Letter: Robert Bruce Gray, USMC to The Parisian, 1905

From France.

Cherbourg, France., July 8- [1905]

Editor Press-Parisian: Dear sir:-

With your permission, I will attempt to write a short letter to my friend in Henry County, through the columns of your newspaper.

Well, it has taken over a century [t]o complete the death burial and [r]esurrection of John Paul Jones, [b]ut at last it is accomplished, and Co[m]modore John Paul Jones, again rides the Briny deep.

We arrived here on June 30th., and from the time we dropped anchor, the French citizens and soldiers seems to have done their utmost to make us enjoy our trip. I attended a banquet on July 4th prepared for us by the citizens of Cherbourg, at the cot of the French government, and all had a good time. The tables were loaded down with wines, champaign [sic], [?], cigars, cigarette and doughnuts. The men were all jolly, although we could hardly understand any thing they said, and on July 6th 500 of us were shaken out of our hammocks, and loaded on a special train for Paris to do honors of receiving the corpse, the train left at 3:30 a. m., and the French scenery far surpasses anything I have ever seen in America, the country is broken and hilly, but the farms look like a picture, their source of agriculture seems to be stock raising, rye, oats, hay, fruit and truck patches, these patches are largest and finest I have ever seen. After 7 1/2 hours pleasant ride on the train we arrived in Paris 11 a. m., and marched to the Military Station and spent a pleasant hour eating a nice dinner prepared for us in a long tent. At one o’clock we limbered up and started on the parade which lasted until 6 p. m., we marched through some fine street, and at last came into a broad street which I took to be the official part of the city, and the end of the street the corpse lay in a shed, so covered with flags you could hardly see the shed, much less the casket, here we line up on our side of the street, and two regiments of the French infantry marched past us, then came two batteries of artillery, last came one regiment of cavalry, with shining helmet and polished armor. They were a grand sight to see, and I shall always be glad I saw them, and the passed we marched back to the barrack and ate a good supper and marched back to the depot and left on the 9 p. m. train, the delegate of officers sent up 3 days before having left on a special train 15 minute(s) before the body was conveyed to the train on the running gear of a cannon, we got aboard ship 10 a. m. the next morning and coaled ship all evening. This morning we washed paint work and done the honors while tranfering the corpse on board the flag ship Brooklyn, and will sail this evening at 9 p. m., I guess this ship will go to Norfolk, Va., and the Brooklyn will carry the body to An[n]apolis, Md. where it will be buried with due honors, the ships will then go to the navy yards for repairs, then it is thought they will be sent to Asia [?] station for a while.

As it is bed time I will close.

Robert B. Gray.

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