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To be prepared for war is one of the most effectual means of preserving peace.-- George Washington
Letter, The Assault on El Caney5539 Reads
Santiago De Cuba
July 18, 1898
Received your welcome letter and was so glad to find all well. I am in the best of health, but my God, how the men around me suffer! There are 30 to 40 in the Company sick. It is the fever, and I thank God every day that He has spared me so far. He has heard your prayers, my dear Mama. As I have no paper, I will give you a brief sketch of what has happened on the Island and go into details some other time.
Arrived here O.K. Three men were drowned while unloading us. Went into camp and stayed intil next orders to go into battle; threw down our packs and went to the front; battle nearly over; saw many dead comrades, also Spainards; went into camp again; on guard that night, sentry shot one of our men; lay around with nothing to eat for 48 hours; out road for artillery up to Caney, a fortified town; marched to it last night in June; had a stampede in camp caused by a horse breaking loose; up before daylight, July 1, and on the march. That is a day I shall never forget; marched on the Firing Line; commenced fighting; had no protection; was in a field, and they were shooting us from three block houses. Think of it, dear Parents, we in a field and Spainards in rock houses! We lost more men than any other Regiment; was exposed more; fought nine hours without food; then charged and captured the block houses. My comrades were shot on each side of me; one fellow and I were talking, side-by-side; he was shot; I was spared. You see, God was with me. Buried pieces til night, carried the wounded off the field. Everybody said it was the hardest battle ever fought--and the English officer said it looked impossible for any to live through it, we were exposed so much to the fire. Marched all night. Next day was in position for fighting again at 9 a.m. without any sleep or anything to eat; fought until sunset; lay down and went to sleep on the Firing Line; at 10 p.m. the Spainards charged on us; we drove them back with great loss on their side, none on ours. Next day Flag of Truce was raised. We got a rest. Next day was digging trenches. The Spainards surrendered on the 16th. Now we have some rest, but all the men are dying. I have not been dry since I landed, as it rains all the time; one night had to dig entrenchments all night long in the hardest rain I ever saw fall. I was bitten by a tarantula yesterday, and even that didn't kill me; so you see how lucky I am, but they are the worry of my life. I am afraid of tarantulas and scorpions, the ground is full of them, but will be all right soon; of course it deadened my finger, but it is a small matter when I've seen so many deaths, and how thankful to God I am, He alone knows. Yellow fever and starvation is taking off more people than bullets. I volunteered to go off the field and get a stretcher the day of the hardest fight. It was so dangerous a job they called for a volunteer and I did it. Was thanked for it before the Company; that was enough pay for the job. Don't know how long we will stay here. I am going to re-enlist if my time is out before the close of the war and fight for my country. I am not fighting to free Cubans, but to revenge the Maine.
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