and the people of the United States would see the causes and the possible consequences of the great conflict eye to eye with their own view of the issues involved. One has only to read the address of the French surgeon-in-chief at the burial of that gallant Dartmouth boy, Richard Hall, or the letter of the colonel commanding the Coldstream Guards to the parents of Lieutenant Dillwyn Starr, to see this hope reflected.
The great majority of these young volunteers were college-bred men of the best American type. The old law of noblesse oblige pointed the way to duty unerringly, and they followed it unhesitatingly. Only a few days before the United States Government declared war against Germany, in April, 1917, there were no fewer than 533 graduates and undergraduates of Harvard, for example, in some branch of service in Europe, either on the firing-lines, or in Belgium, or in connection with hospital and ambulance work; and the deaths of Harvard men in service up to that time had numbered twenty-seven.
Many other universities and colleges, from Bowdoin in the East to Stanford in the West, were equally well represented in proportion to their numbers. These were the young men who by faithful service were winning what Owen Wister, in his preface to "The Aftermath of Battle," calls "the spurs of moral knighthood." "And this host---for host it is---of Americans," added Mr. Wister, "thus dedicated to service in the Great Convulsion, helps to remove the stain which was cast over all Americans when we were invited to be neutral in our opinions while Democracy in Europe was being strangled to death."
The presence in the danger zones of these American volunteers and the occasional death of one of them in the performance of duty, made a deep impression in France as well as in America. The people of France, as Mr. Chapman points out in his preface to his son Victor's "Letters," were "living in a state of sacrificial enthusiasm for which history shows no parallel. Their gratitude to those who espoused their cause was such as to magnify and exalt heroism." The prime minister of France, M. Briand, spoke of young Chapman, who was the first of the American aviators to fall in battle with an enemy air-ship, as "the living symbol of American idealism," adding: "France will never forget this new comradeship, this evidence of a devotion to a common ideal."
No one gave more effective expression to this "new comradeship" than Alan Seeger, whose "Poems," published in 1916, enabled thousands of readers to find their own souls in the reflection of that of the Poet of the Foreign Legion,
Who, not unmindful of the antique debt,
Came back the generous path of Lafayette,
and gallantly kept his "rendezvous with death" on the blood-soaked fields of Belloy-en-Santerre
To the young Americans with French sympathies who, at the beginning of the war, were eager to get into the real fighting as quickly as possible, the Foreign Legion offered the readiest means. Every able-bodied man who was willing to fight for France was welcomed as a brother to its ranks, whatever his nationality and without regard to his record. For scores of years the Legion had been famous, even notorious, as the refuge of soldiers of fortune, criminals, scapegraces and adventurers of all types---of all the outcasts of, society in fact. This unenviable reputation was no obstacle, however, in the way of the young Americans who were anxious to get into the fighting-lines by the easiest and quickest means possible. They were willing to take their chances. Their experiences varied because the regiments differed greatly in the character of the men. To Farnsworth and Morlae they were picturesque and interesting. Chapman found himself among "the scum of the Paris streets," and doubted if six months' training would make them fit for active service. That some of the regiments failed to conform in character to the traditions of the Legion may easily have been the case, if Genet was correct in his statement of January, 1916, that there had been about 48,000 volunteers enrolled in that body since the war began, of whom there were then only about 5,000 left fit for service.
One of the first of the American youths to join this famous organization was William Thaw, of Pittsburgh, who had been a member of the class of 1915 at Yale. As was the case with several other Americans, Thaw was destined to win renown not in the Legion but in the flying corps. His experiences in the Legion, however, were described in his letters to his family, which were printed in the Yale Alumni Weekly, in such a racy, breezy manner and with such a genuinely American sense of boyish humor, that some selections from them are well worth quoting. Incidentally it may be noted that at the very beginning, when practically all the rest of the world was in a state of more or less bewildered amazement at what was taking place in Belgium, this Yale youth grasped the essential, fundamental fact that this was to be a world-conflict between civilization and barbarism.
