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War Stories published under this category are as follows:

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World War I September 6, 1916 Dear Miss Dorothy:- Taking certain liberties and presuming much, I address you as an old friend, altho' I regret to say I have never had the unquestionable pleasure of meeting you. My reason for writing is to compliment you on your excellent work in compiling the "News from Home" or "News Summary" which are perused with much gusto in this "Never to be forgotten" part of the world. Basing my opinion on the several editions of yours which I have read, I must say that excellent judgement is used in the selection of articles. Personally, and I think I express the general opinion when I say that articles most in demand are "General News from Home", "Humurous sections and Cartoons." "Sporting Pages and anything that portrays the bright side of life. We have enough drama out here to satisfy all. Thanking you for the pleasure you have afforded me in my spare moments, I am. Sincerely Yours, R. C. McKELLAR 487262, P. P. C. L.-I., No.1 Co'y., France September 6, 1916
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World War I Hut 11, Frensham Military Hosp., Nr. Farnham, Surrey, England September 15, 1916 Dear Lallie:- You will see by the above address that I am back again in England and in hospital. But am thankful to say I have no open wounds. Just a severely sprained back and my nerves are badly shaken up. I was buried in the trenches, and you may be sure I thought my last moment had come. My chum next to me was killed - instantly killed. Something seemed to tell me the day before that I was going to get it. I have been in the hospital two weeks now, counting the time I was in the Australian Hospital before I came to England. Yesterday was the first time I was out of bed for an hour or two. I am to shaky to walk yet, but am getting along nicely. On Wednesday who should visit me but Johnnie. I was so pleased to see him. He is near us at Whitley. We are 31 miles past London-rather a long way from home. I told dear Ettie not to come so far, as I may soon be moved to a Canadian hospital. The doctor in France also saw my toe, and he said I should not have been passed. One overlaps the other, the same as Johnnie got his discharge for. The doctor there was going to operate on them, but they won't allow him to. So I do not think I will have to go back to France. We were in the same place as Harold got his arm off. It was awful. Perhaps you read the report in the paper-the bombardment of Sunday the 3rd. I thank God he spared me to dear Ettie. This morning I had a letter from Harold, also one from Johnnie. Harold writes very good indeed with his left hand, and he is getting along fine, waiting for his new arm. Now Lallie, I hope you are quite well, and I think you had better come back to England and be with us all here. You know there is always a home waiting here for you with dear Ettie and I. Well, I have no news. When you write to me send it to Ettie and she will forward it on to me, unless I am home by then. Remember me to Mrs. Booty, also, Mrs. Northgraves when you see them. Take every care of your dear self. Heaps of love. God bless you. Your Loving Brother Fred
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World War I September, 18, 1916 Dear Mother:- I suppose you have received my card by now saying I was wounded, I just got a piece of shrapnel in the chest, am doing fine. Expect to be out of the Hospital soon. We were all in the reserve trench when a shell burst and hit ten of us. There was only one badly hurt and he will be in the Hospital for a couple of months. I will send the piece that hit me home so as you can see it. Well Mother, this is all for now so will close. With love to all I remain Your Loving son, Bill
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World War I January 21, 1917: Dear Sister: Just a few lines in answer to your letter of Dec. 5th which I received a short time ago & was glad to hear from you & that you are all well. I was in hospital & rest camp here from December 28th to January 7th with a touch of Grippe but am feeling fine again now, that is as well as can be expected under the circumstances. The weather is a little bad on the front where we are, quite a bit of snow & rain so it makes the trenches bad. But I guess we must expect that this time of year. I was lucky last Tuesday, they sent me away on a machine gun course & expect to be away till a week from tomorrow, so I will miss a trip into the trenches. It is fine here at the school. We have a Y.M. & a church Hut, both fine places. Also a good canteen where we can buy anything we want. We sleep in tents but have plenty of blankets & sleep close together so we are quite comfortable. Of course the weather is not so very cold here. It freezes at nights but is not too bad in the days. Do you know a man in Stratford, Mr. Lowe. I think he used to run a drug store. He is a Lieut. in the 46th--was in command of the Co. that I am in. He is certainly a fine man & all the boys think a lot of him. He is away from us now, though. He was operated on for appendicitis, & I think went back to England. I may have his name spelled wrong, but it is something like that. I had a letter from Selina a short time ago. Things seem about the same as ever in Brantford. I hear from Herb & Lottie regular. Also from Cranstons whom I used to live with in Edmonton. I expect a bunch of mail when I get back to the battalion after this course. How is Wayman getting along, still punching the dough? I would like to be back there for a few weeks to help him. It would be a rest for me, but I don't think it will be so very long before we will be able to beat it back. Only a few months I think, but we are liable to have some hard work before the finish. Well, I must close, be sure & write soon & I will try to drop you a letter or field card often. It is sometimes hard for us to get mail written especially when we are in the line. So long. Alex #437536 I Co 46 Can. BEF Army PO London.
