The author of the account below is Robert M. Travis. Travis is unknown but probably a member of the line of John Worsham Travis, Jr., who served with the 4th Tennessee Volunteer Infantry during the war s the captain of Co. K, since it was found in his papers. The back of the last page has the signature of John's wife using her maiden name, Blanche Crawford. The envelope containing letter is addressed to Capt. John W. Travis, Co. "K" 4th Regiment – U. S. … , Trinidad, Santa Cl…, Cuba. It is postmarked Paris, TN but the date is not readable. The envelope is embossed as being from the House of Representatives, Nashville, Tenn. but has no return address. There is no proof that this is the original envelope
This transcription was prepared from an account is a carbon copy
of the original. The carbon appears to be a first generation copy
with the original and has a few hand corrections in ink. The only
that has been taken in the transcription is that the author did not put
a space after punctuation marks. For example, where the author had
"Company 'B',4th.Regiment of Infantry,stationed …," spaces have been
to improve readability. No attempt has been made to correct punctuation
or spelling. Any errors not marked are probably the result of an error
The Adventures of a Company
of Regular Soldiers
In Our War With Spain
Company "B", 4th Regiment of Infantry, stationed at Fort Sheridan, Illinois was ordered out with the Regiment and left this post on the 19th day of April 1898 for Tampa, Florida. Our transportation consisted of one section of tourist sleeping cars and baggage cars, with one Pullman for accomodation (sic) of the officers. Our Regiment was received all along the route with much enthusiasm and at every station we passed crowds of people had congregated to cheer us on our way. At one small station in Georgia the usual crowd met us and among them was a gentleman with a very beautiful little girl, probably ten years of age, who was waving an American flag. She told us that she had made it herself and wanted us to carry it to Cuba and return it to her, when we came back. One of the members of Co. "B" took it promised that her wishes would be carried out. That flag at once became a sacred emblem to all the members of our company and was carried through the campaign from Daquiri to Santiago and was in the battles of El Caney, San Juan and Santiago. It would have been the last thing to be given up and there was not a man in the company, who would not have fought to the bitter end to retain this small emblem. It is needless to say that after we returned, the flag was enclosed with a nice present and sent to her address.
Company "B" at the beginning of the war belonged to the 2nd Battalion of the 4th U. S. Infantry and was commanded by Capt. Henry E. Robinson, 1st Lieut. Wolf and 2nd Lieut. J. J. Bernard. We arrived at Tampa, Florida, on the afternoon of April the 22nd, without mishap and at once marched through deep sand to what is known as Tampa Heights. We remained here doing the regular duties on a military camp until Tuesday, June the 7th. We then received orders to break camp, which we did by packing up our belongings and marching back through the sand to the Depot, where we boarded a train for Port Tampa, arriving there the same evening and embarking on the steamer Concho. After loading all our baggage on board, we were pulled out in the bay by a tug, where we remained until Tuesday, June the 14th, when the fleet composed of about 36 transports, loaded with the 5th U. S. Army Corps under command of Maj. Gen. Wm. R. Shafter headed out of the bay southward in the direction of Key West, escorted by a few small gun-boats. We arrived at Key West about midnight and was (sic) there joined by a detachment of war vessels, the most important of which was the battle-ship Indiana. This battle-ship headed the fleet for the remainder of the trip, with the small craft on either side and in the rear, affording good protection for the transports.
