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The 6th Virginia Volunteer Infantry at Camp Poland

Contributed by Jeff Berry
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The following accounts of the 6th Virginia Volunteer Infantry in Camp Poland, Tennessee during the Spanish American War appeared in the Kmoxville Journal and Tribune.

The Articles:

October 2, 1898:

Nothing remained yesterday of the old camp of this regiment at Lonsdale but the Y.M.C.A. tent and a shed which had been used for storing commissary supplies. All the remainder of the camp equipage had been transferred to the new camp at Brookside, on the slope just below division headquarters.

At the old camp there was no place where the regiment could drill to advantage. Colonel Croxton is especially pleased with the new location because of the excellent drill ground, and he expects that his regiment will from this on make rapid progress in drill.

As an evidence of the fact that the men of this regiment are peaceful and law abiding it is only necessary to state the fact that as yet not a single Sixth Virginian has been arrested by the provost guards in the city. This is a good record.

October 2, 1898:

Now that it has been ordered from Washington that the regimental hospital shall be re-established , in connection with the division hospital, and that each regiment shall have the services of at least two surgeons, one of them being of the rank of major, much speculation is being indulged in as to where the extra surgeons shall come from. As is well known none of the regiments in Camp Poland, with the exception of the colored regiments, have the required number of surgeons. Seven surgeons of this division were sent to Cuba and Porto Rico, while the troops were at Chickamauga, and a number have been made brigade surgeons, or detailed to the division hospital. The Second Ohio, for instance, has at present none of its surgeons with the regiment, Captain McDonald, of the Fourth Tennessee, having been detailed as its regimental surgeon, while at the same time acting as brigade surgeon. The Thirty-First Michigan is in much the same fix as the Second Ohio, having none of its regular surgeons with it, a contract surgeon, Dr. Haze, acting in the capacity of regimental surgeon. It is very probable that when surgeons are assigned to the regiments so that the recent order may be out in force, or in other words, so that each regiment shall have at least two surgeons, a number of contract surgeons will be among the numbers.

It will be remembered, that when Secretary Alger was here he stated that no more surgeons could be commissioned without the consent of congress, but that if more surgeons were needed he would see to it that a sufficient number of contract surgeons would be furnished. From this it is believed that in a short time Camp Poland will have a number of contract surgeons assisting in caring for the sick.

October 2, 1898:

Private H.T. Mackey of the Sixth Virginia regiment (colored) was released [from the Division Hospital]yesterday.

October 3, 1898:

This regiment has become more popular than ever with the colored population of the city since it moved its camp. Yesterday hundreds of visitors mingled with the soldiers throughout the day.

The sick reports of this regiment continue remarkably small. Lieutenant-Colonel Croxton and his officers take good care of their men, and the men themselves are careful of their health, which accounts for their excellent record. Besides, they have had no experience with Chickamauga fever as have the other troops at Camp Poland.

October 5, 1898:


Will be made of All Camp Poland Regiments Previous to the Arrival of Major General Chaffee—Military Board Appointed  to Examine Officers of the Sixth Virginia—Change Made in the Daily Routine Now in Force.

No word has as yet been received at division headquarters as to when Major  General Chaffee is to arrive to assume command of Camp Poland troops. However, preparations are being made to receive him and an inspection of all the troops is to be commenced as soon as the weather will permit. As was stated in yesterday’s Journal and Tribune, this inspection by officers of General McKee’s staff and by military boards appointed by General McKee, was to have commenced yesterday, but it has been postponed until the weather becomes more pleasant. This inspection will be a most thorough and rigid one.

Probably the first definite step taken in this direction was the appointment by General McKee of a military board to  examine several officers of the Sixth Virginia regiment, colored, as to their efficient as military officers. The names of these officers are not known but it is understood that those who will be examined rank from second lieutenant to major.

The board which will conduct this investigation consists of the following officers: Colonel George Leroy Brown, of the Fourth Tennessee; Lieutenant Colonel Bryant, of  Second Ohio; Lieutenant-Colonel S.L. Taylor, of the Third North Carolina; Major Henry L. Hunt, of the Thirty-first Michigan, and Major W.C.Tatom, of the Fourth Tennessee.

This board was appointed in compliance with an order from the war department at Washington.

Rain had a quieting effect on the troops in Camp Poland yesterday. The steady all day downpour kept the men and officers in their quarters to a great extent.

