Source: History of the First Regiment
Minnesota Volunteer Infantry (1861-1864)
Easton & Masterman; Chapter I; transcribed by Mary
The record of the First Regiment
of Minnesota Volunteer Infantry, commonly known as the
"First Minnesota" begins with the opening scenes of the
Civil War and, as to its actual military services, that
record ends with the expiration of its three years
enlistment in the spring of 1864, just as General Grant
took command of all the Union armies.
After heroic resistance Fort Sumter was surrendered to
the Confederates Saturday, April 13, 1861. The next day
President Lincoln issued a proclamation calling for
75,000 volunteer soldiers to serve, in conjunction with
the 10,000 regulars then composing the army, for three
months, "unless sooner discharged." It was hoped that
such a force would manifest the determination of the
Government and bring to their senses the misguided
Confederates, although they already had 200,000 men
ready for the field, had formed a confederated
government of several millions of people, and were
swearing to fight to the last ditch.
Gov. Alexander Ramsey, of Minnesota, chanced to be in
Washington when Fort Sumter fell. The next morning,
about 9 o'clock, after a night of restlessness and
anxiety over the sistuation, he went to the War
Department and sought the Secretary, then Hon. Simon
Cameron, of Pennsylvania, (Ramsey's native state) whom
he well knew. He encountered the Secretary as that
officer, who was dressed for a walk, and carrying
bundles of papers was leaving his office, apparently
wrought up to strong tension and bent on important
"What do you want?" asked the Secretary, impatiently; "I
am in a great hurry to attend a meeting in the White
House." The Governor replied: "I simply want to tender
you a thousand men to help defend the country and
suppress this-treason." "Good!" replied the old
Secretary, almost exultantly; "sit down and put your
tender in writing and leave it here." And then the
rugged old War Secretary hastened away. (Ramsey's
Journal). In a few minutes the tender was written and
laid on Secretary Cameron's table.
These facts have been published often and conspicuously,
and never disputed; and they prove that in the great war
Minnesota, then the youngest State in the Union, made
the first offer of men to defend and preserve it.
Secretary Cameron readily accepted Governor Ramsey's
tender and formally acknowledged it. The acceptance was
published Monday morning; probably it was written Sunday
On Monday, April 15, the President made requisitions for
troops upon the Governors of all the states not then in
secession. The executives of Virginia, North Carolina,
Tennessee, Arkansas, Missouri and Kentucky refused; and
shortly thereafter the first four named had joined the
Confederacy. Governor Ramsey, still detained in
Washington, promptly telegraphed the acting Governor of
Minnesota, Lieut-Gov. Ignatius Donnelly, instructing him
to issue an immediate call for volunteers, an
instruction to the pugnacious and patriotic Donnelly's
liking, and straightway he obeyed it. The first
Minnesota newspapers issued after the receipt of
Ramsey's order appeared on Tuesday morning and contained
the formal call of Lieutenant-Governor Donnelly for
volunteers. (See Minnesota in the Civil and Indian Wars,
Vol. 2, pp. 1-3.)
By Chap. 77, Laws of 1858, the legislature had provided
for the enrollment as militia of "all able-bodied white
male citizens residing in the state, being eighteen
years of age and under forty-five years, excepting
persons exempt by law".
At the outbreak of the rebellion there existed, under
the authority of this law, various company
organizations, but they had never been consolidated into
a regimental organization except on paper.
In St. Paul, Company A of the 23rd. Regiment of this
militia was an efficient organization. It was armed,
uniformed and well drilled, and the personnel of its
members was of a high order. It had been organized in
territorial days (1856) and was called the "Pioneer
Guard", and in the first part of April, 1861, it was
commanded by Capt. A. T. Chamblin.
On Monday night (preceding the Tuesday publication of
the call issued by Lieut-Gov. Donnelly) the Pioneer
Guard assembled at its armory and a number of its
officers and many other patriotic citizens signed as
volunteers under the call. The first man to sign was
Josias R. King, a Virginian who had lived some years in
Minnesota. As the signing was virtually an enlistment he
has always claimed, with reason, the distinction of
having been the senior volunteer in the United States
service in the war of the rebellion.
He rose from an orderly sergeant to a Captaincy, then
became a Lieutenant Colonel in the U. S. Volunteer
forces and was appointed a second lieutenant in the U.
S. Second Infantry, where he served five, years,
including three years at Lebanon, Ky., in command of a
detachment of 50 mounted men engaged in the suppression
of Ku Klux organizations and illicit distilleries.
He still lives in St. Paul respected and honored not
alone for his distinction as a first volunteer, but for
sterling qualities as a citizen.
The war feeling in the young pioneer state had been
gradually increasing for months as preparations for
hostilities by the South went forward, and the firing
upon Fort Sumter fanned this feeling into flame, as this
assault on the integrity of the Union became known.