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Spanish American "A regiment of the Second Brigade was jamming itself through the trail, and then came some of the Sixteenth Infantry's bandsmen. In battle, bandsmen followed a regiment and carried off the wounded. The band leader and the drum major were swearing earnestly. A soldier stumbled and dropped. His rifle fell from his hand. On the instant a bandsman darted forward, throwing his tenor horn into the brush. He grabbed the rifle and unbuckled the dead man's cartridge belt. It was this sort of thing that the drum major was swearing about - half the bandsmen had discarded their instruments and picked up rifles and cartridge belts. 'You hear me, pick up that goddamn horn! You hear me!' The bandsman paid no attention. 'You pick up that goddamn horn!' shrilled the drum major. ' An' that's an order!' The bandsman looked at him. 'Not by a goodamsite, Dan' he said. 'You think I'm agoin to get shot at an' not shoot back!' 'Goddam!' ejaculated the drum major. He darted at another bandsman, who was unbuckling a cartridge belt from a soldier who had been wounded - and who was helping him do it. The band had few instrumens left; but for every missing horn or fife there was a Krag rifle and a belt of cartridges. A fortnight later I saw some of those instruments; they had bullet holes in them, they were dented and battered and roughly straightened out."
Note: by Private Charles Johnson Post.  3315 Reads  Printer-friendly page



Spanish American "On June 15, 1898, the dynamite cruiser VESUVIUS, of which so much had been expected, was at last tested, with what result it remained for the Spaniards cooped up in Santiago harbor to report. The swift craft crept unobserved to within 600 yards of the mouth of the harbor, and, after discharging 1,500 pounds of ammunition at the Spanish ships and the fortification within, escaped unharmed. A Cuban pilot and Ensign L. C. Palmer, who had made the trip ashore and were acquainted with the location of the ships of Admiral Cervera's squadron and the batteries, went aboard the vessel, and she was ordered to the mouth of the harbor. The last order issued to her from the flagship was to be very deliberate. The VESUVIUS took up her position and fired three shots in as many minutes, one from each of her aerial dynamite tubes. The report was a peculiar one, sounding like a cough. There was no recoil perceptible. The first shot struck near the ridge of the hills, and exploded with a tremendous roar, not unlike the thunder of a shell. There was, however, very little flame. The light emitted was rather in the nature of a glow. An immense volume of red earth was blown straight up into the air to a height of 200 feet. The effect of the second shot, which struck higher up on the cliff, was similar to that of the first. The third shot went over the hill, and probably reached the supposed location of the torpedo boats in the harbor. Only two shots were fired in answer by the forts, and these were apparently delivered at random. The VESUVIUS backed out at a high rate of speed, although she was moving with her engines reversed. She swept by the lighthouse tender that was lying to seaward, which was getting away from the fire of the forts, passing her as though she was lying at anchor. The men on the VESUVIUS were delighted with their work and anxious to try their guns again. They expected and were eager to go straight into the harbor, but the effect of the shots were not such as justified an attempt to pass the lower batteries, and VESUVIUS did not repeat her attack."
