A Very Muddy Place in Print

Tomorrow, the 100th anniversary of the Armistice, we’ll relive a big moment with Private Potts in A Very Muddy Place.

Today, I assembled the twenty-six articles of the series into a single document. At 17,000 words, the 80-page manuscript should make a print book of something over a hundred pages.

 


A Very Muddy Place

My great grandfather, like many veterans, didn’t talk much about his wartime experience. His family has only his discharge paper and a few anecdotes.

One hundred years later, I’ve discovered a few documents that bear his name. From draft registration to discharge, I’m following the paper trail of B. F. Potts’s journey to the battlefields of the Great War in France and back home again.

Choose your own path...


Denouement

Today’s is the last of my great grandfather’s war stories. The rest—the Armistice, his return trip, and homecoming—is denouement (articles forthcoming). I appreciate all of you who have commented on social media and sent private messages and emails. Your encouragement is invaluable to me. Among other things, it gives me hope that the text may hold interest to readers outside Ben Potts’s family.

When I set out on this journey in May, I thought it would be easy: recite the anecdotes, give a little context, throw in some ambiance… As I got deeper into the research, though, I discovered more than I bargained for. There’s a lot of history in those six months of 1918, and in that short time, there are only so many occasions that certain of the anecdotes could have taken place. That I could narrow down the times and places of most of the stories to within a few likely days of Ben Potts’s journey has been a tremendous reward. 

I wish I could sit down with Grandpa and show him my notes. With what I’ve learned, I’m sure I could jog his memory and get a few more stories out of him. You’d all be invited, of course. Granny would make another pitcher of iced tea.

Benjamin Franklin Potts
Benjamin Franklin Potts reverse


A Very Muddy Place

My great grandfather, like many veterans, didn’t talk much about his wartime experience. His family has only his discharge paper and a few anecdotes.

One hundred years later, I’ve discovered a few documents that bear his name. From draft registration to discharge, I’m following the paper trail of B. F. Potts’s journey to the battlefields of the Great War in France and back home again.

Previous articles:

The Butte of Vauquois

“Well, Daddy, what did you think about France?”
“It's a very muddy place.”

Benjamin Franklin Potts Registers for the Draft

As the Great War thundered across the fields of northern France, ten million American men, ages 21 to 30, signed their names to register to be drafted into military service.

Military Induction and Entrainment

“I, Benjamin Franklin Potts, do solemnly swear to bear true allegiance to the United States of America, and to serve them honestly and faithfully, against all their enemies or opposers whatsoever…”

Army Training at Camp Gordon

“If it moves, salute it. If it doesn’t move, paint it!”

Embarkation, the Tunisian, and the Bridge of Ships

In his first ocean voyage, B. F. Potts crossed the submarine invested waters of the North Atlantic in a convoy of steamers escorted by a warship.

Enterprise, Tennessee: The Town That Died

Grandpa owned matched pairs of horses. Him and the boys [Ben and his brothers] cut and snaked logs out of the wood to the roads. He got a dollar a day plus fifty cents for the horses.

Rendezvous with the 35th Infantry Division

“Some of the guys disobeyed orders, went into the town, broke into a bakery, and stole all the bread and baked goods…”

In Reserve at Saint-Mihiel

The battle of Saint-Mihiel (September 12-15) would be Pershing’s first operation as army commander. He assigned the 35th to the strategic reserve, whose purpose is to replace a weakened unit or to fill any gap in the line created by the enemy.

Special Job for Private Potts

“Private Potts, how tall are you?”

The soldier, looking into a button of the captain’s coat, says, “Five foot three, sir.” The wide brim raises. 

A Potts Family Day of Thanks

On the front now, the 35th was in range of artillery fire, and enemy planes made nighttime bombing raids over the countryside.

Planning the Meuse-Argonne Offensive

On the left, the 137th would take the “V of Vauquois,” a formidable network of trenches, zig-zagging from the hill’s west flank to the village of Boureuilles, a mile away.

Prelude to Battle

The gun jumps, the earth shudders, a shock wave shatters the air and accompanies a roar that bursts between the ears. Powder fumes permeate the air. Explosions count seconds across unending darkness.

Taking Vauquois

…up until 7:40 a.m. when the rolling barrage ceased, we can follow Private Potts’s movement across the battlefield.