Another company had been organized, known as the
"Stillwater Guard," at Stillwater, and reached a very
efficient state of drill and discipline, which became
the nucleus of Co. B. of the new regiment.
There was only one telegraph line in Minnesota. This had
been put up the previous year and its single wire
connected St. Paul with La Crosse. But with almost
incredible swiftness the thrilling war news flew through
the State. In a few days every town, hamlet and
neighborhood was stirred to action. It was as if a
Malise had been sent with the fiery torch into every
district to rally the clans and bid them repair in
instant time to Lanrie Mead.
In an eloquent and inspiring proclamation
Lieutenant-Governor Donnelly had, on Tuesday morning.
April 16, called for one regiment of ten companies of
infantry to report to the Adjutant-General of the State,
Wm. H. Acker, of St. Paul, for service of three months.
He announced that this requisition was made pursuant to
the call of the President for "troops to support the
Government." Each of the ten companies was to be
composed of a captain, two lieutenants, four sergeants,
four corporals, one bugler and sixty-four privates.
The call met with enthusiastic response from every
occupied portion of the State. Hon. Clement C. Clay of
Alabama, which State had seceded, was in St. Paul on
private business at the time. Returning to his home at
Huntsville, in a public address he warned his
fellow-citizens that the war they had undertaken would
be a bloody one and might last five years. He assured
them that the North would fight to the death and was
thoroughly aroused, that in far-off primitive Minnesota,
from whence he had just come, the pioneers and
frontiersmen of that young, poor, and scantily-populated
commonwealth were thronging forward to fight for the
Union and with earnest zeal were demanding to be led to
Public meetings were at once held in all the larger
towns-and by the census of 1860 the population of St.
Paul, the largest town in the State, was but 10,279-and
these meetings were attended by all classes and
addressed by many prominent citizens. All political
party lines were wholly ignored. "Then none was for a
party; then all were for the State." In St. Paul,
Stillwater, St. Anthony, Minneapolis, Winona, Faribault,
Mankato, Hastings, Red Wing, Wabasha, and many smaller
towns and villages, there were enthusiastic and
inspiriting war meetings. Every able-bodied man that
could volunteer as a soldier was willing to do so; he
who could not, devoutly wished he could. The people were
mostly newcomers and nearly all were poor. Many a man,
though patriotic as a Spartan, could not enlist without
abandoning wife and little ones to peril and privation
on a lonely frontier, but others were more fortunately
situated, and equally brave and eager.
The result was natural. The enrollment went on rapidly.
On Monday, April 29, the ten companies that had been
called assembled at Fort Snelling, the designated
rendezvous, as directed by Adjutant-General Acker. That
day General Acker resigned his position in the State
militia to become a captain in the First Minnesota
Regiment. To succeed him Governor Ramsey appointed Hon.
John B. Sanborn, then a St. Paul lawyer, who had been
chairman of the committee on military affairs in the
Senate branch of the preceding State Legislature. He
often said that when appointed to this highly-important
military position he hardly knew gunpowder from black
sand and had never seen a musket cartridge in his life;
yet he learned fast and when the war closed he wore the
twin stars of a major-general, and had won them by
service in the field.
Many of the ten companies had been organizations in the
State militia, but each of them had received recruits
and accessions from those who had never been in the
State service, and was therefore practically a new
organization. The titles of the companies, the
localities where they were organized, their commissioned
officers, and the number of men in them were as follows:
Company A, Pioneer Guard, St. Paul. Captain, Alexander
Wilkin; First Lieutenant, Henry C. Coates; Second
Lieutenant, Chas. Zierenberg. Number of men, 96. In the
re-organization of this company Captain Wilkin had
succeeded Captain Chamblin.
Company B, Stillwater Guard, Stillwater. Captain,
Carlyle A. Bromley; First Lieutenant, Mark W. Downie;
Second Lieutenant, Minor T. Thomas. Number of men, 99.
Company C, St. Paul Volunteers, St. Paul. Captain, Wm.
H. Acker; First Lieutenant, Wilson B. Farrell; Second
Lieutenant, Samuel T. Raguet. Number of men, 75.
Company D, Lincoln Guards, Minneapolis. Captain, Henry
R. Putnam; First Lieutenant, Geo. H. Woods; Second
Lieutenant DeWitt C. Smith. Number of men, 98.
Company E, St. Anthony Zouaves, St. Anthony. Captain,
Geo. N. Morgan; First Lieutenant, John B. Gilfillan;
Second Lieutenant, George Pomeroy. Number of men, 86.
Company F, Red Wing Volunteers (also called Goodhue
County Volunteers), Red Wing. Captain, Wm. Colville;
First Lieutenant, A. Edward Welch; Second Lieutenant,
Mark A. Hoyt. Number of men, 100.
Company G, Faribault Guards, Faribault. Captain, .Wm. H.
Dike; First Lieutenant, Nathan S. Messick; Second
Lieutenant, Wm. E. Smith. Number of men, 101.
