State of Minnesota

Minnesota 1st Regiment Volunteer Infantry



Source: History of the First Regiment Minnesota Volunteer Infantry (1861-1864)
Easton & Masterman; Chapter I; transcribed by Mary Saggio

ITS ORGANIZATION.

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 business.

"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 night.

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 the battlefield.

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 officers, 899.

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, April 26.

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 home.

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, 1876.

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 a brigadier-general.

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 location.

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 government.

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 class.

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.


Company 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 organization.

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 home again.

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 celebration.

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 soft drinks.

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.
Chorus:
This strange amalgamation 'twixt the states of our nation
Gwine to cause an awful jubilee;
Come, boys, we give you greeting, at this united meeting,
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 insurgent army.

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 one.

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, 1899.

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."





Minnesota State Home Page

Visit Our National Site:
Genealogy Trails
© Copyright by Genealogy Trails