HISTORY OF COMPANY K, 33rd Michigan Volunteer Infantry

HISTORY OF COMPANY K, 33rd Michigan Volunteer Infantry, U. S. A.

By Corporal E. J. Stilwell.


COMPANY K was organized at Three Rivers, St. Joseph County, Michigan, May 16, 1898, and was officered as follows:

Captain, Charles P. Wheeler, Three Rivers;

Charles P. Wheeler

1st Lieutenant, Wade L. Swartwout, Three Rivers;

1st Lieutenant, Wade L. Swartwout

2d Lieutenant, William F. Pack, Centreville;

2d Lieutenant, William F. Pack

Quartermaster Sergeant, James McJury, Three Rivers;


1st, Willard King, Three Rivers; 2d, Louis Evans, Three Rivers; 3d Charles Hitchcock, White Pigeon; 4th, Walter C. Jones, Marcellus; 5th, Frank E. Davey, Constantine;


Ernest J, Stilwell, Constantine; Sherman L. Culbertson, Centreville; Barton C. Nottingham, Marcellus; Charles Slater, Mendon; Charles R. Arner, Three Rivers; Jesse L. Dockstader, Centreville; Artificer, Ross Appleman, Mendon ; Wagoner, Harmon Legg, Three Rivers.

The list of privates was as follows:

Three Rivers;

Charles S. Boyer, William H. Hartgrove, John W. Hartgrove, Fred L. Kaiser, Frederic A. Kra1nb, Albert Machalwaska, Warren A. Mowrer, Austin C. Ruggles, Clarence H. Ruggles, Harvey J. Ruggles, Burney F. Reed, George M. Trickey, Otis D. Weinberg.


Bismark M. Cooper, Newton Drake, Albert G. Griffin, Sylvester Ickes, J. Frank Manning, Glen D. Monroe, Herbert McDonald, Louis N. McMillan, Otis M. Marr, Orlo E. Naylor, Charles O. Romig, Earle L. Taylor.


William E. Brown, Michael Butcher, William A. Butcher, Clarence J. Hatch, Frank E. Mero, John C. McGowan, Marion A. Young, Harry M. Younglove,, George H. White, Joel Auton.


August C. Greenberg, Joseph L. Kirby, Amos I. Lincoln, Charles A. Lincoln, Ira R. Price.


L. C. Avery, Bert W. Evans, Henry D. Rogers, Edward E. Wortinger.


Albert Benfer, Burton E. Gilman, Clyde R. Schoonmaker, Eugene P. Spangler.

White Pigeon;

Harry B. Brown, Christian W. Wolgamood, Orbey L. Wright.

Burr Oak;

Bertran I. Downs, Arthur B. Prouty, Arden R. Seymour.


Daniel J. Everhart, Louis E. Moncey, Jacob B. Smith.


Arthur G. Bennett, Guy H. Pixley.


Bennie Clay, John H. Gray.


Elijah D. Heimbach.

Grand Rapids;

Ross S. Hardesty.


Emery L. Knickerbocker, musician.

Bay City;

George E. Smart, musician.


George D. Baker, Wilder N. Higgins.


Company K left Three Rivers, Michigan on Monday, May 16, 1898, eighty-four strong.

Thousands of people were present to witness the departure of the heroes, and the sadness of the scene can only be realized by those of whom the sorrow of such a parting comes as an individual grief.

The boys felt the love for friends as never before, but duty called them hence.

The city was gaily decorated.

The Three Rivers cornet band, the martial band and Constantine's martial band, together with members of the G. A. R., S. of V., and citizens, marched with the soldiers to the M. C. depot, where Judge Pealer, Rev. McPherson, M. H. Bumphrey and others made short addresses to the boys, to which Captain Wheeler responded in a few well-chosen words.

Patriotic songs were sung by a male quartette.

At 11:40 the company left for Island Lake amid an outburst of cheers and sobs characteristic of such an occasion only.

At Jackson, dinner was furnished at the hotel by the ladies of Three Rivers.


Camp Eaton, Island Lake, was reached at 9 o'clock p. m., and the company was marched at once to its street.

The company's first detail of men, which was to get blankets, became lost in that great city of tents, and one man had to be brought back by a soldier of another regiment.

His load of fifty blankets, together with a two hours' search for his company, was just a foretaste of what all of us endured in the four months' campaign.

That night, the supper provided by the ladies of Three Rivers, was eagerly devoured, and we rolled up in our blankets to spend our first night of camp life.

We enjoyed it, for we had straw-ticks upon which to sleep, and when the bugle sounded at early dawn, the boys thought that camp life would not be so bad after all.

The company was called out for drill on the 17th, and Captain Wheeler made the appointments of non-commissioned officers, which were approved by the colonel.

On the 19th, the captain informed his men that if any wished to withdraw he must do so now, for the company was ready to be mustered into the U. S. service.

Not a man flinched, but everyone was determined to do the two years' service required.

Only one man was rejected by the Inspector General.

As we pledged allegiance to the flag, we stood with uncovered heads, and with our right hand heavenward, just as a little rain began to fall upon the scene, which impressed many with the thought that even heaven wept to see her sons thus sacrificed for humanity.

We were then U. S. soldiers Company K, 33d Michigan Volunteer Infantry.

The first case of sickness in Company K was that of Private L. C. Avery, of Constantine, who was seized with appendicitis, and taken at once to Harper hospital in Detroit, by Sergeant F. K. Davey.

Avery underwent a successful operation, but was not able to join his comrades until their return from Cuba.

He was on duty with the 32d Michigan regiment at Port Tampa, Fla., for some time, and rejoined the company at Montauk Point.

The uniforms were issued one piece at a time until fully equipped, and on May 21 rifles were received, after which we commenced drilling in the manual of arms.

On May 28, the state rations were discontinued, and U. S. rations commenced.

On the 28th, the rifles were taken up.