The Fog of War

Scrawling in a notepad, the commander tears the sheet, folds it, and thrusts it into the runner’s hands.

“Potts, take this message to brigade. Tell them we need artillery now. Go!”

Night Attack

“Let him lie in an artillery shower all night, if you must. But do not disturb a soldier’s sleep, sir, with your orders that change from one minute to the next!”

Montrebeau Wood

By morning’s end, the intermingled 137th and 139th regiments gained 500 meters and dug in before Montrebeau Wood. Through the woods and German machine-gun nests and sniper fire, the men fought in the afternoon.

Encounter at Creek’s Edge 

“When I asked him [Grandpa Ben] if he killed anyone, this is what he told me…”

Charge to Exermont

As the men would destroy one machine-gun nest, other enemy gun crews were setting up on both sides of their skirmish line.

Clyde Brake Boards the Leviathan

In the morning of April 6, 1917, the day the US declared war on the German Empire, American army troops seized the Vaterlund at its mooring in the Hoboken harbor.

The Engineers’ Line

When the digging was done, they dropped into the trenches, exchanged shovels for rifles, and pointed them north.

Relieved

At 3 a.m., October 1, the 35th Infantry was the fourth of Pershing’s nine front-line divisions to be relieved from the front.

Roy Albert Buried Alive!

“…he was near the spot where a shell landed and was buried under dirt.”

Permission for Leave

“Ben had been told that his brother, Roy, had died. Then he ran into someone who said, I just saw your brother over at so-and-so medical. So he went to get a pass…”

Upcoming dates:

October 26—An Unremarkable Day

November 11—The Armistice

April 23—Return Aboard the Manchuria

May 13—Homecoming

Choose your own path...


Looking Ahead from A Very Muddy Place

As the climactic battle draws near, we’re picking up the pace this month in A Very Muddy Place. Private Potts has no idea that this is his itinerary for the rest of September—a hundred years ago:

September 12—In Reserve at Saint-Mihiel

16—Special Job for Private Potts

19—A Potts Family Day of Thanks

24—Planning the Meuse-Argonne Offensive

25—Prelude to Battle

26—Taking Vauquois

26—The Fog of War

27—Night Attack

28—Montrebeau Wood

29—Charge to Exermont

29—Clyde Brake Boards the Leviathan

30—The Engineers’ Line

October 8—Roy Albert Buried Alive!

Plan of Attack, First Army


A Very Muddy Place

My great grandfather, like many veterans, didn’t talk much about his wartime experience. His family has only his discharge paper and a few anecdotes.

One hundred years later, I’ve discovered a few documents that bear his name. From draft registration to discharge, I’m following the paper trail of B. F. Potts’s journey to the battlefields of the Great War in France and back home again.

Previous articles:

The Butte of Vauquois

“Well, Daddy, what did you think about France?”
“It's a very muddy place.”

Benjamin Franklin Potts Registers for the Draft

As the Great War thundered across the fields of northern France, ten million American men, ages 21 to 30, signed their names to register to be drafted into military service.

Military Induction and Entrainment

“I, Benjamin Franklin Potts, do solemnly swear to bear true allegiance to the United States of America, and to serve them honestly and faithfully, against all their enemies or opposers whatsoever…”

Army Training at Camp Gordon

“If it moves, salute it. If it doesn’t move, paint it!”

Embarkation, the Tunisian, and the Bridge of Ships

In his first ocean voyage, B. F. Potts crossed the submarine invested waters of the North Atlantic in a convoy of steamers escorted by a warship.

Enterprise, Tennessee: The Town That Died

Grandpa owned matched pairs of horses. Him and the boys [Ben and his brothers] cut and snaked logs out of the wood to the roads. He got a dollar a day plus fifty cents for the horses.

 

Choose your own path...


A Peregrine’s Path, Issue no. 3

TriopetraAt Triopetra on Crete’s south coast, I learned that its highest rock is the place from which Icarus took off on his mortal flight, too close to the sun. I also learned that, while Icarus fell into the sea, his father and wing maker, Daedalus, flew on to Sicily…

Issue no.3 of A Peregrine’s Path goes out to subscribers this afternoon. In this issue, you’ll read a rhyming excerpt from the next story in the Littlelot series, learn about a novel in progress, and see exclusive photos of a second-century Roman road.