The weather on out trip out was fine, the sun shining bright and warm during the day, with a nice cool breeze, that was a real treat to us after having suffered so much from heat during our camp at Tampa. It was a grand sight to view the fleet of transports and war vessels from the deck, lined up in "column of fours", following the leading vessels at a safe distance. Some had barges in tow, and others had small schooners, which contained explosives and combustibles, unsafe for carrying on the troop ships. They extended as far in front of us as the exe could reach and made a most beautiful picture. We passed the time away lounging about on deck watching the movements of the fleet, until Tuesday June 21st, when we saw mountains to our right, that raised their rugged peaks above the sea level and must have been fifteen or twenty miles away. At about 3 P.M. we came in sight of the blockading fleet in front of Santiago Harbor, still guarding the outlet and watching for the Spanish fleet, that was imprisoned within. We did not run up very close to the squadron however as it was safer to keep out of range of the guns of Moro Castle. While in this vacinity we experienced our first rough sea, our vessel rolled continually and caused several cases of seasickness. I remember while going on deck hearing one soldier ask another, who was hanging over the rail, trying to get rid of the hard tack, which he had eaten for breakfast, "Are you sick"? The man looked up at his questioner and answered by saying- "You D-----m Fool do you think I would be doing this for fun?"
After waiting about 25(?) hours, we received orders for the fleet to move about five miles south into the ocean, with particular instructions to keep closed up during the night and to proceed twelve miles east of our present position, preparatory to landing in the morning. This order was readily carried out and on Wednesday, June 22nd, in the early morning, the gun-boats left our transports and steamed about three or four miles in toward the shore and began to bombard the town of Daiquiri and the adjacent shore and hills. About file miles to the west another fleet of gun-boats was bombarding the shore and town of Siboney. Again at about 1 o'clock the same two towns were bombarded in full view of all the troops on board the transports, our vessels having moved up nearer in the meantime. During the firing the decks and rigging were crowded with soldiers eager to see the gun-boats in action and our band was out on the deck playing "There'll Be A Hot Time in the Old Town Tonight." After continuing their fire for about one hour and there being no signs of resistance from the shore, our troops began to disembark, out vessel being up near the shore, we were among the first to land. The landing was make very slowly, on account of there being no wharf and we had to crowd together in small boats from the transports and war vessels and row over a very rough sea to the shore. After landing we found upon investigation that a round-house, containing two locomotives, the property of the Spanish-American R. R. Co., and a magazine, with a quantity of amunition had been burned by the Spaniards, before they were driven out by our shells. We got our first sight of the Cuban forces soon after landing. Gen. Garcia and his followers were busily engaged in killing the pigs and chickens, that were left by the Dons in their hurried journey from the town. I was never so badly disappointed in my life as after seeing these Cubans. I had pictured an army composed of inteligent and patriotic people, with a resemblance to the Spanish in features and caste. Imagine my surprise when I beheld a horde of half naked negroes of the lowest type, without discipline or any military appearance whatever. Such was Garcia's army; as to Garcia, he was a fine looking man and possibly a full blooded Spaniard. He looked very much out of place among his soldiers. The Cubans seemed delighted to see us and greeted us with smiles on all sides. I suspect our commissary supplies had more to do with our welcome than anything else, as they seemed to forget all else in their delight on making the acquaintance of Uncle Sam's hardtack and bacon.
Our Regiment succeeded in landing about five o'clock in the afternoon, at which time we "fellin" and marched about two miles from the town and went into camp for the night. The next day we broke camp and took up our march over a narrow path, where we had to march in single file for the entire distance of seven miles until we came to the town of Siboney, where we camped on a small stream about one half mile form the town. On our arrival at Siboney, we encountered a force of about 500 Spanish Cavalry, who retreated for the town as we advanced, with slight resistance. We also captured two R. R. Locomotives, that had been disabled by the Spanish concealing parts of the machinery. They were put in the hands of some of the 2nd Mass. Volunteers, who were machinists and they soon had them in running order. On Friday, June 24th, our advance forces, consisting of 1st Volunteer Cavalry (Roosevelt's Rough Riders) and the 9th and 10th Regular Cavalry, all dismounted, were attacked by the Spanish in a ravine, about two miles in our front. The firing was very heavy and continued for about two hours. During the fight we received orders to move out on the right flank and cut off the enemy's retreat in the direction of Santiago. The retre(?) Brigade, consisting of the 4th and 25th Infantry, under the command of Col. Miles immediately broke camp and marched over hills and ravine, through brush and streams until we were hopelessly lost and had to turn back and try a narrow path, that seemed to lead in the right direction. We had a Cuban guide at the head of our column, but it seemed that he was as badly lost as the rest of us. We marched all day through the heat and finally came to the place where the battle had been fought in time to witness the burial of our brave boys, who had been killed during the engagement. The killed numbered 14 and were all cavalrymen. We left the scene of the battle and arrived at our camp, which we had left in the morning, at nine o'clock at night, without seeing any of the enemy. We were very tired and hungry when we arrived and many lay down without shelter form the heavy dews, that fall at night. We were getting very short on rations and several of us went hungry that night. Saturday the 25th, rations were issued to us for three days. We all crowded our haversacks full to overflowing with hardtack, bacon &c, to make sure of not running short again and suffering the pangs of hunger. At one o'clock we broke camp and marched seven miles in the direction of Santiago, over the same narrow path that we had traveled all the way from Soboney and went into camp near a small stream of very good water. Sunday, June 26th we remained in camp all day, recuperating for the next days march.
