CAMP LIFE OF COMPANY K
SPANISH AMERICAN WAR 1898
A Souvenir Booklet Compliments of L.H. Mayne, Emmetsburg
" A Gift From Tim Laros to People of Palo Alto
Transcription by Cathy Labath
The matter in this booklet is a reproduction
of letters published in the Reporter of thirty years ago, which were written by
L.H. Mayne when he was with Company K during the Spanish American war. These
letters faithfully chronicled the events that happened during the Spanish
American war. These letters faithfully chronicled the events that happened
during those memorable days in the 52nd Regiment and in which Company K boys
participated. These events are not so very great, yet they give the daily life
of a soldier in camp as he awaited events to shape to call him to a larger field
of action. This never came to Company K, but there is no doubt but what the
sacrifices made by the boys leaving home and being in readiness to take the
field had much influence in bringing about such an early peace. It is true that
the clash of arms, the blare of trumpets on the battle field and the onrushing
of men in terrific struggle will find no place in them but the calmly waiting
for order to move and the dull monotony of camp life is delineated as is also
the pangs of sorrow as one sits by the bedside of a sick comrade and waits for
the end to come, lying waiting., waiting for a chance to do your full duty to
your country, on a cot or on the ground surrounded by hundreds of sick and dying
comrades as it did to face the enemy on the field of battle. The yielding up of
life on the battlefield is not the supreme test of a man's patriotism. The test
had come to hat patriot and has been made long before that battle took place.
Leaving wife and family, mother, father, brother or sweetheart behind and
enlisting to fight the battles of his country when war is raging is a greater
test on the soul of a true patriot than facing the cannon of the foe on the
field of battle. The test has been put to that man. He has fought out the fight
between love of family and love of country and made the sacrifice to his
country. Abram has been counted the father of the faithful because he was
willing to offer his son to God at His command. He was not called upon to take
the life of his son but the sacrifice that wrung the heart of Abraham to its
very depth had been made and God honored that sacrifice. The boys of Co. K. did
this if they had no opportunity to do more. We give these letters a space
because at this time they may interest some.
Leaving of Co. K.
The rumors and events preceding
and leading up to the departure of the local Militia Company are told in
different terms, and as therein indicated the question for a day or two had been
"Just when will the boys have to go?" The final order came on
Monday night and the bugle call, bright and early the next morning, spread the
news over the town. The Company's baggage was already packed, and at an early
hour the people generally began to gather in groups at every point of vantage
from the Armory to the depot. Before starting the company did some little
drilling on Broadway west of the First National bank, and shortly before the
train due fell in behind a score or more of the Comrades of Henry Dillon Post
who carried and guarded the stars and stripes and marched down Broadway. By the
time they reached the depot they were surrounded by a thousand or more of their
neighbors and friends. Many of the younger people wore small flags and ribbons
of the national colors and under other circumstances it would have been an ideal
holiday crowd, but as it was it appreciated the serious mission that was in all
probability before the boys. One attempt at cheering was essayed but the people
were too sad for that. America was sung. The train moved in. Good-byes were said
and in all too short a time our boys were gone.
First Lieutenant-H.W. Beebe.
Second Lieutenant-A.H. Keller
Com. Capt.-W.E.G. Saunders
Bat. Adjut.-C.M. Henry
Hospital Steward-Geo. F. Herley
C.C. Mueller, H.C. Armstrong, C.F.Grout
C.F. Starr, J.C. Armstrong
W.T. Krieger, E.R. Theile, L.H. Bauck, Jas. R. Bigley, James
Rush, Leslie J. Duncan, H.S. Dickinson, Wm. Hefley, C.R. Darland, Harris
Hemstreet, F.D.Grout, C.R.H. Duncan, R.D. Hodgkinson, Nels Nelson, L.H. Mayne,
W.T. Heacock, E.J. Nolan, H.J. Soper, C.E. Robins, M. Hefley, T.F. Rutledge, Jay
Letson, L.P. Stillman, S.V.A. Richard, S.R. Stedman, C.F. Dorris,W.H. Sammin,
Frank Baker, J.E. King.
Wednesday, April 27, 1889
The Iowa National Guards are now all in
camp in their place and are hard at work drilling and perfecting themselves in
military discipline. Every indication points to a reorganization of the entire
guard and the enlistment of the men in the volunteer service of the U.S. Just
when this move will take place is hard to say. Of course there is some kicking
being done as such a course will do away with the company formations as they now
stand and as this will throw out quite a number of officers it is but natural
that it should meet with opposition. Perhaps the most interesting thing to the
readers of the Reporter so far, would be a description of Co. K's journey to
Camp McKinley. Emmetsburg people are painfully aware of the scene in their midst
and so nothing need be said concerning it. At Algona the train was stopped at
the foot of Thorington street and Co. K, got off at that point. They were
greeted by the firing of a cannon and an escort of the G.A.R. and a large party
of citizens were on hand with a band to escort the boys through the town. At the
court house the boys of Co. F. fell in behind and together they marched to the
Northwestern depot where a special train was waiting to hurry them on to Des
Moines. An immense crowd had gathered to see the boys off. Here the boys of Co.
K had a better opportunity for observing the parting scenes between the boys and
their friends and relatives because they were not participants in it to any
great extent although the writer must acknowledge many a warm hand shake and a
fervent hope expressed for his safe return. The train pulled out amid the cheers
of men and children and the women whose tear stained faces told of the sadness
of their hearts more eloquently than words can express it.
At Luverne, Goldfield and in fact every station on the
line, a crowd had gathered and as the train dashed by the air was rent by their
cheering and the waving of flags. The first stop was made at Eagle Grove and it
seemed as if every man, woman and child in the place had turned out to give the
guards a parting cheer.
At Webster City the boys of Co. C. were in waiting and
here a scene similar to that at Emmetsburg and Algona took place. A company of
high school boys stood in company formation along the side of the track, and as
the train pulled out they fired a salute. Fully five thousand people were packed
around the depot and never in our experience did we see so many tear stained
faces on one occasion as in that gathering.
The most patriotic reception that the boys received was
awaiting them when the train pulled into Jewell Junction. Here the school
children had gathered and sang patriotic songs. The chorus of one was about as
"The cheer boys,
For Cuba shall be free;
We'll drive old Spain,
From off the land and
After Ames had been left behind no incident worthy of
repetition took place, as the train did not stop until it arrived in Des Moines.
Camp McKinley is located on the state fair grounds and
the various companies are very comfortably located in the cattle sheds and
various buildings pertaining to it. It is far better than tents for, in case of
inclement weather, the boys have good dry quarters. Nels Nelson, Frank Armstrong
and Harry Dickinson were placed on guard duty the first evening and Ed Nolan was
orderly to Colonel Humphrey. C.R. Darland and L.H. Bauck went on the next
morning and L.H. Mayne was detailed as one of the provost guards.
The diet is very limited and consists chiefly of bacon,
potatoes, bread and coffee, but then the time may come when it will be even
slimmer. The boys are all well and in good spirits and as the regulations will
be pretty strict not much sickness is anticipated, although the measles are in
May 10th, 1898
Another week of camp life has passed with many pleasant
incidents mingled with some unpleasant ones. The most unpleasant feature of camp
life was the cold, wet disagreeable weather of the middle of the week. Wednesday
it rained all day and the boys suffered considerable from the cold and dampness.
Finally each company made a large camp fire in the center of their quarters and
soon its brightness and warmth put a more cheerful aspect on affairs. The boys
gathered around it, told stories, sang and danced and whiled away the evening in
a very comfortable manner.
One of the most pleasant features of the week was the
chicken supper served by the ladies of Des Moines Thursday. It was certainly a
gigantic undertaking for the ladies but they carried it through in a highly
successful manner. Of course in such cases some mistakes will be made in the
distribution of so many provisions and it so happened that the chickens destined
for Co. K did not turn up. It seemed some of the companies left what little
decency and manners they had at home and so gobbled onto everything they could
lay their hands on. The ladies who had charge of the dinner for Co. K were very
indignant over the matter and although they were not in the slightest to blame
they determined to amend matters and so last Sunday the boys were served with
eighteen nice fat chickens; so in the long run this was better. Thursday's
dinner was ample as it consisted of roast beef, home-made bread, fresh onions
and radishes, various kinds of jellies, oranges and bananas. The boys improvised
all sorts of things for tables and sat around and were waited upon by the
ladies. It was certainly a very pleasant affair and brought vividly to mind the
home life which the boys had left behind. At the close of the dinner Capt.
Refsell made a neat little speech thanking the ladies who had come among them
and served such a palatable and wholesome dinner, especially the kindness of
heart that had prompted them to come among strangers and wait upon them so
nicely. At the conclusion the boys gave three cheers for the ladies.
The all absorbing topic of interest during the week was
the examination of officers which commenced on Thursday and continued the
balance of the week. Of course every officer was desirous to pass and those that
were too light would drink four or five pounds of water to make up for what they
lacked in weight. Of course it was impossible for a fellow that lacked from ten
to twenty pounds to make up the deficiency and when such was turned down a roar
was sure to follow. The matter was taken to Washington and it was finally
ordered that when any one was sound physically a few pounds more or less in
weight would not debar him from entering the service.
Friday Governor Shaw reviewed the troops and it
certainly made a splendid sight to behold the entire four regiments drawn up in
company front by battalions and standing at parade rest. The line was nearly one
mile in length. Afterwards the four regiments passed in review and as this
required a march of nearly two miles in company front it made the boys sweat
some. On the way in from the parade grounds, a distance of two miles, it started
to rain and to top the climax came a race for the entrance to the fair grounds
and most of the boys were wringing wet with sweat when they got to camp. Some
did not properly are for themselves and as a result contracted a severe cold.
Sunday was a big day in camp. Excursion trains brought
in people from every direction and friends of the boys from various parts of the
state took the opportunity to visit the boys once more. Of course it is nice to
have friends take an interest in you and come to see you, but it would really be
better for the boys if their friends would stop sending them pastries and
knicknacks, for we have observed that when a box comes from home sickness is
more prevalent among those who receive it.
The army officers are right in their determination to
bring men to a strict army diet before entering on an active campaign, for then
an army of necessity must conform to it.
Written orders have come to the camp that one regiment
is to get ready to be sent to Chickamagua the latter part of this week. It is
not now known which regiment may move first, but the rumor is that the Third
will be sent. Of course this is all speculation, but before the Reporter reaches
its readers it is possible that the boys of Co. K will be enroute for the
Southland, and the Fourth Regiment is as liable to be sent for as any.
The boys of Company K, are well with the exception
of Private Nutting of Ruthven, who was taken sick Friday morning and
Sunday morning it was discovered he had the measles and he was taken to the
hospital. At present he is getting along nicely.
The boys were made happy Monday morning by Capt.
Refsell passing the required physical examination and so will remain with
them. For a time it was thought that he possibly might be barred on
account of weight.
Sunday a large number of Emmetsburg people were in camp
to see the boys. Also a large box containing eatables and different articles for
the boys was also received. Perhaps the best, however, was a couple of cases of
eggs which came as a present from H.C. Shadbolt and a check of $115 which a
number of the good citizens of Emmetsburg kindly contributed to the company.
J.C. Stemets and Dr. J.C. Davies while here Sunday left a couple of boxes of
cigars for the boys. The boys feel grateful for the favor bestowed and will
endeavor to do their full duty as soldiers in whatever capacity they are placed.