The U. S. rations consisted of hardtack, (the first most of us had ever eaten,) pork and beans, black coffee, etc.

The company would fall in for mess, march to the mess tent, receive rations, sit down and eat, then go to a sand pile to scour the tin dishes, wipe them with a piece of paper, and place them back in the tents.

A soldier becomes a gentleman, a slave, a cook, a dishwasher, a chambermaid, a picket in as many minutes as vocations cited.

Army shoes were not furnished at Camp Eaton, and to those who needed shoes and had no money, Captain Wheeler loaned money.


On May 26, orders were received to break camp, and move at once to Camp Alger, Virginia.

Transportation was two days late, and rations ran completely out, and the soldiers would have fared miserably had not the gallant officers of the company come to our rescue.

Lieutenant Pack took the non-commissioned officers to the hotel for dinner, and Captain Wheeler took the company to supper.

This was the last square meal served to us until we came home from Cuba.

After this, the soldiers could not do enough for the officers of the company, who proved themselves men in every respect, and not tyrants, like some officers.

On May 28, Company K left dear old "Michigan, my Michigan," with the 33rd regiment.

The remaining regiments cheered with genuine enthusiasm as we boarded the cars and pulled out for Camp Alger.

The trip was eventful, the boys making many acquaintances in the larger cities with the young ladies who came to greet us.

There were many letters received later from these fair ones, which acted as a stimulant to home sick and despondent ones at the front.

The rations issued on the trip were three sandwiches a day with black coffee.

Some of the boys will remember when we passed through Bucyrus, Ohio, where young ladies handed up cakes, pies, and many nice things to eat.

As we passed through Charleston, W. V., we thought of the character of the receptions given the boys of 1861 and those of 1898; for in 1861 it was with shot and shell, and in 1898 with cigars and eatables, and everything that goes to show southern hospitality.

The train reached Dunn Loring, Virginia, May 30.

The troops disembarked at once and marched to Camp Alger, three miles distant.

The weather was very warm, the roads dusty, and our throats were parched with thirst.

The regiment marched to a thick growth of underbrush, where orders to make camp were received.

This was not the young soldier's vision of Camp Alger.

We had expected to camp on a grassy plot beside the Potomac River and not in a wilderness.

But although disheartened, the soldiers went to work with a will and soon a respectable camp was cleared.

About sundown rations were issued, the first since 9 a. m.

The boys thought of home and mother that day, but realized that anything might be expected of soldiers.


Private " Dutch " Rogers, of Constantine, was detailed one day to go to Falls Church, a few miles from camp.

He took his pass and started, He passed the inner lines all O. K., but when he got to the outpost he failed.

The sentry was a big colored soldier from one of the other regiments, and he loomed up before Dutch like a giant.

The pass was presented, but the sentry told Dutch to go back into the woods and write another, "you might do a better job next time, sah."

And Dutch didn't get to Falls Church.

He had an eight mile walk for experience only.


Company K had only 84 men, and 106 were required to make it complete.

Corporal Dockstader was detailed to return to Michigan for recruits, and succeeded nicely.

The recruits were as follows:

Ray W. Nihart, Mendon;

Wally Barringer, Frank M. Boyer, Louis E. Parker, Samuel Gemberling, Three Rivers;

George F. Belote, William I. Fairman, Frank Shalla, Centreville;

Albert Greenburg, William M. Shuart, Detroit ;

Frank G. Stephenson, Penn;

Will A. Green, George S. Hayes, LeRoy Ickes, William C. Hartman, James Kelley, Joseph Moses, Calvin W. Nash, Floyd M. Franklin, Victor R. Streeter, Frank A, Clellancl, Marcellus.

Six of the original company, Charles O. Romig, Edward K. Wortinger, George D. Baker, George H. White, Wilder N. Higgins and L. C. Avery were unable to go to Cuba with the company.

Their places were filled by recruits, Joseph J. Moses, Albert Greenberg, William Shuart, William Fairman, Frank Shalla and Frank Stephenson.

Five of the disabled men were left at Camp Alger, and L. C. Avery at Detroit.

Avery was afterward at Port Tampa, Fla., and joined the company at Montauk, Sept. 2, 18uS.

The remainder of the recruits and the disabled men of the original company remained at Camp Alger.

Some of them were afterwards transferred to other posts and several furloughed and discharged on account of sickness.


Before rifles were received, the guards in our quarter of the camp carried big clubs when on patrol duty, and some lively incidents occurred between the guards and citizens or smart soldiers who tried to cross the line without passes.

The 34th Michigan regiment arrived in camp June 7.

Our company acted as host, displaying much hospitality to one of the companies of the newly arrived regiment.

Then we watched the 34th do what we had done eight days before, make camp.

Pup tents were issued June 9.

When on the march each soldier carries half a tent, stakes etc., in addition to the usual load of blanket, haversack, canteen, rifle and ammunition, about 65 pounds in all.

Rifles were issued June 10, and from then on came hard drilling in the manual of arms, especially loading and firing.

Refreshment stands which turned out food unfit to eat were occasionally raided, and peddlers of delicacies sometimes met with total losses.

In one instance a wagon was entirely looted of its contents, ice cream, milk, strawberries etc.

Another time, an Irishman made a dive for a duck, which began to "quack, quack, quack."

"I'll be d*** if you'll walk', I'll carry you, " shouted the Irishman as he rushed through the crowd with the owner of the load after him.

The Irishman was soon lost in the crowd, and when the poor man came back his ducks, geese and chickens had all disappeared.

He complained to the officer of the day, but no one could be found who knew anything about his fowls.

Orders came to raise bunks one foot from the ground, which we did by means of driving crotched posts into the ground and laying logs upon them either way, filling in with bark, leaves and straw.

Every few days we had inspection of quarters (not 25c pieces.)

This is done by officers; and every tent must be free from filth so as to prevent disease.