Monday the 27th, we broke camp at 6 o'clock in the morning and marched about three miles, going into camp at Los Mangoes. This camp was situated on the pack trail, which was being worked to make it passible for our artillery and amunition wagons. This place was a model place site for a camp. We had a nice cool stream of running water close to our tens, also plenty of good bushy trees, that afforded fine shade, where we could lie and cool; ourselves after our march under a tropical sun.
Tuesday the 28th, we remained in camp and Co. "B" was detailed for outpost duty. After cooking and eating our breakfast and filling our canteens with water form the creek, the company was now marched, when formed and inspected, across two or three creeks, through brush and bramble, to the outer line of picketts, where we releived the old guard and they marched back over the same route which we came out. Co. "B" remained on outpost duty for 24 hours and during the time got the benefit of one of the hardest rains, that I have ever seen fall. The following morning we were releived from duty by Co. "G". We then marched back to our camp, only to find that another company, during our absence, had taken possesion of our ground, on which we had been camping. This location being the best there was, we hated to give it up; but we smothered our wrath and proceeded to clear off another place, where we pitched our "dog tents" and made ourselves as comfortable as circumstances would permit. Having nothing to read and no light, except form our small camp fires, our time for retiring was generally as soon as it grew dark.
The next day being the 30th and the last day of the month, the troops were mustered in the usual manner, after which we were issued three days rations and prepared to resume our march toward the city of Santiago. While waiting to be ordered out, a balloon was sent up to locate the position of the Spanish forces. This balloon was in charge of a regular balloon corps and was sent up to the height of 800 or 1000 feet, being held captive by a small wire rope.
At about 4 P. M. we moved forward toward El Caney, three miles and went into camp for the remainder of the night. Friday, July 1st, we broke camp at 3 A. M. and marched toward the town of El Caney, without taking time to get any breakfast. We halted to get orders, in a thick grove of mango trees about one and a half miles from the Spanish works. At about 8 o'clock in the morning the first shot was fired from Capron's battery, which was in a position immediately in our front. Within a short time after this, was followed by the rattle of the rifles of our infantry, which continued to increase as the time wore on.
The regiments, which were engaged at this time were the 7th, 9th, 18th, and 17th, regular Infantry and the 2nd Mass. Volunteers. Our Regiment and the 25th Infantry (colored troops) were moved forward and stationed on the road between El Caney and Santiago, near the old "Decoreau House", which stands on the road leading from San Juan River to San Miquel and one and a half miles from the town of El Caney. This old house or fort was our outpost and was held by us to protect the crossing of the San Juan River, from the north over the masonry bridge, less than one half mile from the forts on San Juan Hill, that were being engaged by the cavalry and Grimes' battery. This made our position extremely hazardous, before the advance of Gen. Wheeler's troops toward San Juan Hill. This position was held by us until about noon, when we were marched forward and formed for attack, with the 2nd Battalion on the firing line and the 1st as support. We advanced as skirmishers through thick timber and brush, encountering a ten strand barbed wire fence, in a very exposed position. After cutting this fence, we had an open field to advance through. This we did in shelter of a ditch, at the base of the hill, upon which the Spanish defenses stood. We were directly in front of the Spanish blockhouse, a stone structure, surrounded by trenches in front of the buildings. We remained in this position firing at every thing, which showed itself in the Spanish works, until the 26th Infantry, immediately on our right, and holding an advantageous position, charged the stone fort and trenches, carying them and capturing the Spanish works with about 150 prisoners. It was a splendid charge and was only made possible by the terrible fire, directed from close quarters, by our regiment.