They are especially grateful to Mr. Shadbolt, for while here last week he gave
$5.00 toward replenishing the larder of the company.
Sunday afternoon some guy started the report that
Sampson had met with a Spanish fleet of 19 vessels off the coast of Porto Rico
and four of his vessels were sunk and the other two rendered. Of course, the
news was unreasonable but it made everybody uneasy until a number of the boys
went up town and found out that the thing was all a hoax.
Capt. Saunders returned from Emmetsburg Saturday
morning and is still with the boys.
Sunday morning about two o'clock a little excitement
was created in the quarters of Co K by the arrival of the Sergeant Armstrong and
thirty recruits for Co K. It took considerable maneuvering to get the boys
located in stalls for the balance of the night for both straw and blankets were
needed. However, the boys were all provided for in some manner until blankets
and straw could be drawn for them. The boys are likely fellows and are working
in a splendid manner.
Among those who came down from Emmetsburg Sunday was
Lieut. Kellar who brought with him a box of things from home. The boys were glad
to see the Colonel, as they call him, for he was a favorite among them.
At last it is pretty definitely decided where the regiments
will go. The Second will move next Monday to Chickamaugua and the Fourth will go
soon after to Washington, D.C. and the other two will remain in Des Moines for
some time after. The Second will be a part of the army to invade Cuba and the
Fourth will be held in reserve to reinforce at any time.
The examination is still on and a large number of the
boys are being turned down, and everybody is on the anxious seat as to whether
or not he will pass. Some of the boys of Co K are sure to be turned down as
corns and other trivial defects are taken into consideration. In such cases a
fellow will have to go home or move to some other part of the country.
May 17th, 1898
Company K Notes
During the past week there have been quite a number of
visitors from Ruthven, Estherville, Emmetsburg, and other towns in Palo Alto
county to see the boys. Joe Harlie was down from Estherville the middle of last
week and before he left he sent to the camp 40 dozen eggs to help out the
culinary department of the company. The boys appreciated them very much.
W.E.G. Saunders has been appointed regimental
quartermaster much to the satisfaction of his numerous friends. He will make a
Battalion adjutant C M Henry has been assigned first
lieutenant of company K and will assume his position as soon as the boys are all
Sergeant Chas. Grout passed an examination for a
commission and was one out of nearly fifty to get in the first ten best. He
stood away up near the top. He will be commissioned second lieutenant and
assigned to company K.
Of course these two assignments are highly satisfactory
to the boys of the company as their officers will all be from among them.
Sunday quite a number of Emmetsburgers were down to
visit the camp and see the boys. Among them were W.G. Henry, A.J. Armstrong, C.W.
Hodgkinson, P.H. Stedman, E.A. Morling, Geo. Hurley and J.J. Reardon of the
Mrs. W.E.G. Saunders and Capt. E.J. Hartshorn were also
visitors to the camp during the week. The boys were highly pleased with their
visit as it tended to break the monotony of camp life a little.
Visitors from Ruthven, Curlew and West Bend were down
to see the boys from these places and made the day pleasant for all concerned.
Harley Case has been strictly in it during the week and
has been living on the top shelf as it were. His school sent him a large box of
choice eatables and several of the prettiest of the West Bend young ladies were
Sunday evening a regular banquet was spread in stall
No. 106 under the sign of the four, in which the West Bend people participated.
The health of the boys continues good considering
the changeable weather.
Tuesday, Sim Steadman was a little under the weather on
account of contracting a small cold.
Capt. Refsell still keeps up his reputation as a
champion heavy runner and by the time he goes through a long march he will have
developed into a genuine sprinter. He certainly stands the drilling well and is
always up and ready for duty.
Just at this writing the boys are on the anxious seat for
they are waiting to go and take the physical examination. The result will be
known by tomorrow.
May 24th, 1898.
Another week has rolled away and the Fourth regiment
I.N.G. has ceased to exist, for the time being at least, and been merged into
the headquarters and to the surgeon's Fifty-second Iowa volunteer infantry. The
examination of the several companies was finished Thursday of last week, but it
has taken the intervening time to fill out the companies, elect and assign the
necessary officers and muster the regiment into the service of the united
States. The latter part of last week was rainy and but little regular drill work
was done. The weather so far this week has been very fine, but the regular work
has been interfered with somewhat by the mustering in of the Fifty-second and
the physical examination of the men of the First and Third.
But little of general interest has happened during the
past week, and time has dragged slowly along. Two events, however, broke the
monotonous routine somewhat. The first of these was the living flag exhibition
on Friday afternoon. This was certainly and inspiring and patriotic sight. It
consisted of 1200 school children dressed in red, white and blue and so arranged
on a raised platform as to represent the colors of the flag. At a prearranged
signal the children waved handkerchiefs of the same color as their dressed into
the air, and instantly the whole became a moving and living representation of
the "starry ensign of the free." The four regiments were marched by in
review and as they passed by the grand stand in company front, in superb order,
cheer on cheer rent the air from the throats of the thousands who witnessed the
inspiring pageant. Old veterans who were present said they had never seen a
finer review. Each company moved in perfect alignment and every foot touched the
ground in perfect time with the music.
Saturday morning the Fiftieth regiment broke camp
during a heavy rain and marched to the station and took the train for Tampa,
Florida-from which place they are expected to become a part of the army, for the
invasion of Cuba. For the time being the boys forgot their rollicking, careless
ways and were sobered by the contemplation of what the future might have in
store for them. The boys of the other regiments gathered around and wished them
Godspeed. Here and there in the crowd were mothers, sisters, wives and
sweethearts, whose tear-stained faces told of the aching, anxious hearts that
were left behind. As one stood and watched the scene his mind instinctively
turned to the thought that such scenes have been witnessed in the rearguard of
every war that has taken place since man forgot the brotherhood of man and
turned to the sword to redress the real and imaginary wrongs of humanity.
Monday night was a busy one with the officers. Word
came that the muster-roll must be completed and the regiment ready to muster in
by eight o'clock Tuesday morning and as yet some of the companies were not yet
full it necessitated some lively skirmishing around to get everything in shape.
The great trouble lay with company L. of Sioux City-the Captain of which, with
the major part of the men, had been turned down in the physical examination.
However, by morning enough men had been examined and the roster of the company
completed, so that all was in readiness by the appointed time.
It has been definitely decided that the Fifty-second
regiment will leave Camp McKinley not later than Saturday and perhaps the order
to move may come sooner. Just where it will move to is hard to say, but in all
probability will go to Chicamaugua. Tuesday the rumor was started that it was
the Philippine Islands but so far no order has come to change the previous
assignment. Still it may come at the last minute and the destination be changed.
Company K Notes
The boys of Company K are getting along very nicely and
enjoying very good health. The measles are still with them, however, for Sunday
Private Belmond, of Whittemore, came down with them. He is getting along nicely
and will be able to be with the company in a few days. Mark Hefley and Sergeant
H.C. Armstrong were indisposed for a couple of days with severe colds; but aside
from these cases the boys have all been able for their regular rations three
times a day.
The boys of Company K came out of the physical
examination in fine shape. Out of seventy-six examined only six failed to pass
on the final examination. These were J.L. Duncan and S.R. Stedman of Emmetsburg,
on account of eye-sight, F.A. Price of Ruthven, Harry Soper of Estherville and a
couple of fellows by the names of Osterson and Bender, Clifford Martin, of West
Bend was also turned down because he lacked a few pounds in weight.
The examining surgeons paid the boys quite a
compliment. They said that the company was the cleanest of any company they had
An interesting event in which ten or fifteen of company
K boys participated took place Thursday evening of last week. It was a reception
tendered by the Scandinavians of Des Moines, to the Scandinavian boys of the
camp. It was an elegant affair and consisted of a feast of intellect as well as
a feast of viands. Private Sophus Richards of Company K had the honor of
responding to the welcome address, for Camp McKinley and right nobly did he
acquit himself. His effort was the recipient of many flattering comments by the
press of Des Moines.
The officers and non-commissioned officers of company K
have all been selected and assigned and the company will go into service with
the following officers:
Captain P.O. Refsell.
1st Lieutenant, C.M. Henry.
2nd Lieutenant, C.F. Grout.
Quartermaster's Sergeant, H.C. Armstrong.
1st Sergeant, C.F. Starr.
1st Duty Sergeant, J.C. Armstrong.
2nd Duty Sergeant, R.H. Case.
3rd Duty Sergeant, L.H. Mayne.
4th Duty Sergeant, T.F. Rutledge.
1st Corporal, W.T. Krieger.
2nd Corporal, C.R.H. Duncan.
3rd Corporal, C.R. Darland.
4th Corporal, F. Grout.
5th Corporal, L.P. Stillman.
6th Corporal, Harry Dickinson.
E.J. Nolan was appointed wagoner and Nels Nelson artificer.
The boys are still remembered from home and acknowledge
receiving a couple of boxes of cigars from Hand & Murray and a tub of butter
from the Emmetsburg creamery. Both were very acceptable to the boys.
Sunday was a quiet day in camp, there being but few visitors.
Among those present were noticed, Mr. Hawk, John Sammin, John Fountain, Arthur
Theile and Henry Thompson. The company was also favored by a visit from Mrs. C.M.
Henry, who spent the past week with friends in Des Moines and made several
visits to camp.
In the past week "K" has been especially
favored in orderlies and has had several, among them were W.T. Krieger and E.R.
Thiele. The latter has been selected the last two times that he was on guard.
Ross Hodgkinson has been bugler at Gen. Lincoln's headquarters for the past week
and will undoubtedly retain it until the regiment leaves Camp McKinley. Eddie
King has also been selected for bugler of the guard several times.
To The Front
May 30th, 1898.
Camp McKinley is a thing of the past so far as the
Fifty-second Iowa is concerned, and this morning finds the Second battalion,
under command of Major Hill, lying in Nashville, Tennessee, waiting to be taken
to Chickamaugua 160 miles distant. Teh last few days have been busy ones for the
boys of the Fifty-Second. First came the drawing of clothes on last Thursday.
Every fellow drew what he wanted regardless of fit, and if he could not find
someone who was as unfortunate as himself who had drawn a misfit in the other
direction, he was unfortunate indeed. It seems peculiar, but the smallest fellow
got the largest clothes, and the largest fellow got the smallest clothes. Each
man had to trade around until he got a suit of some semblance to a fit. It took
a full half day to get things straightened around. However, all could not find a
satisfactory fit and so were compelled to go up town and have their clothes cut
down. Some of the boys did considerable kicking. This was particularly
noticeable among those who had served in the regular army or in the armies of
other nations. A fellow might kick, but it had no effect, and the best way out
of the matter was to get a trade as quickly as possible, and that is what most
of the boys did. Friday evening was pay day and the boys were given twenty-nine
days pay. The pay of a private amounted to $15.08, or at the rate of $15.60 per
month. Of course the officers' pay was much in excess of this, a captain getting
$150 per month- or as much as ten privates. We don't say that the officers get
too much pay, but we do say that the pay is entirely disproportionate, for who
imagines that when it comes down to real fighting a captain is worth ten
privates. If this were so it would be well to make all the men captains and only
send one-tenth as many men to the front. If this nation intends to depend upon
her citizen soldiery for defense in time of war it should at least try to give
them an adequate compensation for their time.
