W. T Goode.

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cease feeding us until every soldier's hunger was
satiated. There were many friendships created while
we were at this little city. Many a soldier lost a
United States army button from his blouse. Every-
where it was, "Soldier, give me a button, please."

"Give me a button, soldier please." "Dang!
dang-gle-lang !" echoed the engine bell ; there was
a surge, an uproar of "Good-by boys," soldiers
and officers running and climbing and hanging
upon the steps of each coach. The Eighth Illinois
was off again, speedily noisily onward toward the
Atlantic seaboard. The ladies at Chillicothe told us


that at Greenfield we would receive the same treat-
ment, which we found to be not exaggerated.

Onward we sped, the huge black locomotive puffing
and moving with more energy than she had ever had
before up steep grades, around sharp curves, through
deep cuts, with huge boulders projecting far out over
our heads, over ravines, trestles and bridges we
passed, when eleven o'clock finds us at the patriotic
little city of Athens, Ohio. This was Tuesday, Au-
gust 9th, ii p. m. Here we were subjected to the same
hospitality that was bestowed upon us earlier in the
day at Chillicothe and Greenfield. Notwithstanding
the lateness of the evening we got our sandwiches
and hot coffee just the same. Some of the boys were
very much worried, tired and fatigued on account of
a few hundred miles ride, consequently were in their
berths asleep. Nevertheless, they awoke, poked
their heads out between the curtains and would
say, "Don't forget me, lady, please," and there
were but a few who got left, for that's not a part of
a soldier's duty to get left.

It is now ii o'clock p. m. A day spent well.
Nearly all day long we were traveling mid scenes of
loyalty and patriotic applause, passing through ave-
nues of American stars and stripes waved and un-
furled by the hands of liberty-loving men and women,
little bits of boys and girls standing far up on the
hillsides, hanging upon fences, waving and halloo-
ing '"Rah ! for de Eight Illinois." Long after the night
shades had fallen and twilight and darkness had
hushed everything in silence and repose, occasionally
we could hear a faint juvenile voice echo "Hoorah


for de Eight Illinois !" This was Tuesday night, Au-
gust Qth. We had traveled entirely across the three
most enterprising and liberty-loving states in the
Union Illinois, Indiana and Ohio.

On leaving Athens we had only a short run be-
fore we reached Parkersburg, W. Va., and just as the
train was passing over the high bridge that spanned
the Ohio River into West Virginia the hands of the
town clock were just pointing to the hour of twelve
midnight. At Parkersburg the time changes. It
is one hour earlier than the central time. Most of
us who were not asleep wished we had reached this
city in the daytime, that we might have obtained a
better view of it. The bridge that spans the river
here is sixty or seventy-five feet above the water
and extends far into the city in the nature of a via-
duct. We passed above a park along the river front
of the city and many streets below before the tracks
were on terra firma or the depot was reached. While
on the bridge and looking down upon the city the
electric lights presented a grand spectacle while
throwing out their effulgent rays upon the silence of
midnight's quiet repose.

This was the first time since we left Camp Tanner
that the second section had overtaken the first, and
of course there were a few "exchanges" between the
boys of both sections. We had to stay in Parkers-
burg an hour or more to await the repairs of the
engine of the first section, which had broken a piston
rod. It required some time to replace another.

We were just on the verge of the mountainous part
of our journey. It required two engines to each sec-


tion and it seemed that engines there were things of
scarcity, and we either had to have ours repaired or
we would have to wait much longer for another.

On leaving Parkersburg we merged into the scenic
section of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad, darting
through dark tunnels, climbing spirally the lofty steeps
of the Blue Ridge Mountains, sliding down long
curved grades, while over our heads projected huge
boulders bedecked with ferns, shrubbery and huge
trees, which seemed to bow applause to the passing
Eighth. Looking far down the green mountain slope
the little rivulets and streams, like white silvery
threads, were busily yet noiselessly winding their way
onward toward the sea.

Anyone, on passing through the cars, would see one
of the most beautiful living pictures of Christianized
humanity. All within was sobriety, mutuality and sub-
limity. The men were paired and quartered in twos
and fours, some reading, some having social games
at cards and checkers, some humming almost inaudi-
ble songs of loved ones, home, friends and kindred,
while others were making selections as to who would
be their comrades through the war and who they
would tent with upon their arrival in Cuba. Such
vivid scenes will ever be held in reverence and cher-
ished the memory of the boys of the Eighth.