Under date of August :30, 1914, Thaw wrote:
I am going to take a part, however small, in the greatest and probably last, war in history, which has apparently developed into a fight of civilization against barbarism. That last reason may sound a bit grand and dramatic, but you would quite agree if you could hear the tales of French, Belgian and English soldiers who have come back here from the front....
Talk about your college education, it isn't in it with what a fellow can learn being thrown in with a bunch of men like this ! There are about 1200 here (we sleep on straw on the floor of the Ecole Professionel pour Jeunes Filles) and in our section (we sleep and drill by sections) there is some mixture, including a Columbia Professor (called "Shorty"), an old tutor who has numerous Ph.D.s, M.A.s, etc., a preacher from Georgia, a pro. gambler from Missouri, a former light-weight second rater, two dusky gentlemen, one from Louisiana and the other from Ceylon, a couple of hard guys from the Gopher Gang of lower N. Y., a Swede, Norwegian, a number of Poles, Brazilians, Belgians, etc. So you see it's some bunch! I sleep between the prize-fighter and a chap who used to work for the Curtiss Co. As for the daily routine it reminds me of Hill School, and then some; only instead of getting demerits for being naughty, you get short rations and prison.
Early in September the detachment was transferred to Toulouse, where it was joined by 500 veterans from the Legion in Africa. Nearly a month was spent in Toulouse in drilling and hardening the men for front-line work. Thaw was made a student-corporal. He wrote:
It is not a very exalted position, as you command only seven men. But it was a starter, and meant four cents a day instead of one, better shoes, and the power to put the guys you don't like in prison for four days instead of having to lick them personally! But of course now that we'll be with veterans there will have to be a lot of officers killed off before I get another chance. But it was a rare sight to see me drilling the awkward squad to which I was assigned. (A somewhat doubtful compliment to my abilities as a commander.) And that squad was some awkward. To add to my difficulties there were in it a chap from Flanders who spoke neither French nor English, a Russian who didn't speak French, a Frenchman who didn't speak English and some Americans and English with various linguistic accomplishments. It took me two hours to get them to obey about twenty simple commands with any sort of precision. But it was a lot of fun, even if I did lose half my voice and about 3 kilos.
Finally, early in October, Thaw's company was moved north to Camp de Mailly, Chalons-sur-Marne. This paragraph from a letter dated October ~ indicates the nature of Thaw's work as a scout:
Yesterday I got a new job, being one of the two scouts or éclaireurs de marche, for our squad of 17 men The other is a big Servian, who is beside me in ranks and who was wounded twice in the Balkan War. It's some job; you have to beat it off through the country, when your company is on the march, walk about three kilometres over rough ground, and, as far as I can see, get shot at, which gallant deed proves that the enemy are near and warns your comrades. The sergeant (he's always kidding us) consoled us by saying that he chose only men of great "sang froid " and skill with the rifle, and only the best marchers, whereupon I offered him a cigarette.
The cross-country "military marches," each man carrying the official equipment weighing 120 pounds, [Note: This weight was confirmed in a later letter from Thaw.] were severe tests of the endurance of the men:
I was agreeably surprised to find that I got less tired than most, and didn't even mind carrying an extra gun the last five kilos. It's just a matter of getting used to it; but, take it from me, in comparison a game of football is almost a joke, for you don't get a rest every fifteen minutes, and a game doesn't last seven hours.
By the middle of October Thaw's battalion was in the front-line trenches. In the meantime his skill with the ride had won for him promotion to soldier of the first class, with a red stripe on his sleeve. He found the life monotonous and disappointing, however. Under date of November 27 he wrote:
War is wretched and quite uninteresting. Wish I were back dodging street cars on Broadway for excitement. Am that tired of being shot at! Got hit in the cap and bayonet---Do you mind ? Have been in the trenches now nearly six weeks. Haven't washed for twenty days. Expect to get a ten days' rest after another two weeks.
A month later he summarized his experiences thus:
We didn't make an attack and were attacked only once, and I doubt that, for I didn't see any Germans. I didn't even shoot when they gave the order "fire at will," and when I told the excited, spluttering little sergeant that there was nothing to shoot at (it was very dark) he said, shoot anyway, which I did at the German trenches 800 metres away, for by that time they were replying, in astonishment, no doubt, to our fire, and their bullets were snipping through the trees at us---which is my idea of some battle.