The 9th Massachusetts and the 33rd Michigan regiments had a wrangle over the right to the water in a certain spring from which a squad of Massachusetts men drove the Michigan guards.

This ended when the 9th celebrated the anniversary of the battle of Bunker Hill, the band from the 33rd going over and furnishing music for the evening exercises.

Vaccination was the next thing in order, and nine tenths of the men were included.

There were many sore arms which helped to make life miserable, for before they healed the regiment was ordered to Cuba.

At Camp Alger the soldiers were remembered by friends from their native towns, boxes of provisions being received from Marcellus, Centerville, Mendon and Constantine.

The ladies of Three Rivers sent "housewives," which consist of scissors, thimbles, needles, thread and buttons.

These were very useful articles.


The 33rd Michigan was brigaded with the 34th Michigan and 9th Massachusetts.

The brigade was commanded by Gen. Henry M. Duffield, and was a provisional brigade until Cuba was reached, when it was assigned to Gen. Bates' division of the 5th army corps commanded by Major General Wm. R. Shafter.

On Sunday, June 19, orders came for a forced march to the Potomac, fifteen miles away.

It was our hardest march.

The brigade was in heavy marching order, and the weather was terrible.

The march was conducted like a march through the enemy's country, with advance and rear guards, flankers, etc.

The dust was almost unendurable, the water in the canteens became hot, and when the Potomac was reached, the boys had a big taste of what it means to be a soldier.

We pitched our tents on the bank of the beautiful river, where we expected to stay a few days; but early the next morning we were ordered to bathe in the river, and as soon as breakfast was over, to prepare to return to Camp Alger.

Company K acted as rear guard on the return march.

With the rear guard came almost a company of stragglers who had fallen by the wayside.

Corporal Dockstader arrived from Michigan June 19 with the recruits.

On June 21, brigade inspection took place, conducted by Gen. Duffield and staff.

Every man's equipments were inspected in minute detail.


On June 22, the 33d Michigan and one battalion of the 34th Michigan were ordered to break camp and march to Dunn Loring, where the troops took the cars for Alexandria; from there down the Potomac river and Chesapeake bay to Fortress Monroe at the mouth of the James river.

While waiting for the rations and ammunitions to be transferred from the steamers to the transport, the troops marched to the fort, where rations were issued, and we were allowed to wander about the fort.

At 6 p. m., June 23, the troops boarded the transport “Yale” which steamed out into the ocean.

We were soon out of sight of land.

The rifles were placed in the hold, and we laid down upon the deck in our blankets, where we were rocked to sleep by the motion of the boat.

It was two days later before we knew where we were to land, when Captain Wheeler advised the company that Santiago was the destination.

On the evening of June 26, land was sighted - the Isle at last - a land once beautiful because of its large mountain ranges, its fertile valleys and rich foliage, but now laid waste by the ravages of war.

Next morning, the American fleet off Santiago was sighted.

Battleships lined up the coast as far as the eye could see.

As soon as the “Yale” received signal, the transport steamed alongside the flagship New York, and orders to land the troops were received.

As we came close to the shore, we saw the Spanish flag flying over old Morro Castle, which guarded the entrance of Santiago harbor, where the American fleet had Cervera's Spanish squadron bottled up.

The Spanish flag stood out boldly to the breeze, bidding defiance to Sampson's battleships, which were so soon to lower Spain's colors and humiliate one of the proudest nations of the earth; for it is conceded that Spain's pride was the cause of her downfall.

The American tars did soon prove that "pride goeth before a fall," and that tyranny and oppression must give way to freedom.


The “Yale” anchored off Siboney, and the troops disembarked by means of life boats.

The descent from the ship was made on ladders, each soldier being loaded to his utmost with equipments, including 120 rounds of ammunition.

This was slow work.

The waves rolled five feet high, and it was with difficulty that the men landed in the life boats.

Some would jump into the boat just as it went into a trough, and would consequently land all in a heap at the bottom of the boat or upon the heads of comrades.

The soldiers were packed in the small boats, which were cut adrift to be towed ashore by steam launches.

Landing was made in the surf foam and most of the men got soaked and covered with sand and grit.

The condition of the soldiers upon arrival in Cuba was quite good with the exception of many sore arms resulting from vaccination at Camp Alger.


Company K marched three quarters of a mile west of Siboney, and there made camp in a cocoanut grove on Maceo's plantation, a very pretty site.

Pup tents were pitched, and camp in Cuba at last made.

'Twas queer to realize that we were really in the land of which we had heard and imagined so much, and there too to fight tor the freedom of its people, a multitude of whom had met our gaze on our first march on Cuban soil.

On either side of the column as we marched along were crowds of half-starved natives, ragged and shoeless.

They were black as coal, with not as fine features as we see in the colored people of the north, but more on the African order of thick lips and high cheek bones.

The natives were physically poor with the exception of large stomachs caused by drinking coconut milk, which, since the devastation by the Spaniards, had been their only sustenance.

The Cubans gave us cocoanuts at first, but soon demanded pay for anything they gave us or for what they did.

The machete is a wonderful weapon in the hands of a Cuban.

When making the company's street, Captain Wheeler made a sign to a Cuban, who took his machete and cut away clumps of brush, etc., some bodies of which were as thick as a man's arm.

The Cubans wield the machete with terrible force.

The Cubans wanted shoes badly and were eager for some kind of a trade to get them.

Their feet were badly swollen and blistered, caused by roaming over the rough rocks on the mountains, through thickets and the profusion of cactus plants which grew all over the island.

On one occasion, when the water detail was out for duty, Cubans were discovered bathing in a little stream from which the regiment received water.

Bathing in the stream above where water was obtained was strictly contrary to orders, and a strong guard had to be maintained to keep out the Cubans.

That section of Cuba in the vicinity of Siboney is infected with crabs, all sizes and colors, some of which are as large as saucers, with handsome stripes of brilliant color, while others are just the color of the soil.

