22 July 1997

Day 39 - West Quincy?, MO to Louisiana, MO

Distance travelled: 45
Winds: none
Grades: Up and down
Weather: fair
Condition of roads: good
Delays: Bicycles –0m/ Tires – 0m/ Lunch – 0h/ Other – 3h 45m
Actual travel time: 6h
Rate per hour: 7.5
- Lt. James A. Moss Report to the Adjutant General Synopsis of the Trip

Places & times mentioned:
West Quincy, MO (not mentioned anywhere -- but riding to this place makes the mileage claims work); Hannibal [Bridges, Scott and Findley were here at 4 PM]; Louisiana, MO [arrived in the afternoon-"towards 4 o'clock"]

Soldiers on Wheels.

"James A. Moss, Second Lieutenant of Company F; 25th United States colored infantry with twenty-three men, including James M. Kennedy, the surgeon, all on bicycles arrived here [Louisiana, MO] last Thursday afternoon from Fort Missoula, Mont., enroute to St. Louis, where they were due at about 9 o’clock Saturday morning [July 25]. The Lieutenant reported hard travel since their departure, June 14, making about sixty miles a day since leaving the sand hills, and of thirty-eight days’ time consumed in travel, they had about ninety hours of rest and meals. All were in good spirits, and as this is the first experimental bicycle trip made by a United States army corps, the officer in command was greatly enthused with the success so far attained. Lieut. Moss is a bright fellow, and a classmate of Lieut. Lang, whose matrimonial troubles have recently been ventilated in the Globe Democrat.

Lieutenant Moss and Edward H. Boos official reporter of the bicycle corps made the NEWS a pleasant visit during their brief stay in Louisiana."

-Pike County News [Louisiana, MO], Thursday, July 29, 1897

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Louisiana items…

A lA lot of dirty, worn-out negro soldiers arrived here [Louisiana, MO] last Thursday. They were testing the bicycle as a means of travel. They had traveled from Missoula, Montana, a distance of 2,300 [sic – it wasn’t that far] miles on bicycles. The [sic] had been on the road since the 14th of June and had averaged 70 [sic-not that many] miles a day, through snow, mud, hot sand and all kinds of weather. The negros [sic] seemed to think the bike the proper thing for such trips, but you could hardly convince a white man of this fact. Each of these soldiers carried luggage—tent, gun, etc., that weighed almost 100 lbs.

- Bowling Green Times [Bowling Green, MO], July 29, 1897

[I could find nothing in the Bowling Green paper to indicate the Corps rode through their town]
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"In the blinding heat of midday they pedaled into Louisiana, Mo., Thursday down the dusty Frankfort road. They wore blue jeans jackets, brown canvass trousers, brown leggings and the soft gray army hat. Their blue short coats were strapped with their blankets across their handle bars. Across their shoulders hung the heavy rifle and around their waists the ammunition belts carrying fifty rounds of shot. The bayonet ____ the clanked against the wheel frames and the canteen hung like a medallion before the luggage on the handle bars.

Once upon a time the colored mentioned existed in their uniforms. Snow, rain, sun, dust and perspiration hae reduced their outfits to neutral tints. Their leggings are gray. So are their gloves. The trousers especially reinforced are ragged and streaked with marks of dust and rain. All semblance of color has left their shirts, their natty blue coats couldn’t be sold for dust rags in a second-hand clothing store.

For all their woe-begone appearance the men are full of life. Their faces are drawn but their eyes are fine, their step is marvelously elastic, the hardship has made them hard as rocks and the excitement of the trip, as well as the attention they have received along the route, has put them in the best of spirits. The men came into Louisiana in straggling shape. Bugler Elias Johnson broke his frame Wednesday at Macon City and arrived Thursday by train. Later in the day Privates Sam Johnson and L.B. Dingman of Company F came in carrying broken wheels. Corporal Haynes of Company F smashed his front axle and came along to do the repairs.

Lieutenant Moss and Surgeon Kennedy came in ahead of the corps and made straight for the office of the Pike County Press to get hold of a L.A.W. map.

The Lieutanant was anxious to have Louisiana before night fall if he could get the proper information about roads up Old Monroe. Louisiana wheelmen were vague about the _______ over twenty-five miles out of town and the Lieutenant concluded to rest for a while.

Towards 4 o’clock the main body of the corps wheeled into town. Their arrival was the signal for preparations for a meal. Commissary stores had been awaiting their arrival at Louisiana and there was fresh hard tack, bacon and beans for dinner.

The corps carries its cooking utensils and provisions in diamond-shaped pouches fitted into the wheel frame. The commissary stores are then packed in these so that as little room as possible is wasted. Every man has a tin cup and plate, knife, fork and spoon in his luggage.

The stores carried are hard bread, ship-biscuit, canned beef, bacon, beans, sugar, coffee, salt, pepper and flour. These are the regular marching army rations.

While supper was being cooked the work of repairing the dismantled wheels went on. The men exhibited utter indifference to the sun. They cooked in a hollow by the river bank and ate off a big log, where the sun beat down on them. The repairers bent to their work, cementing tires, adjusting new frames and bearings in a heat that made the onlookers dizzy. Repairing was not finished at nightfall and the work went on until midnight, under the depot electric lights. When a man had his wheel in shape he curled up on the station platform and went to sleep. Lieut. Moss spent the night near his men. He found a blanket and a waiting room bench comfortable but Surgeon Kennedy spent his night in Louisiana in a hotel.

At 6:30 o’clock the last of the corps wheeled into Louisiana. They were Private Findley, Bridges and Scott. The former is the crack rider and boss repairer of the corps. His home is in St. Joseph, Mo., and he laid over there two days but easily caught up. At Hannibal, he found Bridges and Scott awaiting him with broken wheels. He fixed them up, then led them a merry chase into Louisiana to catch up. The thirty-six miles were covered inside of two and one-half hours.

After their arrival the bugle sounded “fall in” Corporal Haynes announced that when repairs were done the men could sleep until 2 p.m.[sic- that should be 2 a.m.!... Read on to see how the men rode in the middle of the night. - MH], when the start for St. Louis would be made.

The men fell out and went about their tasks. Lieut. Moss moved among them and his keen, quick eye noted every imperfection in their machines. He called them sharply to account for negligence. Private Sam Johnson was so busy entertaining visitors until midnight that he neglected to repair a broken axle. He was ordered to have his wheel ready and join his comrades by train at St. Charles. When he gets to Jefferson Barracks he will spend three days in the guard-house for his negligence."

- St. Louis Post-Dispatch [St. Louis, MO] July 23, 1897

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“Will Reach St. Louis Saturday. St. Louis July 23. -- Lieutenant Moss, in command of the United States army bicycle corps, which left Fort Missoula, Mont., a couple weeks ago, arrived at Louisiana, Mo., some 75 miles above here on the Mississippi river and will reach [sic] this city Saturday morning.”
-The Evening News [Lincoln, NE], Friday July 23, 1897
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Corp laid off 1/3rd day at Louisiana, MO on July 22
- J.A. Moss Report to the Adjutant

It seems like they didn’t travel this day but Moss claims they went 45 miles! I can’t figure out how to reconcile the different reports. All other towns jibe with the newspaper accounts.

Eolia to St. Peter is about 41 miles

THEORY:
On Day 38 the Corps travelled from Macon to somewhere past Monroe (West Quincy railroad junction)

On Day 39 the Corps road from somewhere past Monroe (West Quincy railroad junction) to Louisiana
West Quincy railroad junction to Louisiana is 39.03 Google miles

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