'How Sweeny, Of The Foreign Legion'
'Got His "Hot Dogs" '
told by Private John Joseph Casey of the Foreign Legion

A West-Pointer in France

photo of captain Sweeney



Lieut. Charles Sweeny, of the French Foreign Legion, West Point graduate, and a native of Spokane, Wash returned to New York to recover from a wound received during the war. After his graduation from West Point he married a Belgian girl and settled down in Paris. His wife and two children are living in that vicinity at the present time.

When the war broke out Sweeny enlisted in the French Foreign Legion. He was promoted for gallantry in action; and last September, after leading us into the Boche lines during the Champagne offensive, he was decorated with the Legion of Honor. Lieut. Sweeny is the first American in fifty years who has held a commission in the French army.

But how Sweeny won his "hot dogs` is a different story.

One day when we were in the front trenches Sweeny handed me a cigarette. It looked like a Turkish cigarette and I duly remarked it.

"No," said he, and he indicated a large tin box filled with the same sort, which he had with him, "these are a present from our friends, the enemy. They were given to me by the Germans."

"Must have been sent over to you inside a 'Jack Johnson' shell," said I.

"I can see you don't believe me," Sweeny replied, "but it's a fact. They came in a hamper, together with two bottles of real Munich beer, an assortment of West-phalian ham, cheese, honey, sandwiches of roast veal and white bread, a few slabs of K bread, some pipe tobacco, and some - what do you think? - hot dogs! As sure as you're born, Casey, and if you'll believe me, I went for those frankfurters first! Oh, how many nights I have sat out here and thought how good one of those hot dogs, with a big gob of mustard on it, would be ! But I never thought I'd ever taste any in the trenches. Yet only just now I have demolished four of them."



Here was the way of it, as Sweeny told it to me:

"I started out about midnight with a patrol to have a look at a new German bayou between two fortlets beyond our lines. I strung my men out so as to give warning of any German patrol, and then led them past our sentries and the barbed wire. I was some distance ahead of my men, and had got well within the German lines without seeing or hearing anything of the Germans.

"Now this was not the first time that I had ever penetrated that far into the German lines, but it was the first time on such a mission that I had not had to dodge a German patrol; and very often their bullets. These things ran in my head continually and made me think that I had fallen into a very neat trap which the Germans had laid for me. I expected to see them rise from anywhere any minute, and hear the banging of their guns and the whistling of their bullets (if I was lucky enough to hear them, that is), and I began to wish myself well out of my predicament and back again in the comparative safety of our trench.

"This made me more cautious than ever, and presently I began to retreat. As I did so a round German helmet bobbed up out of a ravine not a dozen yards away. An instant later, at the other end of the ravine, another appeared. I squirmed away like a snake and got behind the only shelter in sight, a scrubbly little tree about tree yards away.

“As I lay there quaking, wondering why the Germans did not shoot - for they must have seen me - I happened to look up and there hanging to a branch of the tree was a fat, clean-looking basket. I reached up, the limb on which it hung being only a few feet from the ground, and lifted the basket down.

"Then in a flash the explanation of the puzzle was clear to me. The Germans had left that basket there and meant me to have it.

"With the basket on my arm 1 got up, bowed low to the round hats, and walked back to our trench without ever being fired on.

"Inside the basket was the assortment I have described to you. There was also a note something after this wise:

`We have been in front of you for over a year, and it is not against our comrades, the French, that we are fighting, but against our enemy, the English. Let us join forces against our common enemy. We are not starving, as you may well see from the little present we send you herewith.'

"Here was something that set me thinking pretty hard. I had escaped death or capture by a miracle so far as I could see, and all in order that I might enjoy a hearty meal at the expense of the Germans.

"I set the basket down in the trench, and fell to with a will; and I give you my word, Casey, of all the good things I have eaten, I never enjoyed anything more than I did that Dutch treat - especially the frankfurters.

"They took me back to the States immediately - hot dogs, the brightness of the sea, the yawping of barkers, crowds passing, the noise of thousands of shuffling feet - not the sort of shuffling we hear now, Casey, when a bugle call or the heavy sound of guns seems the chief attraction. It was a great shame I couldn't save you one.

"The meaning of all this was a puzzle to me until I found out that our boys had left a bundle of American and English newspapers in the spot where I had found the basket, with the paragraphs plainly marked in which it was said the Germans were starving. And the basket was the Germans' reply.

"Now you know how I came to get my hot dogs."

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