At 5 145 p. m. Wednesday, August loth, we were en-
tering the environments of the august capital city
of our great republic Washington City. We were
not taken through the city, but carried around it on
the belt line, but there were many persons at the belt


station to greet and welcome the passing of the much
talked-of Eighth.

One of the many personages that met us there was
Dr. A. M. Curtis, formerly of the Provident Hospital,
Chicago, 111., but later of the Freedman's Hospital
of Washington, D. C., and I dare say there are but
few other men of our race that had the interest at
heart of the Eighth Illinois as did he. What little
time we remained there he was busy going from win-
dow to window of the cars, shaking hands, saying
"Good-by" and wishing "God speed" to the soldier
boys, to strangers and friends alike, so ardent and
unbiased was his respect and interest in our boys.
Dr. A. M. Curtis is a cousin of Dr. D. W. Cur-
tis, who held the commission of assistant surgeon
with rank of a first lieutenant in the Eighth Illinois
Regiment. Lieutenant T. W. Curtis, after our ar-
rival in Cuba, was placed in charge of the detached
military hospital, Military Post No. i, at Palma Sori-
ano de Cuba, by Colonel Marshall ; a wise selection,
too. Upon all occasions Dr. Curtis was found to ex-
ercise his entire energies in behalf of the wants and
needs of the sick soldiers of Companies E and F,
who were stationed at this post, some twenty odd
miles away from the main body of the regiment, far
away in the mountains. Many were the times that
Dr. Curtis mounted his steed and rode off to San
Luis through lonely lane-like roads, through palm
groves and cane, in pursuit of provisions and medi-
cines for his sick soldiers in Palma, who were in
dire need of nourishment, etc. He on more than
one occasion contributed money out of his own purse


for such things. He also visited the camp quarters
by permission of the post commander and solicited the
amount of twenty-five cents from each soldier in or-
der to establish a sick fund to purchase luxuries for
those who were sick and helpless in the hospital,
as well as for those who might fall ire to the much
dreaded diseases.

Leaving Washington City, seven o'clock finds us
at Baltimore, Md. This was 7 p. m. Wednesday,
August loth. The tracks that our cars were on had
stone walls on. either side, which shut off our view
of the streets, the tops of which were crowded with
little children.

While in Baltimore we were treated with less en-
thusiasm than we had received in any other of the
cities we had previously passed through. With the
exception of a few boys and .girls who ran alongside
our cars, begging us for hardtack or buttons from
our blouses, there was nothing to mark the appear-
ance or the passing of the Eighth. While we were
in Baltimore some of our officers left the train and
went into a restaurant to get a lunch and they were de-
liberately refused. Think of it. An American re-
fusing to sell a hungry American soldier something
to eat ! All on account of his color. Such American
citizens stand greatly in need of much Christianizing
and are void of civilization. While passing through
Baltimore we were carried through a long tunnel.
We did not see much of the city.

At one o'clock in the morning, August nth, we
arrived at Philadelphia, Pa. There was nothing of
any importance transpired while there.


Between four and five o'clock Thursday morning,
August nth, we reached Jersey City, fl speak of
the second section in order to be more accurate, for
there was a varied difference of time between the
arrival of the several sections.] Here, for the first
time since leaving Athens, Ohio, we had a chance
to get anything to eat apart from our traveling ra-

After arriving at Jersey City there were no special
restraints put upon the soldiers by the colonel. They
were permitted to go free at will, purchasing what-
ever they wanted to buy for the comfort of their ocean
voyage. The men did not abuse these privileges by
buying intoxicating drink in excess. Many bought
bottles of beer and a very little liquor. They drank
it immediately to brace themselves up after their long
ride from Springfield to New York. This was the
extent of their indulgence. They also bought to-
bacco, cigars and lunch bags, and when the time
came to be transferred over into New York City
the officers experienced but little difficulty in handlirrg
so large a body of men. The entire regiment was
complimented by observers for their quietness, their
manly behavior and soldierly conduct. They marched
down West street with all the stolidity of men who had
received years of special training. Steadily yet noise-
lessly they quickly trod amid the cheers and applause
of the vast crowd that had gathered on either side
of the thoroughfare until the pier was reached. Here
lay the steamer, or cruiser "Yale." She was to figure
in the latter half of our journey to Santiago de Cuba.
The transfer from Jersey City over the East River


to New York City was accomplished by u o'clock
a. m. This was on Thursday, August nth. It re-
quired but a short time to have our baggage and
equipments brought over and loaded on board the