The order to move came Friday and Saturday morning bright and
early the work of breaking camp commenced and all was bustle until everything
was put in readiness. The first battalion went over the Great Western to
Chicago, the Third over the C.M. & St. P. to the same place and the Second
over the C.B. & Q. As company K was one of the companies of the latter
battalion we will have to deal exclusively with its movements.
We left Des Moines at about one o'clock p.m. in eleven
Pullman Tourist Sleeping cars with regular porters to fix up the beds and keep
the cars clean and in proper condition. Of course this was very gratifying to
the boys, as it gave them plenty of room and a good clean bed with a pillow to
use while en route. At every station between Des Moines and Burlington a crowd
had congregated to see the soldiers go by, and shout their encouragement-for the
train made but few stops. In many instances it seemed as though every person in
the town was out to see the boys go by. At Knoxville, Albia, Ottumwa, and
Fairfield immense crowds had gathered and few minutes the train stopped were
spent in a hand shaking and wishing the boys Godspeed. At Mt. Pleasant the
booming of a cannon announced the arrival of a train and it seemed that
everybody wanted to shake hand with the boys.
The reception which the people of Burlington tendered the
boys outdid all the others. The ladies of the town wanted to serve a regular
banquet to the boys in a hall but could not get the consent of the regimental
commander to allow the boys to leave the train. Nothing daunted, they determined
to show their appreciation of the boys, and to bid them a fitting farewell as
they left their state for the front. Accordingly a basket of fruit was prepared
for every man in the battalion. When the train pulled into the Union depot it
seemed as if a sea of human faces was upturned to greet them. The band was
playing and a mighty shout went up from the throats of the thousands who had
gathered to bid the soldiers welcome and then Godspeed onward to the defense of
their country's honor. The way through the dense crowd was opened and the ladies
entered the cars, delivered their baskets and shook hands with the boys- indeed
everybody seemed anxious to shake hands with the boys as much as though they
were the greatest personage in the land. We are told that some of the boys, who
had the temerity to ask it, got a warmer farewell than a handshake. The
cordiality of the greeting, and the genuine warmth of feeling shown by the
Burlington people will long be remembered by the boys of the Second battalion,
and will undoubtedly help nerve them to render a good account of themselves in
their country's service. War is cruel and relentless, but it does have some
compensating features, as was exhibited at Burlington, when ladies of refinement
and culture forget the formalities of society and extend the hand of sympathy to
strangers by the rules of society but brethren by the strong ties of patriotism
and national unity.
After leaving Burlington the train proceeded to Mendota,
Ill., where it was switched to the Illinois Central and thence went south
through Illinois and Kentucky to Martin, Tennessee, where it was transferred to
the Nashville, Chattanooga & St. Louis, and thence to the Nashville, where
we arrived at about four o'clock a.m. Monday, May 30th, 1898.
Roster of Company K.
First Lieutenant- C.M. Henry.
Second Lieutenant- C.F. Grout.
Sergeant- C.F. Starr, H.C. Armstrong, L.H. Mayne, R.H. Case, T. Rutledge, J.C.
Corporals- W.T. Krieger, C.R.H. Duncan, F.D. Grout, C.R. Darland, H.S.
Dickinson, L.P. Stillman.
Musicians.- R.D. Hodgkinson, J.E. King.
Artificer- Nels Nelson.
Wagoner- E.J. Nolan.
Privates.- O.S. Amdahl, C.M. Anthony, S. Anderson, J.R. Bellman, F.M. Baker, L.H.
Bauck, D.E. Berry, J.R. Bigley, A.J. Carlisle, E.W. Crosby, B.D. Duggan, L.S.
Dubois, L.B. Enge, A.C. Filer, Hans Gilbertson, A.C. Greaves, M.A. Hefley; H.
Hemstreet, W.T. Heacock, Nels Hanson, E.B. Hammons, C.E. Hawk, J.M. Johnson, C.W.
Jones, J. Letson, F.E. Letson, A. Sunburg, D.L. Leighton, G. Neary, Wm. Mulroney,
B.I. Nutting, F.A. Price, O.A. Quinnell, C.E. Ridley, H.E. Rafensparger, C.F.
Rose, James Rush, S.V.A. Richards, C.W. Shadwalt, W.H. Sammin, A.J. Shirmer,
J.C. Shartle, Fred Scott, E.R. Theile, J.E. Williams.
Chickamaugua Park, Georgia.
June 6th, 1898.
When I last wrote the second battalion was in Nashville
waiting to be sent forward to Chickamaugua Park. While in Nashville the boys
were given the privilege of going about the city in squads and visiting places
of interest. Most of them took in the capital building, from the veranda of
which they had a splendid view of the city. The janitor of the building took
great pains to show the boys about and point out to them the objects of interest
in various parts of the city. About three miles southwest are the hills upon
which Gen. Geo. H. Thomas stationed his army when he annihilated the rebel army
under Wood. In the state house yard is the tomb of James K. Polk, former
president of the United States, and also a splendid statue of Gen. Jackson. The
law is a scrawny looking affair and does not look much like the lawn around the
Iowa State Capital. The usual sign of "keep off the grass" is up, but
a fellow would have hard work to find any grass to tramp on. The building itself
is not much for a state capital, but it has been built fifty-seven years and
although old in structural design it is a substantial building. The battalion
lay in Nashville until 9:30 a.m. when the train pulled out for Chattanooga, 150
miles distant. About 30 miles south of Chattanooga is the city of
Murfresboro, in which Gen. Rosecrans drove Bragg from middle Tennessee. It was a
bloody contest as is evidenced by the thousands of solider that lie buried in
the National Cemetery about one mile north of the city. It was Memorial day when
we passed through and excursion trains were run from Nashville to the cemetery
where the day was observed. The one peculiar thing about the excursion was that
but few white people participated in it while there were several train loads of
colored people went out to honor the memory of those who died to perpetuate the
union and give freedom to their race.
From Murfresboro to Chattanooga the road wound around among
the hills and spurs of mountains, through a country made historic by the tramp
of contending armies. The train crossed the Tennessee river at Bridgeport,
Alabama, almost at the spot where the right of the Union army crossed when it
went to aid the beleagured forces of Thomas, who was shut up Chattanooga after
the battle of Chickamaugua. From Bridgeport to Chattanooga the scenery along the
route was exceedingly picturesque, for the train wound around hills with rocky
cliffs rising on one side, while on the other was a valley dotted with the
cabins of the settlers. The scene may have been a pretty one, but to a practical
Iowan the question that continually arose in his mind was, how could any man
make an existence out of such a rocky and barren land, let alone the comforts
enjoyed by those on the fertile farms of Iowa. Just before coming into
Chattanooga the train passed around the foot of Lookout Mountain and as one
gazed up at its precipitous sides he was struck with amazement and wonder
at the audaciousness of the men that stormed its rugged sides in the face of a
brave and determined foe, and drove their army from its summit. It certainly
took the greatest skill and determination on the part of an attacking army
and on one wonders, after seeing the mountain, that such a deed should be given
the foremost place in the annals of the war.
The battalion arrived at Chattanooga at 4:30 p.m. and as it
was extremely doubtful as to whether tents and camp equipment would be
given the regiment that night the officers refused to be taken to Chickamaugua
Park that evening. Subsequent events proved that the officers were right, for
had the troops gone to the park they would have been compelled to lie on the
ground without tents. As it was, the boys spent a very comfortable night in the
sleeping cars and arrived at the park the next morning about ten o'clock. Dinner
was gotten and immediately afterwards tents were issued and soon the tents of
the entire regiment were up and ready for the night.
The ground upon which the Fifty-second is camping was the
position occupied by a part of the Union Center during the first part of the
day's fight, and is directly in front of the position of Gen Bragg's
headquarters. During the night the position was evacuated by the Union forces
for one and one half miles west near the Lafayette road and was immediately
occupied by the Confederates. In this latter position occurred some of the
hardest fighting of the battle as for that matter of the war and the ground is
covered by monuments erected by states where their regiments stood during the
day or until they were driven from it to Snod Grass Hill about one mile farther
northwest. It was at the latter place that Gen. Geo. H. Thomas held the field
against desperate efforts of the Confederates to drive him from it. Charge after
charge was made upon it, but Thomas stood firmly and justly earned his title,
"The Rock of Chicamaugua." Speaking of Rocks puts one in mind that Pap
Thomas was not the only rock on the field for the crest of every hill is
so thickly covered with rock and stone but that little bare ground can be seen.
Where our camp is located the rocks were so thick that the police force for
several days kept busy picking them up and piling them around the trees.
When you do strike ground it is a reddish clay that nothing will penetrate but a
pick-ax or some kindred tool. Constant wear on this will grind up into dust and
every tent is carpeted with this vest of natural down. With such a place to live
in it is absolutely impossible to keep clean for now straw or wild hay is used,
as the two latter are considered luxuries and are kept for the mules and horses.
Our readers will naturally ask where is the green grass? Why when a fellow meets
a blade of grass he instinctively utters and exclamation of delight and wonders
how it happened to grow here. The only thing that thrives here is trees and
darkies. The former grow tall and stately and there are some fine stately old
oaks and gigantic pines in every direction. Indeed, when one goes through the
timber he is lost in admiration and wonders why nature is so luxuriant in one
direction and so destitute in the other.
The health of the boys has not been so good as it was in Camp
McKinley, but this is due to the change of climate and the drinking water. The
days here are very warm, the thermometer ranging up into the nineties. This, in
connection with poor drinking water, has had the effect of producing a
sort of dysentary, accompanied in many instances with severe vomiting. The
attack except in severe cases only lasts about two days, when it passes away and
the victim soon recuperates. The water for use is pumped from the Chickamaugua
river and is brought to camp in pipes laid on top of the ground, not of an
excellent quality in the beginning, it becomes almost nauseous by the time it
reaches camp. There are several springs about a mile from camp and most of the
drinking water is carried from them. This water, while not very cold, is
palatable and seemingly agrees with the boys.
Friday morning the division to which the Fifty-second belongs
was taken out in an open field about a mile east of camp for the purpose of
being reviewed by Gen. Grant. The regiment was drawn up in battalion front at
the foot of a hill and for 2 hours it stood there in the broiling sun and then
was sent back to camp. The time on the ground was enlivened by the music by the
various bands. Dixie, Old Kentucky Home, Marching Through Georgia, and various
other tunes were rendered and vociferously cheered. Finally the Fifty-second
regimental band struck up the Star Spangled Banner. Instantly the air was rent
with cheer, and none cheered more lustily than the First Mississippi that
occupied a position directly west of the Fifty-second, commanded by Col. Govan
who was a confederate officer and fought in the battle of Chickamaugua nearly
thirty-five years ago.
Company K Notes
The boys of Company K are all getting along
pretty well. Quite a number have the prevailing complaint but all have so fare
suffered but little. The first three days in camp the rations were slim in
quantity and quality but this has been remedied so fare as quantity is
Capt. Saunders was also quite sick for several days but at
this writing he is able to be around once more.
Sunday the boys were eager to town and as only ten were
allowed passes the names were put into a hat and the first names drawn out were
the lucky fellows. Some of the lucky ones sold their chance for one half dollar.