The humorous side of one episode appealed strongly to this American youth:
Another very exciting experience, of which I'd nearly forgotten to tell you, was when one night we received "sure dope" that there would be an attack, six of us, under the American corporal, Morlae, went out as an advance guard into an open trench 100 metres in front of the main line, the idea being that while the Germans were killing us off the others would be warned and have time to get ready. It was a peachy idea, but "les Boches" never showed up, and the "exciting experience" consisted in standing for thirteen hours in three inches of water and nearly dying of fright when a dozen cows came browsing across the meadows in perfect skirmish order. " C'est terrible, la guerre," as we Frenchmen say."
A month later Thaw was transferred at his request to the French aviation service.
Two days after the war began E. Morlae, the American corporal referred to by Thaw, left Los Angeles, California, for Paris. Born in California, Morlae was of French parentage, his father having served in the French army in the War of 1870. On arriving in Paris he enlisted in the Foreign Legion, and his father's record, with his general familiarity with military matters and his command of French, soon secured for him promotion to the rank of corporal. After serving in the Legion for more than a year he returned to the United States, wounded in the neck and knee.
Morlae contributed to the Atlantic Monthly for March, 1916, a description of the Legion's share in the battle of Champagne, the last week in the previous September, which was remarkable for its vividness and its graphic power. The scene of that portion of the battle which Morlae described was from Souain to Navarin, where lay the immediate objective of the attack, the little fort of Navarin. This objective was attained, but at a heavy cost of lives. Of Morlae's section of sixty men only twelve survived, several of those being severely wounded.
In the following paragraph from his Atlantic Monthly paper, Morlae described the honors that were paid to the Legion before and after this battle, and gave the reasons therefor:
One day during the latter part of August, 1915, my regiment, the 2me. Etranger (Foreign Legion), passed in review before the President of the French Republic and the Commander-in-chief of her armies, General Joffre. On that day after twelve months of fighting, the regiment was presented by President Poincaré with a battle-flag. The occasion marked the admission of the Légion Etrangère to equal footing with regiments of the line. Two months later ---it was October 28---the remnants of this regiment were paraded through the streets of Paris, and, with all military honors, this same battleflag was taken across the Seine to the Hotel des Invalides. There it was decorated with the Cross of the Legion of Honor and, with reverent ceremony, was placed between the flag of the cuirassiers who died at Reichshofen and the equally famous standard which the Garibaldians bore in 1870-71. The flag lives on. The regiment has ceased to exist.
To the men of the Legion, which survived this blow as it had others, these honors, as Morlae points out, meant much. For they were no longer to be classed as pariahs and outcasts, as they had always been. Of the personnel of the Legion and of the reasons for the devotion of the Légionnaires to France, Morlae said:
Of the Legion I can tell you at first hand. It is a story of adventurers, of criminals, of fugitives from justice. Some of them are drunkards, some thieves; and some with the mark of Cain upon them find others to keep them company. They are men I knew the worst of. And yet I am proud of them---proud of having been one of them; very proud of having commanded some of them.
It is all natural enough. Most men who had come to know them as I have would feel as I do. You must reckon the good with the evil. You must remember their comradeship, their esprit de corps, their pathetic eagerness to serve France, the sole country which had offered them asylum, the country which had shown them confidence, mothered them and placed them on an equal footing with her own sons. These things mean something to a man who has led the life of an outcast, and the Légionnaires have proved their loyalty to France many times over...
In my own section there were men of all races and all nationalities. There were Russians and Turks, :an Anamite and a Hindu. There were Frenchmen from God knows where. There was a German, God only knows why. There were Bulgars, Servians, Greeks, Negroes, an Italian and a Fiji Islander, fresh from an Oxford education,---a silent man of whom it was whispered that he had once been an archbishop,---- three Arabians and a handful of Americans who cared little for the quiet life.
