Tony Budnik

Mr. Budnik served in World War I.

He served in the U.S. Army. He was assigned to Battery “D” of the 125th Artillery.

Source: Marshall Wells Hardware News Letter’s from WWI (see below)

“I’ve laid awake two nights now figuring and planning ways and means to go across with the next bunch. Have been to the Colonel twice and to our Captain a dozen times, but there is nothing doing.

You see an order came thru that no Non-Coms were to go with the bunch of about 1,000 men who are going to France on June 10th.

So I best it up and asked Capt. To bust me. He gave me a nice fatherly talk about sticking to it and recommending me for a commission and about getting out of here in the very near future, but I told him it was the same old line to me, and I wanted to go now.

So he said he would fix it up. Talk about happy. Say, I had pep for a dozen guys, but it didn’t last long.

Our present Colonel knows me quite well, and when the Captain put through the order, for reducing me, he sent for me. I sure got a fatherly talking to about being a quitter, and leaving just when he needed us most to drill the drafted men, and then all things were off.

I forgot he was a Colonel, and talked until my eyes got moist and I choked up. In fact I made myself believe I was the most misused person in the Army.

I told him that it would be seven years this coming September since I was in the service, and that men who enlisted three months ago had gone across; that I was in a rut.

Being a ---- three years made me lose all interest in my work, and that a chance to start all over is what I needed and a chance to fight; that I didn’t want to go home after the war, and have to say I’d never been farther than New Mexico.

He didn’t say a word, until I choked up, just looked at the floor, and then he got up, put his hand on my shoulder and said, “Listen, Son, you go back to your tent and lie down, or go out and play ball.”

“You are all worked up now; and some day you’ll thank me for refusing. You are a darn good soldier, and you go back, and smile and stick to it, and I’ll see that you get the first chance.”

Then followed a lecture on the test of a real soldier being one who could bear all disappointments, and smile. Can you beat that….You bet that talking helped some and I felt a heap better.

Had a big ten-day maneuver. Left Friday morning at 8:00 and got in this morning, about 7:30. Started about 12:15 and made the last 26 miles of our trip by moonlight.

Gee! Artillery looks great on the march. The entire 125th went on the hike and the marching column was just three miles long and as there are only 2 yards. Interval between carriages, you can picture the size of a regiment on the road.

We went into Camp at the government wells at 2:00 P.M. and camped there.

Say, an artillery camp looks pretty. First come the officers’ tents in a row, then the kitchen and then the battery pitch their little pup tents facing each other, in two rows, forming a small battery street.

At the end of the street the guns and Caissons are lined up, picket lines stretched between them and the horses tied up there.

We were out at 5:00 the next morning, and on the road at 8:00. Went up into the mountains about five or six miles, where we went into action and fired a few problems.

You should have seen the guns bounce like a rubber ball. You see it was all solid rock and the trench picked for the trail spade was all rock, and when the gun would kick back, the splinters of rock would fly all over.

This same program was carried out for three days, and then we went up over the mountain passes 19 miles to old Fort Cummins.

This sure was a test for the horses, because it was up hill all the way, and one wheel would be balanced on a three-foot rock, while the other was on the level and when it would slam down the six horses would all be pulled back in the traces.

There was about 5 miles of solid rock straight up a mountain side and as steep as the roof of a house and the horses being smooth shod slipped all over it.

I sure was glad to get over that, because if a horse had fallen and pulled the others down, the 2,000 lb. Guns would have pulled them all the way down, brake and all.

Got into camp about 7:30 and the dough boys and other artillery were just eating breakfast. They sure stared at us, riding in all covered with dust, at that time in the morning.

Looking back at it now, it seems more like a dream than a reality, moving along in the bright moonlight, with everyone quiet and half asleep, because some of the poker players and crap shooters were just going to bed, when we had to pack up harness and get out.

The big clouds of dust rolling along, in the moonlight, gave it all a real weird look.

I went to sleep a dozen times in the saddle, and woke up once when my lead driver yelled. “Hey, Bud, your horse is pushing my team off the road.”

The Artillery for mine. It is the only branch of the service. You sure work every minute of the day, but work puts pep in a fellow.

We get up at 5:00, pull down our little tents, roll our blankets and extra clothes up in it, then water, feed and groom our horses, feed ourselves, grab lunch, saddle bags and roll, beat it back, saddle and pack up.

A horse packed up looks just like a moving van. In fact, you have to look twice to see the horse; - first the saddle, then the blanket roll, then the feed bags filled with oats, then the saddle bags all chucked up with toilet articles, mess kit and tools, then the canteen, lariat, picket pin, and a sweater and slicker rolled up on the pommel of the saddle.

After that, if you are unlucky enough to be a section chief you go over and help your lead driver put on a trace, help your wheel driver put on a collar, fold up a couple of saddle blankets for the swing driver,--maybe get a chance to give the Caisson General the deuce because he didn’t get a bridle fixed that was broken yesterday.

Then you check up to see if the picket lines, lanterns, collapsible canvass buckets, axes, hatchets, picks, shovels, wrenches and pole props are on the carriages and strapped in, so that they don’t fall out on the mountain trails.

Then if your drivers are all hitched you report and have nothing to do until 8:00, which is about 3 seconds away.

Then you hit the road and that’s the snap, because all you do is ride up and down and watch for open collars, broken straps and see that all horses are in the collar and pulling.

When the battery goes into action, the corporals take the timbers and horses to the rear, and section chiefs give firing data and keep an eye on all men, so that no eyes are taken out against the sights or fingers cut off on the recoil, which has happened several times.

When we get back to camp, the horses are fed and watered, and then the men.

Then the Canoness clean out the guns, wipe and wash both guns and Caissons, oil all working parts, wash all empty brass shells and load up the Caisson with fresh shells, for the next day.

The drivers wash collars and bits, clean and oil harness, doctor sore shoulders and cracked hoofs, and give each horse a big rub down.

By this time, it is supper and feeding time again, but after supper is the time when the wild goes down and the sand stops blowing, and you take a nice big wash, come back and lie down with your hips in the hollow you have dug for them, and your head in the saddle that is padded with a sweater and you gaze up at the stars and the moon, and think of the pine, birch and balsam, or laughing rippling waters and big silent poole, and you wonder how the brook trout are biting.

Well, I am getting awfully sleepy, so Adieu.”

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