The crabs raised havoc the first night in camp, crawling over the soldiers, who awoke in a hurry and tore around as if in a nightmare.

The slaughter of crabs the first night was large, and the company's street contained a number of carcasses the next morning.


Rain fell in torrents all the afternoon of June 28, making six inches of water in some of the tents, according to James McJury's diary.

After drying our clothes the following morning, the company was ordered to break camp.

Then we marched one mile from Siboney, up the railroad track, and made camp on higher ground, where the company guarded supplies until the night of June 30.


At 6 o'clock, p. m., June 30, orders were received to prepare to move to the front.

Three days' rations were issued, consisting of a can of beef, twenty army crackers (hard tack,) and a handful of coffee.

At midnight the regiment was ready.

Mechanics from the 33rd Michigan had put together an old engine which the Spaniards had damaged to such an extent that they thought it could never be fixed.

This engine, coupled onto some old cars which had been used to ship iron to Santiago, furnished transportation for the regiment from Siboney to within two miles of Aguadores.

The regiment was taken in sections.

Gen. Duffield commanded the regiment, our colonel, Col. Boynton, accompanying him.

The regiment moved from the train in a circuit down the rocky beach, up through a patch of underbrush, where orders were given to lay aside packs, keeping haversacks and canteens.

The troops then moved forward and made what was termed the "feint upon Aguadores."

The plan was to advance as far as the railroad track without giving the enemy our position.

But just as the track was reached, the troops were sighted by the Dons, who opened a terrible fire from a hidden battery.

Shells flew over us thick and fast.

The regiment stood upon the railroad track and lined up, awaiting with a vivid realization of what our fate might be the order to cover, which did not come until a shell burst' in the ranks of Company L, killing privates Franklin and Seabright, and wounding three others.

Gen. Duffield said afterwards that the men stood like old veterans caught in a trap.

Not a man moved until he was ordered.

The regiment remained under cover for eight hours, while scouts brought in reports.

Admiral Sampson signaled that he had driven all the Spaniards from the trenches before Aguadores, but our scouts reported the trenches full of riflemen.


The objective point was a bridge, 830 feet long and 75 feet above the river bed, one-third of the bridge being down.

It leads to the fortifications at Aguadores.

On the left side of the track as one approaches from Siboney, along the bank of the river, were rifle pits about four feet deep from the bridge to the sea; while running back from these were runways leading to the inner works.

Above the runways were other rifle pits made out of the solid rock, while above all was the fort proper, from which the Dons could command the bridge and the beach against overwhelming odds.

On the right side on a ledge of rock 200 feet high were rifle pits from which the enemy commanded a cross fire on the bridge.

A mine of 500 pounds of dynamite had been laid under the bridge, and was connected with the fort by a cable.

These fortifications were very strong and Gen. Duffield realized that it would have been utterly useless for the regiment to attempt to take the works.

Had the troops tried to cross the bridge, every man would probably have been killed.

Gen. Duffield signaled Admiral Sampson that he was unable to dislodge the enemy.


A retreat was ordered.

The officers of Company K decided that the soldiers should get their blanket rolls in the retreat, and the soldiers marched single file along the base of the mountain.

We passed the water tank upon which stood the brave man who signaled between Gen. Duffield and Admiral Sampson, and who was a mark for many Spanish sharpshooters.

Company K had just passed the tank, half of the company being in the bushes and the others beside the railroad track, when a shell came screaming, passing a few feet above the soldiers on the track, but striking in the midst of the soldiers in the bushes.

Here occurred the first injury to the company inflicted by the Dons.

Many of the men were thrown off their feet by the shock of the bursting shell, and several men were injured.

Private Frank J. Manning was struck in the right heel, mangling it badly.

Private Guy Pixley was thrown twenty feet in the air.

As soon as Pixley recovered himself, he went to Manning's assistance, and cut the leggin from the injured foot.

In the meantime, half of the company under Lieut. Swartwout had fallen back out of range, and the Lieut, cautioned his men to be careful not to get in range or another dose would follow and more injuries be inflicted.

As soon as the Spanish shell exploded, the New York opened fire upon the Dons, having located their position from the shell.

Several men under Lieut. Swartwout were about to rush over to Manning's aid, but the Lieut. ordered them back for fear of another shell.

Manning's heel had to be amputated, and this was the "first amputation of the Cuban war," a sketch of which appears elsewhere in this volume.

Guy Pixley walked to the train, but could not move when he got to Siboney, where he was placed in the hospital and remained for some time.

The shell also wounded Private Arthur Prouty, who was struck in the left leg, and was laid up for some time in the hospital.

Clyde Schoonmaker received a slight wound in in the leg, a piece of shell dropping down into his shoe, which he prizes as a souvenir.

First Sergeant King was slightly injured in the hip, the piece of shell striking his cartridge belt, which probably saved him from being badly injured.

Private Orbey L. Wright was also slightly wounded in the heel.

Lieut. Pack proceeded with a few men to get the rolls.

The Spaniards were watching, and when the men were about to secure the rolls, they were greeted with the compliments of the Dons to the tune of Mauser bullets.

Here Lieut. Pack received a slight wound, but said nothing of it until it was discovered during his illness after the return to the states.

Private Himebauch was left guarding the rolls.

When the company departed to make the "feint," and he was still there, having exemplified the true character of a soldier, never to leave his post.


The regiment boarded the train in some disorder and went back to camp.

Thus ended the first day's battle before Aguadores, July 1, 1898.

That evening, Company L held services over the remains of Franklin and Seabright, and the gloom of night settled over camp; made gloomier by the experiences of the day and the fact that two of the boys of the regiment were already buried in Cuban soil, far, far away from home and friends.

On the night of July 1, a council was held at regimental headquarters, and a call was made for a volunteer battalion to go back that night and make another demonstration before Aguadores.

Major Webb volunteered.


The 3rd battalion, to which Company K belonged, led by the gallant Major, started at 8 o'clock that night for the place we had left only four hours before.

