State Historic Site
PARKMAN FARMER WILLIAM Robert "Bob" Wallace was attending the University of Wyoming when he registered for the draft in June 1917. He was a member of the Student Army Training Corps at the university, but had no real military experience before he was inducted into the service in July 1918.
On October 31, 1918, Wallace wrote a letter to his mother from Camp Upton, located - as he notes - in "about the center of Long Island." Camp Upton was one of several transient embarkation points established to house soldiers on their way overseas. From Camp Upton, soldiers marched to nearby Camp Mills, where they boarded the Long Island Railroad, which took them to the ferryboats which would then transport them to their ships.
During his time in the army, Wallace was a wagoner (holding the rank of corporal) with Provisional Ambulance Company 39 (he also served with an unidentified evacuation ambulance company). As wagoner, he was responsible for the care and feeding of his horses as well as the operation and maintenance of his ambulance wagon.
We are settled here [Camp Upton] for a few days, but we expect to go over in a day or so. I am still raring to go, and the sooner we start the better it will suit me. This is a pretty place. It is located in about the center of Long Island.
It is very warm here - last night it was as warm as a night in July at home. I have already taken a boat ride on the East and North Rivers from Jersey City to Brooklyn. I saw the Statue of Liberty and many big battle ships. I had a fine trip and saw a lot of pretty country, as well as pretty girls.
We left Fort Riley, Kansas, Sunday noon and got here Wednesday night. During all that time I was not off the train but three times for about half an hour each time. I only wish I was aboard the ship, for I am sure getting restless.
I will have lots to tell you when I come back. I am in the best evacuation ambulance company that ever left Fort Riley, and we have got the best officer in the bunch. Gus Schaubel, Charles Bell, Cecil Sturgis, Tom Ewoldson, Jesse Duncan and Emerson Hansey are here in this camp, but they are not in my company, but I have a chance every few days to see someone from Wyoming. I saw a fine boat on the East River with the name Wyoming painted on it. It looked good to me and I nearly yelled my lungs out. They know Wyoming is on the map, and you bet I let everybody know I am from Wyoming.
I got the cakes and cookies you sent me just before we started east, and you may be sure they tasted good, for all we had to eat on the train was corned beef and bread. We got plenty of sleep, however, for we had sleepers all the way from Kansas City.
I doubt if you could make a guess as to the kind of a place Long Island is. It reminds me somewhat of the mountains in Wyoming, pine trees are very plentiful and the principal crops are cabbage and potatoes - this is a great country for spuds.
Did you get the shells I sent you? When I get back from over there, I will bring you a lot more. I am no longer a private, but am a wagoner with the rank of corporal.
(From In the World War)