Troop Train to New York

Pvt. Baker’s memoir:

At 8:00 p.m., Wednesday, May 16,1917, the 147 enlisted men in our unit marched away from Patten Gym at Northwestern University with our baggage, suitcases and all kinds of bundles, amid great shouting, singing, Rah! Rah's! and good-byes from the students. We all piled on the Evanston "L" and got off at Union Station.

We left Chicago at 11:00 p.m. on the Wabash Railroad on a special train that had regular sleepers and meals. In Canada, at St. Thomas and Hamilton, the people greeted us. We had written in chalk on the side of the cars, "BERLIN OR BUST". The Canadian people were doubtful about our getting to Berlin.

We arrived in New York at 5:30 a.m. on Friday, May 18, 1917 after thirty-one hours of steady riding. After being told not to tell anyone where we were going and not to send any information through the mails, we were given the whole day in New York.

The “University Men” in fact reported in civilian clothes with suitcases, musical instruments and sports equipment. Totally untrained in Army ways, they were not issued uniforms or equipment until they were on shipboard. Such was the poor state of American preparedness when it entered the First World War--as in other foreign wars over into the next century.