The soldiers of the Second division, who have been enjoying a rest from drill since they came here from Chickamauga park, will not have such as easy time of it from now on. The soldiers have been congratulating themselves since their arrival here on the fact that drills have been almost entirely suspended. An order had been made by General McKee which will restore the daily routine which was in force at Camp Thomas. The program of daily routine which has been sent out from division headquarters to the various regimental commanders plays reveille a half hour later in the morning than it has heretofore been, and taps will sound at a correspondingly earlier hour at night.

October 5, 1898:

The officers of this regiment are waiting with no small amount of expectancy the meeting of the military board, which has been appointed to examine a number of officers as to their efficiency.

On account of the rain the usual drills were suspended yesterday. This was hailed with delight by the enlisted men, who were glad to get one day of exemption from drill, even though they were compelled on account of the inclemency of the weather to confine themselves to their quarters.

Much attention is being paid to the sanitary conditions of this camp, and it is now in the most excellent condition.

October 6, 1898:

The handling in of the resignations of nine of the officers of the Sixth Virginia yesterday morning caused quite a stir in camp. The officers, whose names are in the following order, are all colored.

They give no reasons for their act. The order is as follows:

Special Order No. 12

Under the provisions of section 14 under the act of congress, approved April second, a military board to consist of Col. George LeRoy Brown, Fourth Tennessee; Lieutenant-Colonel Edward S. Bryant, Second Ohio; Lieutenant-Colonel S.L.A. Taylor, Sixth Virginia; Major Henry L. Hunt, Thirty-first Michigan, and Major Wm. C. Tatom, Fourth Tennessee, is appointed to meet at the headquarters of the Sixth Virginia volunteer infantry, at ten o’clock a.m., on Monday, October third, or as soon thereafter as possible, and examine into the capacity, qualifications, conduct and efficiency of the following named officers, viz.:

Major W.H. Johnson, Sixth Virginia; Captain Chas B. Nicholas, Sixth Virginia; Captain James C. Hill, Sixth Virginia,  Captain J. A. C. Stephens, Sixth Virginia,; Captain Edward W. Gould,  Sixth Virginia; Capt. Peter Shepard, Jr., Sixth Virginia; first Lieutenant Samuel B. Randolph, Sixth Virginia; first Lieutenant Geo. T. Wright, Sixth Virginia; Second Lieutenant David Wardell, Sixth Virginia.

This board did not meet Monday, but did yesterday morning and while in session, the officers above named, all of the Sixth Virginia, handed in their resignations. Their resignations had not been asked for by the board, as the examination of the officers had not been made. All of the officers who sent in the resignations are colored, none of the white officers being included in the list. They will retain their commissions until their resignations are accepted.

The vacancies caused will be filled by promotion of other officers of the regiment. The above mentioned board will remain in power until dissolved by the department. It is not known whether any more cases for investigation will come up.

October 6, 1898:

The resignation of the nine officers of the regiment was the talk of the camp yesterday and much speculation was indulged by the men. Their places will be filled by promotion and a number already have their eyes open for chances to secure commissions. The movement of the regiment will occur in a few days, the Sixth going down the Middlebrook car line to a vacant space near the camp of the Second Ohio. The new order of drills was begun in camp yesterday, the men not seeming to mind the extra work put on them.

October 7, 1898:

Orders wee issued yesterday from division headquarters relative to the different regiments taking practice marches.
The order is as follows:--

The following regulations for the conduct of practice marches are published for the information and guidance of all concerned:--Once each week or on days to be indicated by brigade commanders, each regiment of the division will make a practice march from its camp of not less than ten miles, remaining out one night and returning the following day.

The men will be equipped with shelter tents, ponchos, blankets and haversacks. There will be carried in wagons one days; rations, full, and necessary tentage for officers, Until further orders, the First brigade will operate south of the river, the second to the north, between the river and Second creek, and the Third to the southwest, between Second creek and the lower river. Marches will be made with proper tactical disposition of advance and rear guards, and in execution of an assumed and definite problem, involving the country traversed; the problem to be prescribed by the brigade commander, who may use all the regiments of his brigade in combination, if he so desires.

Itineraries will be kept and maps made in accordance with article X: “troops in campaign,” and reports made to this office.

One company in each regiment will be left in charge of the regimental camp and property and the camp will not be broken.