Company H, Dakota County Volunteers, Hastings. Captain,
Chas. Powell Adams; First Lieutenant, Orrin T. Hayes;
Second Lieutenant, Wm. B. Leach. Number of men, 83.
Company I, Wabasha Volunteers, Wabasha. Captain, John H.
Pell; First Lieutenant, Joseph Harley; Second
Lieutenant, Chas. B. Halsey. Number of men, 82.
Company K, Winona Volunteers, Winona. Captain, Henry C.
Lester; First Lieutenant, Gustavus Adolphus Holtzborn;
Second Lieutenant, Joseph Perriam. Number of men, 79.
Total number of men, exclusive of field and staff
The companies had been "accepted" but not mustered into
service as follows: Company A, April 19; Company B,
April 20; Company C, April 22; Company D, April 23;
Companies F and G, April 25; Companies H, I, and K,
The assembling of the companies at Fort Snelling was for
the purpose of muster in and the re-organization of the
regiment in the volunteer service of the United States.
The companies all reached the Fort the same day. The
first company on the ground was the Winona company,
which arrived early in the morning on the steamer Golden
Era. At 10 o'clock came the two St. Paul companies, the
Red Wing, Faribault, and Hastings companies, all on the
steamer Ocean Wave. The Faribault Company had been
transported in wagons from Faribault to the river. At 11
o'clock came the Minneapolis and St. Anthony companies,
which had made a practice march from their homes and
were cheered by the other companies as they entered the
Fort. The Stillwater company came over in wagons,
arriving at 5 o'clock. The Wabasha company arrived at 7
o'clock in the evening on the Key City.
At 12 o'clock, high noon, the flag was raised on the old
Fort flagstaff. As the colors ascended and a strong
April breeze flung them out, the cannon fired the
national salute of thirty-four guns and the multitude
cheered. (See Winona Daily Republican. May 1, 1861.)
Then came the first dinner, served on tables of rough
boards, with a service of tin cups and tin plates, but
really relished by the volunteers and many visitors that
were invited guests. The rough and primitive features
only added a peculiar relish to the feast. (Lochren.)
At 1 o'clock the mustering began. Captain Anderson D.
Nelson, of the regular army, had been detailed as the
mustering officer, with Lieutenant Sanders as assistant.
Dr. J. H. Stewart, of St. Paul, had been appointed
examining surgeon. The officers did their work in the
presence of many spectators, "about as many citizens as
soldiers," said the St. Paul Pioneer.
The process was sufficiently thorough. Each company was
ordered into line separately. Then the mustering
officers and Dr. Stewart walked along in front and rear,
cursorily examining the men. Afterwards each man's name
was called and he was inspected closely. Nearly all were
accepted. Then the oath of muster was taken by
companies. The men uncovered their heads, held up their
right hands, and Captain Nelson administered the oath,
the same obligation which soldiers of the United States
had taken for eighty years, "that you will bear true
allegiance to the United States of America and that you
will serve them honestly and faithfully against all
their enemies and opposers whatsoever," etc. The
enlistment was for but three months.
Only seven companies were mustered the first day. The
Wabasha company (I) did not arrive at the Port until
late in the evening and the Hastings and .Winona
companies (respectively H and K) were not quite full and
were allowed time to fill up to the maximum number. It
is asserted that all three of these companies were
mustered the following day. (Lochren.)
Governor Ramsey, Adjutant-General Sanborn, and the
acting adjutant of the regiment, Jacob J. Noah, were at
their posts early and all day. In the afternoon the
Adjutant-General announced the field officers of the
regiment. The appointments had already been agreed on
and privately made known, but they were received with
apparent surprise and delight and heartily cheered.
Nearly everything that happened was cheered, and so
there was much hurrahing and enthusiasm. The field
officers, by appointment of the Governor, were: Colonel,
Willis Arnold Gorman; Lieutenant-Colonel, Stephen
Miller; Major, Wm. H. Dike. Colonel Gorman appointed, as
the regiment's staff officers, Geo. H. Woods,
quartermaster, and Dr. Jacob H. Stewart, surgeon. The
next day Dr. Chas. W. LeBoutillier was made assistant
surgeon and Lieut. Wm. B. Leach became adjutant. Rev.
Edward Duffield Neill was appointed chaplain. The
non-commissioned staff was subsequently appointed.
