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14 THE SATURDAY EVENING POST January 30, 1915 "No matter who else is inconvenienced, the soldier and the potential soldier must be carried with the greatest possible dispatch. For any man in official or private employment to delay him needlessly would practically be treason against the State. But, of course, no man would dare do that; it isn't humanly possible that he would think of doing so. "I reach the barracks of my regiment. I go at once to a certain room and unlock a certain locker, the number of which corresponds to the number on a key I carry with me always, and which I have now on a string about my neck under this shirt that I am wearing. In that locker I find a field uniform made to fit me and a pair of boots of my proper size. I find an army shirt and a suit of underwear. I find everything I need to clothe me from the skin out, including a leather bag to go about my neck and hold my money, and a brass tag giving my name, my command and my company number. Only socks are missing—the German soldier furnishes his own socks. "In that locker, also, I find my rifle, oiled and in order. I find my knapsack packed according to the regulations; I find a spare pair of military shoes; I find my canteen—and it contains fresh water. It always contains fresh water, for it is emptied and refilled daily. "I take off my civilian garb and put on my uniform and my equipment, and I am in heavy marching order. My cartridge belts are already loaded with so many clips containing so many cartridges—somebody else attended to that detail before I came. I know that in one small pocket in the skirt of my coat are two first-aid packages; and that in another pocket, a trifle larger, is a stated quantity of emergency rations consisting of compressed soup—bean soup, pea soup or lentil soup—which becomes ready for use if I pour a pinch of the powdered meal into a cup of water and stir it while it comes to a . boil. Those emergency rations may be one year old, or two or three—it makes no difference. They will keep in almost any climate for an indefinite length of time. "Now then for the final touch: On the floor of my locker is a sheet of tough paper of a certain size and color and, with it, a string of a certain length, and a blank tag of a certain design. Following a routine which I have practiced many times in the past, I fold up my civilian clothes in the paper, tie the string round the bundle, write my name and my residence address on the tag, affix the tag to the bundle and go away, leaving it there. I know that it will be taken up by a man detailed for that purpose and sent back to my home carriage-free. " Within twenty-four hours—or at most forty-eight hours—after the summons came my regiment will be assembled, fit and prepared to entrain or to march, or to go on garrison duty. The officers will be there, and the men, and the band, and the hospital corps. The supply train will be waiting to follow behind us. And what is true of my case is true of all the able-bodied male adults in Germany subject to military duty." Less than five months after my friend, the young art dealer, told me this across the coffee cups in New York, I lunched at a colonel's mess in a town in Belgium, near the French border, with the sounds of the big guns in our ears. We had for luncheon pea soup, with sausages sliced in it. Struck by the peculiar mealy taste of the soup I asked a captain who sat next me whether the soup had been prepared from an emergency ration. He said yes—and added that the ration had been put up in 1911. It was pretty good soup too—for vintage sotip—and all the time I was drinking it I was thinking of that apartment on Fifth Avenue and of what I had been told there that night last spring. Fighting on Eight Cents a Day ET us get back to Private Johann Schmidt: He, mind you, J..J is not a reserve; he is a first-line man. Being typical, he is, let us say, of peasant breed; and, for purposes of this present illustration, he comes, let us assume, from Northern Germany. He is not tall, neither is he dwarfed of stature; he is broad-faced, blond, heavy-limbed and round-bodied, with big hands and big feet. His head is cropped so close that his scalp shows through the bristling hair-stubble. This has been done for two reasons—one hygienic, the other because it makes him more nearly of a pattern with all his fellows. The Germans' passion for uniformity is apparent here as in everything else. Unless the campaign moves with rapidity, his head will be barbered repeatedly, in spare moments. There is a barber in every company— either a regular barber or a soldier armed with clippers and detailed for the job. For pay he draws the equivalent of about eight American cents a day. That, mind you, is his pay in time of active service. In peace times he is paid a sum corresponding, I believe, to between three and four cents. His eight cents buys him postal cards and butter and tobacco of the cheapest kind, and occasionally a glass of beer or a bottle of beer. The postals he sends back from Belgium by the handy field post to I* family and friends; the butter he keeps to spread on his 'black bread for supper; and he drinks the beer on the spot. When he is not smoking a china-bowled pipe or a cigar-shaped roll of inferior weed—you could not call it a real cigar—he is sniffing snuff. Search Private Johann Schmidt and you will probably find a snuffbox on his person. Next only to these things he craves newspapers—German newspapers; but for his newspaper he depends almost altogether on the kindness of civilians who have come along behind the army. Having read it, from the first word on the first page to the last word on the last page, he passes it along to his comrades until it is a blurred and ragged ruin: Should his needs or his fancies call for a larger purchase, it is a hundred to one that, in the leather pouch which hangs about his neck on a leather thong, he carries forty or fifty marks—money which he has laboriously saved, or money which his people at home have sent him to be spent on necessities and luxuries during the campaign. In exchange for his war wage of approximately eight cents a day he carries an equipment that, including his magazine rifle, his side arms and his spare ammunition, weighs upward of seventy-five pounds; and, thus burdened, marches the equivalent of twenty or thirty or even thirtyfive English miles a day, living meantime on food which, though abundant in quantity and nutritious in quality, is neither appetizing in its appearance nor in its smell, nor yet in the fashion in which it is dished out to him. II German General's Field Mess To my layman's understanding it seemed that his load might have been materially lessened in weight without sacrificing any of its strength, its wearing capabilities or its