EDWARD CURTIS CONLEY was born in Stephenson, Michigan in 1884. In 1916, he was living in Sheridan, working as an electrician at the Sheridan Sugar Factory. When it came time to join the army, he didn't hesitate; he enlisted in Sheridan in August 1917, just two months after National Registration Day. In November of that same year, he was commissioned as a 1st Lieutenant with the 2nd Field Signal Battalion. During his service in France, Conley was both gassed and wounded. In recognition of his "valorous service," he was awarded the Croix de Guerre (War Cross) by the French Government.
Conley's letters home from France and Germany were published in The Sheridan Daily Enterprise, one of two local papers. In them, he tended to wax philosophical about the nature of war and man's inhumanity to man.
The following undated letter, published in June 1918, includes his well-articulated views on the army, the enemy and how the war is going for both sides.
(From "In the World War")
State Historic Site
I certainly was very glad to hear from Sheridan, and, believe me, that these people all know that Sheridan, Wyo., is on the map. They have dubbed me "Sheridan Ed," on account of my persistent advertising.
I have now been in the trenches for three months and, believe me, that in that time, we certainly let the Huns know that we came from the good old U. S. Furthermore, they are having more respect for us every day.
We are making history every day, and there is no use of me telling you anything because a few days ago I saw some U. S. papers and everything was authentic. I am positive you can believe everything you read.
I know the more I am in the game, the more I want to be. I am only sorry that I cannot do more than I can. I have learned a lesson that is hard for any civilized person to learn. It is certainly hard for any civilized person who lives in a free country to learn that this earth was infested with a barbarous race of supposed humans that had any rattlers or wild beasts backed off of the map, for loving to deal out the most dastardly kinds of dirty work. Nevertheless, we have so far coped with the situation and, believe me that every one of our men has the highest morale and we are all raring to go. We have a wonderful army, and it is soon going to be proved that we COUNT!
Our men are in wonderful shape, both physically and mentally. Venereal disease and other pestilence that have been so common in armies are nil. It is certainly wonderful to know that we are backed with the greatest corps of medicos that ever lived. Everybody is doing their bit, because we all know that we want to do for all those that like to get in and can't.
I am plugging away, doing my daily grind. So far have not won any Croix-de-Guerre, or other medals. Nevertheless, am trying to. The combined combinations [of artillery] that we have here and there are the ones that Kaiser Bill has to reckon with. With such spirit we are going to put it across, and I am not talking from a flattering or egotistical point of view.
I am glad that Sheridan is going to the limit, and that's the sky. It certainly does sound and feel good when you read or hear that your part of the country is doing their share. I know it comes hard for many, but after seeing the true aspect, I do believe that anyone would sacrifice a whole lot more than they think.
I have been interrupted a number of times and not being much of a scribe anyway, you will have to pardon composition. I am writing under difficulties, and will have to ring off. Give my regard to all the boys and print what you may of this if you wish, if you think it will help.