Note: by General Marcus J. Wright.  4299 Reads  Printer-friendly page



Spanish American On board the steamer Orizaba June 14th 1898 Today at 9 o’clock, our boat left her moorings at the dock (at Tampa) and cast anchor at the mouth of the bay till 3:30, when she weighed anchor as our fleet of 32 transports carrying 2,300 men were ready to start on our long and perilous journey of 900 miles to Santiago de Cuba. It was a magnificent sight to see the fleet as it put to sea. The transports were arranged in columns of fours at 400 yards interval flanked on either side with the small gunboats and the deadly torpedo boats while the heavy gunboats took up the advance guard. Our boat is one of the largest and fastest in the fleet. Being six hundred tons lading it carries immense stores of dynamite and gun cotton for Sampsons’ fleet. The evening of the 15th we sighted a lighthouse of Dry Tortugas Island. Half an hour later, we are joined by the battleship, Indiania and the firing of the necessary salutes at this hour of the night brings everybody on deck expecting to see a naval engagement. It was also rumored on board that it was a Spanish man o war and the dispatch boat Hornet passed us giving the Captain orders to go full speed for 8 knots then await orders. It was generally believed the the rumor was true and much excitement prevailed for the next hour. When all retired for the night in the hold when some fellow had an attack of the night mare. He jumped from his bunk yelling at the top of his voice "We are lost, lost, lost!" Men jumped from their bunks with rifle in hand and a general stampede for the hatchway followed, but it was soon learned that it was a false alarm and the men again retired after much growling at the poor fellow. The time has passed until now without any incident worth notice. The sea has been very calm. It is amusing to see so many strange fish. Among them are the flying fish, which rise at the boat’s bow like birds on land. At the approach of an intruder we have also seen several man-eating sharks. Our course is south through the Gulf of Mexico to Dry Tortugas, east from there through the Florida straights to the great Bahama Channel, thence south through the windward passage east of Cuba in the Atlantic Ocean then westward through the Carribean Sea to Santiago. Today June 17 we sight land for the first time since we left the U.S. It being a small island on the north of Cuba, we are now between the Isle of Cuba and the Bahama Islands. Friday the 18th, we are now in the windward passage, the sea is very rough and many a poor fellow is hanging his head over the rail looking seaward. At 2 o’clock the Indiania sighted two Spanish boats headed for us and a race for life ensued but as they were light boats they pulled into shallow water and our vessels were unable to follow. Struck through: Sunday 19th nothing of any importance. Monday 20th our boat is now headed westward on the south of Cuba and we are nearing our journeys end. We are now possibly 5 miles from the Island and a great mountain system is to be seen rising majestically above the water with peaks pointing heavenward. It has been a marvelous trip throughout. Could we realize the danger we are in, any wave could conceal a torpedo boat which would shoot a deadly torpedo under us and hurl us into eternity without a moments notice, but no one gives it a single thought. We are crowded very closely in the boat not unlike sardines and some of our officers treat us very mean, especially those who joined the regiment lately from West Point and have never seen service before. One in particular mentioning that enlisted men were like a pack of curs and any place was good enough for them. We occupy less than half of the vessel and the few officers occupy the rest We also feed very poorly and it is wonderful that men can keep up asthey do on such poor diet and crowed so closely in the hold of the vessel, but there is very little sickness except sea sickness. Today the 22nd and we land in an hour. On the evening of the 20th we saw our first sea action. It was our batteries along the shore. It was a magnificent sight to see. The cannon belching forth long streams of fire every tick of the watch. Struck through: Yesterday 21st there was a battle The mouth of the bay is not more than 100 feet wide and just back of it is very large mountains with peaks towering high above the clouds and 14 miles away up this bay is Santiago. Just back of these mountains a fierce fight took place yesterday, 150 Spaniards were killed, 18 captured and 6 of our Marines were lost. Many of our men cried when they learned of the fight that they could not take part. Our boat is the second to land. Well, we ready to Disembark and I will mail this on the boat. Good bye and Regards to all Your son and Brother, Morg
Note: by Morgan James Lewis.  4788 Reads  Printer-friendly page



World War I Dear Mr. Hunter:- I write these few lines to you in answer to your letter. I received it on July 11th, so it was 36 days in coming over. I am very thankful for the trouble you are taking in looking after my wife, and glad to hear she is some better, but I think she will improve when the warm weather comes. Well, Mr. Hunter, we are in the thick of it now. I am lying in the dugout with the shells and shrapnel flying all around. You can hardly hear one another speakfor the noise is something awful. At night, to put it in strong language it looks like hell up on earth. Some of my pals are wounded and are in England again. You should see the boys when they mount the parapet to go have a look at Fritz. The machine gun is the worst we have to put up with. I think all the boys will be glad when it is over. They are never so happy as when they are running after Fritz. I can tell you one thing, it is different soldiering out here to what it is in Canada and if they could just see the ruins about here which are most shameful, there be a lot more enlist than what there is at the present. But thank God, I am glad I came to do my little bit. The sights sometimes are awful-enough to send one crazy, but I have pulled through safe so far. You should have seen the advance the boys made awhile back. It was something grand. But I am sorry to say