Of this group of Americans Morlae wrote as follows:
But even the Americans were not all of one stripe. J. J. Carey had been a newspaper artist, and Bob Scanlon, a burly negro, an artist with his fist in the squared ring. Alan Seeger had something of the poet in him. Dennis Dowd was a lawyer; Edwin Boligny a lovable adventurer. There was D. W. King, the sprig of a well-known family. William Thaw, of Pittsburgh, started with us, though he joined the Flying Corps later on. Then there were James Bach, of New York, B. S. Hall, who hailed from Kentucky, Professor Ohlinger, of Columbia, Phelizot, who had shot enough big game in Africa to feed the regiment. There were Delpenche and Capdevielle, and little Trinkard, from New York. Bob Subiron came, I imagine, from the States in general, for he had been a professional automobile racer. The Rockville brothers, journalists, signed on from Georgia; and last, though far from least, was Friedrich Wilhelm Zinn, from Battle Creek, Michigan.
The King referred to by Morlae was David W. King, a Harvard undergraduate of the class of 1916, whom Victor Chapman found in July, 1915, in a village in Alsace "rolling in luxuries," "smoking imported cigarettes and refusing to make a row even when the bill was three times what it should be."
In a letter which was reprinted in the Harvard Alumni Bulletin, King described how Zinn, who had become his best friend, was wounded a few months later:
The night of the 8th [of October, 1915] we came up here. It's the deuce of a place. We work on the front line all night, and they amuse themselves by dropping shrapnel and "marmites" into the working parties. During the day we are supposed to rest, but there are batteries all around us, and the consequence is that the Boches are always feeling around for them, and the guns themselves make such a fiendish racket we are almost deaf. To make things more cheerful, as we were going to work a shell burst near my best friend (F. W. Zinn) who was walking just ahead of me and he got a piece in the side. It did not penetrate, but it made a bad contusion just under his heart, and I am afraid it smashed some ribs. There were no Red Cross workers near by, so I had to take him back. He could hardly breathe when I got him to the "poste de secours." Lucky devil! He will get a month's rest, but I miss him like anything, as friends are pretty scarce around here.
One young American volunteer in the Foreign Legion was killed in the battle for the Fortin de Navarin at the end of September, 1915. He was Henry Weston Farnsworth, of Dedham, Massachusetts, a graduate of Groton and of Harvard, of the class of 1912. His tastes were bookish, musical and artistic. Burton, Dostoievski, Tolstoi, Gogol, Ibsen and Balzac were favorites with him, although his studies in literature covered a much wider field---the English classics as well as the modern continental writers. After he was graduated he spent the summer in Europe; visiting Vienna, Budapesth, Constantinople, Odessa, Moscow, and St. Petersburg, revelling in the historical associations, the art collections and the music of these cities, and making odd friends here and there, as was his wont, and studying the people. His curiosity was insatiable, particularly as regards the Oriental peoples and the Russians.
When the European War broke out Farnsworth was in the city of Mexico, whither he had gone when the United States Government sent troops to Vera Cruz. In the meantime he had had some experience as a newspaper correspondent and reporter for the Providence Journal and had published a book, "The Log of a Would-be War Correspondent," describing his experiences and observations in the Balkan War in the autumn of 1912, the fascination of which he could not resist. Returning home from Mexico, he sailed for England in October, 1914, with no intention of taking active part in the war, but with the desire to become an onlooker, in the hope that he might write something about the great conflict that would be worth while. The air of London and Paris was full of military projects, and he was tempted in various directions. Finally, after a period of hesitation and uncertainty, he entered the Foreign Legion early in January.
From the "Letters of Henry Weston Farnsworth of the Foreign Legion" to the members of his family, which have been privately printed by his father, William Farnsworth, it is possible to follow him during the nine succeeding months. He was under no illusions about the Germans. "Mad with envy," he writes, "is how they strike me. At the expression 'English Channel' they froth at the mouth." And his admiration for their Gallic adversaries was deep. "Nothing," he says, "can over-express the quiet fortitude of the French people."