We lost up to this time, Lieut. J. J. Bernard and one private. The death of Lieut. Bernard was deeply regreted by all, as he was a general favorite with the men of the company. After the surrender of the Spanish works, I went up to examine them, the trenches were filled with the dead and wounded, the later being cared for by our men. I saw one Spanish officer, sitting up in one of the trenches, with a small Poodle dog in his arms. He was stone dead, having been shot through the head, the dog was alive and growled at us as we passed. Here also was the body of Gen. Vera Del Rey, with his long gray whiskers and hair, making him quite noticeable. He had been shot while giving orders to his men and was found in front of the second line of works. During the afternoon it rained as usual and we were drenched to the skin. We were very tired and worn out from hunger, which had been hardly felt, until the excitement of the battle was over. We proceeded to care for the wounded and bury our dead, after which we fell in and marched out the main road, following … one mile. We expected to go into camp but about 10 o'clock at night we were ordered to move on up the road. We continued on this road until we arrived at the stone bridge over San Juan River and remained there until rations were issued to us and at the same time we received a fresh supply of amunition, which had been brought up by our pack train. At two o'clock in the morning of July 2nd we were marched back to a small path, leading in a roundabout way to the Hills of Jan Juan. It was rumored that the main road leading to San Juan was mined and that the Spanish had planted rapid fire guns on this road. It was for this reason that we were taken over this crooked trail, as we wished to guard against any surprise, which the Spaniards might have in store for us. The entire command was on the march all the forenoon and arrived near the entrenchments on San Juan Hill, about 11 o'clock.
Three entrenchments had been carried by Gen. Wheeler's forces and were being held by several regiments of both infantry and cavalry. The Spaniards had retired to their second line of works, on the hill directly in our front and were pouring in a continuous fire on our line of works, which had been captured from them. Our regiment moved up in rear of the line of works and was held in reserve. We were compelled to keep near the foot of the hill and lie low, as the air was filled with the singing of Mauser bullets, that were being fired at our line in front. Our 1st Battalion was sent up on the firing line and we were held in reserve. That afternoon there was the usual heavy rain and we got the full benefit of it, as we had no shelter tents or blankets to protect us, as we had left them about one back on the road and it was dangerous in the extreme to travel that road, it being exposed to the fire of the enemy for quite a distance. The Spanish sharpshooters were doing terrible execution along this road all day. They shot men, who were helping the wounded, even the Red Cross hospital corps were not exempt from these friends in human shape. I saw the body of one Red Cross Surgeon lying by the roadside. He had been killed while dressing the wounds of a soldier, who had been shot by the sharpshooters, concealed in the trees. The night was cool and damp, as it had been raining all day. Our camp was made in the bed of a creek, in order to protect us from the Spanish fire, which continued to come our way. We endeavored to get some sleep by lying down on the damp ground, but the creek rosed during the night and where we lay was soon a stream of running water, making sleep impossible. About 11 o'clock that night, the Spaniards made a desperate charge on our works, endeavoring to turn our right flank but were driven back with heavy loss. In this charge they were assisted by the fleet of Admiral Cervera, which was in the bay nearly directly in our front. These war vessels kept up a continuous fire on us, the air being full of bursting shells and shrapnel. However their marksmanship was bad, as nearly all their artillery fire passed over us. This charge lasted about 30 minutes and after the enemy had been driven back, the fire began to wane and only a shot now and then served to let them know that we were on the alert and keeping watch on them. During this attack we lost one man, killed before he could get in the bed of the creek.
