"We have been receiving patients that have been gassed and burned in a most mysterious way," Julia Stimson, a military nurse, wrote from Rouen, France, on July 25, 1917. "Their clothing is not burned at all, but they have bad burns on their bodies."
It was the world's first encounter with chemical warfare. A century later, we're still struggling with the horrors Stimson describes.
"My Fellow Soldiers: Letters from WWI," a new exhibit at the Smithsonian's Postal Museum in Washington, D.C., reveals the personal side of war, through the correspondence of soldiers participating in that conflict's final chapter, and of medics fighting a losing battle against industrial-scale warfare.
"You have never seen or imagined such pathetic figures," wrote nurse Anna Mitchell, who treated German prisoners of war, to her sister Caroline Stokes. "Everyone emaciated, in strange...