05 July 1997

Day 22 - Alliance, NE to Ellsworth, NE

Distance travelled: 32 miles
Winds: none
Grades: slightly up
Weather: fair
Condition of roads: bad
Delays: Bicycles – 0/ Tires – 0/ Lunch –6h / Other – 1h
Actual travel time: 7h 45m
Rate per hour: 4.1 mph
- Lt. J.A. Moss Report to the Adjutant Synopsis of the Trip

"A THOUSAND MILES
---------------------------
TWENTY-FIFTH INFANTRY BICYCLE CORPS
REACHES ALLIANCE, NEBRASKA
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Have Nine Hundred Miles More to
Cover in Order to Reach
St.Louis, Missouri
---------------------------
Alliance, Neb., Jul. 6 -- [Special to the Missoulian] -- The Twenty-fifth infantry bicycle corps left here this morning having arrived here yesterday, completing the first 1,000 miles of the journey, having to go 900 miles yet to reach St. Louis. After leaving the mountainous country the roads improved somewhat, but dust was encountered where mud was lacking. The heat is also growing in intensity and the remainder of the trip promises to be under a sweltering sun. The men are in good spirits and health, and though some of them seemed to be trained down pretty fine, they are strong and active and able to make forced marches if necessary. But few accidents have occurred and they of the most trivial nature easily remedied. The corps will go by easy stages through Kansas and Missouri unless some particular location wants to be reached, when rapid rides will be made, roads permitting."
- E.H. Boos, Daily Missoulian A Thousand Miles, July 7, 1897

“On July 5th the thoughts of sand hill terrors and tortures were upon the minds of every member of the corps as we pedaled away from Alliance at 4:30 that morning. It was but a run of six mile on a good road before we were in the midst of what had been our dread ever since leaving home, the sand hills of Nebraska. The road suddenly changed from a hard smooth path to a soft shifting mass of sand. Wheeling was impossible, riding on the grass at one side was nearly as bad and the only recourse was to leave the road and work our way along on the railway track. A distance of a quarter of a mile brought us to the right of way where a five-foot barb wire fence confronted us. Here half of the men climbed over empty handed, leaving their machines on the other side, where the other half remained and passed them with their own wheels over. It took but a minute or two and in a short time the corps were marching along the track. The roadbed along through the hills is ballasted with sand and cinders and is very hard to ride on as it is not packed very tight. It was found that better time could be made walking, except where the ballast consisted of ciders, where fair riding was to be had.
We plodded along in the heat for nearly an hour when some of the men complained of being sick. Medicine was given and relief soon came. We proceeded on our way but had only gone a short distance when more sick complaints were heard and another stop was made for giving medicine. It was at this time that Lieut. Moss was taken with a severe attack of cholera morbus and was compelled to fall-out and send the corps ahead in command of Dr. Kennedy. The next we heard of our commanding officer he was sick in bed at Alliance, having been picked up by the crew of an engine and taken back. The progress of the corps was slower today than was necessary on account of numerous stops being made in order that the lieutenant might catch up, it being his expectation to do so when he left us.
The camp for lunch was made at Reno, where we stopped until 4 o’clock before taking the track again. From Reno we pushed on to Ellsworth and camped for the night. The first day of the sand hills was a hard one on the men, the bad water and extreme heat having a very bad effect on them. The distance covered was 31 miles and it is doubtful if any other day’s run on the trip was so hard on the entire corps.”
- E.H. Boos Daily Missoulian Received A Welcome [Missoula, MT] July 24, 1897

“Between six and seven o’clock on the mornig of July 5th, we struck the sand hills of Nebraska. An hour or two later, when about 9 miles from [Moss was already past Alliance] Alliance, I was overcome from the effects of alkali water, and taken back to town. For the next four days the Corps was in command of Asst. Surgeon J.M.Kennedy. This part of the trip was a real nightmare. It was impossible to make any headway by following the wagon road in loose sand ankle-deep, and the Corps therefore followed the rail road track for 170 miles, before they got out of the sand. By almost superhuman efforts this distance was covered in 4 1/2 days, averaging 37.7 miles per day. The alkali water was abominable and the heat terrific.”
- Lt. Moss Report to the Adjutant General (pg. 6)

“Breaking camp the next morning bright and early, 6:30 o’clock found us entering the “sand hills”—of which we had been hearing so much; of which so many people had been telling us blood-curdling stories. Indeed, our experience in these hills was the stuff of which nightmares are made! It was impossible to make any headway by following the wagon road in loose sand ankle deep, and we therefore followed the railroad track for 170 miles before getting out of the sand. By almost superhuman efforts this distance was covered in four and one half days, averaging 37.7 miles per day. The alkali water was abominable, and the heat terrific. On July 7 the thermometer registered 110 deg. In the shade, and fifteen soldiers were sick, two having their feet badly blistered from the burning sand.
One night, after an unusually hard day’s work, while we were all lying around the fire waiting for supper, one of the soldiers uttered the sentiments of the party when he said, with much feeling: ‘Oh Lord, if I only live through this, I’ll have something to talk about as long as I live!”
- Lt. Moss, Los Angeles Times The Army A-Wheel, Nov. 21, 1897

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