State Historic Site

Letters Home - Floyd Stilts Samson

Trail End

STOUT, GREY-EYED farmer Floyd Stilts Samson was living in Clearmont, Wyoming, when he registered for the draft in June 1917. A year later, at the age of twenty-four, he was inducted into the Army, where he served in the medical department.  

Honorably discharged in August 1919, Samson returned to both Clearmont and the agricultural life. World War Two found him working for the Moore Drydock Company in Oakland, one of the largest shipbuilding firms in the United States. Samson eventually returned to Sheridan, where he died in 1971. He is buried at the Custer Battlefield National Cemetery. 

During the war, Samson served overseas at Camp Hospital 60, located in the town of Corbigny in central France. He didn't have the easiest time getting there, as he related in a letter to his family dated October 6, 1918, and printed in The Sheridan Daily Enterprise on November 6, 1918.  

Dear Folks at home - This is Sunday and the first quiet day I've had since leaving Fort Riley. Have finally been assigned to one place and after many trials and tribulations, arrived. A bunch of us were assigned to a hospital two weeks ago and started out about 1 a.m.; hiked five miles and took a train ride three hours. Then we waited eleven hours for another train and when we got on again, I and three others occupied a compartment by ourselves and went to sleep. The rest of the outfit got off the train about 4 a.m., but failed to wake us so we kept right on riding til 7 o'clock; when we did get off, we had no idea where the rest of the company was, nor what our destination was and there was no one at the town to tell us anything. We got on the train that evening and went to another town where there were some troops stationed and tried to get straightened out there, but had no luck so went back to where we started from and laid around there til the captain got ready to send us out again. We were a day and a half covering a distance that we would make in about four hours in the states, and changed trains six times on the way. However, we are here and sure are in a fine place.

We are stationed near a small town and quartered in a big stone building that was built for a school and used for awhile as a hospital. The boys said it was sure some job to clean it up and that I was lucky to have been lost. However, after riding these French trains for nearly a week, I think that I would as soon have been there working. 

I have been on the move almost continuously since leaving the States and it sure seems good to be in a place and not have to keep my pack rolled ready for movement at any time. I haven't seen much of France as yet, but like this part better than any other I've seen so far. There have not been any American troops here before us and the people are very nice to us.

Our billet overlooks the town and a lot of country, and it is really a pretty country, too. Lots of green fields and trees and enough hills to make it look good to me.

Yesterday I had the first warm bath I've had since I left American soil and I sure did soak it up. These cold water baths are all right, but it is getting along too late in the fall for them in my estimation. I bathed in the river at our last camp; at least I went in the river and then came out and did my bathing on the bank. It was too cold to suit me.

Most of the boys are downtown this morning, either at church or somewhere else, but I thought I'd rather stay here and write than to bum around. I'll have plenty of time to bum after I get so I can talk to these people. I can manage a few words, but generally run out of talk about the time I want to get some information and have to fall back on the dictionary and sign language and at that I have a hard time getting anyone to understand what I am driving at. 

Got into camp too late for my ration of tobacco and as we have to buy it from a commissary up the line I will have to go on bumming till another issue comes in. I'm getting to be a regular bear at mooching anyway. Think I'll try to make my living that way when I get back. I expect though that there will be lots of men trying that and probably the field will be overworked.