The boys are all anxious to go to the top of Lookout
The boys have been the recipients of many letters from girls
who resided in towns through which they have passed while enroute here. They
wrote their names and addresses on slips of paper, baskets, and other articles
passed them out to girls who ad gathered at the depot to see the soldiers go
through. Some of these letters are nicely written and the writers were evidently
ladies of culture and refinement. Who knows what may grow out of the
correspondence that may ensue. It may be that many a life's romance will spring
from it. Many of these letters come from young ladies in Kentucky and Tennessee
and all express sentiments of love and loyalty for the flag, but deplore the
necessity of war. They seem to think that every northern man is going to die of
heat for all are full of sympathy in that direction.
J.R. Bigley and Dan Berry are the company's cooks and
the boys are dishing us up pretty palatable grub considering what they have to
Chicamaugua Park, Georgia.
June 13th, 1898.
The second week of camp life in Chickamaugua
Park has passed away with little of interest to break the routine of the usual
drilling. It seems strange with nearly fifty thousand men on a comparatively
small space of ground that men should get lonely; yet it is true, and we doubt
if there is a man in the Fifty-second regiment who, if he will speak the truth,
has not felt a feeling of loneliness steal over him as he sat in the passing
twilight and allowed his thoughts to turn on the busy activities of the life
that he left behind. This is especially true when a person is a little under the
weather, for then it seems to be harder to throw it off.
The wee has been intensely hot and considerable discomfort
has been felt on this account. The thermometer has ranged from 95 to 110 in the
shade, and it seems as though the sun would bake a man-its rays strike the earth
so straight. It reminds one of what Mark Twain wrote concerning a hot day in
Marsailes, France, and getting out into an opening is about like plunging into a
fiery sea and swimming for life to the nearest strip of shade. No rain has
fallen since we came and dust reigns supreme. The trees and tents are covered
with it and even the air is so thick with it that a man gets a peck of dirt in
one-half day, let alone in a life time. On Wednesday, Major Hile, commanding the
second battalion, took it to Crawfish Springs about five miles southwest of
camp. The day was intensely hot and the sun beat down on the dusty road with its
most intense rays, without a passing cloud to alleviate its heat. The boys were
pretty hot and tired when they arrived at the springs, but they felt amply
repaid for their march, for upon arriving at the crest of the hill overlooking
the springs such a beautiful sight met their gaze that voluntarily an
exclamation of surprise and delight escaped from all. Right below them lay a
small lake of the clearest water that one ever looked upon, and to their right a
stream of water eight feet wide and two feet deep gushed as it were from the
solid rock. A shout of delight rent the air, and soon every man was turning the
cool, pure water down his parched throat and filling a long felt want. It did
not seem good to drink one's fill of water without a thought of disease germs it
contained. On the hill above the springs a large hotel is, or rater was,
located- for it was recently purchased by a lady and given to the government and
is now being used as a hospital in which the worst cases from Camp Thomas are
placed. It is a beautiful spot and it is being put to an excellent purpose. We
have heard veterans of the civil war belonging to the Ninety-third Illinois
speak of the spring. They passed it on their way from Chattanooga to Atlanta
when Sherman moved out to attack the latter place, early in May, 1863. There is
talk of piping the water to Camp Thomas, and it is hoped that it will be done in
the near future, for with pure water the only serious defect at Camp Thomas
would be remedied.
We notice that some of the daily papers are continually
harping on the poor rations and sanitary condition of Chickamaugua Park. Even
the death rate is magnified to a wonderful extent. It is true that several
deaths have occurred since the Fifty-second came into camp, but in many
instances those who died contracted the disease previous to reaching this point.
Six deaths have been the result of drowning. Outside of these six the deaths
have not averaged three a week. This is certainly a low rate when you take into
consideration the number of men in camp, and the additional that all came here
from other states, and in many instances from northern states where the climate
is much cooler. Take the Fifty-second regiment for instance, it has been here
two weeks and out of the nine hundred men in it but two are seriously ill, and
one is a pneumonia case and the other a case of typhoid fever and it is pretty
safe to say that both cases were contracted outside of Chickamaugua Park, for
both were taken down immediately upon arriving in camp. It is true that a number
of the boys are sick, but at every militia camp that we attended in Iowa as many
of the boys of company K were sick as are sick today at Camp Thomas. Of course
there are some kicking on the rations, but every regiment has sufficient to eat,
such as it is. So far the diet has consisted of bacon, bread, potatoes, beef,
beans and canned tomatoes. The variety is not great but a sufficient quantity is
issued so that no man need go hungry.
A little ripple of excitement was created in the middle of
the week by the announcement that recruiting officers would be sent home to
recruit the companies up to 106 enlisted men each. Instantly all was qui vive as
to who would be the lucky men to go home. It was decided to send a commissioned
officer, a non-commissioned officer, and three privates from each battalion. The
ones selected from the second battalion were Captain P.O. Refsell and Private
Hancock of Company K, a sergeant from Company C, and a private from company H,
and company F. Merritt Turner of Bancroft was the one selected from Company F.
They left Sunday noon and by the time this reaches Emmetsburg they will be in
God's country once more.
The Fifty-second Iowa was fortunate in securing such an
excellent Chaplain as Rev. Johnson. He is an eloquent talker but better than
all, his sermons are earnest, practical appeals to the men for the best possible
development in christian manhood. He is exceedingly practical and pointed and
does it in such a nice manner that none can take offense. He is genial and
pleasant to meet, and all the boys like and respect him.
To those who are historically inclined the battle field
upon which they are encamped furnishes a never ending source of interest. It
would take a month's of hard study and work to go over the entire battle-field
and view the points of interest and follow out the various movements of the
contending forces. Last Sunday we visited the site of Widow Glenn's house where
Rosecrans had his headquarters during he first days battle. This site is also
remarkable from the fact that it has a monument erected in memory of a private
who was the only enlisted man killed at this point. To the north about one-half
mile is the site of Rosecrans headquarters the second day of the fight. Here,
also, was where Gen. Lyth fell in the vain attempt to stem the tide of battle
that finally overwhelmed Rosecrans on that eventful day and drove his right wing
and right center from the bloody field in disorder. We have not yet visited
Snodgrass Hill where Thomas made his gallant stand and successfully repelled
five fierce onslaughts, made by the confederates on his lines.
The boys of the second battalion are looking forward to
spending a night on Lookout Mountain sometime during this week. The plan is to
have the men take a couple of days rations and march up the mountain one day and
spend the night and then return the next day. It will make a pretty good days'
march but then it would break the monotony of camp life and enliven things up a
little. It has been our observation that anything that breaks up the monotony of
camp life is of great benefit to the boys, as it tends to interest them and take
their minds from some real or fancied ills that are always attendants of camp
life. It is to be hoped that Major Hile will carry out his design and visit
Company K Notes
The boys of Company K are all getting along pretty
well. Most of them have been ailing some, but so far none have been seriously
ill. In fact the health of the company is better than it was a few days ago.
The boys are still receiving letters from maidens fair
from the towns through which they passed coming here. Judging from the language
of some of these missives matters have progressed rapidly and things will soon
wear a serious aspect.
Harris Hemstreet enjoyed a visit from his father the
latter part of last week and the first of this. He is a resident of New Orleans
and came up to spend a few days with him. He was a member of the 12th Wisconsin
during the rebellion and participated in the battle of Chickamaugua.
Several of the boys have been remembered by friends in
Des Moines since coming here. These remembrances came in the form of what is
termed housewives, and come in mighty handy in sewing on buttons and such work.
L.H. Bauck also received a box of paper and stamped
envelopes from Paul Schendal, of Emmetsburg.
A Y.M.C.A. tent has been put up in close proximity to
where we are camped and the boys find it pretty handy to slip down and write
home. The Y.M.C.A. are generally foremost in work among men.
As I finish writing this the long wish for rain
arrived, and for a few minutes it came down in a torrent. Many of the tents were
flooded, but this will dry up in a short time, and the air is refreshing and the
dust laid, so that for the next few days life will be tolerable.
Chickamaugua Park, Georgia.
June 20, 1898
In our last issue the fact that the long
drought in northwestern Georgia was broken down briefly mentioned. On Sunday,
the 13th, the rain came down in one vast sheet for nearly half an hour, and in a
short time the small creeks, rivulets and gulches were pouring a perfect torrent
of water toward the Chickamaugua river so that the stream was swollen far above
its normal condition. All the refuse and excrement in and around that part of
the park sloping toward the river was washed into the stream, so that its water,
(none the best at any time) was made turgid with the filth and debris that had
been gathering for weeks. This stream is the course of the water supply of the
southern part of Camp Thomas and its waters were rendered so dirty and nauseous
that none would venture to drink it or even to use it for cooking
purposes. The water for cooking and drinking was carried over by the boys from
springs over a mile distant before and after drills. Fortunately the mules for
the regiment were assigned to the wagoners the fore part of the week, and now
the greater share of water used is hauled in barrels from Crawfish spring, a
distance of five miles. The rain has continued the greater share of the week,
coming in showers and has been a great blessing and in our opinion has warded of
some malignant disease. In the first place it washed the camp clean of filth
which would have been sure to breed some such disease as typhoid fever. Then
again the heated spell was broken and almost every day a nice cool breeze has
blown and put new life and vigor in the boys. This was made manifest by their
actions on Monday evening, for hitherto after the drills of the day were all
over all were listless and sat around and moped or else tried to find a cool
spot to brood over real or imaginery [sic] evils. Now a new spirit came over
their dream and part of their old rollicking ways returned and as parade was
formed shouts of laughter and merriment rang throughout the camp of Fifty-second
Iowa and even invaded the camp of the First Mississippi that lay first south.
The effect of cooler weather is also seen in the decreasing sicklist, and
another such week as the past one will so improve the health of the camp that
but a few of the worst cases will be left in the hospital. The measles still
cling to the regiment and several cases are now in the hospital. The first of
the week the entire regiment was marched by companies to the hospital and
vaccinated for smallpox. It seems strange, yet it is a fact that three
were several of the men who actually fainted away when they were being
vaccinated. Thus far none of the boys are laid up with sore arms but it is
pretty safe to say that this week will find many of them yelling, "O my
sore arm!" when some other fellow thoughtlessly gives him a slap on it.
Tuesday forenoon Major Hill commanding the second
battalion took it to Snodgrass Hill, about three miles distant, on battalion
drill. This hill is the most celebrated part of the battlefield of Chicamaugua,
as it was here that Bragg's hitherto victorious progress was arrested and his
army held in check by Thomas until the remainder of the army had time to retire
to Chatanooga. On the summit of the hill the government has erected an
observation tower seventy feet in height. The hill itself is the highest point
on the battlefield and from the top of the tower one gets a splendid view of the
topography of the entire field and surrounding country. In brief, the
battlefield might be described as a triangle with the shorter lines on the west
and north with the Chickamaugua river approximately as the hypotenuse. In the
apex of the triangle stands Snodgrass hill rising above the plateau below, with
quite a precipitous ascent. Away to the southeast across the Chickamaugua, lies
the line of hills in which Bragg's army was posted before the battle. Just to
the north, and extending to the northeast lies Missionary Ridge, which was the
scene of one of Grant's most brilliant victories, while seven miles to the
northwest Lookout mountain towers aloft with it jutting and precipitous cliffs
overlooking the Tennessee flowing placidly onward around its base. It was
certainly a grand view and he who looks once will look again and become lost in
wonder at nature's marvelous works.
