Source: North Manchester Journal, May 26, 1898
WORD FROM THE SOLDIERS
HOW THE JOURNEY SOUTH WAS MADE AND ENJOYED BY THE BOYS
FROM INDIANAPOLIS TO CHICKAMAUGA
A Company D Boy Gives an Interesting Description of the Soldier Boys' Trip to the South
Co. D, IND. VOL., 157th REG., CAMP GEO. THOMAS
CHICKAMAUGA, Ga., May 19, 1898
We arrived at camp here about noon. If you will excuse the length of this letter I will narrate my trip as best I can.
I suppose you already know that our regiment marched from Camp Mount to the depot at Indianapolis.
We went on board the train at 7 p.m., Sunday, May 15. There were three sections of the 157th regiment and one of the two batteries of artillery. The first section consisting of the supplies and camp equipments, pulled out first. The second section, consisting of the first battalion and half of the second, started about twenty minutes later. The third followed the second in about the same time. Our own Co. D was on the third section. Co. C, of Goshen, was the last company on the section. The artillery section followed the third in about the same time, which started from Indianapolis at 8:45. We crossed the Ohio river at 1 a.m. Monday, May 16, and struck Louisville immediately and backed into the union depot. here we caught the second section and the fourth section caught us before we pulled out.
Louisville has the appearance of being a dirty city. People all along were up and cheering us as we passed. From the time we struck Kentucky we saw five colored people to every white one.
The next place at which we stopped was Bowling Green, at 7 a.m., where most of the boys got off to wash. It is quite a little city and a very nice place. From here the country begins to get rough. We see large hills on most all sides. How we did wind around curves and play whipcrack! About one fifth of the time I could look out of the window and see the full length of every car.
You cannot imagine how a boy in blue not having been away from his birthplace more than forty miles would gaze and look until his eyes were sore.
Below Bowling Green a short distance we went through our first tunnel. It was about the length of two cars. We next came to a station and water tank named South Tunnel. Past the station a few rods we went through a tunnel about the length of the train. I guess the hill was a mountain; at least it looked like a monster to me. We had just gone through this when in we went into another one much shorter. We reached Nashville about 10 o'clock Monday, May 16. About half of the time in Nashville we were on an elevated railroad about forty or fifty feet high and it had several short curves in it besides. Nashville is quite a hilly city. I did not see one street but what ran over us or we ran over it.
We pulled up at Murfreesboro and got a slight glimpse of the battle ground of the same name. We were now 119 miles from Chattanooga. All this time we could see large mountains on all sides and we were winding around between them. At all stations the inhabitants were quite sociable. Now we came to the Cumberland mountains. The curves were so abrupt I could only see the back of the car in front and the front half of the car behind us. The mountain came within about [to be completed]
Source: North Manchester Journal, June 9, 1898
FROM THE BOYS AT TAMPA
Clem Halderman Writes an Interesting Letter, Giving the Experiences of Company D in the South
The JOURNAL is permitted to publish the following extracts from a letter from Clem Holderman to his sister. It will be interesting to all, especially so to those who have relatives and friends in the army:
PORT TAMPA CITY, June 3.
We got here about 2 o'clock and were marched out here by the bay, got our tents pitched and had supper and I am now sitting up writing by candle light just to keep awake till roll call. I will just fire away at random in this letter.
At Atlanta I saw the United States war prison where the Spanish prisoners are kept. I have seen Captain General Weyler's half brother about a dozen times. Now it may surprise you, but he is not a prisoner, for he is regimental quartermaster of the First Ohio regiment that is camped with us. He came to America when a mere boy and has almost an animal hatred for Spain. His home is in Cincinnati.
There is little or no grass growing here, but those palms like you have at home for house plants grow everywhere and take the place of grass. They grow up about waist high and we had to hew them down by the wholesale before we could pitch our tents. As soon as I could unsling my knapsack and drop my gun after getting here I ran down to the bay. There were a number of transports anchored off to the south along the pier. The water was calm and all along the shore I could see soldiers bathing. Some were so glad to get to the water that they waded in with their clothes on. The beach is of white sand, looks exactly like salt and is as clean as can be. I took off my shoes and waded in about twenty rods. they tell me one can wade in about a mile.
One thing that attracted my attention was the great number of "fiddler" crabs that lined the shore. They are of different shades of salmon and look like a big crawfish, but have only one pincher, which they fold up along their side when they run and it looks exactly as if it had a violin under its arm. I caught a big crab about the size of my hand and brought it back to camp, where I learned it was good to eat. So I and Len Blickenstaff went back with our bayonets and got about a dozen. The negro who cooks for the colonel said the way to cook them was to put them into some water alive and bring the water to a boil, then take off the bottom shell and eat out the inside. We tried it and found they were very good.
We don't get anything to drink but coffee and boiled water, as the surgeon says that that would be much healthier for us. All talk about the hot weather down here is a fake. We have a cool Gulf breeze all the time and the sun shines hot, but don't make much impression. The nights are cool and all sleep well. There are scarcely any trees here except pines, though we passed through large groves of cypress on the way down. My bunkmates are Len Blickenstaff, Ed West, Frank Roush, Charles Lower and William Evans. The last two are Muncie boys.
Sergeant Co. D, 157th Regiment
Source: North Manchester Journal, June 9, 1898
FROM LIEUTENANT SPURGEON
One of the Company D Boys Tells of His Arrival at and the Scenes Around Tampa
Among the numerous letters received here this week by the families and friends of the Company D boys now at Tampa, Fla., was one from Lieutenant C.O. Spurgeon to his parents. The JOURNAL is permitted to give the following interesting news from the letter:
TAMPA CITY, Fla., June 4.