In the meantime quite a number of the officers,
non-commissioned officers and a few privates suc-
ceeded in eluding the sentinels. They found their
way to the streets and slipped off up town. Of course
it became their prerogative to sample some of "Old
Knickerbocker's" wet goods.

All was ready. The Yale had cleared, turned about
and headed toward the open sea. She was not off
as yet. She had to wait for a tug to bring those who
were left at the docks out to her. When the tug
reached the Yale some of the men saw the Yale, while
others saw two or three Yales. Some of the boys
wished to spend a few hours in the eastern metropolis.
They wanted to tell the New Yorkers how they ex-
pected to vanquish the Spanish soldier after arriving
in Cuba. This was not permitted owing to our colo-
nel's hurried instructions. He was to report with
his command at the earliest practicable date at San-

Some of our men were left in New York after all.
The following is the list of those who were left :
Corporal Arthur Thompson, Company F; Sergeant
Samuel Rudd, Company F ; Private Charles Anv
brose, Company F ; Private John Jones, Company E ;
Private George Walls, Company F ; Private George
Hening, Company E; Private Samuel Claxton, Com-
pany C ; Private Charles Hays, Company F.


Private Charles Ambrose and Private George Walls,
Company F, were left on account of having fallen
from the train, as previously mentioned. Band Ser-
geant Samuel Rudd was left on account of having
contracted rheumatism while at Camp Tanner, but
there has never been any accurate account given as
to the cause of the other men being left in New York.
We do not know whether it was that they did not
hear the Yale whistle preparatory to her leaving, or
whether it was that they heard the whistle of two or
three Yales and were unable to determine which one
they were to make. However, when they came to
the docks to go on board the true Yale we were
many miles away at sea, or possibly at Santiago.

They did not rejoin their respective companies un-
til in September.

Private George Walls, after his recovery, was
granted a furlough, but in the meantime his conduct
was prejudicial to good order and military discip-
line. He was tried and was dishonorably discharged
from the United States army service by a general
order issued by General Nelson A. Miles of the United
States army, December 6, 1898.

Charles Ambrose received an honorable discharge
on account of inability to do further military duty,
per general order from General Miles, December 10,
1898. Private Ambrose is a cripple for' life, having
had his left knee-cap taken off, thus leaving that limb
a little better than a wooden leg. He will ever re-
member Monday night, August 8, 1898.

We left New York City at one o'clock Thursday.
August u, 1898. We glided out of the harbor until the


open sea was reached, when the prow of our steamer
pointed toward the islands of the Caribbean Sea. No
incident of any importance marred our voyage. We
were out three days when we were hailed by a scout
steamer of the government service inquiring for news
from the States.

In the early part of the fourth night of our voyage
about nine o'clock the lookout on our cruiser espied
a strange ship in the darkness. The captain of our
vessel signaled to her but she made no response.
The ship was thought to be a Spanish vessel. Re-
ceiving no answer to his signaling, the captain of the.
Yale ordered the naval crew to duty. In less time
than it takes to tell it every man was at his post.
An eight-inch shell was brought on deck and every-
thing was ready for action, but there was no need
of it. The strange ship, changing her course, soon
passed out of view in the darkness of the night.

Passing onward, nothing more of incident trans-
pired until Sunday afternoon, August I4th, when we
sighted the Island of San Salvador. A round of three
cheers went up from many throats. It was the first
land that we had sighted for four days. There were
many who were excited with joy. They thought that
they had sighted Cuba at last. But alas ! there was
a disappointment. The land that was seen was not
Cuba, but one of the Bahama Islands, San Salvador.
This was the first land sighted on the morning of
October n, 1492, by that famous discoverer, Chris-
topher Columbus. The Italian voyager, sailing un-
der the flag of Spain, planted a cross and retained
the island for the same crown that the Eighth Illi-


nois was sailing thence to wrest the Island of Cuba
the King of the Antilles from.

