This WAS written in 1914:
TO HIS MOTHER
AUBE, France, October 17, 1914.
. . After two weeks here and less than two months from enlistment we are actually going at last to the firing line. By the time you receive this we shall already perhaps have had our baptême de feu. We have been engaged in the hardest kind of hard work,---two weeks of beautiful autumn weather on the whole, frosty nights and sunny days and beautiful coloring on the sparse foliage that breaks here and there the wide rolling expanses of open country. Every day from the distance to the north has come the booming of the cannon around Reims and the lines along the Meuse. We have had splendid sham battles, firing dozens of rounds of blank cartridges. Between the bonds de vingt mètres, when we lie on the ground, resting the sack on one side and with one's ear in the grass, it has been wonderful to hear this steady pounding of the distant cannonade.
But imagine how thrilling it will be tomorrow and the following days, marching toward the front with the noise of battle growing continually louder before us. I could tell you where we are going but I do not want to run any risk of having this letter stopped by the censor. The whole regiment is going, four battalions, about 4,000 men. You have no idea how beautiful it is to see the troops undulating along the road in front of one in colonnes par quatre as far as the eye can see with the captains and lieutenants on horseback at the head of their companies.
I am keeping a diary in a desultory sort of way, but aside from this I am quite incapable of any such literary effort as you suggest, for one simply has not the time. Tomorrow the real hardship and privations begin. But I go into action with the lightest of light hearts. The hard work and moments of frightful fatigue have not broken but hardened me and I am in excellent health and spirits. Do not worry, for the chances are small of not returning and I think you can count on seeing me at Fairlea next summer, for I shall certainly return after the war to see you all and recuperate. I am happy and full of excitement over the wonderful days that are ahead. It was such a comfort to receive your letter and know that you approved of my action. Be sure that I shall play the part well for I was never in better health nor felt my manhood more keenly.