there are lots who will never come back to Canada, but they died for a just cause. We will never give in. The Germans call the Canadians the "White Gurghkas." That is, they don't show them any mercy at all with the bayonet, which they don't like to see in the hands of our boys. I have seen some sights which I hope never to see again but you never think about that when you are in the thick of it, for you are simply crazy with excitement. The only thing you want to keep is a cool head, a clear mind and a quick hand, for if you don't get Fritz he is going to get you, so the best one still lives. I have had some near shaves but pulled through somehow which I am hoping to do till the end of the war. Just remember me to the boys and give my kind regards to them and tell them I am hoping to be back with them by Christmas, that is, if I am spared to see it through. France is a fine country in the summer--the most beautiful scenery. The main roads have a beautiful avenue of trees along them. The crops look fairly good in the country. Most of the work is done by women for you hardly see a man about out of uniform. I have been transferred to the 1st Canadian Mounted Rifles. I left England in less than 36 hours notice. That was quick work but we got over safe. Remember me to Gordon when you write to him. I guess he will soon be coming over to England. I have not heard from Bill Near at all. Don't know whether he is over here or not for the 33rd were all broken up, too. I think this is all this time so give my kind regards to all enquiring friends and to Mrs. Hunter and Hally, also Mrs. Richardson. So I conclude with best wishes to all. So Good-bye, From Your Friend, ED. E. PERRELL No. 126608, A. Company, 1st C. M. R. Batt., 8th Inf. Brig. 3rd Can. Div., B. E. F., France
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World War I Somewhere in France Dear Mother; Just a line to let you know that I am still alive and well, hoping that this will find you in good health. Well mother, I told you last time about wining the Military Medal. Since then I have been awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal. Not so bad for a Foxbrook lad, what do you think? Why don't you write oftener? I must have written five letters and no answer. Well, I must close, hoping to hear from you soon, love to all George.
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Navy It was now the year 1755, when a dispute arising between this country and France (actually war was not declared until 17 May 1756) I felt anxious to return to my duty as a Seaman. The late Sir James Douglas, who died an Admiral, was a school-fellow of my Father`s; and then commanded the Bedford, fitting out at Chatham.
Note: by Lieut. William Hunter. Born in 1731, he served in Merchant Ships and East Indiamen before joining the Royal Navy in 1755.   7432 Reads  Printer-friendly page



Civil War Sunday morning August
the .3. 1862
Dear Cousin
after long neglect I in deavor to answer your kind letter which came to hand in due time I hope you will excuse me for not writing sooner, as I was verry unwell for several days after I got your letter,
Note: Company D of the 38th Virginia Infantry in Whitmell.   3569 Reads  Printer-friendly page



World War I From somewhere in Belgium December 25th, 1915 Dear Sister & All: I now write you a few lines to let you know I am well and hope you all are this small. Well Mable this is Christmas Day and it is nearly over now and I have been thinking of you all to-day so I though I would drop you a line on my new pad. We were given a wallett yesterday with a pencial and this little pad and several post cards we were allso given a box of tobacco and a box of candy so I think they used us pretty well. I have not received any of the parcels that was sent me for Christmas only the box of candies Jeff sent me. I do not know what has become of them I suppose I will get them all at once now after Christmas is all over. We all got a present from Mrs. Capt Eve of Montreal I got a book and it is a good one to we allso had a can of plum pudding given to each one from Mrs. Major Gualt instead of having turkey as I had a year ago. I had Irish Stew and plum duff for dinner. I had the pleasure of attending church this morning they took us down in motor Lorries it was the English church and we had sacrement we have made it as bright a Christmas as possible but it is much different then last year. Last night Xmas Eve I was out on a working party and the bullets were falling around us and I was just thinking what I was doing last year I remember we done our delivering on sleighs and Xmas Eve I was in the store, never thought I would be over here now, but you never can tell. We have been out on working party three times now and each time have been under fire. The first time was the worst we were going through a town which has been shelled to pieces and we have not marched through this town very long when the huns dropped a shell and tore the corner out of a building and we had a lively time for a while. You can hear them big shells leave the guns and then you hear them come through the air and then there is a big bang and you get under cover for the pieces of sharpnel drop all over however you can hear them coming but a rifle bullet you can't hear it until it drops beside you. We were in tents first but changed to dugout yesterday. The camp we left were like Salisbury for mud it was kneedeep some places. I was certainly glad when this is ended and we can get home again. The soldiers that are in Canada this winter are lucky. I met several boys from home here this week and had a good talk with them they were out of the trenches on there six days rest. They do six days in and six out. They are looking well. I hope you have all had a good and enjoyable Christmas this year and I was surely thinking of you. I guess you are about having your dinner now and I have just had my tea and am putting in the time writing. I hope all the children are well and that Santa Claus was good to them. Well dear sister I wil close with love to all and remember me to anybody I know and the children I send my best love. As ever your brother Archie PS Tell Miss Taylor I am well and I send my best regards to her.