Farnsworth, who, as we have seen, had a decided taste for odd characters, found his associates in his company of the Legion interesting studies. Under the date of January 9, 1915, he wrote:
In the first place there is no tough element at all. Many of the men are educated, and the very lowest is of the high class workman type. In my room, for instance, there are "Le Petit Père" Uhlin, an old Alsatian, who has already served fourteen years in the Legion in China and Morocco; the Corporal Lebrun, a Socialist well known in his own district; Engler, a Swiss cotton-broker from Havre; Donald Campbell, a newspaper man and short story writer, who will not serve in the English army because his family left England in 1745, with the exception of his father, who was a captain in the Royal Irish Fusileers; Sukuna, a Fijian student at Oxford, black as ink; Hath, a Dane, over six feet, whom Campbell aptly calls "The Blonde Beast'' (vide "Zarathustra"); Von somebody, another Dane, very small and young; Bastados, a Swiss carpenter, born and bred in the Alps who sings---when given half a litre of canteen wine---far better than most comic opera stars and who at times does the Ranz des Vaches so that even Petit Père Uhlin claps; the brigadier Mussorgsky, cousin descendant of the composer, a little Russian; two or three Polish Jews, nondescript Belgians, Greeks, Roumanians, etc. I already have enough to write a long (ten thousand word) article, and at the end of the campaign can write a book truly interesting.
The more he saw of it the more picturesque and fascinating Farnsworth found the new life into which he had plunged. He liked the men and the spirit that prevailed in the Legion:
I am thoroughly at home by this time and good friends with everyone in the company, even including a Belgian whom I was forced to lick thoroughly. The two great Legion marching songs, Car nous sommes tous les frères" and the old, the finest marching song in the world,
Soldats de la Légion
La Légion étrangere,
N'ayant pas de patrie,
La France est notre mère
are quite true at bottom, at least in the 15th company.
In course of time Farnsworth's regiment was moved to the front in northern France, and early in March he was writing from the trenches. The sector was quiet and little of importance happened except an occasional bombardment or some desultory rifle firing. He was often on night patrol in No Man's Land:
There is a certain fascination in all this, dull though it may seem. The patrol is selected in the afternoon. At sunset we meet to make the plans and tell each man his duty; then at dark our pockets are filled with cartridges, a drawn bayonet in the belt, and our magazines loaded to the brim. We go along the boyau to the petit poste from which it is decided to leave. All along the line the sentinels wish us good luck and a safe return. In the petit poste we clamp on the bayonets, blow noses, clear throats, and prepare for three hours of utter silence. At a word from the chief we form in line in the prearranged order. The sentries wish us luck for the last time, and the chief jumps up on the edge of the trenches and begins to work his way quickly through the barbed wire. Once outside he disappears in the beet weeds and one after another we follow.
Then begins the crawl to the appointed spot. We go slowly with frequent halts. Every sound must be analyzed. On the occasion of the would-be ambush, I admit I went to sleep after awhile in the warm fresh clover where we lay. It was the Adjutant himself who woke me up with a slight hiss, but as he chose me again next night, he does not seem to have thought it a serious matter.
Then, too, once home we do not mount guard all the rest of the night, and are allowed to sleep in the morning, also there are small but pleasing discussions of the affair, and above all the hope of some night suddenly leaping out of the darkness hand to hand with the Germans.
In one of these night expeditions Farnsworth and his companions succeeded in sticking some French newspapers announcing Italy's declaration of war on the barbed wire in front of the German trenches. Pleased with their enterprise, their captain gave seven of them twenty francs for a fête. "What an unforgettable supper ! " cries the young Légionnaire:
There was the sergeant, Zampanedes, a Greek of classic type, who won his spurs at Zanina and his stripes in the Bulgarian campaign. Since, he has been a medical student in Paris; that to please his family, for his heart runs in different channels, and he studies music and draws in his spare time.... We first fell into sympathy over the Acropolis, and cemented a true friendship over Turkish war songs and Byzantine chants, which he sings with a mournful romanticism that I never heard before.
Then there was Nicolet, the Company Clarion, serving his twelfth year in the Legion, an incredible little Swiss, tougher than the drums of the fore and aft and wise as Nestor in the futile ruses of the regiment.
The Corporal, Mortens, a legionary wounded during the winter and cited for bravery in the order of the army. He was a commercial traveller in his native grand duchy of Luxemburg, but decided some five years ago to leave his debts and troubles behind him and become a Petit Zéphyr de la Légion Etrangère.
