Through War Torn Europe: An official trip after WWI told in the words of James Gordon Steese
Number Thirty-One
Army & Navy Club, Washington,
October 10th, 1919.
I found your two letters awaiting me upon my return ten days ago. I have by now about gotten caught up with my mail and am pretty well settled back into my old job over at the War Department. Many things have happened; there has been some legislation, and the whole outlook has changed since last spring. Nothing has developed, however, in the way of a future military policy.

I was not able to land back in the States again without further incident. Just after I had finished my last letter, I was advised that, due to dock congestion, or to the fact that it was Sunday, or because it was undesirable to debark soldiers in the evening on account of the inconvenience of then shipping them to camp for the night, the Von Steuben ,would anchor off quarantine and dock early Monday morning.

After negotiations with the ship's executive officer, I succeeded in getting off a wireless that resulted in my being given the courtesy of the port and permitted to land that night. A boat came off for me about 7:30 p.m. After lowering my baggage, I climbed down a rope ladder into the waiting launch, landed at the quarantine station, walked a mile to a street car, rode to the Staten Island Ferry, landed at the Battery, took the 9th Ave "L" to Cortland St., took the tube to Hoboken, walked a mile to the dock and checked in. I was then escorted in an automobile back to the Pennsylvania Terminal in New York City. Here I arrived about 11:30 to find all berths to Washington sold. I got a berth to Harrisburg; my train broke down about daylight near Lancaster, Penna.; I missed my connection at Harrisburg, and so did not got back to Washington till late Monday afternoon. I might as well have gone to a hotel in New York. However, I evaded the Customs and the Hoboken routine. General ******* and Colonel ******* nearly exploded when I said good bye to them on the boat. I saw the General a day or two later in Washington and he said they had been Inspected and had been made to sign different papers in Hoboken till the middle of the afternoon.

My friend, the Executive Officer at Brest, must have come home on the Powhatan in my place, for he came into my office yesterday with a request for a two months leave. One month is the limit except under exceptional circumstances. As he was in a very nervous run-down condition, due to overwork. I gave him the two months without comment.  Rarely have I seen the chance for retribution come so promptly.

I note what you say about the book. If you will return all my letters, I will look them over and see whether they have any possibilities along that line. I had no such idea in mind when I wrote them and I am afraid they are pretty rambling and incoherent throughout. I shall eventually have a lot of photographs. It will be an easy matter to add a map or two to make the description more intelligible.

I made the trip too hurriedly and made too few notes to attempt a serious book, either on the War or upon after war conditions in Europe. Besides I have not the time*. If the letters have any interest in themselves, my idea would be to publish them practically as they stand without attempting to polish them up or to pad them out with a lot of erudition pulled in by the ears. I shall merely add another letter or two giving such a hasty resume of the operations of the War as will indicate the relation of the various places visited to the general conflict.

 I have just received the Croix de Guerre of Greece and the Silver Medal for Military Bravery of Montenegro, accompanied by elaborately ornamented decrets in the national languages and French translations. I cannot recall any heroic deeds to justify these decorations except possibly riding in that cootie-infested third class coach across the Hungarian Plain. Anyway the ribbons are very handsome.

End Notes and Bibliography