Snodgrass hill is covered with monuments erected to the
memory of the various regiments that stood on its fated crest that memorable
day. Just to give an idea of the stubbornness of the fight we will give the
percentage of the loss sustained by the three regiments that occupied a position
on the right center of the union line. First came the Second Minnesota with a
loss of killed and wounded (none missing) of 47 per cent. The Eighty-seventh
Indiana came next with a loss in killed, wounded and missing of 51 per cent. The
Thirty-fifth Ohio of the same brigade sustained a total loss of 50 per cent.
Here, then, was an entire brigade in which the loss was practically one man out
of every two failed to answer the roll call that night. The living and the dead
who took part on such a congested field well deserve to be classed among the
bravest of the brave.
As one stood and gazed upon the grim reminder of such a gory
field he instinctively wondered if the sons of the participants in such a
sanguinary contest who are now tenting on the old battle ground, would render
such a glorious account of themselves when once the minions of Spain were met on
the field of battle. If they do (and we believe they will) no army that senile
and decrepit old Spain can put in the field will stand long before them.
A sort of rivalry has sprung up between the Maine Canteen and
the Y.M.C.A. tent as to which will be the greatest attraction. The Canteen was
the first on the ground and for a few days had everything its own way. Beer was
dished out at a great rate but it often occurred that it was stale and hot and
the boys tired of it. The Y.M.C.A. tent was then pitched close to the Canteen
and as it has all sorts of games, and furnished tables and writing material free
of charge it soon outstripped the Canteen as a popular resort. We can't say that
it will do so permanently, but are awaiting a pay day to mark the effect this
will have on the crowd at each place, for we are uncharitable enough to believe
money has something to do with the matter. However, the Y.M.C.A. is doing a good
work among the boys and should receive encouragement of all true men and
A little incident in connection with the above came under our
observation the other day. One of the boys got paper and envelope and wrote a
letter. He then stepped up to the man in charge and asked him to loan him a
postage stamp. He got it. This was all right, but the same fellow a day before
had money to squander on beer and whisky and to throw away in a game of poker.
He should have gone to the Canteen or to the fellow who won his money to borrow
his postage stamp.
The Fifty-second has no Canteen owing to the fact that Col.
Humphrey refused to sanction one in the regiment. He has been repeatedly pressed
to give his consent but thus far has positively refused to do so.
Company K Notes.
The health of the boys of the company has improved during the
past week and on Thursday and Friday last every man in the company was reported
on duty. Saturday, however, a couple were again laid up with the usual
complaint. Saturday afternoon was inspection of arms and every spare moment the
boys had was put in in cleaning up the guns and belts and as a result everything
was in a very creditable condition.
Sunday came the inspection of quarters by Col. Humphrey and
the tents were about as neat and tidy as they could be made under the
Private Sophus Richards has been transferred to the division
hospital corps much to the regret of the company. He is considered an excellent
hand with the sick, hence his transfer.
D.E. Berry has resigned his position as cook and his place
has been filled by F.E. Letson. We presume Dan's time was so occupied by his
extensive correspondence with the fairer sex in the various towns through which
the company passed while enroute that he was compelled to give up cooking and
devote his time to the more pleasing occupation.
Several of the other boys devote much energy in this
direction and several romantic alliances may result from their efforts. Judging
from the description that some of these correspondents give of themselves of
loveliness and no one could resist their charms.
Chickamaugua Park, Ga.
June 27, 1898
Another uneventful week in camp life has
passed away and life at Camp Thomas has flowed smoothly on. For the greater
share of the week the weather was cool and delightful. Indeed some of the nights
were rather cool, and in the morning a few of the boys were glad to get their
coats, while others put on overcoats. This, however, was changed on Friday, and
since then old Sol has shot down his most intense rays and as a result the
thermometer has been ranging away up close to the hundred mark.
The health of the Fifty-second is not so good as it was last
week; but the greater share of the sickness was the result of vaccination and is
passing rapidly away. Some of the boys had pretty sore arms and were pretty sick
for two or three days. At last the regiment has been fitted out with rifles, but
not all regiments in camp have been furnished with arms, and it is no unusual
sight to see almost entire companies drilling without any arms whatever. The
rifles furnished the Fifty-second are of the Springfield make and are the same
as the old arms of Company K. Some of the fellows who were looking for the Kraig-Jorgensen
rifle were considerably disappointed in not receiving the rifle. The other
equipments for the camp are arriving slowly and from present appearances it will
be some time before the 50,000 men at Chickamaugua Park are properly fitted out
for an active campaign.
The Y.M.C.A. still continues active work among the boys and
their tent is thronged every day and night with boys taking advantage of the
writing material and accommodations offered. Evangelist Fred Schriverea, of New
York City is now working in the camp and held gospel meetings in the Y.M.C.A.
tent three evenings during the week. His meetings were all well attended and his
talks were closely listened to by his auditors. At his closing meeting Thursday
evening about twenty-five signified their intention of starting in the Christian
life. Some of these were sincere but it was noticeable that others only took the
stand they did for effect, as their pocketbooks were at low ebb. The
association, however, is doing a grand and noble work among the men, and should
receive the encouragement of all.
The worthy chaplains of the brigade and division have been
having a sort of contention over the canteen business. It seems that meeting was
called by the chaplains for the purpose of considering matters in general in
their line of business. The canteen business came up for discussion and strange
to say it found favor in the eyes of some of the chaplains on the score that it
having received the sanction of the colonels of regiments it would be showing
disrespect to a superior officer to condemn the canteens and petition for their
discontinuance. It seem very strange that a minister of the gospel should take
such a position, yet if reports are true, some did.
The recruits for the Fifty-second began to arrive Friday,
when about twenty came in. They were for the Third battalion and came from Fort
Dodge and vicinity. Most of them joined company G. The first and second
battalions as yet have received but few recruits but it is expected quite a
large number will arrive before the middle of the week. These recruits no doubt
will have to stand many practical jokes before they completely catch on to the
ropes of army life and become thoroughly initiated. The "rookies" as
they are called, are to be sympathized with, for their first few week in camp
life are sure to be trying on them. They are new to army life and are awkward at
first and in consequence will naturally make mistakes which they will feel
keenly. This, with the entire change of climate and food and the sleeping on the
ground, will have a tendency to make them feel homesick for a while. They will
get used to all, however, in time, and will learn one thing- what in civil life
would gall and wound their pride- in camp they endure with the utmost
One of the peculiar things noticeable in this country at this
season of the year is the almost entire absence of birds of all descriptions.
One rarely sees one, and it is quite a curiosity to see one wing its flight from
tree to tree. No doubt later in the season when the north is frozen in the
region of winter the birds will return and take up their abode in Georgia.
Company K Notes.
The boys of Company K are still getting along nicely and
their health is much better than the average. Several days of the past week
every man has reported for duty and at no time has more than two men been on the
sick list at one time. This is better than most of the companies, for on last
Friday morning when several companies reported nine sick, company K only had two
unfit for duty. So far not one has been sent to the hospital with any serious
The company still continues its good luck in securing more
than its share of orderlies and special guard work. These are selected by the
adjutant from the guard and are selected because of their neatness in dress and
Last Friday out of five selected company K secured three.
During the week Corporals Duncan, Krieger, Darland and Private Bauck, Carlisle,
Gilbertson and one or two others have been selected for this work.
Company K now has a regular barber establishment with Harry
Raffenberger as chief tonsorial artist and C.W. Jones as assistant. The boys
have upwards of fifty regular customers, some of whom come from other companies.
Blackberries are now ripe and some of the boys who can get a
pan outside of camp succeed in getting quite a few of them. Last Sunday while
several of them were searching for berries through the timber they were met by a
man with a shotgun who informed them that he had nothing "agin you'uns"
but if they didn't keep out of his field and off his premises he would shoot
them. The boys eagerly explained matters and left the fellow in the best of
humor. It seems that some of the soldiers had previously visited the farmer's
premises and stole almost everything that he had they could carry off. On
account of such depredations a guard has been placed around his premises and
boys are kept pretty closely with the Park limits.
Just not the great question is whether or no the government
will pay the boys before the Fourth of July. Most of them are running low on
money and like true Americans they would like sufficient money to properly
observe the nation's birthday. It seems to us that extra exertions should be
made to accommodate the boys in this respect.
Harris Hemstreet seems to be the luckiest fellow in company K
so far as having friend to see him. A couple of week ago his father came up from
New Orleans and during the past week his brother, Marsh Hemstreet came up from
New Orleans and paid him a visit.
C.W. Jones expects his brother from West Bend to visit him
the first of the coming month. He intends to come to Nashville on the Y.P.S.C.E.
The boys would like to spend the Fourth at home, and enjoy
the good things that usually accompany that day, but seeing that they can't do
it they will have to do the next best thing and do their utmost to have as good
a time as possible here in camp. They hope, however, that their friends in Iowa
will remember the day and celebrate it in a patriotic manner.
Chickamaugua Park, Ga.
July 4, 1898
This is the nation's birthday, but in camp
the day will be passed as usual with nothing taking place to indicate that he
day is different from the other 364 days of the year. Many of the high officers
of the entire camp have gone to Chattanooga to attend the celebration there and
perhaps before night a review or something will take place in camp, just to make
the boys remember that it is the Fourth. Many of the regiments were paid off
Saturday, but the Fifty-second Iowa was not among the lucky ones and in
consequence the boys have not much ready cash on hand to properly observe the
day, but most of them will do the best they can.
There is much complaint in general concerning the pay and
there has been a repetition of what happened in 1861-namely a period of time
between the call for troops and the date of their muster for which the boys have
received no pay. In some states the boys will lose fully three week's pay, as
that time elapsed from the call to the day of muster. The government pays from
the date of muster and if the state had not previously paid the boys up to that
date why then they lose just their pay for the intervening time. The
fifty-second is more fortunate in this respect than some others for the State
gave them twenty-nine days pay at the government rate, but from the time the
companies were ordered to hold themselves in readiness to mustering day
was thirty-two days. The discrepancy is not great but it would amount to
$1.50 for each man at government pay. Many of the states have done much worse
than Iowa, but there is no excuse, for the volunteers certainly deserve every
cent that is lawfully due them. Goodness knows it is small enough at best.
While many of the states have been exceedingly niggardly
toward their volunteer soldiers, others have been quite generous. Perhaps the
little state of Vermont has been the most generous of all. Not only did she give
her guard state pay until they were mustered into the United States service, but
since then she gives every one of them $7 per month out of state funds.
Tuesday the routine of everyday drill was varied by a brigade
review. The Third Brigade is composed of the Fifty-second Iowa, the First Maine
and the First Mississippi, and made quite an imposing spectacle as they passed
in review. This was the only time that the brigade had been on the drill ground
in review. It is commanded by Gen. Mottox.