Col. Willis A. Gorman was at the time pre-eminently the
man best fitted to command the regiment. He had ability,
experience, and the complete confidence of his men. He
was born in Kentucky in 1816, but removed to Indiana in
young manhood and became a practicing lawyer. He served
in two Indiana regiments during the Mexican War, first
as major in the Third Indiana, and during the battle of
Buena Vista was severely wounded; later was colonel of
the Fourth Indiana and participated in several
engagements in Mexico. He was elected to Congress from
Indiana in 1848 and again in 1850, serving two terms. In
1853 he was appointed Territorial Governor of Minnesota
and came to St. Paul, which city was ever afterward his
At the time he became colonel of the First Minnesota,
Governor Gorman was forty-five years of age, in the
prime of manhood, looked every inch the soldier and man,
and it was felt that under his leadership the First
Minnesota would make an honorable record, if not a
distinguished one. He was promoted to brigadier-general
October 1, 1861. General Gorman died in St. Paul in May,
Lieut.-Col. Stephen Miller was born in Pennsylvania, in
1816. He edited the Harrisburg Telegraph, a Whig
journal, in 1853-55, and came to Minnesota in 1858,
locating at St. Cloud. He was a prominent Republican and
knew little of military matters in 1861, but he learned
fast. He was promoted to colonel of the Seventh
Minnesota in August, 1862; became brigadier-general in
October, 1863, and resigned in January, 1864, to assume
the duties of Governor of Minnesota. He died at
Worthington, Minn., in August, 1881.
Major Dike was a Vermonter. He was at first captain of
Company G, the Faribault company. On his promotion he
was succeeded in the captaincy by Hon. Lewis McKune, who
had been a member of the State constitutional
convention. Colonel Gorman was a staunch Democrat in
politics and Lieutenant-Colonel Miller and Major Dike
were Republicans, so the field organization of the First
Minnesota was non-partisan.
With Colonel Gorman went his two sons, James W. Gorman,
who was commissioned captain and served as assistant
adjutant-general on his father's staff from September,
1862, until his death in February, 1863, and Captain
Richard L. Gorman, who was with the regiment in and
after the battle of Bull Run, then became a captain in
the 34th New York Infantry, and was also for several
months on the staff of his father when the latter became
At once the military education of the regiment was begun
and squad, company, and battalion drills were had daily.
Hardee's tactics constituted the drill system then in
vogue. Perhaps most of the men had undergone some
experience on the drill ground, for a majority of the
old militia companies had received more or less
instruction in the manual of arms and in the "school of
the company." The inexperienced soon learned their
duties, and within a few days the regiment was not in
any respect a green one. The officers were all
intelligent men and many of them good drill masters
before they received their commissions.
The men were fairly well provided with arms. Many of the
militia companies had been supplied with muskets
"complete," and some of the new volunters who had
belonged to these companies brought their guns,
cartridge boxes, etc., with them into the First
Minnesota. Some of these guns were the (then) new
pattern of Springfield percussion-rifled muskets, not
the altered flint-locks, many of which were used by the
volunteers in 1861, but new bright-barreled rifle guns,
which shot minie bullets and were considered the best
infantry guns in the service. Others were Mississippi
rifles, caliber 54, with sword bayonets. The irregularly
armed were supplied with pieces of various patterns from
the State's arsenal. Those who had Springfield rifled
muskets were allowed to keep them, but all others were
soon supplied with the 69-caliber musket, a larger, and
in fact a formidable and very effective arm, that
discharged a missile as big as a man's thumb. (Lochren.)
No uniforms had been provided, but the State soon
furnished each private and non-commissioned officer with
a shirt, a black felt hat, a pair of black pants, and a
pair of socks. Other articles of clothing were supplied
from time to time, either by the men or their friends.
The shirts were woolen, but of various colors, red
predominating. Generally the shirts were of the kind
then affected by steamboat men and men of the frontiers,
and some of them were very fancifully ornamented with
crescents, stars, trefoils, etc. Company K had gray
suits presented by the citizens of Winona. The State
gave every man a blanket and supplied the bunks in the
barracks with plenty of good clean straw. Cooking
utensils were furnished in proper quantities.
At this time the population of Minnesota was
substantially confined to the valleys of the Mississippi
and Minnesota rivers and their tributary streams. The
public lands were open to settlement under the
pre-emption laws of the national government, only,
except with such scrip as could be obtained for
The vast prairies of the state had not yet disclosed
their true value for settlement, except where they were
within a reasonable distance from bodies of timber, as
coal was, as yet, an unknown fuel so far west.
Practically, the entire population consisted of young
men, mostly unmarried, who had come west to establish
homes, and the outbreak of hostilities found them more
or less free to take an active part in the coming
struggle. They were mostly natives of the country, or
descendants of families who had long been in the
country, and had been born to regard the country with
all the affection of native land.
The laws in force under which they expected to build up
their fortunes, such as the land laws of the United
States, and the broad and comprehensive provisions of
the United States constitution which secured to them the
protection of the general government in all that
concerned the most vital concerns of their lives,
assured their steadfast loyalty to the general
Those who traced their origin to foreign lands
represented all Western European countries-England,
Ireland, Scotland, Wales, France, the so-called "low
countries," the German and Austrian states, Switzerland,
Russia, Spain, Italy and Scandinavia.
It was realized that if the secession germ was allowed
lodgment in the body politic, and this united country
was divided into two, it would lead to further divisions
that would destroy the prosperity of the nation and the
peace and happiness of the people.
