October to December 1917

November 3, 1917. “I am sending you some pictures I had taken in Chickamauga (Georgia).” McKinley is in front, second from the right. Photo in the Austin Collection.
McKinley (on the left) with a friend at Chickamauga, Georgia, possibly at Crawfish Springs, mentioned in his November 3, 1917 letter. Photo in the Austin Collection.

McKinley Austin, Chickamauga Park, Ga., to Jennie Austin
October 7, 1917
Dear Ma,
I am sorry you were worried about me. I might say though that it is best to always believe the best; you’ll hear of the worst. I have learned since I joined the army not to worry.

I would have written sooner this time, but we had 24 hours in the trenches, a long hike, and a couple of sham battles and I have been so tired when the day’s work was over, I didn’t feel like writing. The strike is over and we can go to Chattanooga when it doesn’t interfere with our duties. McKinley

McKinley Austin, Chickamauga Park, Ga., to Mort Austin
November 3, 1917
Dear Father,
I got out of the hospital alright. I wish I could get off and come home for a couple of weeks, but they are only giving short passes now.

I am sending you some pictures I had taken in Chickamauga. One of the pictures is of me on the bridge below Chickamauga, another of two fellows from the 52nd down at Crawfish Springs, another of another fellow and me at the same place and the other of a place on the road to Chickamauga.

Tell Aunt Aida I’ll send her the pictures too, and that I’ll write soon. But I am busy straightening my things out after being in the hospital and have not much time.

Your son, McKinley

McKinley Austin, Chickamauga Park, Ga., to Mort Austin
December 4, 1917
Dear father,
I am on guard at Ft. Oglethorpe just now. I’ll be through and go back to our quarters the 11th. We go on guard every other day. My company goes on at 4 p.m. today. Then we come off at 4 p.m. tomorrow and rest till Thursday.

Unless the rules are changed in our regiment, no furloughs will be given and no passes for over ten days. We have now a system for giving passes. A person who has been in the army:
4 months can get a 6-day pass
5 months can get a 7
6 months can get a 8
8 months can get a 9.

As it costs almost $45.00 with the new war tax on tickets and it takes near two days, I don’t think it worthwhile getting a six day pass. I would only be home two days. Most likely we will be here in March, then I’ll see if I can get a 9-day pass. I would like to see home before I go to France as I think the war will last some time.

The climate here averages much warmer than home. There are spells of cold weather, but they do not last long. The average type of weather here is the sun is very hot in the middle of the day. It gets cool about four o’clock and is very cold by morning (of course it isn’t as cold as it is home then. The nights are cool all the year.

This part of Georgia is much colder than the average as we are in the mountains. The sudden changes in the weather are the worst here. The ground never is frozen very deep and soon thaws out, I am told. So far the ground has not been frozen as I have noticed. This is another disadvantage as it allows the “hookworm” to spread among the people. If a person understands how to prevent the spread of this trouble, there is no danger and cure is easy and certain.

If a person has a good warm house and uses sense, this wouldn’t be a bad place to live. Work is not so well paid as it is in the North, but rents are lower and I believe land is cheaper.

Of course, it takes money to buy a farm in good condition. There are several companies here who will put money on farmlands at reasonable rates.

To give you examples, I will send you some advertisements of farms for rent or sale, running from 4 to 7,000 acres. Raymond was thinking of coming here and getting work. I’ll put in some labor advertisements. Well, I’ve got to get ready to go on guard now.

From your son, McKinley

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