The Fifty-second regiment had its first court martial
cases this week. The first case was that of a couple of smart recruits who came
in the latter part of last week. Close to camp headquarters there is an apple
and peach orchard. The fellows made a break for the orchard and it so happened
that General Wade was sitting on the porch of the house and ordered the boys to
leave. The fellows did not know him and gave him a considerable amount of sauce
mixed with profanity. Of course the boys were arrested and taken to the
guard house and the matter referred to General Brooks who recommended to the
court martial that the boys be given six months at hard labor. The court however
was more lenient and fixed the penalty at a week in the guard house at hard
labor. The second case is that of a private of Company I who went to sleep on
his post while on guard. The case has not yet concluded, as the defense has set
up that the boy was subject to fits and that he fell down in one. It is hard to
say just how the matter will end. However, the matter has had the tendency to
make the boys more careful and they will be more attentive to duty in the
Company F of the Second battalion was detached on special
duty for five days during the past week. They were camped at Cave Spring, about
one and a half miles west of camp and acted as provost guard. Their duty was to
guard the orchards and premises of citizens from the depredations of some
lawless soldiers in camp who seem to think because they are soldiers they have
the perfect liberty to take anything they can get their hands on. Like so many
things in military law all must be restrained in their liberty on account of the
lawlessness of a few. Now none are allowed to pass outside of the Park limits
without a pass and the latter is hard to get.
Recruits are still arriving and by the middle of the week all
of the companies will be filled.
As anticipated in our last these new men are having a pretty
hard time for they are new to camp life, climate and food and as a result many
of them are immediately attacked with the dysentery and other stomach troubles.
Like the rest of us, however, they will get over it in a few days if they only
stop eating. The great remedy for the disease is a milk diet, but milk is hard
to get sometimes and costs ten cents a quart and oftentimes scant measure at
that. Sometimes when a milk wagon comes to camp a fellow has quite a squabble to
get near the wagon so great is the crowd that gathers around eager to get a
Thursday evening a tragic event took place at Bloody Pond, a
small stagnant pool of water near the small village of Lytle. A couple of negro
boys about ten or twelve years of age got into a scrap and one of them stabbed
the other with a knife. The boy who was killed was a forlorn little fellow with
only one eye and went under the appelation of "One-Eye." The kid who
did the stabbing was named Wood. It is amazing to see the toughness of the negro
kids in and around Chattanooga. They will fight and use a razor or knife on the
Sunday is generally considered a day of rest, but it was far
from it last Sunday in the Fifty-Second for there were two inspections. First
came the regular inspection of quarters at eight o'clock in the morning by Col.
Humphrey. At two o'clock in the afternoon a regular army officer inspected the
arms and equipment of the regiment. The object of the inspection was to
ascertain which regiment in the second division was the best equipped and this
one will be transferred to the first division, to take the place of a regiment
that is not fit to go to the front. The entire first division is under orders to
move to Porto Rico.
At this writing no regiment has been selected but we don't
believe that the Fifty-Second will be chosen on account of it not being
fully recruited up to the maximum strength.
The Captain of Company M of the First Maine, which is
encamped alongside the Fifty-second died Sunday about noon. He had been sick
only a little over a day and his death was unexpected. The cause of his death
was bloody flux. This is the only death that has occurred in the Third Brigade
so far as we have been able to ascertain.
Company K Notes.
The boys of Company K are getting along quite
nicely and most of them are enjoying fair health. This morning only two were
reported on the sick list, and both of these cases are improving and will be
able for duty in a few days.
Last Monday Private Ridley met with quite a serious accident.
He had steeped some sassafras tea and not thinking it very hot put a tight cover
on the can in which he had it. Immediately the cover was blown from the can by
the steam and the hot water and steam were thrown into his face, scalding him
severely. His left eye was badly injured and even the inside of his mouth and
nostrils were so seriously scalded as to be blistered. He spent the entire week
in the hospital but came back to the company Saturday morning. He will not be
able for active duty for at least ten days. He is a splendid fellow and the
accident was deeply deplored by the entire company.
Quartermaster W.E.G. Saunders left Thursday evening
last for home on a fourteen-day furlough, to attend to business affairs.
The new recruits have been furnished a little amusement
during the week by getting weighed as the boys call it. The weighing process is
a novel one, if the weight is not exactly accurate.
Some of the boys of Company K have been getting into trouble
during the past week from drinking. They didn't get intoxicated either. They
fell out of the ranks and went to a spring to get a drink of water, but
unfortunately they didn't get back in time to fall in when the proper time came.
A little extra fatigue duty was the result.
The next day four others got caught in a jam of men at a
spring and were forced inside the guard line and were arrested and taken to the
provost guard house. Lieutenant Grout came to their rescue and finally got them
Water is the great desideratum in camp. It has to be carried
from the springs or else hauled from Crawfish Spring, and it sometimes happens
that a fellow doesn't get a drink from one evening to ten o'clock the next day.
He gets pretty dry by that time especially if he doesn't drink coffee.
There is plenty of hydrant water that is pumped out of the
Chickamaugua river but it is not fit to drink and nothing but a mule ought to
attempt to drink it.
Miss Alta Turner and a party of friends from Des Moines are
expected at the Park today. It will be rather strange to talk to a lady once
more for none of the boys have conversed with a woman since coming to the Park
five weeks ago.
Many of the boys received letters from the Epworth League
Convention which recently met in Emmetsburg. They are grateful for the
remembrance and for the kindly and christian sentiment contained in the letters.
Chickamaugua Park, Ga.
July 11, 1898
Another week of camp life has
passed away with but little to break the routine or relieve the monotony
of such a life. The glorious Fourth passed away, and save for the regular
government salutes fired at morning, noon and night nothing took place in
the Park that would have indicated that it was the birthday of the
greatest nation on earth and of the liberty of mankind in general. This
was not due to lack of patriotism among the boys, but to the fact that no
one took the lead in the matter or else the Fifty-second might have
celebrated the day in an appropriate manner, for there is plenty of
oratorical talent in the regiment that could have been utilized for the
occasion. There were no drills in camp and many of the head officers went
to Chattanooga and participated in the celebration at that place. It
was the first time that Chattanooga has observed the day since before the
war and the citizens naturally took pride in making the day a memorable
one and in giving vent to their long dormant patriotism. Indeed, the day
was generally observed throughout the south and it looks as though
hereafter the Fourth of July would be generally observed by the South as
well as the North. In this the war will prove to be a blessing.
The dullness of the day was relieved somewhat a
little after noon by the confirmation of the report that Cevera's fleet
had been totally annihilated. The good news was brought by General O.O.
Howard, the one armed veteran of the Civil war, who took the dispatch to
the regiments in the Park and read it to the boys. He was lustily cheered
for the good news and in response said: "Don't cheer for me, boys,
but cheer for our boys who are in Cuba, fighting under the torrid sun for
our cause." It is needless to say that the cheers were given with a
royal good will and the old woods reechoed with prolonged shouts. Thursday
evening a rumor was circulated in camp that Santiago had fallen and Spain
had made overtures for peace. Of course such news created considerable
comment. Some were glad but the majority seemed somewhat disappointed in
that they would never be given a chance to get to the front. It was only a
rumor, however, and present indications point to a continuation of the war
until the Spanish armies in Cuba have been captured or destroyed. It
begins to look as if the Spanish nation was going to be the Egyptians of
the present century, and are destined for total destruction, for they
harden their hearts after each successive defeat. Spain is certainly
approaching her "Red Sea" but it is doubtful if her statesmen
have the sense to call a halt before the fatal moment arrives.
The hours for drill have been changed in order to
avoid the heat of the day. The morning drill now commences at 6:00 with
recall at 8:00. The evening drill does not come until 6:00 with recall at
7:30. In some respects the change is a good one but in other respects it
is not so good. The latter is true of the evening drill, as it comes a
little too soon after supper, for too much violent exercise is not
conducive to good digestion.
The water question has once more come to the
front, and for several days has been the subject of considerable
discussion. The question was brought to the front by the refusal of Gordon
and Lee, who own the Crawfish spring, to allow any more water hauled from
the spring. Their action is not based on the lack of water, for the supply
is practically unlimited, but on the ground that their trees around the
spring are being damaged. There are those, however, uncharitable enough to
say that the proprietors of the spring are very desirous of reaping a
pecuniary benefit from the spring and that the government will put up the
hard cash. There has been talk of having the government condemn the
property, thus making it a part of the Park. It would take time to do this
and the need of good, pure water is imperative to the health of the forty
thousand soldiers camped in the Park. Today a barrell of water was brought
from what is known as the Blue Springs a few miles east of the Park, but
the supply there is not so great as at the Crawfish Spring, and we do not
know how long the troops will be allowed to draw from the latter place.
The commissary department still continues to miss
a cog occasionally. The last one occurred on Saturday, when the bread
failed to arrive on time and in consequence several of the companies were
mighty short on bread. Talk about kicking, why every man kicked, and
kicked vigorously, from the company commander down. In fact, if there is
one more quality more than another that camp life is cultivates, it is the
kicking propensity of man. It is very essential sometimes, and the fellow
that does not do it is quite apt to come out at the little end of the
horn. Sunday morning the boys of the Fifty-second Iowa were called upon to
mourn the loss of a comrade, Sergeant French, of Company D., of Hampton,
who expired early Sunday morning. The cause of death was pneumonia. He was
taken to the division hospital the Wednesday previous to the demise. It is
said that in a fit of delirium he got out of the hospital and was wandered
away some little distance and was caught in a shower of rain. We can't
vouch for the verity of the statement, but the attendants of the division
hospital are exceedingly lax, for the only man Company K had in there got
up and came back to quarters and was not missed for three days. Perhaps he
would not have been missed then if one of the boys had not gone to the
hospital for his blanket.
The Leiter hospital is very nicely run and the
sick there receive the best of attention.
Company K Notes
The health of most of the boys of
Company K still continues good. Indeed, the general health of the men who
came to the Park with the Company is better now than at any time previous.
The only one who is at all seriously ill is Arthur Greaves, who still
continues to be subject to cramps in the stomach. The recruits, however,
have been having quite a serious time and are certainly a rejected and
woebegone looking lot of fellows. On first coming to camp their hopes were
high and some were dead sure that in a few days they would be as fat and
slick as otters, but a few days sufficed to change their tunes and one
could wake up almost any time of the night and hear some poor fellow
groaning and writhing around with cramps in the stomach. One fellow in the
interval between groans was heard to remark: "O Lord, I have got 'em,
and got them bad too;" and he did have them in dead earnest.
The Fourth passed off very quietly to the boys of
Company K and many expressions were heard of what they would have done had
they been at home. No one was allowed to go to Chattanooga and as the
regiment had not been paid off but little money was spent in any manner.
In the evening, however, the boys congregated in the Company street and
had a dance. Some dressed like women, a fellow played on a mouth organ,
another called off and for a couple of hours fun and revelry reigned
supreme. It was certainly a ludicrous and grotesque sight and was hugely
enjoyed by the onlookers as well as the participants.
The boys were paid off on Friday and as a result
money has been plentiful in camp since then. It is going quick and it is
safe to assert that many of the boys will be broke before pay-day comes
The boys feel very thankful for the
"Housewives" that the ladies of Emmetsburg sent them the first
of the week. They are very handy little articles and will be prized by the
recipients, not any more for their usefulness than for the fact that they
came as a remembrance from the ladies of Emmetsburg.
Capt. P.O. Refsell returned on Monday after a
thirty day absence gathering recruits for the second battalion. During his
absence the interest of the company were looked after by Lieutenant Grout,
who made a very acceptable commander. The boys, however, gladly welcomed
Capt. Refsell's return, as they have missed his genial presence during the
past four weeks.
There has been a little surprise and some comment
on so few of the recruits coming from Emmetsburg. Emmetsburg had a large
number of patriotic men who were eager to have Spain wiped from the face
of the earth, and the boys confidently expected to see many of these men
rush to the nation's assistance on the second call. It begins to look as
though there were tin patriots as well as tin soldiers.
