Genealogy Trails History Group


South Dakota Military Data




Broad-Axe (Eugene, OR) – Saturday, December 3, 1898
Contributed by Jim Deztoell

Washington, Nov. 30 – The following report of deaths among the American force at Manila was received from General Otis by the war department today:

“Manila, Nov. 29 – Adjutant-General, Washington: Following death since last report:

“Nov. 21 – Frank M. Harden, private, company K, First North Dakota, typhoid fever.

“Nov. 22 – Clyde Perkins, private, company K, Second Oregon, smallpox; Walter Downing, private, company L, First Colorado, dysentery.

“Nov. 23 – Charles McKinnon, private, company F, Second Oregon, smallpox.

“Nov. 25 – Robert Davidson, private, company G, Fourteenth United States infantry, malaria; James M. Clark, company K, First South Dakota, dysentery.

From Morning World-Herald (Omaha Neb) Sept 14, 1953

Transcribed and submitted 10/14/2012 by Veronica Carnegie

2 Nebraska POW’s Back
Lincoln Soldier Docks at San Francisco
Compiled from Press Dispatches

    Two Nebraskans and five South Dakotans were among repatriated American service men who arrived at San Francisco, Cal. Sunday aboard the transport, Marine Phoenix, the Associated Press said.

    Nebraskans – Pfc. Charles L. Fronapfel, mother Mrs. Rose Fronapfel, Alliance, and Pvt. Jess Singleton, mother Lela Ann Singleton, Lincoln.

    South Dakotans – Corp. LeRoy Archambault, Bullhead; Pvt. Walter Geppert, Alexandria; Pvt. Phillip Konechne, Kimball; Corp. Ralph Weier, White Lake; and Marine Pfc. Noble Nelson, Jr. Centerville.

Monday, 10 Nebraskans are due to arrive at Seattle aboard the Navy transport Gen. M.M. Patrick.


Broad-Axe (Eugene, OR) – Saturday, December 3, 1898
Contributed by Jim Dezotell

Nov. 25 – Robert Davidson, private, company G, Fourteenth United States infantry, malaria; James M. Clark, company K, First South Dakota, dysentery.

Who’s Who in South Dakota, Vol. 2
By O. W. Coursey
Educator School Supply Co., Publisher, 1916
Transcribed and Contributed by Jim Dezotell


Personally, I have always taken more pleasure in writing eulogies of the living than obituaries of the dead. For this reason, in my long series of "Who's Who in South Dakota" articles, I have confined myself to paeans of praise for the living; while now, for once, I wish to indulge myself in praise and reverence for the dead. 

Here and there, through the pages of history, there looms up above the horizon the name of a man who was evidently a soldier of fortune; that is, one whom fortune seemed to favor. Some would say, "a man possessed of a guardian angel;" others would say, "one favored by the Gods." For instance, John Smith, of the Jamestown colony, Michael Ney, Napoleon's dashing cavalry leader; Israel Putnam, of revolutionary fame; or Theodore Roosevelt, the hero of San Juan. 

Such a soldier was Charles B. Preacher, the old first sergeant of Co. M., First South Dakota Volunteers, that served in the Philippines. No other man in that fighting regiment, and in all probability, no other man in this state, or perhaps in any other state, ever had a career like his — one filled with so many triumphs over death, at such critical moments when some strange power seemed suddenly and unbidden to come to his rescue. His biography, among those of the living, merits a conspicuous place. 


Preacher's parents were wealthy southerners. Their name was Berry; how his happened to be "Preacher," we shall later see. His parents were on a trip abroad at the time of his birth, so that he came into being in London, England. This fact became a great "fact" — in in his life later on.


Nothing is known of him after his birth until the breaking out of our (un)-civil war. At that time he was a student at Washington-Jefferson college. He suddenly disappeared and showed up next as an orderly for General Lee of the Confederate forces. While carrying a message to the general, from President Jeff Davis, during the battle of Malvern Hill, he was shot clear through, sidewise — the ball passing through both lungs. With Preacher, as with many others in life — their misfortunes are their blessings, if they will only wait the results. Prior to the time he received this severe wound, he had weak lungs. After some "Yank" drained them for him he was well and rugged.


