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A Letter Written to Charles Harnish

of Pennsylvania Volunteer Artillery,

Light Battery C

Contributed by James Reed

Patriotic envelope of the Spanish American
The envelope for the letter, addressed to Charles Harnish in Puerto Rico.
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This letter was written to Charles Harnish of Pennsylvania Volunteer Artillery, Battery C in response to a letter he had sent from Puerto Rico. The letter reveals some interesting facts about his time in Peurot Rico. most notably, he apparently describes the island as a paradise. Also, there was apparently no mention of disease, unlike letters being sent home from Cuba. The letter was written two weeks after the fighting ended with the adoption of an armistice between the U.S. and Spain.

The letter mentions the Sentinel. This was the Manheim Sentinel, the local newspaper to the gent who had received the letter. Charles Harnish, originally from Manheim, Pennsylvania, had moved to Lancaster, the county seat a few miles south.

Jacob Ober and Edward S. Plasterer were serving with the 4th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry, Co. L. Both were from Manheim also.

The Letter:

Letterhead reads:

“Homer B. Summy
Proprietor of
The Bon-Ton Shoe Store
Summy Building.”

“Manheim, Pa  8/24/1898

Dear Friend

You certainly took me by surprise. I could not think who lives in Porto Rico that knows me. I rec’d your welcome letter with momento last eve and showed it to my friends and will have a notice in the Sentinel about it. I suppose it is worth five [cents] in our money.

I did not know you have gone to war. Just like you! You like to see the world. Did you see battle? Were you at any of the engagements – Ponce or San Juan?

I prize your letter and coin highly and cannot express my gratitude in volumes of words for same It shall be placed amongst my other relics and shown to my friends

Do you get to see our Manheim boys – “Jake” Ober and Ed Plasterer? They are there. It must be warm where you are. I am glad you like it so much and as you describe the place by the term “paradise” it must be lovely. If I would be a single man I would have gone myself. Wish you would have written more. I showed Anna Shue the coin you sent me. Wonder whether she did not think of the past when you showed her the “candy.”

I am  ---  to teach in a week – same old school I had. Manheim slower than ever. Cigar making is no good. Do you get plenty to eat smoke and chew saying nothing of the drink.

We are all well I must close wishing you happiness and --- during your stay or journey.

I remain yours as always.

John S Mattern (?)

Post Script – Let me hear from you at any time you find an opportune time to pen a few lines as we cheerfully hearken to all news from our boys in blue



(As a service to our readers, clicking on title in red will take you to that book on

Stewart, Adj. Gen. Thomas J., Record of the Pennsylvania Vounteers. (Harrisburg: William Stanley Ray, 1901).

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