Those who tendered themselves to the government in this
spontanous movement were fit, physically and
intellectually to be moulded into soldiers of the first
The various elements, in point of nationality, that
composed the regiment can be understood from the
different nationalities in Co. B, which included 16
Swiss, 18 Germans, 14 Scandinavians, 5 Irish descent and
the remainder Americans.
The men of the regiment always remembered gratefully
their first days as soldiers at Fort Snelling. Their
condition then was far superior to what it was ever
afterward. They cleaned out and soon had cozy and neat
the old quarters in the old Fort which had been occupied
by the regular soldiers forty years before, when Colonel
Snelling was in command, and thirty-two years before,
when Zachary Taylor was in command. Visitors in bevies,
swarms, and crowds came up every day "to see the
soldiers." The ladies brought unsubstantial sweetmeats
and knick-knacks of every sort, and also fair words and
bright smiles, and were always welcome.
Then there were social occasions of a military sort. On
May 1, Colonel Gorman was presented with a fine sword by
his friend and compatriot, Maj. W. J. Cullen, of St.
Paul. The ceremony of presentation was witnessed by a
big crowd. That day also ex-Governor Sibley sent the
regiment one hundred dollars as a contribution to its
emergency fund. The next day the first regimental dress
parade was held, witnessed by a great multitude of men,
women and children.
C in the Spanish American War
Source: Minnesota - Company C 1st Infantry
Minnesota National Guard, Its History and Development
(1905), by N. C. Robinson; transcribed by Mary Saggio.
At the time of the call of the President for volunteers,
"C" Company had on the rolls 50 men; of these 38
immediately volunteered, the others for good and
sufficient reasons being unable to go. This left a
splendid foundation for a company. The company was
recruited up to 125 men in anticipation of having some
men rejected for physical disqualifications. This
recruiting took two days. On the 29th day of April,
1898, the company, together with the companies of the
First regiment, Minnesota National Guard, marched to the
state capitol and there joined by the Second and Third
regiments, N. G. S. M., and headed by Gov. Clough and
his full staff, marched to the fair grounds, and there
established "Camp Ramsey."
The company was assigned to quarters in stable "K,"
being one of the barns used during the fair for the
exhibition of blooded stock. The men slept two men in a
stall, and in this old barn men picked their bunkies and
these same men slept together all through the campaign
that followed; on the train going to 'Frisco they slept
in the same berth, at Camp Merritt they tented together,
on the ship "City of Para" their bunks in the hold of
the ship were side by side, in "Camp Dewey" they were in
the same pup tent, and so on through the campaign. The
companionship of the bunkies was interesting to
observe-everything they owned they had in common. They
were indeed comrades.
At Camp Ramsey, "C" Company started out with the
proposition to whip 75 raw recruits into well drilled
soldiers as rapidly as possible. Beginning with squad
drills, and drilling squads pretty nearly all day, day
after day, we soon had men fit to drill in company
formation, and when the time came and the surgeons had
weeded out the physically unfit men and the company was
cut down to 81 men, we had a fairly well drilled
The officers of the old company were mustered into
service with no change in rank, Captain Noyes C.
Robinson in command, first lieutenant, Clarence C.
Bunker and second lieutenant, John F. Snow. Each secured
promotion, Captain Robinson returning as major,
commanding the St. Paul battalion, and Lieutenants
Bunker and Snow returning as Captain Bunker and First
Lieutenant Snow. Two of them, Robinson and Bunker, were
wounded. The vacancy in the commissioned staff caused by
these promotions was filled by the appointment of First
Sergeant John M. Smethurst as second lieutenant.
The "non-coms" on May 7th, were First Sergeant Edmund R.
Simons; Quartermaster Sergeant Guy H. Thayer; Sergeants
John M. Smethurst, George K. Sheppard, Fred C. Robinson
and J. McKee Heffner; Corporals John L. Phillips, Walter
E. DeLamere, Eugene B. Crandall, A. Frank Kavanagh,
Edward Jungbauer and Charles T. DeLamere. On March 22nd,
1899, six additional corporals and a cook corporal were
appointed. These were James G. Wallace, Edwin D. Belden,
Charles D. Crowther, James H. Fiddes, Charles B. Gordon,
David H. Kimball and Cook Corporal Dennis J. McConville.
On the 7th day of May, 1898, these 81 men were sworn
into the service of the United States by the United
States mustering officer. At 10 o'clock at night, headed
by the Twin City Mandolin club (old friends of the
company), they marched from their quarters in stable "K"
to the parade ground, and there, by the light of
torches, the company as individuals took the oath that
made them soldiers of "Uncle Sam."
On the 16th day of May, our trip across the country to
San Francisco started, and it is always a pleasure to
look back on the many pleasant incidents of that trip.
We were unloaded at Oakland Pier, and then loaded again
on to the ferry boat to cross the bay to San Francisco.