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World War I September 20, 1916 Dear Friend:- I sincerely hope these few lines find Mrs. Stanley and yourself in the best of health. I am feeling fine and fit at present. Since arriving in England I have been taken from the band and sent to school, taking machine gun and rifle courses as an Armourer. I have succeeded in passing the examinations on both. (This is a list; Savage Lewis; Colt and Maxim machine guns; Ross and Lee Enfield Rifles; Colt Automatic Pistol; Webley and Smith & Wesson Revolvers.) So you see it has taken a great deal of my time in studying, that's why I haven't written very many letters to anyone. I am at present working in Greenwich quite close to Woolwich Arsenal. We are reparing rifles and machine guns which have been sent back from France. I haven't been across yet, but don't know any day but what I may be sent. Most of our Batt. have been in action and we have lost several officers and men. I had the pleasure of seeing that Zepp. destroyed. It was a beautiful sight to see it falling in flames. It fell 20 miles from here, but you could have read the small print in The Journal 25 or 30 miles away, because of the light it cast. I am sending you an actual photograph, taken while it was falling and almost at the moment Lieut. Robinson signalled to the Aircraft guns to cease firing. I shall be able to tell you more about it when I come back to St. Mary's, which I hope won't be very long now. I have given you address of my home in South Wales as I don't know where I am likely to be a month from now. Mrs. Palmer arrived quite safely, but was a long time on the water. She is staying at my home at present. The weather here is very damp and cold. (In London only.) I shiver with my overcoat on. In other parts of England and Wales they have beautiful weather. Our workshop is situated alongside the river Thames, which is quite a sight at all times of the day and night now, to see the enormous amount of shipping which is going on. One thing more before I close. We used to read in the newspapers that the people of London were quite used to the Zepps. I didn't seem to be disturbed by them but I can assure you, Mr. Stanley, that it's a horrible feeling that comes over anyone, as we are helpless. Sometimes they reach a height of 3 miles and the humming of the propellor is like the sound of a big mosquito. They are expected anytime now as the weather is suitable for them and the reptile murderer in Berlin has made a threat that he will destroy London before the end of October. Now I must draw to a close this time. With kindest regards to Mrs. Stanley and yourself, from Yours Sincerely, CORP. A. E. Palmer No. 124444, P. S. Please remember me to all the boys of St. James' and St. Marys Lodge, also the Oddfellows when you see them, Mr. Stanley. 25 Hirvain St., Barry Dock, Nr. Cardiff, South Wales September 20, 1916
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World War I September 13, 1916 Dear Wife:- Just a line in answer to your most welcome letter. I should have liked to have written before but I have not had the time. We have been on the go night and day, and you can't write letters under a hell a of fire like we have had this last two weeks,but we are resting for a couple of days now so I am writing to you the first chance that I have had. Well dear how are you going on, alright I hope. And how are the little ones? I can't say I am too well myself. I am getting stiffened up like an old man, and no wonder as it is very wet here now and we have to sleep in it night and day, so you can bet what it's like. So you have got a new sidewalk. Well I wish I was walking on it now for this is some place. I got a parcel from you yesterday, but it was broken up pretty badly so if I were you I would not send very much cake. I have not told you before but all the cakes you have sent have been smashed up so I would not send much of it if I were you. I have not received the plums yet that you sent but I hope to. Are you getting any letters from my people? I have had letters from them and they all say they have written to you. It's funny you don't get them. Well old mate, I have some very bad news for poor Mrs. Richardson. Poor Charlie was killed on the 9th of Sept. I was by his side when he was killed and I don't know yet how I escaped the same fate, but one thing, he didn't suffer as he was killed instantly. A big shell called a nine point, weighing over one hundred pounds hit him so you can see he didn't stand any chance. But it's a great blow for me, for we were always together ever since he came out here, and I can tell you I miss him very much. There are no St. Mary's men in my Platoon now, and I am all on my own again. But never mind, don't you worry over me. I am alright up till now, but if anything happens to me, keep your little house together for I don't think you would like England. It's not much of a place now, but this place, is a thousand