About daylight the firing became general and the air was filled with bullets, which kept up a continual singing, interspersed with the shrill shriek of shell and shrapnel. This state of affairs lasted until about 9 A. M. when the Spaniards raised a white flag and asked for a truce to bury their dead. This was granted.
Sunday as soon as it began to get light, the firing was resumed all along the line: Co. "B" and "G" of our Battalion, being on the firing line. We would watch the enemies trenches and when a an exposed his head or any part of his body, he at once became the target of hundreds of our rifles. During the time of this engagement the Naval battle was going outside the Bay. The boom of the big guns fairly shaking the earth, where we lay.
About ten o'clock the firing from both the sea and the land forces ceased, the Spaniards having had recourse to their white flag again, sought a much need rest. In the afternoon we left our position and marching around the hills to our right, took up a position on the top of a hill, overlooking the city of Santiago, where we entrenched ourselves. During our march to this new position, we had one man shot, while passing through an opening between the hills. On this march I saw my first dead Cuban. He was being carried along the trail, on a rude litter, by two of his comrades. I asked them how he was killed and they told me that he was shot by the Spanish. This I think very doubtful, as we had failed to see any of them near enough to the Spanish, to get shot. Hostilities were suspended to allow the women, children and all noncombatants to leave the city.
Monday we left our position and took up a stronger one, under cover of darkness and proceeded to entrench ourselves. Our new position was to the right of our old trenches and much nearer the enemy's works, which lay directly in our front and in the outskirts of Santiago. The time having been extended from 24 to 48 hours to allow the noncombatants to get out of the city, we occupied our time in digging trenches, building boom proofs and making all preparations for the struggle, which was sure to come. We remained in our trenches until about 3 P. M., when we were ordered about 800 yards farther around to our right. We moved to this new position and dug trenched, preparing ourselves for the third time to take part in the fight in front of Santiago. July 6th we remained in our present position, the truce having been extended until July 10th. The time from the 6th until the 10th was passed by us taking turns at guard and other duties of the camp.
On Sunday, July 10th at about 4:30 o'clock the bombardment of the city began. The 2nd Battalion was on the firing line and the 1st was held in reserve. The signal was given by a shot from the enemy's works. We kept up a continuous fire, until our guns got so hot that we had to stop and let them cool off. The nearest Spanish works were estimated at 900 yards distance. Our artillery would drop a shell in their trenches and the Spaniards would retreat to their defenses in the rear, exposing themselves to our fire as they ran back. The Gatling guns took an active part in this engagement and kept up a continuous rattle to our left. The Spanish artillery was kept active all through the fight but as usual, was poorly served. Most of their shells passing over us and exploding in our rear, doing very little damage. About 5:30 P. M. the firing ceased, with the exception of a desultory firing being kept up by the artillery until dark, when it ceased all together.
On Monday, July 11th the position held by us was vacated in favor of the 71st N. Y. Vol. There was general dissatisfaction among us, as we had dug intrenchments, in three different places, only to give them up to some other regiment and move to some other position. We began our march to our new position with many curses on our luck, in having to leave our camp and works in the hands of another regiment. We moved around to the extreme right about one mile northwest of the city of Santiago and nearly touching the Bay. This position was reached about 6 o'clock in the afternoon, in a drenching rain, which continued all night and fell in such torrents, that it beat through our "dog tents" and we were wet during the entire night.
After digging our trenches and clearing off the ground in front of them, to give us an unobstructed view of the enemy's works, which lay about one half mile directly in our front, we pitched our "dog tents" under the hill in our rear. We remained on guard watching the Spanish forces, which could be plainly seen, working to strengthen their line of defenses.