A Peregrine’s Path
News of Stephen’s upcoming releases, previews of his books, and exclusive offers from
Peregrine Publishing

Subscribe now and get a free ebook

The First Story of Littlelot

The First Story of
Littlelot

An Arthurian legend with knights and damsels and other action figures

In his game of make-believe, a boy must make a choice—break his oath to the king or break the heart of the woman who gave him the most meaningful gift.

Choose your own path...


Download Littlelot and Petit Lot Free

To celebrate last week’s paperback release of Petit Lot et le Grand Cor de la licorne, I’m giving away ebook editions of Littlelot and Petit Lot.

Right now you can download The First Story of Littlelot, Littlelot and the Real Monster, as well as Petit Lot et le Grand Cor de la licorne, for free to your Kindle or Kindle app.

The First Story of Littlelot

Download

Littlelot and the Real Monster

Download

Petit Lot et le Grand Cor de la licorne

Download

Choose your own path...


Vict’ry Paperback Release Sale

The Way to Vict’ry - Haiku Illustrated on Amazon

RELEASE SALE

Get the paperback edition of
The Way to Vict’ry: Haiku Illustrated by Cristina Basile
at up to half off the cover price

This offer won't last long — Get it now!

 

Sale price
 €3.49   $6.49   £3.49 
Taxes not included   

 

The Way to Vict’ry: Haiku Illustrated

The Way to Vict’ry

Three haiku about success, happiness,
and daring to do the most impossible things

“The most extraordinary book
of three haiku ever published!”

FULLY ILLUSTRATED
by Cristina Basile

Now available in paperback

Paperback
Available on Amazon

Ebook
Available on Amazon

 

 

 

Choose your own path...


Haiku Illustrated — Proof Copy

The proof copy of The Way to Vict’ry: Haiku Illustrated by Cristina Basile has arrived! It looks great, but the printed proof reveals a couple problems that can be fixed.

Perfection is possible on rare occasions. This is one.

The corrections are easily made, and the proofing process will require only a couple more days delay. I look forward to the release announcement around the middle of the week.

Keep a peregrine’s eye out for that, because I expect to launch with a special reduced price for the first few days.

Title haiku and facing illustration

Title haiku and facing illustration from the proof copy

 

The Way to Vict’ry: Haiku Illustrated

The Way to Vict’ry

“The most extraordinary book
of three haiku ever published!”

FULLY ILLUSTRATED
by Cristina Basile

In ebook and paperback editions

Choose your own path...


Vict’ry Illustrated for Pre-order

To be released Friday, July 14, the Kindle edition of The Way to Vict’ry: Haiku Illustrated by Cristina Basile is now available for pre-order at a reduced price.

Place your order now to get this beautifully illustrated ebook for only 99 cents. The book will be delivered automatically to your Kindle device on Friday.

The price goes up to regular retail, $1.99, on the day of release.

 

The Way to Vict’ry: Haiku Illustrated

The Way to Vict’ry

“The most extraordinary book
of three haiku ever published!”

FULLY ILLUSTRATED
by Cristina Basile

In ebook and paperback editions

Ebook
Available on Amazon

 Paperback coming soon!

Choose your own path...


Haiku Illustrated

Coming this summer!
 

The Way to Vict’ry Illustrated by Cristina Basile

“The most extraordinary book of three haiku ever published”

FULLY ILLUSTRATED
by Cristina Basile

ebook and paperback editions

 

Subscribers to A Peregrine’s Path get the electronic edition (PDF, EPUB, and Mobipocket) of this book free on release.

 

A Peregrine’s Path
News of Stephen’s upcoming releases, previews of his books, and exclusive offers from
Peregrine Publishing

Choose your own path...


Countdown Sale — The First Story of Littlelot

To celebrate Littlelot’s print release, we’re having a Countdown Sale on the Kindle edition of The First Story of Littlelot.

The countdown sale begins today 8 a.m. PST at $0.99. The 99-cent price will hold through the weekend. The price goes up to $1.99 Monday 4 p.m. PST. The sale ends next Friday at midnight PST when the price goes back to its normal $2.99.

Get yours now!

 

The First Story of Littlelot

The First Story of
Littlelot

An Arthurian legend with knights and damsels and other action figures

In his game of make-believe, a boy must make a choice—break his oath to the king or break the heart of the woman who gave him the most meaningful gift.

Ebook
Available on Amazon

 

 

 

Choose your own path...