March 5, 1918.
The day I left Boston, March 3rd., the thermometer was low and there was almost a blizzard along Beacon Street. The wind was terrific. By the time I reached Washington it was so warm that I took my overcoat off as I walked to the hotel.
On the way an officer stopped me and said it was not proper to carry my coat, I must wear it so on went the coat and up it was buttoned tight around my neck.
I had made a bad start as a soldier but a brother officer had saved me.
By evening it was raining very hard and was very sultry.
The train was very close and sultry and smelly.
Bed was out of the question and I went into the wash room to smoke. Here I met a very agreable [sic.] Naval officer and we chatted for some time and finally we went to bed.
Over my head a very happy couple conversed for about two hours. When they had exhausted their conversation a fat man in the berth opposite began to snore in a very monotonous manner.
Sometime, after some hours I finally fell asleep but not for long.
At 5.30 a.m. I could stand it no longer, got my razor, etc. and went to the wash room. Here I found my Naval friend.
He remarked – are you up too? Hell of a night wasn’t it?
By this time the rain had stopped and it was getting warmer and warmer – and it is to be remembered that I was wearing a heavy uniform.
At 10.45 a.m. the train reached Charlotte. It was on time. Frankly I began to get nervous. Knowing nothing of military life I was anxious not to do the wrong thing at the right time. More than this I had not left Boston until two days after my orders came through and I half expected a call down for not reporting sooner. In other words I was sure they were expecting me.
I was the only Officer to get off at Charlotte. Fortunately I found one jitney that was not engaged.
For about a mile or so we went over a nice concrete road and I thought of the lies that those two Congressmen had told me. About the time however that I had reached this conclusion we left this nice raod [sic.] and found ourselves in the slimy, sticky, red mud. Progress was near impossible. We slid and skidded. We passed cars that were stuck hopelessly in the mud. Soldiers were passing from time to time actually wallowing in the mud.
We finally reached a delapated [sic.] looking building that the [driver] said was headquarters. It proved however to be building that was occupied by the Sanitary Dept.
An Officer here informed me that Headquarters were on the opposite side of the camp.
Back we started through the mud and slime and finally we reached the “Old house that was formerly an estate but now occupied by Headquarters.”
My troubles had just begun.
There were two divisions in camp. The 3rd. Division under the command of Major General Dickman and the 4th. Division under the command of Major General Cammeron.
General Dickman was the senior Officer and consequently in command but of course I had to find myself at the Headquarters of General Cammeron.
We passed Gen. Dickmans quarters on the way so we retraced our steps and in due corse [sic.] of time I arrived at the proper station. I asked for the Major General, as my orders had stated that I was to report to him, but to my disappointment found that he was not in. For a moment I was lost but the Adjutant asked me the nature of my business and assured me that he could attend to me. Probably this had happened so many times that it was no longer funny to the Adjutant.
As I came out of the office I looked at my watch and it was 11.45 a.m. I had been an hour getting somewhere.
We arrived at the Administration building at 12 noon.
Here I met the kindly face of Major Renn, the Adjutant, and shortly felt very much at home.
Relating my experience he informed me that all that I had done was unnecessary, that had I come directly to the hospital they would have attended to everything.
Soon after I met Lt. Col. Sheep, the Commanding Officer.
Shortly after this, to my surprise, Major Palfrey, of Boston, my classmate in the Medical School and my Junior in the Mass. General Hospital appeared. He was the Medical Chief at the Hospital.
At 12.30 we went to lunch and after eating we talked the situation over. It appeared that the hospital were expecting me and consequently my pleasant reception.
At this time there were many case of “Flu” in the hospital and there was too much work and responsibility for Palfrey alone. He divided the Medical service giving me charge of A street, the lower four wards on B street, and wards D-3, 4, 7, and 8.
After this we went over the entire Hospital and I was introduced to most of the Officers.
I was quartered in a small wooden house in front of the Administration building.
Major Palfrey and Major Wainwright each had a room by themselves.
Capt. Sheaff and Capt. Crowe occupied a room together and I shared a room with Capt. Brown.
Two weeks later Brown moved to Charlotte with his family and I had the room to myself.
The Hospital was delightfully situated on a little hill in the midst of a small growth of Southern pine.
Every thing was attractive about the place but it was evident that the number of cases and of severely sick cases was so large that they could not be properly cared for by the Medical staff on duty.
From MS-397, Box 1, Folder 4. To read the diary in its entirety, visit Rauner Special Collections Library and ask to see the Harry Goodall papers (MS-397).
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