After the civil war was over, he went to Old Mexico and joined Maximillian's army of invasion. On account of his superior military knowledge he was given a position on Maximillian's staff; and when the latter was captured, Preacher was captured with him. They were both sentenced to be shot. The night before they were to die, Preacher caught the sentry who was guarding him, unaware, overpowered him, seized his gun and made his escape.


He wended his way, stealthily to the seashore and embarked for Cuba. Here he joined the forces of Don Carlos who took him along to Spain. During the Spanish conflict, he was shot in the leg; was captured and sentenced to be shot. He at once dispatched a note to the English consul, which set forth the fact that he was born in London and declared himself to be an English subject. The consul promptly saved him.  A strange fate seemed ever to be with him.


When his wound had thoroughly healed, he went to Russia and enlisted in the Russian navy. After serving one year, he was, at his own request, transferred to the Russian army. He served till the outbreak of the Franco-Prussian war. Then he deserted the Russian army and joined the French troops. He served through the war without meeting with any personal disaster. 


At the close of the war, he came back to the United States; married, and settled in West Virginia, where he took up the work of a traveling evangelist and preached to the Alleghany mountaineers. They all called him "Preacher," and it somehow became his permanent name — possibly on account of his wife. "A woman in the deal," you say. Exactly so! This was what he needed to change the tenor of his life. 

No external force between the cradle and the grave exercises so much influence over a man as his wife. She makes him or breaks him. Preacher's wife did both — she made him, and then proved untrue. They parted. He lost faith in humanity and struck for the army. The 16th Infantry took him in. He re-enlisted with this regiment until he finally reached the age limit — 45 years — while they were stationed at Ft. Meade, South Dakota, and he was kicked out. Then he went to Rapid City and ran a restaurant for awhile. But the demon, rum, plus the other demon, a faithless wife, had ruined him. Hope had fled; will power was ruined; manhood was gone; what should he do? At moments like these

"A friend in need is a friend indeed."

That friend showed up. He was none other than Joseph B. Gossage, editor and proprietor of the Rapid City Journal. Gossage took him into his own home, sobered him up, befriended him, and tried to make a man of him.


Finally, Mr. Gossage got him a job herding sheep. This kept him out of town most of the time and away from booze, so that he gradually grew better.

The "Maine" was blown up, Congress declared war. Preacher's hour was at hand. He walked to Rapid City, peniless; joined company "M" of the state guards, and was made first sergeant. He swore his age was 43, as shown by the regimental records, but when he was killed the next year, the evidence in his private effects showed him to be 57. 

When the company started to Sioux Falls for mobilization, Gossage gave Mr. Preacher $10, and arranged with him to act as war correspondent for the Journal. This Preacher did in a clever manner, and the old files of that paper during 1898 and early in 1899 abound in his breezy reports from the scene of action. 


During my own varied career as a farm boy driving oxen, as a teacher, soldier and traveling salesman, I have heard men swear in the most vicious and, sometimes, entertaining fashion, but in all my experience I never heard a man who did swear or could swear by note as did old Sergeant Preacher. 

It was really musical. He was so fluent, his oaths came so easily, and he used so many profane expressions, born out of his broad experience in soldiering with so many different tongues in his early days, that he invariably attracted the attention of all within the range of his voice and entertained them mightily as he waxed eloquent. 

I do not wish to grow too personal, nor do I wish to be irreverent to his memory when I recite one specific instance. We were about two days from Honolulu on our outgoing trip to the Philippines. The noon hour was at hand. The boys were lounging on the upper deck waiting for soup (so-called) to be served. The members in Company "M" had gotten outside of the cramped space on the deck allotted to them and were interfering with the affairs of Company "G." When Sergeant Preacher came up the hatchway, followed by a detail from his own company who was bringing up a dish pan filled with soup, a sergeant in Company "G" made complaint to him about the intrusion of his company. Preacher halted the detail, ordered his own men inside of their inadequate space, and then tore loose at them in a torrent of profanity that was the most musical and gliding of anything I had ever heard. Such a volubility of unique expressions! Such emphasis on the main oaths! Such delsarte — elocution and profane oratory! — I doubt if any man ever lived who could have equalled or surpassed the effort. He seemed, as Disraeli said of Gladstone, "inebriated with the exuberance of his own verbosity." An entire battalion stopped their mess to listen to him. Strange to say! not a man in his own company got mad at him for it. His excessive outburst, although directed at them, was no doubt quite as entertaining to them as to others. 