Up the railroad track about nine miles the battalion marched in the darkness, not knowing what was in store.

At midnight, the soldiers halted, and rested one hour with haversacks for pillows.

The march was then resumed, and at daybreak on the morning of July 2nd we reached the water tank where the misfortunes of the previous day had occurred.

The soldiers marched under cover of the underbrush along the root of the mountain.

Our position was discovered by the Spanish outposts, who fired their alarms along the mountain side to the fort at Aguadores.

A call was made for twenty privates from each company to act as sharpshooters, and the required number with many more volunteered at once.

Captain Wheeler took charge of the sharpshooters, who climbed slowly up the mountain side, taking a position fully 200 yards above the remainder of the troops.

The sharpshooters were ordered to commence firing whether or not they saw the enemy, and after every shot could be heard the report of Mauser rifles, aimed at the smoke from the U. S. Springfields.

The Mauser bullets splatted violently against the rocks.

The Spaniards had a great advantage over the Americans.

The Dons used smokeless powder, while our troops used black powder, the smoke of which disclosed the position of the sharpshooters.

The sharpshooters would fire, arid then suddenly change their positions, stepping behind rocks or falling upon the ground.


It was at this point that Private Otis Marr, a sharpshooter, was fatally wounded.

He had fired, but failed to get to cover in time.

The smoke from his rifle drew a volley of Mauser bullets, one of which struck him near the shoulder blade.

An account of this fatality occurs elsewhere in this volume.


The company remained in this position for six hours, during which time the soldiers took a little rest, lying upon the side of the mountain and dreaming of the old homes back in Michigan.

The return march was resumed down the railroad track, and the soldiers were allowed to march at will.

Many stopped for water here and there, where the water pipes which run along the track were open, but the water was too hot to be very acceptable.

Soon the train came along and picked up the men, carrying the battalion about four miles.

Orders came to disembark and throw up breastworks near a bridge, tor the purpose of cutting off any attempt which the enemy from Aguadores might make at seizing our supplies at Siboney.

Two days were spent in throwing up breastworks, and the camp was called Camp Webb, in honor of the Major commanding the battalion.

Captain Wheeler took a squad of men back to a point near Aguadores, and bartered with the Cubans who had stolen some of our blankets, tents, etc., and brought these necessary articles back to camp,


The battalion guarded the pass for several days, when Companies F and L were ordered to Siboney to work on the docks.

Companies K and M remained.

Across the track from the main earthworks was a cliff, upon which were stationed twenty men under Lieut. Pack.

The cliff soon became known as Pack's Peak.

The Lieut, desired this position because it commanded a clean view of the surrounding country, and in case of an attack it would have played an important part in the fray.

Spanish troops in crossing the bridge would be subject to a murderous fire from this cliff.


It was at Camp Webb that the soldiers were first stricken with malaria.

Major Webb was the first victim and many others followed.

There it was that we first realized the duties of a sentinel, the hardship, danger and watchfulness which had to be experienced.

For days Company K did outpost duty 24 hours, and guard duty behind the trenches, besides doing extra work for Company M.

The guards from Company M turned in many false alarms, much to our discomfort.

One night Company M was on guard while Company K slept.

The signal of a friend was to whistle "Whippoorwill."

"Bang" went a rifle from the outpost near the mountain, followed by three sharp cracks, and in came the outpost yelling "whippoorwill, whippoorwill," for he was too scared to whistle.

The sentinel who fired the shot said that the trenches were surrounded by Spaniards.

Then Capt. Wheeler called for twenty privates and four corporals from Company K, with whom he formed a wing to the right of the breastworks and behind the cliff.

This was done to prevent the Dons from cutting the two companies off from the main body of troops at Siboney.

We were ordered, in case of attack, to make a stubborn resistance and fall back.

Orders for reinforcements were sent to Siboney, and the night was of course, one of excitement in camp.

When morning came not a sign of the enemy could be found, and it was thus concluded that the guards from Company M had heard big crabs roaming over the dry leaves and had mistaken them for the Spaniards.

From that time on Company M was called the crab shooting company.

Camp life was made more pleasant by frequent showers, which soaked everything and everybody.

Outpost duty in a Cuban thunderstorm is an experience which can never be forgotten.

Privates Austin C. Ruggles and Eugene V. Spangler were detailed, July 3, 1898, by Major Webb to reconnoiter between Camp Webb and Shafter's headquarters in Cuba, with dispatches to the Major General.


From Camp Webb a piece of land projects out into the sea, giving us a fine view of the shore.

The battleships of the American fleet at the entrance of Santiago harbor were visible, and we had a good view of their maneuvers.

The ships would steam up close to shore in the morning, get range on the city of Santiago, and commence firing.

The land batteries would then return the fire.

On the morning of July 3, 1898, every ship began suddenly to fire.

It was an uncommon occurrence for all the ships to be firing at once, and our attention was attracted.

Out of the harbor plowed a Spanish battleship, and then ensued one of the greatest naval battles in the history of the world, resulting in the destruction of Admiral Cervera's fleet, crowning with honors the names of Sampson and Schley and the great gunners of the American fleet.

The firing became fiercer and fiercer as one by one the Spanish battleships came out the harbor.

The attempt to escape was in vain.

The gunners of both fleets fought like demons, with terrible loss to the Spaniards.

The Spanish ships steamed in an opposite direction from the camp, and, owing to a point of rock projecting into the sea and which the two fleets passed, all the engagement was not visible from camp.

The last visible to us was a great cloud of smoke rising heavenward.

The reports of the big 13-inch guns could be heard above the terrible din; and a mighty explosion, which made the earth quake, seemed to put an end to the fight, for we heard but little more after that.

There was great rejoicing in camp over the grand victory, for it meant that the surrender of Santiago was inevitable.

Company K did outpost duty at Camp Webb until the surrender of Santiago on July 14, 1898.