I think none of the boys will ever forget the march from
the ferry terminal to Camp Merritt; up hill it seemed
all the way, and the men were loaded down with
equipments and baggage. They had not yet learned the art
of getting along without things, and most of the men
were carrying in their knapsacks a great deal more stuff
than they needed, or than they would have any use for.
But experience soon taught them what they needed and
when it came to a march they went loaded pretty light,
except when carrying ammunition.
We were soon settled in "Camp Merritt," located on the
sand dunes of the old Bay State race track, and
immediately adjoining the beautiful Golden Gate Park.
At Camp Merritt we resumed the old Camp Ramsey drills,
and if any change, the work was harder, but in a few
weeks we had the finest drilled regiment in the camp.
Life at 'Frisco, in many respects, was delightful. The
people of California were a constant surprise to us. The
little incidents that happened were all so unexpected. I
saw a sergeant of "C" Company sitting alone one day, in
a restaurant down town, eating his dinner, when an
elderly lady with white hair called a waiter and handing
him a large American Beauty rose asked him to hand it to
the sergeant. Business men would pick up dinner checks
from the tables belonging to soldiers and pay them at
the cashier's desk. Their homes were open at all times
to the soldiers, and the men and their wives would come
to camp and take parties of from two to twelve back to
their homes to have dinner or spend the evening. The
hospitality of the people was overwhelming.
On June 27th, the company with the others of the
regiment sailed for Manila on the "City of Para." The
scene as we steamed out into the bay was wonderful; all
the wharves along the front were massed with people
waving flags, and cheering as we passed. It seemed as if
every whistle in 'Frisco was blowing, and all the
smaller craft of the harbor were out to escort us
through the Golden Gate. It was a sight and memory that
will always be with us.
We had hardly more than lost sight of these friends when
we began to realize that we were at sea; the first man
sea sick merely served to remind the rest, and by six
o'clock that evening 75 per cent of the 1,000 men on
board the ship were pretty sure they would never see
The ship was terribly crowded and the accommodations
entirely unfit, and the hardships the men endured the
forty days aboard that boat were pretty rough.
Honolulu was a repetition of 'Frisco, everything was
ours. The boys lived on fruit all the time they were
there, the doctors to the contrary notwithstanding.
July 4th was spent at sea, and not a fire-cracker was
heard all day, a quiet, peaceful day, but I think we all
wished we were back where there was noise and
On the afternoon of July 31st, 1899, we sailed past
Corregidor Island, and up into the bay toward the city
of Manila. We were soon anchored not far away from the
ill-fated fleet that had met Dewey three months before.
Late that afternoon we received our first report of the
fall of Santiago, Cuba, and the destruction of Cervera's
fleet. What a cheer went up from the boys when the news
reached our ears!
On the 7th day of August, we landed in surf boats at
Paranaque, amid considerable excitement and much
confusion. That night we were again in camp, this time
in a peanut field, in a tropical rain storm, wet
through, hungry and correspondingly happy.
On August 10th we had our first duty in the trenches,
and aside from a long, hot march and another rain storm,
nothing of any consequence happened.
On the memorable 13th of August, 1898, Company "C" was
the first battalion which was ordered up to support the
Astor battery at the Cingalon church, where the only
real fighting occurred that day. The company was marched
up to the firing line in columns of fours under fire. It
was not deployed, however, but held as support, with
Company "C," Twenty-third United States Infantry,
protected by the church and an adjacent stone wall.
Though on the firing line, the company was not in
action. The Astor battery, reinforced by two Minnesota
companies, forged ahead about 100 yards, and after some
brisk fighting, the fire from the block house
diminished, and at this time Lieutenant Bunker ventured
up the road to the mountain guns of the battery, picking
up Captain (then Lieutenant) E. M. Conrad on the way.
The Spanish fire re-commenced stronger than ever,
compelling the battery to fall back. A sharpshooter
fired upon Lieutenants Bunker and Conrad, who, warned by
the close shooting of the hidden enemy, sought shelter,
Bunker behind a small tree by the roadside. Each
exposure of any part of the lieutenant's body drew a
Mauser bullet from the sharpshooter. Thinking he had at
last located his man, Lieutenant Bunker stepped out and
raised his revolver, but the Spaniard was too quick for
him and a Mauser ball shattered the hand holding the
revolver. Lieutenant Bunker returned to Camp Dewey, four
miles, on foot, and secured surgical attention. Private
Henry Tetzlaff was also wounded slightly. The company
slept on arms that night in the Spanish barracks, at
Malate. August 14th, 1898, it was on outpost duty in
Paco, keeping the insurgents out of the city; and the
next ten days were spent in guard and outpost duty in
the southern suburbs. In the meantime, the regiment had
been selected as provost guard, and Company "C" drew
Tondo district, that portion of the north city, lying
nearest Malabon, then the insurgents' stronghold.
