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A Texan in the Trenches: Mike Hogg's World War I Letters Part II

From: Southwestern Historical Quarterly
Volume 117, Number 2, October 2013
pp. 164-182 | 10.1353/swh.2013.0091

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A 1927 print showing infantry soldiers in battle at the Argonne front. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, Washington, D.C.

This is the second installment of letters written by Mike Hogg, the son of Texas Governor James Stephen Hogg, during his military service in World War I. From officer training camp in May 1917 through active combat starting August 1918 until the November Armistice and his participation in the Army of Occupation, he wrote letters home. He returned to civilian life in April 1919. Captain Hogg wrote mostly to his sister, Ima, with a few letters to his brother Will. The first selection of letters appeared in the July 2013 Southwestern Historical Quarterly.

On October 21, 1918, the U.S. Army's 90th Division, including Captain Hogg's 360th Infantry Regiment, joined the Meuse-Argonne Offensive, General John J. Pershing's daring plan to attack a network of German defenses on a front that stretched twenty miles from the Meuse River to the Argonne Forest in northeastern France. The 90th Division was one of the twenty-six American divisions—nearly a million men—involved in what proved to be the last great battle of the war.

The Letters

On Active Service with the American Expeditionary Force
October 28, 1918
My Birthday

Dear Sis:

My gas mask happens to be my writing desk at this writing. My old helmet lies at my feet and I am most covered with the "lamb's wool" comfort that you gave me. My abode is simply a fox-hole, with a little piece of canvas stretched over it.

It has been some time since I wrote last—about a month, I should say. I cabled you, however, not long ago. Yes, I am at the front and that is the reason for the few between. I wish I could just tabulate what can be observed from this very spot. I'll tell you it would fill several pages.

The boys are all in good spirits, and so is the weather, right now.

I have been getting your mail quite regularly. I certainly appreciate it. Brother never writes. Once in a while, he drops me a line, or sends me a clipping. . . .We get papers dropped from aeroplanes and are able to keep up pretty well with what is going on. I have kept up, as have all of us, with the German Peace Offensive.We do not put much faith in it—in fact, none. We must whip these devils before anything else.

Now, about that Christmas package. I don't know of anything I can use, except socks. The ones I have are great and come in fine. It seems to make no difference about the size. They all fit the foot very well.

Give my regards to my friends but don't pass my letters around too much. This one is no good, so can't make the rounds.

With bushels of love—

Mike.

Captain Hogg, writing to his sister from a foxhole at the front, spared her the details of how he got there: marching for miles on muddy roads at night, dodging enemy shells and mustard-gas attacks in the daytime. He did not—could not—tell her how long he would be under fire.

On the night of October 30-31 Mike's 180th (Texas) Brigade relieved the 179th (Oklahoma) Brigade in the line of fire. On November 1, with artillery and machine-gun fire for cover, the troops went "over the top" against heavy German shelling. On November 2 the fierce fighting continued. Major William Morris and the First Battalion, including Mike Hogg's Company D, were ordered to advance on the highest point in the area, a hill called Côte 243. They did so successfully, and seized a large battery of German guns and fifteen German artillerymen. It was in this battle that Captain Mike Hogg was wounded. He was hit in the neck by a shell fragment and taken to a nearby military hospital for treatment. A brief note to Will Hogg from the office of the U.S. Adjutant General informed him that Captain Hogg was "slightly wounded and...



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