Camp was then arranged, and the company rested until July 21, when a march was made to Sardineras, two miles further west, up the railroad track toward Santiago.

This march was a very hard one, owing to the weak condition of the troops and the intense heat.

Many men were prostrated and had to fall out of the ranks.


Camp Sardineras, the company's last camp in Cuba, was termed " Camp Despair," for nearly every morning one or more of the men would be stricken with the fever, and day after day we saw transports passing loaded with troops on the homeward voyage while we were left behind.

The fever had penetrated all quarters of the camp.

Whole companies would be down at once.

The men had reasons to yearn for the dear Michigan homes once again, and many cases of homesickness added gloom to the fever stricken troops.

At Camp Sardinares, the Marcellus boys received rubber blankets from friends at home.

These blankets took the places of those which were lost, and were much appreciated.

If the senders could have realized the gratitude which filled the hearts of their boys in Cuba, they would have felt that their efforts were repaid a thousand fold: for there is nothing more inspiring or dearer to a soldier in distress than a token of regard from a friend in his own home land far away.

After a time came the report that the regiment would start for the states in the morning, which report brought cheer to all; but when the morning came and no orders to break camp were given, the gloom again hung like a shroud over the camp.

The troops realized that with the surrender of Santiago our mission had been accomplished, and wondered why Uncle Sam's soldiers should be left in such a land to die, instead of being returned at once to take up former positions in social and business circles.

Several men from Company K were in the hospital at Siboney and on August 15 all who were able to go were sent back to the states.

Among those who left were John Hartgrove, Guy H. Pixley, Sylvester Ickes and Marion Young.

Chris Wolgamood, Bert McDonald, Geo. Trickey, Bert Evans, Fred L. Kaiser and Frank J. Manning had previously left for the states at different times.

The engine which furnished power to supply water for the water works system along the track gave out, cutting off the water supply for a day and a half.

The troops then tapped the pipes with hammer and chisel, and drained all the water out.

When the pumps at Siboney started again, the pipes had to be fixed.

In the meantime water was furnished in an old engine tender.

The water was not fit to drink, but it went down the throats of the soldiers just the same.

It tasted smoky, and would have a scum on the surface if left standing awhile.

Most of the men boiled the water, and thus avoided contracting more disease; in fact Company K had a detail of men who did nothing but boil water.

When water was issued, the troops were kept under guard, for 2 hours sometimes, and were required to stand in line until every man was supplied.

This was done so that every man would get his share.

A lot of green coffee was distributed, and it was a laughable sight to see men holding frying pans over the fire, "roasting coffee down in Cuba," when the sun's rays were hot enough to roast men without the aid of a fire.

Details from each company in camp were made for the purpose of cleaning up and burning the dead leaves, brush, etc., and by the time camp was broken the streets presented a neat appearance.

Corporal BARTON C. NOTTINGHAM, Deceased

August 5, 1898, Corporal Barton Cornell Nottingham died in the hospital at Siboney, of spinal fever.

Mention of our worthy comrade is made elsewhere in this volume.


Several members of the company were allowed to visit Santiago, securing many relics from both the Spaniards and Cubans.

Santiago was then a very dirty city.

The streets are about 14 feet wide, with stone pavements, very rough.

Sidewalks are about a foot high and not much wider: two persons cannot walk side by side.

The buildings run along it seems in one solid mass, and are built of brick and plaster, mostly one story high and look very dingy, Santiago is an interesting old place.

A detail from Camp Sardineras sold $22 worth of extra supplies in the city.

Capta1n Wheeler, Sergt. Mcjury and Sergt, Jones composed the detail.


Life in camp went on in its dreariness until the night of August 19, 1898, when an order came to break camp and prepare to leave the isle.

The troops arose early the following morning, and after eating a bite of breakfast, rolled up the packs, and were ready to move at six o'clock.

The train which was to take our section was delayed until 3 o'clock in the afternoon, and it was 4 o'clock before the 33rd regiment had landed at the docks of Santiago harbor.

The waves were rolling high on the ocean, and it was impossible for the troops to load that night.

Camp was made on a cinder pile, and about 10 o'clock the troops got a bite to eat, having had nothing since 5 o'clock that morning.

A lighter, bearing the regiment's stores out to the Harvard, ran onto a rock and sprung a leak.

She was run ashore, and as it happened that the company's stores were in the bow of the lighter, our stores were saved, Lieut. Swartwout with a detail being there to rescue them.

The rest of the regimental stores went to the bottom.


Early in the morning of August 21 the 33rd Michigan regiment boarded the transport Harvard, by taking tugs from the dock to the transport.

As the tugs passed up the harbor, the Merrimac came plainly in view, lying at the mouth of the harbor just where Lieut. Hobson and his men sunk her.

Then old Morro Castle loomed up in all her immensity.

Where once waved the red and yellow flag of Spain, which we saw unfurled to the breeze as we landed but a few weeks before, now waved our beloved "Old Glory", the star spangled banner, the red, white and blue; unfurling her folds to the southern breeze in grand majestic waves, a sign that prosperity and peace had at last come to the desolate, oppressed isle of Cuba.

The Harvard, on account of her size, had not steamed into the harbor.

When she was loaded, she steamed away to the scene of the great naval battle, where the Spanish battleships were floundered upon the rocks.

The Spanish boats lay with their sides full of holes, complete wrecks.

It was a sight which impressed all with a feeling of awe, of courage, of honor.

When the wrecked Reina Mercedes had been viewed for a time, the Harvard continued on her way to the states.

She stopped at Guantanamo Bay to take on mail from the American fleet.


The only thing of note which happened on the homeward trip was the burial at sea of a soldier of Company B, 33rd Michigan, who died of diphtheria.

This sad event cast a gloom over the whole ship.

A large piece of iron was tied to the dead soldier, the body wrapped in an American flag, and after a short service he was dropped feet first into the ocean.