Chickamaugua Park, Ga.
July 18, 1898
The past week has probably been the
dullest week that has passed since the Fifty-second regiment has been encamped
in Chickagmaugua Park. The dullness was owing to a great extent to the dismal
weather that prevailed for several days. The week opened cool and delightful,
indeed Tuesday afternoon was so cold that toward evening coats became a
necessity to keep out the chilly atmosphere. About the middle of the night a
cold, dismal rain set in and kept up a steady downpour until noon Wednesday,
when it began to get warmer and the rain came in showers. It continued at times
Thursday and Friday until noon, when the bright sun made its appearance. It came
off warm and sultry, but it was preferable to the damp, dreary days that had
The wet, cold weather made a marked increase in the
sick of the camp and had it continued for a week or ten days the sick list would
have been trebled.
The only thing that created any enthusiasm among the
troops during the week was the news of the fall of Santiago and the surrender of
Toral's army. This good news reached camp Thursday afternoon in a dispatch from
Washington and was heralded by the booming of a cannon from General Brooks'
headquarters. The good news traveled fast and soon the shouts of the boys in
every part of the Park told that they were in possession of it. It was certainly
a splendid achievement for Shafter and his army and has stilled the mouths of
critics who knew more that he did about military tactics. Immediately upon
receipt of the authentic news, speculation became rife as to what the effect of
the victory would be. It seemed to be the prevailing opinion that the end was in
sight and many of the most sanguine were of the opinion that peace would soon
follow in the trail of the fall of Santiago. Indeed, the exercise of wisdom,
statesmanship or good common sense on the part of Spain would indicate that
Spain would sue for peace, but heretofore in their history the Spanish people
have shown themselves to be strangers to such things and at this crisis in their
history it is doubtful whether they have the wisdom to grasp the situation and
ask for peace while they yet have a colony left.
The much mooted water question has been solved for the
time being. Early in the week an order came from regimental headquarters
strictly forbidding men to drink any kind of water at the park, without it first
being filtered and boiled. This order was made on the recommendations of the
army physicians, and was no doubt caused by the rapid increase of typhoid fever
among the soldiers in the Park. Whether or not the fever is due to the water is
a matter for the physicians to decide, but the fact is that at present there are
over one hundred cases of typhoid fever reported, and of course every precaution
possible must be taken to prevent its spread. On the day the order came to
filter and boil all drinking water an article appeared in the Chattanooga Times
which reported General Brooks as saying that the water was pure, and everything
in the Park good. Possibly this is true, but if such words were spoken by
General Brooks they are certainly a little contradictory to the order to boil
The acts of filtering and boiling water involves
considerable labor and to perform it requires a detail or two of men from each
It begins to look as though the Third Brigade of the
Second division was going to camp permanently at Chickamaugua Park. A broad
street in front of Gen. Mattox' quarters has been graveled and nicely leveled.
It makes a big improvement in the appearance of things. The street in front of
the Fifty-second regimental headquarters has also been nicely graveled, the
latter extending to the ground surrounding the guard house. The gravel will be a
great help in both appearance and comfort, for the street and guard quarters are
located at the bottom of a slight declivity and in wet weather becomes quite
The First Mississippi regiment has been removed away
from its first encampment on the south of the Fifty-second Iowa, to the grounds
about a mile west. The Mississippi boys unfortunately were very unhealthy and at
one time nearly two hundred of them were in the various hospitals. The principal
trouble was malaria, but there were quite a number of cases of typhoid fever,
hence it was thought advisable to remove them to a safe distance from the other
troops. The cold chilly weather of the past week came on as the boys were
moving in the rain almost without shelter. It was much harder on them than it
would have been on the Iowa boys, for they cannot stand cold at all.
All sorts of rumors are still prevalent in camp. Some
of these have it that the camp is to be removed to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, on
account of the typhoid fever in camp. Indeed in the rumors the number of cases
of fever are exaggerated tenfold, and even the number of deaths are magnified.
It is mighty hard to trace such a rumor, and is the case of three black crows
over again. Another rumor Saturday night had it that Porto Rico had been
captured by the American Army. Some of the most credulous believed this report,
although no American army was within six hundred miles of Porto Rico.
Wednesday several ladies from some of the Christian
societies of Chattanooga visited the sick of the different companies of the
Fifty-second Iowa regiment and distributed flowers to them. Their act was a
kind, thoughtful one and the hardness of the lines of those who lay on couches,
wrecked by physical pain, was considerably softened by their exemplification of
During the fore part of the week quite a large party of
Iowa Christian Endeavors, who had been attending the National convention, came
down to call on friends in some of the companies. Among them were James
Patterson and wife of Algona.
The second battalion under Major Hile, expected to take
a practice march to Lookout Mountain on Thursday last but the rain interfered
and it was postponed until Tuesday of next week. The boys of the battalion are
eagerly awaiting the day, as it will be a diversion from the daily routine of
camp life if nothing else.
Company K Notes
The boys of Company K are getting along pretty well, but either
the cold, wet weather of the middle of the week or payday affected their health,
for the sick list was higher than at any time since the boys came to Camp
Thomas. It is possible that the wet weather and pay day both contributed to
swell the sick list. A company hospital has been instituted and on last Friday
there were eight inmates in it. By Sunday this had been reduced to four. A.C.
Greaves still continues poorly but outside of this case all others were but
temporary and will be out in a few days.
The Estherville boys have received two boxes of
eatables from friends at home. They were very acceptable and much appreciated by
the boys. Al Bauck also received a box from Emmetsburg containing eatables.
Among other things was a jar of butter, the first real butter that the writer
has tasted since the Company left Camp McKinley in Des Moines. It made a slice
of bread have a different flavor. Among the letters received during the past
week was one received by Corporal Krieger from John French. The letter was a
very nice one, as it expressed the deepest solicitude on the part of the writer
for the boys. Mr. French also assured the boys that they were foremost in the
thoughts of the people of Emmetsburg, all of which is duly appreciated. Letters
were received for all the company from classes two and four of the M.E. Sunday
school in which the deepest solicitude for the welfare of the boys was
Quartermaster Saunders came back from his furlough the
last part of the week, but Captain P.O. Refsell did not return Monday as was
expected. It is now thought that he will be here not later than Wednesday
evening, as he has finished his recruiting work in Iowa.
Many of the new recruits have been quite sick, but it
is the prevailing complaint and nothing serious is likely to arise from it. Some
of them took the matter philosophically and kept up their spirits and got around
in consequence much quicker than others who were plunged in the slough of
despond. Some of the latter declared that they would be willing to walk home to
Iowa, if only they could get a discharge. They will feel differently when they
regain their usual health.
A little more liberty in regard to going to Chattanooga
has been put into practice. Now two men from each company are granted passes
each day. This in the course of time will give all who desire, a chance to visit
Chickamaugua Park, Ga.
July 25, 1898
Another week at Camp Thomas has come
and gone and still the Fifty-second Iowa is awaiting orders to go to the front.
The Porto Ricon expedition has been made up and so about all hopes to go there
has been given up and about the only chance that the Fifty-second will have to
see active service will be in the fall campaign against Havana. Meanwhile after
Spain has been driven from Porto Rico and the Philippines, she may conclude to
make peace and so the Havana campaign will never come off. Peace is preferable
to war, but the army at Cickamaugua Park is willing and ready at any time to
exchange camp life with its dull monotonous daily routine for the more active,
stirring duties of a real campaign. The dangers attending such are greater, but
every soldier would prefer to risk such a danger rather than lay in camp and
fall a victim to typhoid fever or some eternic trouble both of which are
prevalent among the troops at Chickmaugua Park. The work of equipping the troops
for the Porto Ricon expedition has been progressing rapidly during the past week
and as fast as they were equipped they were pushed to the front. By Sunday it
was estimated that fully 17,000 men had left camp and were well under way to the
front. All of these troops belonged to the First division of the First Corps and
will be under command of General Brooks, who left Saturday for Newport News to
embark on the expedition. He will be succeeded in command at the Park by General
Wade, commander of the Third army corps to which the Fifty-second is
During the week rumors have been prevalent in camp that
the Fifty-second Iowa was to be transferred to the First Corps and would go to
the front with them, but so far it has proven to be only a rumor for all
indications point to the regiment's indefinite stay in Camp Thomas for weeks to
come. A range has been made about five miles from Camp and this morning the
First battalion under Major Parker left for the range, where the boys will spend
five days in target practice. In all probability the Second battalion will go
next, and as Company K is in this battalion, the boys will soon have a chance to
show their skill in rifle practice.
The work of equipping the Fifty-second has progressed
quite rapidly the past week. All have their arms now and most of them their full
complement of clothing, and the same progress in this direction for the next
week will see the regiment fully equipped. The work of graveling headquarters
has been completed and most of the officers have had board floors put down in
their tents. Many of the boys of the various companies have also had floors put
in their tents and in some cases the boys have erected bunks in their tents
arranged around the tent one over another. It makes a great improvement over
sleeping on the ground. On the whole the health of the regiment is not as good
as a few weeks ago. It is possible the the dysentery is not so bad but the
typhoid fever is on the increase and almost every company has men who are s ck
from this dreaded malady. We do not know just how many cases there are in the
division hospital, but it is full, and on Sunday morning forty of the worst
cases were sent to the hospital at Fort Thomas, Kentucky. It is safe to say that
many of the poor fellows will never see home again. A visit to the hospital will
set a man to thinking considerable. It is not a very pleasant place at the best,
but the force of men that have been detailed to take charge of it are totally
inadequate to keep things in proper shape. There is a lack of nurses and above
all there is a lack of men to attend to the proper sanitary conditions of the
grounds. What the government ought to do is to have a force of civilians to keep
the grounds in proper condition. This, if done at all now, must be done by
details from the various regiments and as it now stands about twenty to thirty
men are taken from each company each day for fatigue and guard duty.
The First Maine regiment which has been camped in close
proximity to the Fifty-second has been removed to a hill about a mile southwest.
Their old camping ground was quite low and the move was made in order to better
the condition of the men. And old campground, especially where there is
not a regular system of sewerage to carry off all excrement and other impure
matter must of necessity become stale and is sure to generate more or less
poisonous gases, hence a change of camp often becomes necessary to the health of
the men. It is rumored that the Fifty-second will also remove to another
location in the Park, but as yet no order has been issued to this effect.
The peddler's trade rose, flourished and perished in
one short week. Some fellow on the outside got to bringing in cookies and
selling them to the boys. They sold like hot cakes and soon almost every company
in the regiment had fellows who were seeking to replenish their exchequer by
selling some article that appealed to the gastronomical propensity of the boys.
Their merchantile career, however, was cut short by an order from division
headquarters prohibiting the sale of almost all the articles as being
detrimental to the health of the men. The peddlers of various sorts of wares,
however, are still numerous and all sorts of things are still being offered at
exorbitant prices. One fellow appeared in camp the other day selling ordinary
insoles to shoes for 25 cents per pair. He expatiated to a great extent upon the
medical properties of his goods, claiming that they were a sure preventative of
typhoid fever. As usual he found suckers to buy his goods.
Captain Cook, of Company F, of Algona left for home
Thursday, He has not been feeling well for about a week and got a thirty-day
furlough to go home and recuperate. Meanwhile the interests of Company F will be
looked after by Lieutenants Randall and Walsh.