times worse. There is some talk out her of the war not lasting any longer than Xmas. Let's hope it is true, for I think everybody has had enough of it. The Germans are beaten and they know it, but we have got to get to Germany before they will give in, and that means some rough fighting. I suppose you know where I am now, I saw in the Canadian papers where we are an we are in the thick of it too. There isn't a day passes without us taking prisoners and trenches. The French do the same so I don't think it will last much longer, but at any rate keep on living and believing. I don't think I can say anymore now so will conclude this short letter. Wishing you and the children the very best of health. I remain, Your Loving Husband, FRANK France September 13, 1916
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Spanish American FROM OUR OWN SOLDIER BOYS. Tampa, Florida, June 5th, 1898 Capt. T.W.Collier, Raton, New Mexico. My Dear Captain: To-day being Sunday and the ‘rough riders’ being religiously inclined, divine services were well attended. As a matter of course the officers were all present and a goodly number of the troopers. Promptly at nine o’clock Chaplain Brown ascended the pulpit, (a bale of hay in the shade of a large pine tree), and opened the service by singing that familiar hymn, “My Country ‘tis of Thee.” Taking for his text, “Put ye in the sickle for the harvest is ripe” the chaplain delivered an able and instructive sermon, after which the services were closed by singing the hymn, “God be with you ‘till we meet again.” Monday, June 6th This morning we had regimental drill, lasting over two hours. Many and difficult movements were successfully executed after which the Colonel complimented the boys on their rapid improvement. At two o’clock this afternoon, Colonel Wood announced that the seventy men out of each eight troops (there are eighty men in each troop) should break camp and pack up immediately and prepare to embark for Cuba. This news was received with great rejoicing by the troops that were ordered to go. The troops that were to be left behind could not help showing a feeling of sadness, but they cordially congratulated the lucky ones. Troop G, being made up of good material is, of course, one of the eight troops above mentioned. Our captain, (Captain Llewellen) selected the seventy men who are to go with us, and I am proud to say that not one of the Raton boys in the troop is to be left behind. All are to go. They have behaved remarkably well, have been obedient and attentive to their duties. They are indeed a credit to the “Gate City.” Tuesday, June 7th. Everything is quiet in camp this morning. We are patiently awaiting the order to march. We expect to go aboard the transports this afternoon. Wednesday, June 8th. We are on board the transport “Yucatan.” It is a beautiful day with a good breeze blowing. There are several vessels loaded with troops. In all there are about 25,000 soldiers. It is indeed a grand sight. As each vessel is loaded she is drawn out of the channel by a steam tug, amid the waving of flags, the blowing of whistles and the cheers of several thousands of people. The most hearty good will prevails. The men are wild with glee at the prospect of going to Cuba. I don’t know whether we will sail to-night or not. I hope we will, as all are very anxious to go. Thursday, June 9th. We are still in the bay, all of the transports are loaded and anchored here in the bay. It was reported that some Spanish war ships were seen last evening off the coast of Florida, within six hours sail of us. We will not sail until it is found whether or not the report is true. If the report is true it must be that only a small portion of the Spanish fleet is shut up in the harbor of Santiago. I will write you as often as possible and keep you posted as to our where-abouts. So long as we remain here mail can be sent ashore on dispatch boats. The boat is about to go now so I will have to quit. I am feeling fine. The boys all join me in sending kindest regards to the people of Ratonin general. P.S. Please mention in THE RANGE that mail for the regiment may be sent to Tampa. It will be forwarded from here to whatever place the regiment may be stationed. Mail for our boys should be sent to Troop G, 1st U.S.V. Cavalry. D.J.Leahy The Raton Range, July 21, 1898: San Juan Heights A Description of the Fight by One of Raton’s Soldiers who was There! By Lieut. DAVID J. LEAHY. To CAPTAIN T. W. COLLIER: At 3:30 o’clock, p.m., June 30th, the order to break camp was given. At about 4:30 the march was commenced toward Santiago with “G” Troop in the lead. After traversing many rough roads and crossing two streams, we went into camp at 9:30 p.m. Our camp was on the eastern slope of a ridge thickly overgrown with high grass and Spanish bayonets. The battery consisting of four field pieces being placed in our front about 70 yards distant. Coffee was made and supper eaten and the boys quietly turned in