Charles Daniel Ryan began his military career at Camp Devens in Ayer, Massachusetts approximately one hundred miles away from his future wife, Elizabeth Marion Dooling, who was in North Adams, Massachusetts. He spent a month in this location before heading south to Camp Laurel in Maryland, where he was placed in Company B of the 66th Engineers Regiment. After two months of drill and work, Ryan and his regiment were shipped, as he stated, "over the pond" to France, where he spent the next ten to eleven months. Mid-December of 1918 he wrote to Elizabeth that he was now in the 20th Grand Division. Following his return to the states Ryan married Miss Elizabeth Dooling. The newspaper clipping that announced their wedding stated that Ryan was a "member of North Adams council, Knights of Columbus" and worked at the North Adams post office.
Scope and Content Notes:
The collection consists primarily of letters from Charles Ryan to Elizabeth Dooling, his wife-to-be. The letters to Elizabeth begin on March 29, 1918 and the final one in the collection is dated June 3, 1919. The only other items in the collection is an envelope addressed to
Elizabeth Dooling from Charles Ryan, a newspaper clipping of Ryan's marriage to Elizabeth, a blank postcard with two soldiers on the front, and a letter to Ryan from the Treasury Department.
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Although Ryan briefly mentions significant events, such as Germany being defeated and Italy leaving the Peace Conference, his letters focus largely on the mundane tasks of camp life. He constantly comments on how one never knows what to expect with the army: "here to-day and gone to-morrow," and continuously asserts, "Sherman was right, 'War is ----.'" While it may not be extremely helpful to the military historian looking for an individual's experience in battle, the collection does serve as a window into the soldier's mind who is bored with the soldier's life and eager to return home.