I will try and write you a few lines from here to let you know that we are all right. We are camped about a half mile from Port Tampa and nine miles from Tampa City and right on the coast of Tampa bay.
There are a lot of transports anchored here and they are loading them as fast as they can with provisions and supplies, but we do not know where they are to be taken. There are several cruisers and torpedo boats here and I expect to go and see them tomorrow. Well, you should have been with us on our trip down here, which took two nights and a day and a half, the trains were so slow. It took us four hours to march from Camp Thomas to Ringgold and about one-third the boys dropped out along the way.
There was an Illinois regiment came in just now which makes four regiments of volunteers here from Ohio, Pennsylvania, Illinois and Indiana and the Hoosier boys are as good as any of them. We have two newspaper correspondents with us, one for the Indianapolis Journal and one for the Cincinnati Enquirer. You need not be surprised if you do not hear from us again right away, as there are all kinds of rumors afloat here and we may be moved at any time.
Allie is standing up to the stuff all right. He is on guard today and tonight. I get it tomorrow and tomorrow night as junior officer of the guard. The regular army fellows got their pay yesterday and such a time as they had. They got drunk and had all kinds of fights. I forgot to say that our camp is in a palmetto thicket and the roots grow on top of the ground and are as big as a man's leg. The ground is thickly covered with them and the boys who miss drills or roll call are made to cut them out of our company street. I had to take the company out on dress parade this evening. We pulled through all right and the captain complimented us on our appearance.
Source: North Manchester Journal, June 16, 1898
ARMY LIFE AS IT IS LIVED
Allie Spurgeon Tells of the Ups and Downs the Soldier Encounters in Camp.
Private Allie Spurgeon, one of "Studebaker's Tigers," has written a letter to Charles Bayless of this office giving an account of his army experience and the JOURNAL is permitted to make the following interesting extracts from it. The letter was written at Port Tampa City, June 5. He says:
I am well with the exception of a falling away and am getting to look like a skeleton on the rations we get. All we have to eat is potatoes, sowbelly, hard tack and coffee. Its all right, what there is of it, but we don't get enough. I suppose that everybody at home is wondering what is going to become of Co. D. We are too. We do not know where our next move will be any more than the people at home. This is a bad place to get news and no one knows anything. They are afraid of spies and therefore nothing is let out. This is a fine place to camp. It is right up against the coast and we go bathing every day in the sea. I never saw a better place except for drinking water and that is horrible.
I have seen some of the fellows that were on the boat Gussie that tried to land in Cuba about two weeks ago. They say they would have landed if their officers had the nerve but they claim the officers were afraid. They said that the Spaniards would pop up out of the bushes along the shore and shoot at our large boats with their little pistols and rifles and the way they shoot they could not hit a barn if they were inside of one for they would shoot out through the roof. The Spaniards shoot this way: Instead of bringing their guns to the shoulder they shoot from the hip, the same as we do when we make a charge with bayonets, so you see they could not hit any of us lying down. Another thing those fellows say is that the Spaniards are puzzled a great deal about our skirmish line. They don't know exactly what that is and they are afraid of it. If this is the case when they get all that are here with what are already landed on the island and get our skirmish line out so it will reach across the island we will drive them all right through into the ocean.
Source: North Manchester Journal, June 16, 1898
THE BOYS ARE ALL WELL
Some Extracts from a Letter of Fred Sandoz With the Army at Tampa to His Parents
Everybody around here is anxious to hear from the "boys at the front" and we are permitted to make a few extracts from a letter received by L.A. Sandoz from his son Fred, a member of Co. D 157th regiment at Tampa. The letter was written June 7th and at that time the regiment was expecting to embark for Cuba or Porto Rico at any moment, the orders having been issued to load the horses and equipments on the boats. However the orders have been reversed for some reason or other and the regiment is still in camp at Tampa, though likely to be sent away at any time. Those parts of Fred's letter which will be of general interest are as follows:
We left camp Thomas at Chickamauga Wednesday at 9 o'clock and marched to Ringgold, a station about the size of Liberty Mills, which we left in Pullman sleepers at 11 o'clock that night and arrived in Tampa at 2 o'clock Friday. Nothing but palms and palmettos grow here and the trees are covered with moss which hangs from all the limbs. The roots grow on top of the ground and we have to cut them out. The surgeons will not let us drink the water until it is boiled and the boys get so thirsty that they drink it while it is still hot. We get nothing to eat but beans, hardtack and coffee and the boys are mighty tired of the stuff. The coffee is not fit to drink. At night we lay down our rubber blankets, then our ticks and then wrap up in our woolen blankets and sleep sound.
Ulrey and Johnson have just come into camp and say they are going to load the officers' horses on the boats and when we go we are to take nothing but our canteens, haversacks, blankets, guns and cartridges. it is reported that the Ohio regiment moves tonight. We got our pay this week and it amounted to $15.60. I do not know just how soon the regiment will start for Cuba, but the boys are all well and anxious to go. The officers do not think we will stay long. We do not hear a bit of war news here as the papers are not allowed to publish it. I have just heard that we will probably go on the boats tonight. Our tents are to be left here and guarded by a detail of one lieutenant, one corporal and twenty privates. It is very hot today and you ought to see the sweat drop off when we drill or eat our meals. But all the same the boys are all well and happy.