October 7, 1898:

Nothing of any importance happened at this camp yesterday except that a large number of visitors wee entertained during the day. The usual drills were held and in the afternoon battalion drill was held.  A ball team has been organized in the Sixth, and it is probable that a game will be arraigned with the Third North Carolina at an early date. The team is practicing daily.

The Sixth will probably begin moving to its new camping place today. Arrangements have been made and the camp staked off.

October 8, 1898:


A general order was issued today organizing new army corps and designating various points where the troops shall be stationed. The Third, Fifth, and Sixth corps are discontinued; the First, Second, and Fourth corps reorganized. They are to be commanded respectively by Major-Generals Breckinridge, Graham, and Wheeler. The headquarters of each corps will be: First corps, Macon, Ga.; Second corps, Augusta, Ga., Fourth corps, Huntsville, Ala. The full text of the order is as follows:

Major-general J.C. Breckinridge, U.S.V., commanding headquarters at Macon, Ga.

First division, headquarters at Macon, Ga.:--
First brigade-Atlanta, Ga. Thirty-first Michigan, Fourth Tennessee and Sixth Ohio
Second brigade- Macon, Ga. Third U.S.V. engineers, Second Ohio and Sixth Virginia
Third brigade- Macon, Ga. Tenth U.S.V., infantry and Seventh U.S.V. infantry

October 8, 1898:

The Sixth were almost certain they were going to be moved to the site opposite the Second Ohio yesterday, but orders were issued not to go, as it would crowd things too much and make it unhealthy. A site near the Third North Carolina camp has been selected and will probably be occupied by the regiment.

The camp of the Sixth is a popular place and the colored citizens of the city flock out daily to view the drills and dress parades. The men are daily becoming more proficient in drilling and evidence of good work is noticeable.

The rain yesterday afternoon flooded a few of the tents but no serious damage was done. The Sixth is also hard at work preparing for the general inspection which occurs next week.

October 9, 1898:

News that the division will be moved soon has caused a cessation of preparations to move to a new camping place and the present camp will in all probability be retained. The men of this regiment, too, express themselves as sorry to leave Knoxville and would much rather stay.

Rain prevented all drills yesterday and the men stayed in their tents almost all day. The rain also kept the men from indulging in their usual athletic sports and the base ball team took a rest.

A number of the men will attend religious services in the city today, they having secured passes to that effect.

October 9, 1898:

The cosmopolitan library is well patronized by members of the Virginia and North Carolina regiments.

October 10, 1898:

The sixth, too, entertained a very large crowd of visitors, the camp being crowded all day with negroes of the city who have made acquaintances among the soldiers. A number of white people were also in camp and expressed themselves as pleased with its condition and especially with the deportment of the men.

The men of the Sixth say they are not anxious to leave Knoxville, as they like the place. A number of the men visited the negro college yesterday and were shown through the buildings and grounds by the students.

October 11, 1898:

The Sixth too is now hard at work preparing for the inspection, which will come this week, and the men are putting everything in first-class shape. None of the officers, who resigned last week, have gone as yet, but expect to leave some time next week. Their resignations have not yet been accepted by the war department.

A practice game of baseball was played in the field next to camp yesterday. No score was kept, but it can be estimated at about forty to thirty-five in favor of the other side at the end of the third inning, when the game was called on account of darkness.

Colonel Croxton has been somewhat indisposed for a few days, but is now out again.

October 12, 1898:

The camp of the Sixth was decidedly quiet yesterday, the men being idle and very few visitors being in camp.

The topic of being moved has been dropped, now that the more important theme of “getting paid” is near.

Col.Croxton has been very particular about the sanitary conditions of the camp since coming to Knoxville and his watchfulness has borne good results as the regiment is one of the healthiest in camp at the present time. He wants to have the regiment at its best when they go farther south. The men, in speaking of the camp here, say they are very well satisfied and would rather stay here than go south.

October 13, 1898:

Regimental drill was held by the Sixth yesterday and the different formations were executed in god style, the men keeping good lines and step. The regiment will be inspected today or tomorrow and the men have made great efforts to have everything in good order.

Private A.B. Brown, co. B, who has been in the hospital for some time, left yesterday for his home, going on a thirty day sick furlough.


TheThe Journal and Tribune (Knoxville, TN), October 2, 1898; October 3, 1898; October 5, 1898; October 6, 1898; October 7, 1898; October 8, 1898; October 9, 1898; October 10, 1898; October 11, 1898; October 12, 1898; October 13, 1898 - Contributed by Jeff Berry

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