Trench Warfare Essay, Research Paper
May 30, 1918
Dear Mother and Father,
I am lying here in our trench, reflecting on how I miss the warmth of home and our family. The Battle of Cantigny broke out two days ago, and has been a living hell on Earth ever since. Cantigny is 60 miles north of Paris and was actually quite nice before the battle started. Now, it is smoke filled, muddy, and horrifying. As I am sure you have already heard, the United States made allies with England, France, Russia, Serbia, Romania, and Japan. I think that put together, we make a strong force and will defeat the enemies: Germany, Austria-Hungary, Turkey and Bulgaria. However, this all could have been prevented if foreign countries avoided the practice of imperialism, militarism, and making alliances. These countries thought that they could use force to solve their problems, but little did they know that this would be the outcome. Although these practices built up much tension between countries, it was not the event that set off this terrible war. The Archduke Francis Ferdinand’s assassination is what lit the spark that exploded into this dreadful war. Our allies were actually excited for the first time in a while when us American Soldiers arrived. We gave them a major boost of confidence in a time that they could really use it. I have been told a couple times by soldiers that, “they couldn’t have done it without us.” They also know that the United States would be a strong source of money and war goods. Which brings me to the point where I ask myself, why is the United States even involved in this war? When we have time, this is a hot topic between soldiers and me. We came to the conclusion that two major conflicts brought us into this war: The Zimmerman Telegram, and the sinking of the Lusitania. The Zimmerman Telegram was a letter from the foreign minister of Germany, to the German Ambassador in Mexico, which was a neutral country at the time, which the British intercepted. The letter said that if the U.S. was ever to declare war on Germany that Mexico would ally with Germany and in return, Germany would provide Mexico with generous financial support. This much angered the U.S., in addition to the sinking of the Lusitania by German U-Boats. It may sound like a weak cause for me to be here, but I think I need to stand up for my country. However, it is getting harder and harder to say that each day I am here. The conditions in the trenches are absolutely horrific. First off, almost all of the trenches are below sea level, which means that many times, we are forced to stand in one to two feet of water and mud. When standing in the water and mud for long periods of time your feet start to get numb, which my feet are already numb. Your skin then can turn red or blue to then result in amputation, but I hope I don’t make it to that stage. Many soldiers also suffer from what is known as shell shock, which is caused by the constant bursting shells of the enemy’s artillery. With this, you get tired, irritable, and even have mental breakdowns. If you don’t get the negative impression so far, it is not uncommon for soldiers to commit suicide to end their time in the trenches. In fact, it has already happened a couple times. Also, large rats infesting our trenches also create a big problem for us. The rats take food from sleeping men, eat killed soldiers, and even try to eat a wounded man if he couldn’t defend himself. When the rats do not take the small amounts of food we are given, we mainly eat canned beef, bread, and biscuits. Good thing I am not on the front line, for I hear the food is so much worse by the time it gets all the way to them. The Germans also bombard us with leaflets. These are small postcard like pictures that try to bring down the moral of the soldiers. I found one today, which had a picture of an American woman on the cover of the popular magazine, “Life.” On the back, there was the word “Death” replacing “Life,” and there was a picture of a skeleton. This does not lower my moral; in fact it just makes me even more aggressive towards the Germans. Well, tell everyone I said hello, and feel free to forward my letter to any relatives in question. I love you and miss you dearly.
Your loving son,