The first two battalions of the South Dakota regiment reached Manila bay about nine o'clock in the forenoon, August 24, 1898, and that afternoon they were put ashore at the village of Cavite, seven miles south and a trifle west of Manila, across the neck of the bay. The other battalion soon arrived also; the regiment was united; remained in Cavite two weeks; was transferred to Manila, quartered there for six months, and then became a part of General Mc Arthur's army of invasion for the capture of Aguinaldo, the subduing of the rebellious Filipinos and the establishment of American sovereignty throughout the archipelego.

On March 23, 1899 — the morning before the advance was to have been begun that cost the lives of so many brave boys — Sergeant Preacher wrote to Mr. Gossage the following letter:  "Dear Joe: We have just received orders to bivouac tonight a short distance ahead of our present position, and to advance at 4 :00 a. m. tomorrow. 

"That means business. If I get out with a whole skin I will write you a long letter as soon as possible. If I lose the number of my mess — well, good-bye, old man, it is all right. You will understand that it is not buncombe to say at this time that I cheerfully lay my life on the altar of patriotism. But, if I am spared the sacrifice, I will try to live for — as I am ready to die for — my country. 

"All the boys feel the same way and cold feet are scarce. Captain Medbury and Lieutenant Young, are jollying each other like a pair of kids, and as soon as I can I will be with them. 

"Remember me to any who inquire about me, and depend upon your Journal correspondent to do his duty to the best of his ability. Your friend,

Charles B. Preacher."

The advance was made two days later — March 25th. It had its sacrifices, Preacher was spared. The Filipinos were forced back about nine miles. The next day, March 26th, the South Dakota regiment was marched off of the field in a column of fours, by the left flank, and shortly after dinner plunged into the battle of Polo. The next day, March 27th, was Marilao — Marilao ! Will those who were there ever forget it?

The balls came pell-mell
Like a moulten hell,
Smiting us left and right,
We rose or fell
While through the dell
We rushed for yonder height.

Preacher rushed — but only part way. Not far from the heroic regimental adjutant, Lieutenant Jonas H. Lien, who lay in the throes of death, Preacher, too, went down. He died "game to the core." His body was interred at Manila. Eleven months later, Mr. Gossage received
this telegram:

"San Francisco, Feb. 14, 1900.— J. B.
Gossage, Rapid City — Remains late Charles
Preacher, Sergeant "M", First South Dakota,
sent your care 6 o'clock tonight by W. F.
express. — Long, Depot Q. M."

(Continued in the following article.)



Editor Argus-Leader: I was very much interested in Mr. Coursey's "Who's Who" article on Sergeant Preacher. Also a member of Co. F, First South Dakota Infantry, I was shot in the right side in the fight at the Marilao river, and with Sergeant Preacher was taken that night on the same car back to Manila. We were laid side by side in a train of freight cars, eighteen in number, in which, as carefully as could be done, our soldier engineer ran us back the eighteen miles to Manila to the city wharf. There we were disembarked and placed upon a launch which conveyed us up the Pisig river to where a door of the First Reserve hospital opened on to the river, then we were taken out and carried to the operating room where at two tables the surgeons were soon at work on their mission of mercy. So many were there that the rooms surrounding the operating room were completely covered with the litters of the boys, where they lay chatting and smoking amid the groans of the dying, talking over the events of that terribly eventful day. Finally it came my turn and after having my wound dressed I was taken to ward 18, a ward made of large "A" tents erected on a platform outside the quadrangle of wards of the regular hospital, as that was full, having at the time over 900 men in it. About 3:00 o'clock in the morning I was placed in a bed in this ward, the first springs that I had been laid on in a year. I had been on guard without sleep throughout the previous night, after having passed through the fierce fight at Meycanayan, and after that day's fighting at Marilao and with the suffering from my wound I was as nearly in a state of collapse as I  well could be.

Never will I forget the sense of delicious ease that stole over me as they laid me, my wound dressed, down upon those soft white sheets. There were over 60 men, all wounded cases in this ward, shot in every manner describable and indescribable, and among them was heroic old Sergeant Preacher. The ball had crashed through the center of his chest, making a wound through which the blood constantly oozed as he breathed, and had lodged so close to the surface beneath his right shoulder blade that its location was, clearly visible, the flesh blackening at the spot. 