As the water closed over him, three volleys were fired, the bugler sounded taps, and the transport sped on, leaving somebody's boy in a watery grave, with nothing but Atlantic's broad expanse to mark his burial place.


The Harvard moved at the rate of 19 knots an hour.

She's a fine boat and was kept very clean.

The fresh air was bracing to the soldiers.

The transport reached Long Island Sound on the night of August 24 in a dense fog, and remained there until the 26th, when New York Bay was reached.

The vessel was boarded by quarantine officers, who pronounced the troops free from contagious diseases.

On the 27th, Secretary Alger visited the Harvard, made a little speech, and said that the regiment looked better than any other just home from Cuba.

After reaching shore, the soldiers were revived with sandwiches and milk, and marched to quarantine camp.

There the regiment remained until Sept. 2, when the homeward trip was resumed.

Reveille sounded at 4 o'clock, and the men arose and marched out in front of officers' headquarters ; thence to the depot, 1-1/4 miles distant, and boarded the train.

Long Island was reached at 1:30.

Crackers and milk were furnished, and the soldiers were eating on the march to the ferry, being cheered continually.

The company's sick were out at the end of the company's street, waiting for an ambulance to convey them to the depot.

Lieut. Pack stopped a Red Cross ambulance wagon, and ordered the driver to take the sick men to the depot.

Our officers had no authority over the Red Cross men, but in this case Lieut. Pack's sword, his stripes and his manly bearing were more than the driver cared to dispute, and the sick men were taken at once to the depot.


The troops took the ferry, Newburg, for Jersey City.

The ferry took us under the suspension bridge, past the Statue of Liberty, and the trip was made amid the tooting of a thousand steamboat whistles and the cheering of thousands of people.

Our section of the train left Jersey City at 6:15.

At 1:30 Saturday a. m. we reached Kingston, where lunch was served.

The train pulled into Syracuse for breakfast, Buffalo for dinner and Cleveland for supper.

At Cleveland and Toledo, ladies entered the cars and administered to the sick.

The Detroit reception committee met the train at Toledo and rode into Detroit, at which place we arrived at 1:30 Sunday morning, Sept. 4, 1898.

The depot was so crowded with people that the troops could hardly fall in line.

As the soldiers marched out in double file, the bands played "When Johnny Comes Marching Home" and "Home Sweet Home."

The thousands of people present cheered and yelled “What’s the matter with the boys in blue."

The troops were cared for at the hotels and hospitals and by friends of the boys, the greatest, hospitality being extended.

Reveille sounded at 6 o'clock Monday morning, and a rush march to the depot followed.

J. H. Hahn, a former resident of Constantine, met Company K at the depot, and presented the boys with a box of cigars.


The train arrived at Three Rivers at 2:45 Monday afternoon, September 5th, where thousands of people had gathered to welcome home their loved ones.

D1nner was served at the Three Rivers House, and the St, Joseph County Volunteers were home again, after sixteen weeks of service as soldiers.

The city of Three Rivers was gayly decorated and the citizens extended their usual unbounded hospitality, which the soldiers much appreciated.

The company was released on furlough, and mustered out at Three Rivers, January 5, 1899.

The company was in the U. S. service seven months and fourteen days; was in Cuba one month and 25 days, and left two of its numbers buried in Cuban soil.


Private Frank J. Alarming, of Marcellus, suffered the first amputation of the Cuban war.

This is his own story of it:

"When the shell struck I was carrying my gun at a trail.

We heard it singing, and ducked.

The shell struck my gun stock, and you should have seen that stock!

Not a bit of wood was left, and the barrel was bent double.

After I was struck, I lay on a litter for two hours.

The Red Cross men were carrying me off the firing line, when a Spanish sharpshooter fired at us, and a bullet passed through the litter just back of my head.

The Red Cross men ran, but the Major made them go back and take me away.

I was put on the amputating table at 5 o'clock, and mine was the first amputation of the Cuban war.

From then on there was plenty of it done.

Men laid all around me with arms and legs off.

I remained in the tent eight days.

Capt, Wheeler came in one day with some delicacies, and later sent me $5."

Manning's right foot was amputated at the ankle joint.


Private Otis Marr was fatally wounded by a Mauser bullet, July 2, 1898, while on the firing line near Aguadores.

Private Otis Marr

The bullet struck him in the shoulder and lodged near the spine.

He was carried down the mountain by comrades, and placed on a flat car, and conveyed to the place which afterward became Camp Webb.

From there he was taken on the train to the hospital at Siboney, and later transferred to the hospital ship Relief, where he died July 11.

His body was interred with military honors on the mountain side near Siboney.

Marr was a good soldier and was esteemed by all his comrades.

He had his barber outfit with him and was the leading barber of the regiment.

His death was the source of much regret by comrades and by friends at home.

He was born in Cassopolis, Mich., Sept. 6, 1875.


Barton Cornell Nottingham was born Dec. 20, 1878; died August 5, 1898, at Siboney, Cuba, of spinal meningitis; aged 19 years, 7 months and 15 days.

He graduated in '96 from the Marcellus high school, and was later a teacher in Cass County.

His ambition was to be an attorney, and he spent a portion of his spare time studying law.

He was a bright young man, and his name will ever be held dear by comrades and a host of friends.

During his illness in Cuba, he became delirious and walked off the rocks into the sea.

Comrades went to his rescue, but from then on he failed rapidly.

He played clarinet in the regimental band, and acted as nurse in the hospital at Siboney, where he became ill and died.

His body was given a military burial and was interred near the remains of Otis Marr.

Captain Wheeler sent a detail to mark the graves of Nottingham and Marr.


Was formerly a prominent business man of Three Rivers, having been the junior partner of the grocery firm of Shermyier & McJury.

He was succeeded by Mr. Cole.

Later he engaged in farming.

He was formerly a member of Co. D, Michigan National Guard, at Three Rivers, until its mustering out.