Sudic, a butcher from the same grand duchy, a man of iron physically and morally, but mentally unimportant.
Covaliero, a Greek of Smyrna, who might have spread his silks and laces at the feet of a feudal princess and charmed her with his shining eyes and wild gestures into buying beyond her means. He also has been cited for reckless gallantry.
Sukuna and myself brought up the list. We were all in good spirits and flattered, and I, being in funds, put in f. 10 and Sukuna the same. Some of us drank as deep as Socrates, and we ate a mammoth salad under the stars. Nicolet and Mortens talked of the battalion in the Sahara, and Zampanedes sang his Eastern songs, and even Sukuna was moved to Tongan chants. Like Eneas on Polyphemus's isle, I feel that some years hence, well out of tune with all my surroundings, I shall be longing for the long warm summer days in northern France, when we slept like birds under the stars, among congenial friends, when no man ever thought of the morrow, and you changed horizons with each new conversation.
The letter from which the foregoing is a selection was written by Farnsworth to his mother on June 4, 1915. A month later the news from home that a friend of his was going to a training-camp in the United States where he expected to march five or six miles a day prompted him to give this vivid picture of an episode in the life of the Légionnaires:
The other day we were waked at 2 a.m. and at 3 sent off in a pouring rain for some indefinite place across the mountains for a divisional review. We went off slowly through the wet darkness, but about dawn the sun came out and, as is usual with the Legion, everybody cheered up, and at 7 a.m. we arrived at the parade ground after fifteen kilometres in very good spirits. Two regiments of Zouaves from Africa were already drawn up. We formed up beside them, and then came the two tirailleurs regiments, their colors with them, then the second Etrangère, two thousand strong, and finally a squadron of Chasseurs d'Afrique.
We all stacked arms and lay about on the grass till 8.30. Suddenly the Zouave bugles crashed out sounding the "Garde à vous," and in two minutes the division was lined up, every man stiff as a board---and all the time the bugles ringing angrily from up the line, and the short staccato trumpets of the chasseurs answering from the other extremity.
The ringing stopped suddenly and the voices of the colonels crying "Baïonnettes aux canons" sounded thin and long drawn out and were drowned by the flashing rattle of the bayonets going on---a moment of perfect silence, and then the slow, courtly-sounding of the "Général! Général! qui passe!" broken by the occasional crash as regiment after regiment presented arms. Slowly the General rode down the lines, the two Brigadiers and a Division General in his suite.
Then came the défilé. The Zouaves led off, their bugles playing "As-tu vu la casquette, la casquette." "Then the tirailleurs, playing some march of their own, slow and fine, the bugles answering the scream of the Arab reed flutes as though Loeffler had led them. Then the Legion, the second Etrangère swinging in beside us at the double, and all the bugles crashed out with the Legion marching song, " Tiens voilà du boudin pour les Belges," etc. On and on went the bugles playing that light, slangy tune, some of the verses of which would make Rabelais shudder, and the minor variations of which bring up pictures of the Legion marching in thin ranks in foreign, blazing lands, and the drums of which, tapping slowly, sound like the feet of the regiment scrunching through desert sand. It was all very glorious to see and hear, and to wind up the chasseurs went by at the gallop going off to their quarters.
To wind up the day the Colonel took us home straight over the mountain---fourteen kilometres over mountain-goat tracks. [Note: Making about eighteen miles going and returning.] When we got in at 3.30 P. M., having had nothing to eat but a bit of bread, three sardines and a finger of cheese, few of the men were really exhausted. It was then I got your letter about the training camp.
In August Farnsworth's regiment was in Alsace. In September, however, it was on the march and took part in the bloody battle in Champagne toward the end of the month. His last letter was dated September 16, 1915. He was killed in the charge that his battalion made on the 28th, before the Fortin de Navarin. The Farnsworth Room in the Widener Memorial Library at Harvard, a large room for the leisurely reading of such standard books as Henry Farnsworth loved, was handsomely supplied with books, pictures and furniture by Mr. and Mrs. William Farnsworth, in memory of their son.
Chapter V: A descendant of Citizen Genet
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