Thanksgiving day in the Philippines was a memorable one
for "C" Company. We had as our guests "C" Company of the
First California regiment, and a royal feast we had.
The menu was an elaborate one, including chicken broth,
Columbia river salmon, potato and shrimp salads, roast
turkey with New England sage dressing, and apple and
cranberry sauces, American vegetables, pies of American
style, California wines, Milwaukee beer and American
The banquet was followed by an entertainment. Pomeroy
and McCarthy gave a mandolin and guitar selection, and
Private Cotton a recitation from "Hamlet." Private
Colcord gave a slight-of-hand exhibition, and Sergeant
Robinson sang "Monte Carlo." Privates Gordon and Young
did some buck and wing dancing, Private Smith recited,
and Private Lyons sang "The Dinner of the Gopher and the
Bear," as follows, words by Heffner and Pomeroy:
0 say, there's gwine to be
A mighty jubilee
Out here in Tondo district this evening.
All the boys they are on hand;
We have a goo-goo band
To give us music on this great occasion.
The cause of this affair
Is a spread; I do declare
It's the swellest thing that's happened for many a moon.
We'll have a turkey there,
Upon the bill of fare
For the feeding of the gopher and the bear.
This strange amalgamation 'twixt the states of our
Gwine to cause an awful jubilee;
Come, boys, we give you greeting, at this united
The dinner of the gopher and the bear.
Sergeant Smethurst,of Minnesota, was toastmaster, and
toasts were responded to by Capt. Robinson, Capt.
Dumbrell, Corporal Searse, First Sergeant Hicks and
Private Seeley, of California, and Privates Kimball,
Brack, Cotton, Smith and Wallace, of Minnesota.
On the night of February 4th, 1899, when the firing
commenced on the line, Company "C" immediately posted
guards throughout the district adjacent to Tondo station
in anticipation of armed co-operation within the city
with the insurgents without. About 6 a. m. of the 5th, a
patrolling picket of two men approached a large party of
natives, intending to disperse the gathering, and
discovered them to be armed, and deeming discretion the
better part of valor, started back towards the barracks.
The Filipinos gave chase, and the boys, discharging
their revolvers into the mob a couple of times, changed
the dignified stride of a policeman to that of a college
sprinter out after a record. The guard turned out at the
sound of revolver firing and without waiting for any
formation started on a run for the scene. In the
meantime the company was formed and hastened to support
the guard. The small squad were found back to back,
rapidly but coolly firing up Calle Lemery and down the
intersecting side street, along which were flying
numbers of the mob. The Filipinos were thoroughly
punished. The affair was-reported to General Hughes,
provost marshal general, who commended the action taken.
From February 5th to 22nd, no open demonstration was
made in Tondo, but the guard was increased to such an
extent that the men were on duty every other day.
On the night of February 22nd, 1899, Company "C" passed
through an experience that was intensely vivid and
dramatic. At "taps" on the evening of Washington's
Birthday, Tondo was as quiet and calm as a country
village at midnight. Shortly before midnight a dull
glare a block away bespoke conflagration. In a few
minutes fire sprang up at a dozen different points, and
the streets were as light as a tropical noon, disclosing
the presence of a large body of armed insurgents who
discovered the sentinel almost as soon as he did them.
The first a majority of the company knew of the danger,
was a volley of Remington 45-calibre bullets through the
barrack's light upper structure. And then ensued a
pandemonium impossible to adequately describe. Burning
bamboo, bursting with a sound hardly distinguishable
from musketry, mingled with the yells of frenzied
fanatics, and the fierce but ragged volley of Remingtons.
Nineteen men under Lieutenant Snow were left in
quarters, while the balance of the company went out of
the gate at double time. Three steps out of the gate a
Remington bullet tore Captain Robinson's upper lip. Two
men were also wounded, Sergeant George K. Sheppard, shot
through the lower part of the right leg, severing the
main artery, and Private Thomas F. Galvin, shot through
the right shoulder. Arriving at Calle Azcarraga, the
company rapidly took skirmish formation, while a squad
of six men under then Sergeant Smethurst was placed a
block away toward the bay, a step made necessary by the
absence of another company which it had been intended
should cover that space. Near the intersection of Lemery
and Azcarraga was a pile of paving blocks, and the men
in that part of the line crossing this exposed position
each seized a stone and dropped it in the street in
front of his place in line; not much of a protection,
but better than they had on many a subsequent occasion.
For half an hour steady volley firing convinced the
insurgents that Tondo was to be the limit of their
operations. It was here that private George S. Wooding
was shot through both thighs, the same Remington bullet
making four wounds. Soon after, Lieutenant Hart,
regimental quartermaster, arrived on the scene, took
command of the company and Captain Robinson was taken to
the hospital with the three wounded men.
