In his memoir, "From Reveille to Retreat" (1935), Helmick describes his military career in depth and comments on the various army posts at which he served. Of particular interest is his description of West Point, his impression of military training, attitudes of white cadets toward black classmates, and social life at Forts Spokane and Reno. As a participant in the Wounded Knee campaign, Helmick mentions meeting Chief Joseph and Chief Moses.
For the Spanish-American War period, Helmick discusses public reaction to the
MAINE sinking, hostility among the three branches of the service, malaria and yellow fever epidemics, and the hospital care the men received. Stationed in Cuba during the military occupation, Helmick also comments on the social life of the natives and the military personnel, the management of a sugar plantation, and the effects of martial law.
In 1901, Helmick was commander of a garrison in the Philippines. He describes the campaign against the Moro Indians, living conditions of the natives, an earthquake, and vaccinations against smallpox. In 1905, Helmick visited Germany and he compares German military training with that of the U.S. The following year he was stationed in Alaska and describes mining operations, weather conditions, and missionary activities.
Helmick comments on the organization of the army, increased centralization, graft, and the effectiveness of military training while he served in the Inspector General's office. In 1914 he participated in border patrol in Texas and describes agriculture, damage from a cyclone, and increased hostility between Mexico and the U.S.
For the pre-World War I period, comments concern the unpreparedness of the Army, prejudice against the National Guard and the political hostility between President Wilson and General Leonard Wood. World War I comments pertain to the Armistice Day celebration, the importance of various welfare organizations, role of women during the war, debarkation and clean-up procedures, and the President's tour of Brest.
The collection also contains Helmick's professional papers and lectures. Subjects include evaluations of military instruction, reasons for conflict among the branches of service, a lecture on the psychology of leadership, evaluations of the communist threat during the 1920s, and a history of the Inspector General's department. Among his speeches is an address concerning the growing organization of communists, socialists, and pacifist radicals in the U.S.; a raid on Brigman, Michigan in 1922; the publication of the
Daily Worker; and the intentions of the communists.