About Me

Born August 4, 1894 in Auburn, New York to William and Alice Beardsley Woodruff Hills. Younger brother Carroll Beardsley Hills and younger sister Mary Day Hills. Educated at St. Paul's School, Concord, New Hampshire and Princeton University, class of 1917

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Letter written April 25, 1918

Dear Papa-:

When I started to write this I had really no idea what to tell you about until I realized that at home you had very little real knowledge of exactly what sort of an outfit I was with or what it looked like or what we did and I think that would be as interesting to you as anything else. The battery itself, which is Batt. C of the 5th, consists of about 220 men, 200 horses and four guns . There are four lieutenants in the outfit and a captain who is our battery commander. The guns would interest you more than anything else for they are absolutely the highest development of heavy field artillery that exists. You can’t really imagine anything any more perfected than they are. They are of the howitzer type, that is short guns of about six-inch caliber. They can throw ninety-odd pounds of steel and explosive about nine miles and in order to get away from it when it lands you have to have over fifteen feet of solid cover over your head and sometimes that isn’t enough. By solid I mean concrete, railroad iron and logs. Consequently as you can well imagine we aren’t particularly popular with the Bosche especially considering that the guns can shoot from any place at any time and with eight horses attached are very mobile. We can when necessary fire six shots a minute out of each of our guns with an accuracy that is really terrible. This science of artillery is really one of the most fascinating and wonderful things that there is. You know just what you can do to a fraction and given the necessary information you can set out and when you are finished be sure that it is done. For example, with one of the guns of our battery, I could with an accurate map sit on the piazza at Garnston (another reference to the family’s summer cottage on Owasco Lake near Auburn, N.Y.) with the gun on the back lawn, figure for ten minutes, fire a certain number of shots and be absolutely certain that the railroad station in Moravia was completely destroyed without anyone having seen a shot land or even bothering to go and see where the station was to make sure. It is certain.

But enough technical information and war and guns for the present. It is spring here and perfectly beautiful and during the past year I have had so much of the former and am so fed up on it all that I don’t care too much about doing any more with it all than I can help. The thing that I would like more than anything else just now would be to sit down at home with the family and the dogs and be clean and comfortable and quiet for an indefinite period of time. And more than that, stay in one place for a little while. The first thing any one does after arriving any where over here now is to wonder where the next place you are going to will be and how long it will be before you go there. Usually it is about a week and you go to the place that seems least possible of all those that you have figured on and you are warned about ten minutes before you start.

That, as you can imagine is a bit trying on one’s good nature and a bit hard on the personal belongings. I have things scattered from one end of France to the other and if ever I get the chance it will take me at least a week to collect them, traveling all the time. Some people are in a worse fix than I for they don’t even know where theirs are.

This is about all I have time for now so good bye, and best luck for your recovery which I feel sure is quite complete by now. With love, Paul

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