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23RD INFANTRY MEDIC FIGHTS LICE/GERMAN ARTILLERY
- World War I soldier’s diary kept by Sgt. Milford Peterson, Medical Department, 23rd Infantry, 2nd Divison. Peterson enlisted at Ft. Slocum, NY in the Medical Corps on July 29, 1917 and wrote his diary in ink and pencil. The diary continues to July, 1919, when he parts from his friends. The writer did not write every day, just those days he felt were important to report. For example, January 25, 1918—“Discovery of lice in the Med. Dept. 23rd Infantry. Believe it was some discovery. Everybody looked and by golly we all had the. I at once took a hot water shower then a cold bichlond (?) bath and put on clean underwear. Felt fine at once. We moved all our bunks outside for an airing and burned the stray in our bed mattresses. It was a very large blaze from 21 beds all at once. Murder was done to those lice.” On April 1, 1918, he wrote—“1-00 A.M. and 1-30 AM we received our first attack of gas which came over in form of shell gas. We at once realized the importance of our gas masks in a conflict with such an enemy as the Huns. Alarm of gas came also at 6:00 PM but did not reach the Reg. Aid Station.” In his account of July 1, 1918, events, Peterson wrote—“Attack by 3rd Battalion, 23rd Inf. And 1st Battalion 9th Inf. Objective Daux. Objective gained in 25 minutes. Best attack since war at least since Amer. entered it any way. One of our M (men) a Lt. Brown was instantly killed. Horribly mutilated.” Then, the next day, Peterson wrote—“A personal friend Sgt. Nelso of 1st Field Bn. Signal Corps was blown to atoms. The Americans surely gave Fritz a little steel in return tho.” And the day before peace was declared, October 10, 1918, the medic wrote—“Slept a few feet from a place where a shell landed at 4:30 AM, scattering rock everywhere. A narrow escape for us too.”
Although somewhat brief, the diary provides excellent accounts written by an American soldier.