Scarcely had the main party of the company left the
gate, which was swung shut behind them, when it was
surrounded by a hundred yelling Filipinos. The little
band of defenders hastily posted themselves at points of
vantage. As the natives surged up to the gate and
over-reached through it to draw the bolt, the squad in
the doorway under Corporal Kavanaugh let them have a
volley, killing the one with his arm through the gate,
and wounding others. Several rushes for the gate were
stopped by cool and effective firing by the squad, and
the miscreants finally gave it up as a bad job. For
thirty minutes it was a death struggle between not less
then 200 Filipinos and 20 valiant Minnesotans.
At daylight, February 23rd, the company barracks and the
massive Tondo church were about the only buildings
intact in the district. Soon after breakfast thirty-five
men of Company "C," under Lieutenant Snow, joined
Company " M," Thirteenth Minnesota, two companies of the
Second Oregon, two companies Twenty-third United States
Infantry and one troop, Fourth United States Cavalry,
unmounted, fora skirmish through the district. Beyond
the burned district the advance was opposed by line
after line of barricades built during the early morning.
One killed and half a dozen wounded was the American
loss, to which Company "C" contributed one wounded, Ira
B. Smith, spent ball in the chest. Nearly three months
later, at San Isidro,an officer who had been stationed
at Malabon during the time the foregoing transpired,
thinking peace almost assured, talked freely, and to the
inquiries of Company "C" men stated that the force in
Tondo that' night consisted of 300 soldiers from the
From February 23rd to March 19th, 1899, when the company
was relieved from duty on the provost marshal's guard,
the work in Tondo was very light. On March 19th, Company
"C" camped on the Lunetta, with the regiment. On the
24th, it marched to the Deposito, and two hours before
daybreak of March 25th, the men were stealing off into
the darkness in single file, along the Maraquina road.
In a fight next morning two men were wounded, Private
Arnold Arneson and Private Bert W. Parsons. In this
engagement on the Maraquina road, Lieutenant Snow was in
command of the company, Captain Robinson being sick in
quarters in Manila and Lieutenant Bunker on sick leave
in the United States.
After two days outpost duty on the Maraquina road, the
company marched to Caloocan with the regiment and the
next morning followed up the advance on Malolos, being
with the reserve. At the different railroad bridges
taken, a Minnesota company was left as a guard. Company
"C" drew Bocaue.
One morning in April, Corporal Gordon and ten or twelve
men worked their way to within 400 yards of Santa Maria,
found the town to be full of soldiers, and were in turn
discovered and compelled to retreat under a heavy fire.
It was then learned that the company was, and had been,
for no one knew how long, within twelve miles of the
insurgent army headquarters and the temporary abiding
place of Aguinaldo himself. April 9th, the company
participated in a three-company skirmish of the
territory for three or four miles toward Santa Maria,
resulting in locating the insurgent headquarters.
On the nights of April 10th and 11th, the men of Company
"C" stood the severest test of courage and discipline
that it was their fortune to encounter during their
entire army experience. About midnight an almost
simultaneous attack was made on the railroad track from
Caloocan to Bocaue. Bocaue bore the brunt of the attack.
Captain Spear, of Company "E," realized the situation
and headed a reinforcing detail of twenty-five of his
men. This courageous act of Captain Spear's commended
itself more highly from the fact that it cut off Company
"E's" strength one-half. This fight cost the life of one
of the nerviest boys in the company, Maurice Beatty. In
addition John J. Young was shot through the shoulder and
face by the same bullet; Beckjord had his thumb clipped;
Claude H. Still and Charles DeLamere each a spent ball
in the knee. The ability and bravery shown by Lieutenant
Snow, then in command of Company "C," was highly
commended by all.
April 12th, the company took part in the fight at Santa
Maria by which that town was captured and burned, the
insurgents vacating the town with but slight resistance.
In April, the company started out with General Lawton's
flying column, marching about 200 miles and taking part
in 31 different skirmishes. This trip lasted over 30
days, and upon the company's return to Calumpit in May
they were assigned to railroad guard duty and stationed
at Marilao and later at Lolombog and served there until
ordered into the city to prepare for the trip home. On
August 11th, the company boarded the transport
"Sheridan," and sailed on the 12th. Stops were made at
Nagasaki and Yokohoma, Japan, and the troops given shore
leave to visit in this interesting country, and the
people there gave us every opportunity to enjoy
ourselves to the utmost. From Nagasaki to Yokohoma we
sailed through the Inland Sea, and being in sight of
land for over 24 hours, the trip was a most pleasant
We sighted land again on September 7th, and late that
afternoon we pulled in through the Golden Gate and were
soon anchored off 'Frisco harbor.
After passing quarantine, we landed the next morning and
marched to the Presidio camp grounds and took up our
camp there until we were mustered out on October 3rd,
Company "C" always was a happy family and the loyalty of
all the men to the organization was ever marked. The
company returned to St. Paul with no strife in its ranks
and every officer and man loyal and true to his old
organization, Company "C."