completeness—and it is most complete. But that, you must know, is not the German way. In the German mind, somehow, bulk is associated with strength, and substance with stability. It shows in German art, in German architecture, in German books and in German sculpture. And particularly it shows in the German foot soldier's load of accouterments. He bulges on every slope and angle of his being. His knapsack and blanket roll cover the space between his shoulders and the broad of his back. His haversack, his drinking cup and his soup pan dangle below these. His belt is as burdened as though he were a Santa Claus. In front, his leather pouches for ammunitionclips ride his breastbone. They are square and hard, and they hang on his upper chest like twin bird-boxes, utterly spoiling his profile view. His bayonet scabbard swings against his flank and bangs his thigh when he marches fast. In Johann Schmidt's company there are two men whose bayonets are toothed on the back side, so that they may be used as saws in cutting firewood or small limbs for shelters. There are ten men in the company who must bear, in addition to all else, short-handled shovels for digging and shorthandled axes for chopping. These highly essential articles slip into leather holsters that, in turn, are strapped to the outer body belt of the wearer. Private Schmidt's coat is lumpy with hidden pockets, all of them being tightly packed with small personal belongings. He abounds in pockets; they are scattered all over him, in the linings of his garments. Then there is his overcoat, which he wears, or carries in a roll across his knapsack, inclosing his second pair of boots; and finally there is his rifle, which is heavy and cumbersome in shape. It is largely because he goes caparisoned like Aladdin's sumpter mule that he lacks the rangy look of the French chasseur- d-pied and the trim, alert look of the English infantryman, seeming at first glance to be heavier by many pounds than either. He is a mass formation all by himself. He does not complain though. In his military lexicon there is no such word as "complain." On the day we see him first he has already marched perhaps twenty miles. He is so weary that when the order comes to halt his legs spring under him in a bow, and he bends over, panting like a tired dog; but he makes no complaint. His officer rasps out another command and he swings his gun to his shoulder or under his arm, and off he goes—clump-clump—to march perhaps ten miles more, or maybe fifteen, before those about him are ready to call it a day and let all hands knock off. At the fag end of a long day of forced marching I have seen a column of German infantrymen fall down literally in their tracks. They fell where they stood and they lay where they fell, whether it was in the hard road or the wet ditch, or in the soggy field beyond the ditch, too far spent to eat or smoke or sing, or do aught except sleep the dead sleep of utterly exhausted animals. That was an exceptional circumstance however. Ordi- narily when night comes Private Johann Schmidt first feeds himself copiously. Then, having smoked furiously for half an hour meantime, he bestows himself for the night in the cottage or the outhouse where he has been billeted. In a country so thickly settled as Belgium is—or was—it is not often necessary for him to sleep under a shelter tent or in the open. Nor is it incumbent on him to find sleeping quarters for himself. That detail has previously been attended to by a person of authority who went on ahead. When his company breaks rank an underofficer tells him where he is to go—and he goes. Theirs Not to Reason Why MANY times I have been amazed to see how speedily and completely a good-sized command of troops disappeared after dark. It was as though they had vanished bodily. The explanation for this, of course, lay in the fact that in Northwestern Europe there are always houses where men may tuck themselves away, and the towns are so numerous that the edge of one town touches the edge of the next town—and so on unendingly. Private Schmidt gets up with the sun. A bugle may rouse him, and then again it may not. A rude and insistent noncommissioned officer is apt to be the herald of the new day. I heard remarkably few bugles blaring during my three separate expeditions in the company of the German forces. Having got up, and having breakfasted on dry bread and a hot, sweetish mixture, called coffee because it is mostly chicory, Pri- vate Schmidt is ready for whatever the day may bring to him—marching or fighting, going forward or staying where he is, killing others or being killed himself. In any event he does not concern his own mind with the whys and wherefores of the system of which he is a vital but unconsidered part. I never saw a German common soldier, however employed, who did not seem to know exactly what he was doing; and I never saw one who seemed to know why he was doing it. It was an order; and that, for his purposes, was amply sufficient. He went and did it; and if, in doing it, he got himself killed—why, that small detail made no difference whatever. The order was the thing to be considered—not the effect on him personally. His motto might well have been two words: "Ja wohl!" "Yes, well!" if you translate it literally—or, to express it in an Americanism, "All right!" Those were the commonest words in his vocabulary, and still are. The order came. Somebody else had thought it out. Somebody else always had thought it out—that was that somebody's business—not Ns. He individually had been relieved of the function of thinking any thoughts upon the subject. "Ja wohl!" he said, and saluted, and brought his ironshod heels together and was on his way instanter. You see, the same iron discipline which ironed the creases out of his back ironed the convolutions out of his brain, in so far as his present job was concerned. It endowed him with steel leg muscles and a wooden headpiece. Privily he might entertain what beliefi and sentiments suited his intellectual needs. Generally I found him fairly well informed, considering his limitations, upon outside matters. Officially and professionally he was a mental blank, and nothing else. He had been put through a punching machine and he had come out a human die. He was absolutely automatic, and in an automatic and mechanical way tremendously competent. The same process that took away his imagination robbed him also of some of his natural enthusiasm, but it gave him a substitute for both: it gave him an unfailing quality of resolution and a sense of obedience as stiff and hard as iron rods. An incidental result was that it deprived him of his sense of humor. He didn't laugh in public, because it was not set down in the manual that he should laugh.


Johann_Schmidt_Private
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