On Friday, July 15th, every preparation was made to resume hostilities as the time of the truce had nearly expired. Our trenches were filled with men and amunition was distributed along our works in the most convenient places. Everything was made ready to begin the attack, upon the signal being given, which was to be a shot fired from Capt. Grimes' Battery, which was stationed immediately on our left. During the night all our available artillery had been brought up on the firing line, for the first time during the campaign. It was said that its arrival at the front was due to Gen. Nelson A. Miles, who had arrived the day before and given orders for it to be brought up at once. Be that as it may we had about forty pieces of light artillery, trained on the enemy's works the morning after the arrival of Gen. Miles. We remained in our trenches ready and anxious for hostilities to commence, until about 30 minutes before the time for the truce to expire, when we saw a white flag, carried by the enemy, and escorted by a detachment of Spanish cavalry, let by an officer approaching toward the center of our lines. This flag was met by our Commander and Staff. A council of war was held, which lasted some time. About two hours after this council was concluded, one of our officers rode along our lines, delivering a message, about as follows, "The Spanish General has surrendered the city of Santiago, with 12000 troops under his command and 800 under Gen. Pando, in the mountains directly in our rear". To say that we were glad to receive this news, does not express our feelings, for we had several days before this, begun to feel the effects of our hardships, exposure and privations. There was hardly a man in our Company but what was so weak and emaciated that he could hardly do the necessary duties of the camp. Every morning at "sick call", there was over half of the company before the doctor for treatment. The treatment never varied in the least, as it simply consisted of getting quinine pills, regardless of the desease from which the patient was suffering. I have often wondered, whether the Surgeons were supplied with any other remedy, except quinine or whether it was considered a remedy for all diseases, the flesh is heir to.
Sunday, July 17th, the U. S. flag was raised over the Gov. General's palace. The city of Santiago came into the possesion of the American army, amid the booming of cannon, the wild cheers of the men and the playing of national airs by the bands. We remained in our present camp for about two weeks, suffering from malaria in all its different phases. As the sickness begun to increase and commenced to be more fatal, I was taken down and put in my time laying in my tent swallowing quinine pills and listening to taps sounded over some unfortunate comrade's remains, laid to rest. Not one, but all the way from three to six or more each day. I will state here that while there was a great many of my regiment, who were sick, we escaped well in comparison with some of the other commands. The regiment only losing one man, while camped here from disease. The 2nd Mass. Vol., who were camped within 800 yards of us, lost from sickness alone 29 of its members. I can account for the great difference only by the way the men lived. We were compelled to keep our camp clean, raise our beds off the ground and observed all sanitary laws. The Volunteers were allowed to do as they pleased, permiting their camps to become filthy and in a condition to cause disease. Another cause of the fatality among the Volunteers was that they had never been used to any hardships and probally were never before away from their homes for any length of time. They became homesick and gave up, sooner than older man.
After remaining in this camp about two weeks, we moved forward about 300 yards and established a new camp, in a much better locality. While here we received our large tents, extra blankets and clothing, which had been left on the transport, when we landed. They came in good time as we were getting short on clothes. Many of us having none except those on our backs. These were in rags and hardly protected us from the heat of the sun, which blistered every exposed part of the body. I had just settled myself down in our new camp and made things as comfortable as circumstances would permit, when I was ordered to report to the Quarter-master, near Gen. Wheeler's headquarters, for duty as teamster. I took my blankets and accoutrements and walk3ed about three miles to the place designated. Here I was sent over to a teamster camp, where I reported to the man in charge. He was a citizen and of Irish persuasion, who seemed to be suffering from an over dose of Spanish rum. He informed me that I was expected to take charge of six mules and a government wagon and have them ready the next morning to go to Siboney. The next morning I had my team hitched up and was soon on my way, accompanied by two other soldiers, with teams. We took the road to Siboney until we crossed the San Juan River and came to a sign, which read "Yellow Fever; Keep Out." Where we were stopped and told to drive up to the hospital, as we had to move it to the town of Siboney. I have often done things, which "went against the grain", but being ordered to move a yellow fever hospital, I thought was about the toughest thing, that I had ever been called on to perform. However as there was no help for it, I drove up and my wagon was loaded with tents, bedding &c, up to the top of the bed and then five patients were placed on top of this. I was told to wait until the other wagons were loaded, after which we took the road to Siboney. And such a road! Over boulders, through mud holes and over places, that it seemed impossible for a team to go. We arrived at Siboney late in the afternoon and went into camp near the hospital. The next morning we came back and got another hospital and moved it down to the same place, returning to camp at four o'clock in the morning after driving all night.