The regimental band went to Chattanooga Sunday and
spent the day. Something was going on in the city and the boys were invited down
to play. Their expenses were paid and the boys used royally. It made a splendid
outing for them after their long sojourn in camp. By the way, the Fifty-second
regiment has no reason to be ashamed of its band for it is one of the best, if
not the best, in the Park. The boys have made wonderful progress in their music
in the last few weeks.
The fellow who deserted from Company E, about two weeks
after coming to camp, was found at some place in Indiana and brought back this
week. He has not been tried yet.
Company K Notes
The boys of Company K are getting along
very well, indeed, and most of them are growing more used to camp life and are
having better health than last week. While the ailments have grown less, we are
sorry to state that a couple of the boys are seriously ill with the typhoid
fever. Ten days ago musician, Guy Wilson, who was transferred to Company K in
Des Moines from another regiment was taken down with it and about three days
later Elmer A Leighton, of West Bend, came down with it. Both were taken to the
division hospital on Saturday and on Sunday Wilson was transferred to the
hospital at Fort Thomas, Kentucky. Both of the boys are nice, quiet, gentlemanly
fellows and were liked by all the boys. It is needless to say that while Elmer
remains in the hospital he will not lack attention, for some of the boys will be
with him all the time so that he will not be dependent on the hospital nurses
The boys are fast learning to take care of themselves,
when it comes to something to eat, and every mess has a fund with which they buy
things not furnished by the government and cook to suit themselves. Some of them
are fast becoming proficient in the culinary art and we can give them a splendid
recommendation to any young lady in Palo Alto county who is at all desirous of
having such qualities in a life consort. Among he most proficient are L.P.
Stillman, James Williams, R.H. Case, W.T. Krieger, Harry Dickinson and Frank
Baker. The only thing, however, will be a bugler to get them up in time.
Captain Refsell and Corporal W.F. Heacock returned on
Wednesday from recruiting in Iowa, having finished their work of recruiting was
seriously retarded by the officers of home companies, who did all they could to
keep men who had previously joined these companies with the expectations of
going on the second call, from enlisting. They wished hem to remain in
their companies so that in the event of a third call, they would have full
companies to offer the government. It seems tht some men are more patriotic with
a captain's or lieutenant's commission in sight than thy are without it.
The boys are still getting boxes of eatables from home.
This week Sergeants H.C. and J.C. Armstrong, sergeant Star and Corporal Darland
received a large box from home that was just running over with things. The boys
were wonderfully pleased and enjoyed its content hugely.
Company K has a new cook in the person of a gentleman
of color by the name of Lewis Abernathy, who hail from Polk, East Tennessee. He
is quite a character in his way, and what is better still for the boys, is a
good cook. He was in slavery at the breaking out of the rebellion but later on
enlisted in the Third north Carolina regiment, (one of the few regiments from
that state in the Union service) and participated in the battle of Chickamaugua.
His regiment was among those that made the last stand on Snodgrass Hill, and
finally repulsed the Confederates and saved the Union army, under Rosecrans,
The additional corporals appointed are W.F. Heacock and
Oscar Quinnell of Estherville, Will Sammin and Ed Nolan of Emmetsburg, A.R.
Carlisle of Whittemore. They were selected some time ago, but did not
assume their duties until the return of Captain Refsell, on Wednesday. The boys
are all worthy of their promotions.
Quite a number of the messes have put floors in their
tents and are prepared to make a long stay at Camp Thomas. Others have erected
bunks to sleep in and a person would imagine that they had a regular sleeping
car department. The one great thing lacking is the colored porter. Some of the
boys now say that we are sure either to move our camp or get orders to go to the
front. If the move were from the Park either order would be welcome, as it would
Chickamaugua Park, Ga.
August 1, 1898
Time flies, and another week has
swiftly passed away with but little of interest in camp life. The weather has
been of a variable kind, with sunshine and rain so intermingled that it was hard
to say which was in the ascendancy. Suffice to say that it has rained every day
of the past week, and al indications point to the continuance of the same
weather for the next week. The continued rain has so soaked the ground in many
places as to render it unfit to camp upon and in consequence a good many
regiments have removed to new locations in the Park.
The week has been rife in all sorts of rumors growing
out of the removing of troops to Porto Rico and the peace overtures made by
The first days of the week the rumors had it that the
Fifty-second was sure to be included among those ordered to the front. The
latest is that barricks are being erected in Des Moines and that the
Fifty-second is to be sent there to camp until they are mustered out of service.
The latter rumor no doubt grows out of the peace negotiations that have been
going on since Wednesday. Everybody here has given up ever seeing active service
- except it is to do garrison duty in some of the territory that will pass under
control of this country. It is save to say that nine men out of ten are
loath to do garrison duty and if they cannot enter upon an active campaign they
would much prefer to be discharged and sent home. This is especially true of men
who left good situations and good business to go to the front in the hope of at
least participating in one engagement. The chance of even doing this has
seemingly passed by, and many are completely disgusted and willing to go home.
In the language of a little "coon," (who hung around camp for a couple
of months) and when caught would say "Good Lord, turn me loose!"
One day last week the Fifth Illinois was ordered on the
Porto Ricon expedition and packed everything up and marched about eight miles to
Rossville, when they were just entering the cars an order came countermanding
the former one and ordering them back to camp.
A more disgusted set of fellows never existed and
immediately pandemonium reigned supreme. Some yelled and hooted, others cursed
and swore, and all refused to obey any commands of their officers. One fellow
took his gun by the muzzle and doubled it around a tree. They scattered
all over the country. Some went to Chattanooga and got drunk; while others went
to little stations around and raided "thunder" all around. Not one
third of them answered at roll call for several days. It was the second time
that the boys had pulled up to leave and they certainly had just cause for
complaint. The developments here for the past few days have demonstrated that
after peace has actually been declared it is going to be a difficult matter to
hold the volunteers to service. Of course, they can be kept their two years, but
a lot of insubordination will result, and much hard feeling engendered. It will
pay the government to enlist what men they need in the regular army and turn the
Saturday, two men who were out on the range at
Snodgrass Hill, engaged in target practice were accidentally killed. They were
in the rifle pit and stuck their heads up without first putting out the flag and
were shot through the head. One of them belonged to the twelfth New York and the
other to the Second Arkansas.
Most of the boys who go to Chattanooga visit Lookout
Mountain and the National Cemetery. Both these places are of historic interest
and all who can should embrace the opportunity to visit them. Lookout Mountain
is 2,500 feet above the sea level and 1,700 feet above Chattanooga. The sight
from the top of the mountain is certainly a grand and sublime one. On every hand
can be seen the low ranges of mountains stretching away in the distance. To the
eastward lies Orchard Knob, while just beyond is Missionary Ridge. Both are
famous for the stirring scenes which took place on their sides and summits.
Right below you is the Tennessee River and valley. and one can trace the
windings of the river in and out among the mountain spurs and hills by its
shimmering water for nearly fifty miles. As you stand and gaze on the grandeur
and beauties of the scenes around and beneath you, lost in admirations at the
wonderful works of nature, you may suddenly be brought to a realization of where
you are by a low muttered rumble, and turning and looking down the valley, you
see a rain storm coming up; and soon it is raining a torrent beneath you while
you are enjoying the bright sunshine and cool breeze that so nicely tempers its
heat. We do not wonder that historian Bancroft pronounced it the grandest sight
that he had ever seen.
The National Cemetery lies in the eastern part of the
city of Chattanooga and is certainly a very beautiful cemetery. It is composed
of sixty-five acres. It is circular in form and gradually rises from every side
to the center. It is kept up in splendid shape, having trees native to this part
of the country as well as many which are native to other parts. On every hand
can be seen flowers of various descriptions while the grass is kept neatly mown,
and every blade around the walks and flower-beds kept neatly trimmed.
Surrounding the Cemetery is a neat and compact stone wall which is almost
entirely hidden by woodbine and ivy. Here lies buried 13,182 soldiers of the
Republic. Of these about sixty have been buried since the coming of the present
army to Chickamaugua Park and the balance are the heroes who gave their lives in
defense of their country during the Civil war. It is certainly a beautiful spot
and is the only place that I have seen in the South that is kept up like the
lawns and parks of the North.
The first of the month has again arrived and the pay
roll has been signed and the work of paying off the troops for the month of July
will be in active operations by Wednesday. The boys of the Fifty-second expect
to be paid off the latter part of the next. Of course every boy is anxious for
pay day to come, for many of them are "busted" and have been borrowing
for the past week. The general health of the regiment is better now than it has
been for some weeks. Those who are sick have either the malaria or typhoid
fever, but the cases of dysentery have been growing less and soon but
comparatively few will be afflicted with that ailment. The regiment is among the
healthiest in camp at Chickamauga and from this on this on the sick list will
gradually grow less.
Company K Notes.
In point of health Company K stands
second in the regiment and is excelled only by Company G, of Fort Dodge. The
company has been unfortunate in this respect - in that it has had several
chronic cases on the list for three or four weeks. Several of these cases are
now improving and it is hoped that from now on the health of the boys will
F.E. Letson came down last week with malarial fever. He
was at first taken to the division hospital but both he and Elmer Leighton were
taken to the Leiter hospital at Crawfish Springs on Tuesday last. This hospital
is a fine place and the boys have the best of care, with trained nurses to
attend them. Thus far their condition has been about the same, with but little
improvement. It is hoped , however, that the crisis will have been passed this
week and that the boys will soon be convalescing.
Company K was taken out to Cover Springs on Tuesday,
and put on outpost duty for five days. The boys packed their blankets and took
along pup tents to sleep in. They started at noon and had the pleasure of
marching the entire distance in a rain. They were wet when they arrived at their
destination, but immediately got to work and put up their tents and put things
in as good shape as possible for their stay. About eight o'clock in the evening
a terrible rain storm burst upon them. It didn't rain, it just came down in
bucketfulls and went through the pup tents as though they had been sieves. Soon
many of the tents were flooded with water and occupants and their belongings
soaked through. The rain kept up all night long and dome of the boys got up and
started a fire and sat by it like a lot of drowned rats. The boys certainly
spent a cheerless and miserable night, and presented a dismal and
woebegone appearance the next morning. It rained every day the boys were out,
but fortunately the balance of the nights were fair and the outing was a source
of enjoyment, notwithstanding a bad beginning. The duty while on the outposts
was guarding the Park limits, keeping the soldiers from passing out and robbing
the orchards just on the outside. While here the boys had plenty of fruit to
eat. Apples sold for five cents per dozen and a fellow could get six big
luscious peaches for a nickle. The peach crop here is immense and a person can
buy them at the orchard for a dollar a bushel, but every fakir that comes to
camp with them charges the boys double price.
The boys were much amused while camping there by a
little six year old kid, who lived close by but who stayed with the boys most of
the time. He was a bright little fellow and always had and answer ready for
Company C of the First Mississippi was on duty with
Company K and the boys got along together in fine shape. The Mississippi boys
are generous to a fault and are willing to share anything they have. It is
peculiar, yet they like the Iowa boys much better than they do the Arkansas or
Tennessee boys, or for that matter any other regiment in the Park.
Several of the boys have been receiving letters from
home, among them being F.M. Baker, C.R.H. Duncan, H. Dickinson and several
others from Emmetsburg.