He helped to organize Co. K, of which he became Quartermaster Sergeant.

In this capacity he was an efficient officer.

While in Cuba, McJury was not sick a day, but upon reaching Montauk he was taken ill, remaining on duty however until he reached home, when he succumbed to the dread disease, typhoid fever.

He died Oct. 5, 1898, and his body was interred with military honors at Three Rivers.


Died August 31, 1898, at Camp Alger, Va., of typhoid malaria.

He formerly resided at Coldwater, where he was a respected citizen.


Died September 17, 1898, at Detention Hospital, Montauk Point, of malarial fever.

Deceased was a popular young man, aged 30 years; and was a member of the Three Rivers Tent, K. O. T. M., and the Court of Honor.

He was a gallant soldier and was highly respected by comrades.

Funeral was held at Three Rivers under the auspices of the company.

Over 1,000 people attended the funeral.


Died September 1G, 1808, at Three Rivers, of typhoid fever.

Funeral was held Sunday, September 18, at Three Rivers.

About fifty members of the G. A. R. and several members of the company were present.

Remains were taken to White Pigeon for interment.

Reed was one of the youngest members of the company, and was popular and well liked.


Enlisted from Centreville, near which place he taught a district school.

He was a man of temperate habits, and was well liked by his comrades.

In Cuba his health was good until a few days previous to the departure of the company, when he became ill.

He was given a berth on the transport and at Montauk Point was placed in the division hospital.

He returned to Centreville, where he died of typhoid fever, Sept. 12, 1898.

In his death the nation lost a hero and the company a beloved comrade, one who was willing to do his duty; and we have known him to volunteer to do duty for a comrade who was sick and unable to stand guard.


Second Lieutenant Wm. F. Pack resigned his commission to be a candidate for the Michigan state legislature, and on November I, 1898, he was honorably discharged.

He was elected to the legislature, being the only candidate elected on the union silver ticket in St, Joseph County.

In army life he proved himself a soldier of genuine worth, and by means of his superior tactics he often accomplished much more than average results with a detail of men.

Lieut. Pack is with all the boys a right good fellow.


First Sergeant John W. King was commissioned Second Lieutenant to succeed Wm. F. Pack, resigned.

As First Sergeant he did his work with neatness and precision, having the best set of books in the regiment.

When he enlisted he was bookkeeper for the Three Rivers Paper Mill Co., with which company he resumed work after the war.

He was commissioned Second Lieut., Nov. 4, 1898.

His was the only promotion in Co, K after its return from Cuba.

Bertram L. Downs, private, succeeded Barton C. Nottingham as Corporal, on August 18, 1898.

Bennie Clay, private, was promoted to Artificer on August 18, 1898, having succeeded Ross F. Appleman, who resigned on account of disability.


Elijah Himebauch, Joseph L. Kirby, Ira R. Price, Harvey J. Ruggles and Harry B. Brown did not leave Cuba with the company.

They were detained in the hospitals until they were able to be transported.

George D. Baker was honorably discharged July 25, 1898, for disability.

Sergeant Hitchcock, Privates Albert Wachalwaska and Clyde Shoonmaker remained in the Detroit hospital when the company passed through that city, Sept. 15, 1898.

2d Sergeant Louis M. Evans was verbally detailed as Sergt. Major 3d battalion, 33rd Michigan regiment, by Major Webb, on May 26, 1898.

The buglers of the company were W. E. Brown and Clarence Ruggles, detailed at Camp Alger.


Of Company K left Three Rivers on June 1G, 1898, under Corporal Dockstader.

They arrived at Detroit at 12:30 p. m.

From the depot they marched to the Light Guard Armory; then to the Tifft House for dinner.

In the afternoon of May 16, they were examined and all but two passed.

After the examination the recruits were allowed to look about the city until the afternoon of the 17th, when they signed the muster roll.

They left Detroit June 17, in company with recruits of Companies M and L, and at Toledo were joined by recruits of Company G.

The train reached Alexandria, Va., Sunday, June 19, and the troops disembarked, proceeding to the Potomac for a bath.

Dunn Loring was reached at 9 o'clock, from which place the recruits marched to Camp Alger, where they arrived just in time to see the 33rd Michigan regiment fall in for the forced march to the Potomac.

On June 22, the regiment left for Cuba.

Only six recruits of Company K were taken, the others remaining because they were not equipped.

The company's recruits at Camp Alger were left in a very poor condition, without tents, blankets, cooking utensils, rations or anything else.

This condition of affairs was not, however, the fault of the officers of the company.

Some of the recruits built a sort of cover with bark, and some raised up the tent floors left in camp and slept there.

They remained there three days, and then occupied the tents left by the 9th Massachusetts men.

On July 4, their camp was moved 2 miles nearer headquarters.

On August 3, the recruits with other troops left Camp Alger, and marched 13 miles that day.

The weather was extremely warm, and many men were overcome by the heat.

Men were scattered all along the road, but none of Company K fell out.

On the morning of August 5, the troops resumed the march, camping that night on the old battlefield of Bull Run.

The scenery there is fine.

The soldiers secured many relics of the civil war, such as bullets, shells, etc.

Crystal Springs was reached Sunday, Aug. 7, and the troops went into camp for the night.

Tuesday the march was resumed as far as Thoroughfare Gap, Va.

The march in all was about 70 miles.

It had rained every day since the troops left Camp Alger, and the soil was not in good condition for marching.

From the Gap, on August 24, the troops were taken by train to Camp Meade, Pa.

This was the best camp the recruits were in, On September 4, the Company K recruits left Camp Meade for Island Lake, Mich., arriving at daybreak on the following morning.

They remained at Island Lake 3 days, when they were given a verbal furlough for 30 days.

On September 9 the recruits were home again, and were mustered out January 5, 1899 at Three Rivers.

HISTORY OF COMPANY K, 33d Michigan Volunteer Infantry, U. S. A. - By Corporal E. J. Stilwell