The old man was forced to gasp for every breath he drew, and each inhalation must have cost him excruciating pain. He persuaded the nurse, Miss Betts, the next day to have him taken to the operating room for a further examination. More to humor the old man than anything else the ward-master consented and it was done, though somewhat hastily, as it was absolutely known that he could not live. A few "hypos" were administered to relieve his pain and the old man was brought back to his cot with the assurance that he was "coming along all right", that there would have to be a little operation by and by but as they were very busy he would have to wait. The surgeon in charge of the hospital was Major Crosby, a splendid, kind hearted man, but it was difficult even to breathe with the press of his work and consequently he was somewhat short and gruff. The old sergeant noticed this and turning to me, from whose cot he lay just opposite, he enquired, pausing for breath between each word, "Who — is — that — surgeon — anyway?" He was told that his name was Major Crosby. "Well," said the sergeant, "He — is — a — 'Cross — boy — isn't — he?" Think of it! Dying and fighting for every breath, this old American soldier stopped to smile, to crack a joke and pun upon the name of this doctor! Later on as the sun was beating fiercely down on the tents in the heart of the day, as help was scarce, and there was no one to be constantly in attendance upon him I got myself into a position where I could fan him as he lay struggling for breath. I would give a great deal now if I could recall the snatches of sentences he uttered at that time with the death-dew on his brow, but I can not recall them clearly enough to reproduce them verbatim. Suffice it to say that there were visions of a far off home, of other battlefields, and of faces that he had "loved and lost awhile."  It came evening and the shadows deepened. The old man knew me as one of the boys of South Dakota. I had met him, too, at some of the little gospel services when a dozen or so of the boys had gathered with Chaplain Daley for a few words of prayer and Christian praise together. I know not what the old soldier was thinking of when he said it, whether it was the glory of the charge that the regiment made that day at Marilao river or any thought of the Dark river that he knew full well lay just before his feet. But looking into my face he said with a smile through his pain and weakness, "We're  — all — right,’ — aren't we?"

Twilight passed, the cathedral bells in the walled city just across the moat had rung the vesper hour and from the barracks came sounds of retreat, tattoo and taps. The old man's ear must have caught them for the last time for he stirred uneasily. I looked at Miss Betts questioningly with an inclination of my head toward the cot of the old man, and she shook her head negatively. As the darkness fell and the quiet of the night came on the struggle for breath grew keener until it could be heard throughout the length the ward. He was dying hard, fighting for every inch of his ground. He half raised himself on his elbow, "I — hope — I — don't — bother — you — fellows!" gasped he, falling back on his pillow as he finished his statement. That was the last coherent sentence. The night wore on. Midnight came. Down at the guardhouse the relief would be falling in for the change of guard. "Third — relief! — Fall in! Where — is — that — lazy devil!" Can't — you — turn — out — when — your — relief — is — called?" The old sergeant in delirium was turning out the guard for the last relief. "M" — Co. — all — present — and — accounted — for sir!" It was morning and roll call, and he was turning in his report to a sleepy lieutenant. Now the talk was just a gasping babble. I lay listening for the end. The hushed voices became an indistinct murmur and I knew no more.

It was morning. I looked over to the old sergeant's cot. He and the bed clothing had disappeared. The mattress was rolled half back. The sun was shining brightly without. Nurse Betts was taking temperatures and the hospital corps boys were passing out the dishes for breakfast. Some of the boys propped up in bed had lit up their pipes and cigarettes and were chatting gaily. None of us mentioned it, but all of us down in our hearts were glad that peace had come to the old man, and that his pain and his sufferings were over. Comrade Coursey may place many and many a star in the galaxy of fame that comprises his "Who's Who in South Dakota," but he never will place a more worthy one there than he did when he wrote in them the name of Charles B. Preacher. He served in the ranks and he carried a gun, but no man that wore a shoulder strap or brandished a sword was more worthy of the title "Soldier and Gentleman" than he.

Guy P. Squire.
Late Private Co. F, First South Dakota

Volunteer Infantry.
Humboldt, S. D.



South Dakota Genealogy Trails



All data on this website is © Copyright 2008 by Genealogy Trails
with full rights reserved for original submitters.