being somewhat tired after their long and tedious march. At 4:30 in the morning we were quietly awakened by Lieut. Woodbury Kane, who was officer of the guard, no reveille being sounded on account of our close proximity to the Spanish lines. Breakfast, consisting of coffee and hard tack was quickly prepared and eaten, after which the order was issued to roll up bedding preparatory to commencing the march. Just before sunrise the Grimes battery (the same that opened the fight at the Battle of Gettysburg at the same hour on the same day thirty five years ago) fired the first shot into the Spanish lines. After six shells had been fired by our batteries, suddenly, and without any warning, we heard the whirl of a Spanish shell. Their aim was true and the fuse had been well timed, for the shell burst immediately over us, and we began discussing the advisability of moving. Our time for consideration was brief, for in less than two minutes another shell landed among us, wounding several of our men, among whom were Ash and McSparron of Troop “G.” We were then ordered to march to the left a distance of 200 yards. This took us out of range of the artillery fire of the Spaniards and we quietly watched the battle between the big guns. After a few hours firing the Spanish batteries ceased replying and the supposition was that they were silenced. Almost simultaneously with the beginning of the battle by the Grimes battery, Gen. Lawton’s division on El Caney two and one half miles to our right. In a short time information came to us that Gen. Lawton was heavily engaged and we were ordered to march to his assistance. While marching toward the left to El Caney, we found that the Spaniards had taken up a strong position on San Juan Heights, two parallel ridges, one about 250 yards in the rear of and nearer Santiago than the other. We were about 400 yards distant from the first ridge and partially concealed by underbrush when we were fired upon by the Spaniards from the ridge. Orders were given to be down but not to return the Spanish fire, as their exact position was not yet known. Here we were compelled to remain for a period of three hours, the bullets whistling over our heads amongst the trees and some of them cutting the grass close beside us. It was indeed a trying position, but none of the boys murmured. It was while in this position that Capt. O’Neil of Troop “A” was killed and Lieut. Haskell of “F” Troop was mortally wounded. Finally the order to move forward was given and was indeed readily obeyed. Our next position was on the road leading to the left of the ridge. Here a halt was called while the field officers surveyed the ground and decided upon the movement to be made by each troop. In front of the Spanish works and between us and them was an open field 300 yards in width. Having but four pieces of artillery, it was decided that the ridges could be captured only by making a charge. The order to charge was given and with loud cheers the men leaped forward. We had no shelter and were in plain sight of the Spaniards, yet the men pressed eagerly forward, the main work of the officers being to keep the fastest runners back in the line. They ran forward, cheering wildly, and when within 80 yards of the trenches the Spaniards broke and ran. It was then the sharp reports of the Krag-Jorgesen Rifles could be heard and many a Spaniard fell backward and found his last resting-place in the trench he had so lately occupied. The coolness of our men was remarkable, and that their aim was true, the number of Spaniards that lie in close proximity to the trenches is the best evidence. After being driven from the first ridge, the Spaniards fled to the second ridge, there taking up a similar position to that occupied on the first one. On reaching the top of the ridge a halt was called to re-form our ranks which were somewhat broken during the charge. Some of our men were killed and many wounded, but we had gained the ridge and as soon as the Stars and Stripes were planted on the works on which the Spanish flag was flying a few minutes before a ringing cheer went up from thousands of throats. Our ranks having been re-formed, it was decided to drive the Spaniards from the second ridge. We started forward on double time. It was at this juncture that a Mauser bullet pierced my right arm, breaking the bone and turning me completely around. Serj. (Rol) Fullenwider, who was near me seeing that I was wounded, helped me over the crest of the hill and beyond the reach of the Spanish bullets. He then cut away my sleeve and helped to bind up the wound, then returning to the troop while I was taken to the hospital by one of the hospital stewards. About five minutes after being wounded, an exultant cheer reached my ears and I knew the second ridge had been taken and the Battle of San Juan Heights was ended. The Americans had again won and the Spaniards were again defeated. D. J. LEAHY
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