I remained in this camp for a week, driving every day and often after night, until I was completely worn out and applied to the Quarter-master to get relived. He refused to relieve me and I then went to Gen. Wheeler, who wrote a note, to the Quarter-master and told me, that after I had delivered the note I could join my company. I went back to my company the next day and found them camped at the same place and about two thirds of them on "sick report". The remainder being just able to perform the duties required in the camp. We remained in this camp until Aug. 13th, upon which date, after burning all useless clothing and cleaning up our camp, we left our tents standing and marched down to the Bay at Santiago, embarking on the transport Senace, for Camp Wikoff, near Montauk, Long Island.
We had better accomodations on this return trip than going over, as the vessel was fitted up more comfortably and not so badly crowded. There being only the 4th Infantry aboard. We arrived on the evening of the 18th, at Montauk, having made the trip in the short time of four and one half days. We remained all night in the harbor and left the vessel the next morning for the detention camp. Here we found tents pitched and every thing ready to receive us. We remained in this camp under quarantine for three days and then moved to another camp, farther over the hill. This last camp was on a hillside and was in rather an undesirable locality, as there was a large swamp on one side of us. We fared fine, while in this camp and were furnished with food in abundance. We received all the fruit and other delicacies, that the heart could wish. The trouble with us was, that we were nearly all sick and having no appetite, we were not in a condition to enjoy our good fortune. We remained in this camp until Sept. 14th, at which time we begun our journey back to Ft. Sheridan, arriving there on the 16th.
We were received with quite an ovation in Chicago. The depot and vacinity being crowded, the bands playing and people cheering, as we arrived. A good dinner awaited us, which had been prepared by the citizens. We marched over and enjoyed it, as only hungry soldiers can. Our regiment had left Ft. Sheridan, at the beginning of the war with 450 men and when we returned to the post had only 250 officers and men. However these figures do not represent our loss, as quite a number were sick in hospitals at different points and still others had taken furloughs and gone home. It would be impossible at the present time, to give the exact number lost from all causes, because some are coming in every day or so and reporting "off furlough" and until all return we cannot tell how many have died in hospitals, unaccounted for. The few, who were fortunate to get back with the company, were only shadows of their former selves. Several have died, since we arrived, from the effects of our campaign and a great many are suffering from the effects of hardships endured in Cuba. What the result will be only the future can reveal.
I read a poem from that gifted writer, Ella Wheeler Wilcox, which I think very appropriate. So I will reproduce it here.
WHEN THE REGIMENT CAME BACK.
"All the uniforms were blue,
All the swords and rifles new,
When the regiment went marching down the street.
All the men were hale and strong,
As they proudly marched along,
Through the cheers, that drowned the music of their feet.
Oh! the music of their feet,
Keeping time to drums, that beat,
Oh! the splendor of the sight,
As with swords and rifles new,
And in uniforms of blue,
The regiment went marching to the fight.
When the regiment came back,
The guns and swords were black
And the uniforms were faded into gray.
And the faces of the men,
Who marched through the street again,
Seemed like the faces of the dead, who lose their way.
For the dead, who lose their way
Cannot look more gaunt or gray.
Oh! the sorrow and the anguish of the sight.
Oh! the weary lagging feet,
Out of step with drums that beat,
When the regiment came marching from the fight.
In writing this short story of the movements of Co. "B", of which am a member, I have endeavored to give only facts, without going into particulars. I wished to only write of the company as a whole. However I think all the members deserve credit for their part in the campaign. There were numerous cases of unusual daring among members of this company, but it is not my purpose to go into details. While I do not think that we deserve any more credit than any other company of regular soldiers, which took part in the battles around Santiago, I most certainly think, we are due just as much.
December 16, 1898.