About ten o'clock Monday morning, August i5th,
the long looked for foreign shore was in sight. Cuba
was in view. A long range of mountains, some rug-
ged and barren, others in coat of green, stretched
back from the shore far away in the distance. Here
and there a rocky promontory projected its rocky
crest far into the ocean. Now and then a cape was
rounded. In and out we touched the little bays,
all of which bespoke of a foreign shore. It was Cuba,
the destination which the Eighth Illinois was to reach.
Here they were to brave the dangers of a voracious
and much dreaded disease, the "yellow jack," or a
probability of having to encounter a Spanish bullet
or an enemy's machete, all because they were loyal
countrymen espousing the cause of a great republic.
All because they were sworn and pledged to protect
and uphold the dignity and honor of the stars and
stripes that waved over the once pride of the United
States navy "The Maine."

Onward, down the rock-bound coast our brave ship
gallantly plowed through the dashing surges. Peak
after peak came to view, then passed away in the dis-
tance. Monday afternoon, August i5th, we arrived
at the mouth of Guantanamo Bay. This was our
first stoppage since we left New York City. Here
again some of the soldiers thought that it was San-
tiago Bay, but soon ascertained different. We stopped
here some three-quarters of an hour or more. In
the bay lay many United States war vessels guarding
two or three captured vessels belonging to Spain.


After an exchange of a few naval signals the Yale
steamed about and was soon on her last run for San-
tiago de Cuba. Guantanamo City we did not touch,
owing to its being situated about six miles up the
bay on a little river by the same name which emptied
into the bay. Later in the afternoon we arrived at
the spot where once stood a little Spanish town.
This was Siboney (se-bo-na). Here it was where the
first Spanish-American battle was fought on the island.
The Americans captured this town and burned it, the
ruins of which were still smoldering when we were

It was about n o'clock Monday morning, August
1 5th. There were some soldiers up in the rigging
of the ship. All at once they yelled down to the
boys on deck, "Say, boys, there's old Moro!"
"Where? where?" many voices echoed. "Go around
on the other side of the ship and you can see her."
Sure enough, there before our gaze, in the dim dis-
tance, stood old Moro Castle, silent, sullen and de-
fiant, but dismantled.

A short time later the United States auxiliary cruiser
with the cargo of the Eighth Illinois Regiment lay
anchored in the mouth of the historic Santiago Bay,
right under the now defenseless castle. Upon this
scene we remained all of the afternoon, but during
the night our boat had drifted some ten miles out
and down the coast. Next morning she headed back
toward Santiago Bay, which we reached a short time
before noon again. We laid there in front of the
castle until about three o'clock in the afternoon.
Tuesday, August i6th, we were still on the Yale.


Midday finds her at the entrance of Santiago Bay
basking in the tropical sunshine of the Caribbean
Sea. About one o'clock a launch came alongside of
our vessel and an army official came aboard the Yale
and held a short conversation with our commandant.
He then climbed back into the launch and steamed
up the bay. Shortly afterward there was seen a
smaller vessel than ours steaming slowly out of the
bay. It proved to be the lighter Burnside. Then
a second one appeared. This was the Orizaba.
Lastly came two tugs, the Laura and Bessie. The
two lighters, Burnside and Orizaba, stopped and
dropped anchors about two hundred yards off.

Then there were active preparations going on aboard
the Yale to relieve her of her five days' burden. It
was five days almost to the hour from the time we left
New York harbor until we began to disembark at
Santiago Bay. Five days and nights we spent with
our clothes on. We were not allowed inside the Yale,
but had to sleep on deck in whatever weather that
happened. The Sixth Massachusetts, that preceded
us on the Yale, was so dirty and acted so bad and
left the ship in such a filthy condition that the com-
mander of the vessel feared a repetition of affairs.
But he was mistaken. He told many of us
that he was surprised at such gentlemanly con-
duct of such a large body of men, and with-
out any exaggeration the decks of the cruiser were
just as clean comparatively when the Eighth was
transferred at Santiago as when they went aboard at
New York. They expected the decks to be kept in
a filthy condition, owing to seasickness, etc., and were


not over-particular in keeping them clean. But after
the first day's voyage, finding things to the contrary,
the boys of the Eighth were up every morning at five
o'clock so that the ship's crew could wash down the
decks. Early dawn would find us all piled upon each
other along the sides of the steamer, rolled up
in blankets to keep ourselves warm and com-
fortable as possible from the chilled ocean breeze
and the heavy nightly mist of the wild billows.
Quite often, while the ironclad prow of our cruiser
was plowing its way sturdily through the wild
and angry billows, a monster wave would leap
high up in the air, throwing her silvery sprays over
everyone in reach upon the deck. Many a time I've
seen a comrade standing laughing at another unfor-
tunate who had just been water soaked, when an-
other receding wave would make its appearance upon
the deck and "splash !" he'd get it right in the face
or alongside the head. There would not be any more
laughing for a while, but when the mist cleared away
there would be a dripping, water-soaked mass of hu-
manity left standing, while the previous victim would
be singing, "And I guess that will hold you for

Every morning, while the crew would be busy wash-
ing down the decks, we would pull our shoes off,
give our feet a good soaking in the salty ocean water
which was as salty as brine, while the hose was being
used. This added a great deal to our comfort, as it
had a tendency to keep our feet from swelling from
having our shoes on so many hours at a time.

We were transferred to the Burnside and the Orizaba


by the tug Bessie and our arms and equipments were
put on the tug Laura, which was manned and worked
bv Cuban men. Here for first time we saw the Cuban
in his native country. They worked like little Turks,
so to speak. It seemed that the sight of their new
American benefactors made them feel grateful and
they wanted to show us what adepts they were at
handling dockage or freight. After we had been
transferred aboard the lighters they steamed slowly
out of the Caribbean Sea into the Bay of Santiago
and six miles up to Santiago City.

While the lighters were gliding slowly away toward
Santiago I stood on the deck of the Orizaba and
looked back at the Yale, which lay upon the bosom
of the calm Caribbean Sea like some huge leviathan
grayhound, and while I stood there silently and ear-
nestly gazing at her ponderous hulk, I thanked her
over and over again for having brought us more than
eighteen hundred miles across the boundless deep with-
out one accident to cause us a fear or a regret.

After we were about half way up the bay we ex-
perienced a violent electric and tropical storm which
almost swamped the Orizaba. The storm last some
three-quarters of an hour, when it abated ; then we
resumed our onward journey toward the city of Samp-
son-Schley fame.

We reached Santiago about seven o'clock on the
evening of T.uesday, August i6th. Immediately after
we were landed our companies were formed into col-
umns of fours and through mud and water from four
to five inches deep we marched direct to the famous
San Juan Hill. The night was wet and dark, the


narrow, lane-like road was full of mudholes and wash-
outs, strange and new. Some of the men carried
three and four guns, rolls, canteens, etc., while others
were loaded down with boxes of hardtack, canned
beef, coffee and beans ; every man was tasked. On-
ward we marched, stumbling, falling, slipping and
catching in a dark, strange country. Sometimes we
would be in a mudhole, then in a little ravine or
gully, upon the side of a mound, then down again in
the would-be road full of boulders and cobblestones.
To say there was some profanity used is putting it
mildly. Thus was our first march in Cuba.

Having camped near Santiago two nights (which
is mentioned in another chapter), we left for San
Luis. We started at ten o'clock Thursday night,
August i8th. We were carried over the F. C. S. Y.
M. Railroad (Ferro-carril Sibonila y Mororia), which
had Santiago for one terminal and San Luis the other,
a distance of thirty-five miles, arriving at San Luis
at 2:45 a - m - Friday morning, August I9th. We all
remained in the cars, which were baggage cars, flat
cars and cattle cars mixed (quite a change from the
sleeping cars in the States) until daylight. Then we
got out, stacked our arms, piled up our equipments
and had some hardtacks and coffee. The officers al-
lowed the men the liberty of the town for a few hours
and it was not long before the newcomers were scat-

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Online LibraryW. T GoodeThe Eighth Illinois → online text (page 6 of 16)